GOP candidates recap their debate performances on 'Hannity'

Presidential candidate reacts to the first Republican debate on 'Hannity' #GOPDebate


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 7, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to Hannity, we're live in Cleveland.  In just a moment we'll be joined by the one and only Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and everybody else, pretty much. But first, here are some of the highlights from tonight's big debate.

DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn't have time either.

RICK SANTORUM, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is already hedging his bet on the Clintons, OK?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA., GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm our nominee - - how will Hillary Clinton lecture me on paycheck to paycheck? I was raised paycheck to paycheck.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and we don't have leaders who honor their commitments.

JEB BUSH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm my own man. I governed as a conservative and I governed effectively.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J., GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Listen, Senator, when you're sitting in a subcommittee blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that.

CRUZ: I don't trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug. If you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.

BUSH: As governor of the state of Florida, I created the first statewide you voucher program in the country. The second statewide voucher program in the country, and the third statewide voucher program in the country.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Economic growth is the key. The key to everything.

MIKE HUCKABEE, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can get rid of the internal revenue service if we would pass the fair tax, which is a tax on consumption rather than on people's income.

HANNITY: Joining us live from the spin room, welcome to the special edition of Hannity, we'll be checking in. Let's see, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, is going to join us in a minute; we'll check with John Kasich, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee. So, stay with us on this busy night. But first joining us, the great governor, the great state of Wisconsin, Scott Walker.

Governor, how are you?


HANNITY: Did you have fun out there?

WALKER: Yes, I did. It was pretty entertaining. Yes, I'm right next to Donald Trump. So of course it's entertaining.

HANNITY: It couldn't have been that bad, right?

Let's talk about this. One of the things came up in the debate for you was the issue of abortion, and the exemption for whether or not a mother's life is in jeopardy.

WALKER: Yes, I say it's a false choice. There is always a better option out. There I've said medically there's always a better choice than choosing between the life of an unborn baby and the life of the mother.  So, that's just a false choice out there, that was my point.  There is always better choices out there, medically that's just a non-issue.

HANNITY: You defunded Planned Parenthood in the state already.

WALKER: I did. Four -- almost four and a half years ago. Right at the beginning of my life. I was a leader on that long before the video tapes, long before all the talk out there. People talk about a pro-life record in this race. I've actually done -- defunded Planned Parenthood, passed pro-life legislation, been a leader in that regard.

HANNITY: One of the interesting laws that you pass in the Wisconsin was the ultra sound law. These Planned Parenthood tapes would use ultra sound to quote, "preserve the body parts."

What was your reaction to that?

WALKER: Amazing. At the time they went after us on that very issue even though they're using it. It's just remarkable. But even on that, I tried on that issue. Certainly on foreign policy. Instead of picking fights with fellow Republicans, many of whom I admire and I'm good friends with, to bring it back to Hillary Clinton. She's extreme in terms of federal dollars for abortion. We're the ones that are with the mainstream on this issue, and on everything else -- on foreign policy, domestic policy, you name it. Hillary Clinton is the person we should be talking to.

HANNITY: Let's talk immigration, such big a issue. In the past, you had taken the position that you had. But you changed, evolved, explained the evolution.

WALKER: For me, it was a combination of things. It was looking at the president's horrible mishandling of this issue. It's why I joined with 24 other governors -- I was the 25th, one of the first ones sign on to the lawsuit that now blocked the illegal action of the president from last year. And I looked, talked to border state leaders. I talked to the American people. I think people want someone who listened to them -- and I made it clear. Secure the border. Enforce the laws. No amnesty.

And I'm fairly unique in this regard. I believe we should have a policy about legal immigration, because priority to American working families.

HANNITY: A lot of people know your record as governor. Know the fights that you've had against unions. But you have really made an effort to reach out to foreign governors, foreign governments and foreign leaders.  Tell us about the experience you've had meeting with the Saudis and Egyptians, and Israelis.

WALKER: It was earlier this year when I met with many of the Persian Gulf leaders. It was amazing; I asked them, set aside the Iran deal for a minute. What's the biggest worry you have in the world today? They said the disengagement of America. That shows the Obama-Clinton doctrine of leading from behind is not working, and we got to do something different about it. It's when I met with Benjamin Netanyahu, when I was in Israel, I didn't just meet with him. I'm an ally and a supporter of his, I believe that he's a great leader, but I also met with Herzog, the opposition leader, because I wanted to make it clear, if I'm president, there is no daylight between me and the state of Israel.

HANNITY: It looked like in the debate you had made a decision. When you talked about Hillary, everything she touched is worse off. Was that a decision that you weren't going after the guys on the stage, but...

WALKER: No, I was listening to this exchange and they were talking all about Donald Trump. I said, I want to talk about Hillary Clinton.  Think about these e-mails. This woman could be...

HANNITY: The FBI investigation. A criminal investigation.

WALKER: Oh, yes. Her problem is real right now. She could be the deceiver-in-chief based upon what she said; you can't trust her to be the commander in chief. And I think the more time we spend focusing on who is best going head to head against her, the better off we are. I'm a new fresh face. She's a name from the past. I'm someone from outside of Washington; she's about as inside of Washington as she could be. And I've actually done things.

HANNITY: What did you think of Donald Trump being the only person on the stage to say he wouldn't support?

WALKER: I thought it was wrong. When you think about Hillary Clinton. I think any of the ten of us tonight, and any of the people on earlier would be infinitely better qualified, and much better for America and for the world to be president than Hillary Clinton.

HANNITY: All right. Governor, good to see you. Thank you for stopping by, we appreciate it.

WALKER: Thank you.

HANNITY: And earlier this evening, now, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, he didn't hold back in this debate.

Watch this.

CRUZ: I believe the American people are looking for someone to speak the truth.


If you're looking for someone to go to Washington, to go along to get along, to agree with the career politicians in both parties, who get in bed with the lobbyists and special interests, then I ain't your guy. There is a reason we have 18 trillion dollars in debt. Because as conservatives, as Republicans, we keep winning elections. We got a Republican House, we got a Republican Senate, and we don't have leaders who honor their commitments.

HANNITY: Joining us now with reaction, 2016 GOP Presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz.

Senator, how are you?

CRUZ: Sean, it's always great to join you.

HANNITY: What did you think, did you have a good time?

CRUZ: I thought it was terrific. I thought we had a lively debate, I think we covered a lot of territory. And we're starting to see people being able to make choices.

HANNITY: Let me ask you about this issue. It is an internal intramural battle in the Republican party. You stood to defund and get rid of ObamaCare, and you were kind of excoriated by members of your own party.  I supported you in that effort. I want to be straight up with my audience here. And I was surprised others didn't support you.

So do you think this is an intramural squabble? Is this going to be resolved in this presidential race?

CRUZ: Well, I think the really divide is whether we'll have Republicans that actually do what we said we would do. And the virtue of this debate process is we have the opportunity to really put candidates to a test. In every campaign, there are campaign conservatives, all ten of the people on that stage will naturally say they're the most conservative person ever. But I think what Republican primary voters are looking for is consistent conservatives. When have they stood when it was difficult?  When they were standing, not just against Democrats, but against their own party, against Republicans. You look at the biggest issues, whether it's ObamaCare, everyone on that stage says they oppose ObamaCare. When you ask, what have you actually done to stop it...

HANNITY: But is that where the frustration of the conservative base is coming in? That they promise they'll get rid of ObamaCare but they won't use their constitutional authority, the power of the purse. Or executive amnesty, another example.

CRUZ: Amnesty's a great example. The majority of the people on that stage have vocally, vigorously, for years supported amnesty. Now let's flash forward to next year. When we have a general election debate, and we've got a Republican standing on the stage with Hillary Clinton. You know, in 2012, we saw what happened when we nominated a candidate who had a health care plan just like Obamacare. We weren't able to have a clear contrast, because our nominee had proposed something just like that.

HANNITY: Is this Ford and Reagan in '76? Establishment versus Reagan, the more conservative?

CRUZ: I think it is exactly that dynamic. But I think it's also 1980. '76 set the stage for '80, and the Reagan revolution came from the people. Came from millions of grassroots Americans. Not Washington. One of the great illustrations that we're seeing the same thing. Our campaign in just over four months has had over 225,000 contributions at tedcruz.org.  Tedcruz.org. The average contribution is $68. That's the power of the grassroots. It is what in 1980 we saw the Reagan revolution.

HANNITY: You mentioned a number of time tonight that you feel politicians are unwilling to speak the truth.

CRUZ: Yes.

HANNITY: A lot has been made over the speech that you made on the Senate floor. About Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell in a room. You said there is no deal, is no deal, is no deal, and you said he lied to you. Did he lie to you?

CRUZ: He told a lie. And I stood on the Senate floor, I described the facts. I said here's what he said, and here's what he did. There was no animosity. It wasn't personal. In my view, speaking the truth is the essence of what political debate is supposed to be about. If you think about it, as conservatives, we were told in 2010, if only we get the house of representatives, things will be better. We won the house and not a thing changed. We were told in 2014, if only we get the Senate and retire Harry Reid; millions of us rose up and did that. And it's worth asking, what have the Republican majorities done?

We came back right after that election.

HANNITY: By the way, they predicted when did you the filibuster, that it wasn't be a good year in 2014.

CRUZ: That's exactly right. All the gray beards said that when I stood 21 hours on the Senate floor filibustering to stop ObamaCare, they said we're going to get destroyed, this is going to reelect Harry Reid as majority leader. That didn't happen.

HANNITY: Two other moments that I've had, that really stood out in my mind. You keep using the term, Washington cartel. Is that Republicans and Democrats?

CRUZ: It is career politicians in both parties who get in bed with lobbyists and special interests, and grow, and grow, and grow government.  For example, we just had a big battle over the Export-Import bank. A classic example of corporate welfare and cronyism. In this, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid are arm in arm in a complete agreement...

HANNITY: This is taxpayer backed loans to big business.

CRUZ: Hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer-guaranteed loans going to a handful of giant corporations. They write lobbying checks to politicians in both parties. Now, in the midst of that fight, I tried to introduce amendments on issues that actually the American people care about. Amendments like defunding Planned Parenthood, amendments like stopping this Iran deal. Amendments like Kate's law which I was asked about tonight. I've introduced Kate's law in the Senate. And it was our own leadership, Republican leadership that blocked the votes on stopping Planned Parenthood, on stopping the Iran deal, on passing Kate's law, and it's because McConnell-Reid leadership team is representing the party of Washington.

HANNITY: Senator, great to see you.

CRUZ: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: It looks like you had a good time.

CRUZ: I had a lot of fun.

HANNITY: Thank you, Senator, for being with us. Appreciate it. We have a busy night as we continue from Cleveland and the spin room.

When we come back, Donald Trump is with us as Hannity continues, live from Cleveland -- straight ahead.

TRUMP: If it weren't for me, you wouldn't even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wonderful even be talking about it.


This was not a subject that was on anybody's mind until I brought it up at my announcement, and I said, Mexico is sending. Except the reporters, because they're a very dishonest lot generally speaking in the world of politics, they didn't cover my statement the way I said it. The fact is, since then, many killings, murders, crime, drugs pouring across the border, are money going out and the drugs coming in.

HANNITY: All right, that was a clip of Donald Trump from earlier tonight. Right after the debate was over, I spoke with the Republican front-runner. Take a look.

Joining us now, he's still No. 1 in the polls, and doing very well on the Drudge Report, instant poll results.

Donald Trump, how are you?

TRUMP: Yes. Well, I love Drudge, and I heard that. Very honored

HANNITY: First time in any situation like this. How did you feel up there?

TRUMP: Well, it was exciting. So many people. Everybody is going wild and I believe in my subject matter, I mean, make America great again.  And that word again is a very important word, because it can happen, but you need the right leader. So hopefully we continue to do well.

HANNITY: The country is suffering. No doubt about it. The one question that got a lot of boos, and came right in off the top. Running as a third candidate. You wouldn't make the pledge.

TRUMP: I would make the pledge if I win. But you know what, why should I give up that leverage? If they don't treat me well. You're talking about the establishment Republicans. If they don't treat me well, Sean, why should I make that pledge? Now, I may at some point do it, I'm starting to really like the establishment people. Reince and the whole group have really been nice lately. It is good leverage and I might as well use it.

This country should use leverage in their trade deals. They don't believe in it, because they don't know what they're doing. So, I knew that would be a little bit controversial, but it was exciting. A really good way to start off the show.

HANNITY: What really made you popular, you're not afraid to just say...

TRUMP: I'm not afraid.

HANNITY: But you hoped -- if you didn't win, you would hope that you would be able to support the Republican nomination.

TRUMP: One hundred percent correct. I just want to be treated well, be treated with respect. 100 percent correct.

HANNITY: OK, let me ask you, before you ever became a candidate, you're outspoken. You had a Twitter war with Rosie O'Donnell.

TRUMP: And many others.

HANNITY: But you said something, you know what, we're too P.C. And you said America is in such bad shape. We don't have time to be nice. We have got to have the right tone.

TRUMP: We don't have time, we don't have time.

I mean, you know, one of the questions, they talked about waterboarding. Do you believe in waterboarding? They asked Ben that question, and I said to myself, you know, I'm thinking, here we're talking about waterboarding and they're chopping off everybody's head. And we're talking about waterboarding.

We don't have time for it for anymore, Sean. The country is in trouble. We own $19 trillion, it will be 21, 22 very soon. And you know, when you get to that 24 million mark, we become Greece. We become Greece on steroids, could you say. I don't know. This was a very exciting night, though. We had such a great crowd and they really agreed with what I said.

HANNITY: You know, I interpreted your, the comments you made about Mexican immigrants, I think differently than other people did, when you talked about the Mexican government -- and that came up again and again tonight.

TRUMP: Yes. Well, you interpreted it correct.

HANNITY: I interpreted is that they're not doing anything to stop it and it actually is a stop-gap for them if they allow people to leave at will. Is that what you were saying?

TRUMP: And they save a lot of money.

HANNITY: A fortune.

TRUMP: They don't have to take care of the people. We're not getting their best and their finest. They're pushing people out. And I'm talking about serious, in many cases, people that would be in their prisons, they say,hey, let the Americans. The Americans have stupid leaders. Let them put them in their prisons. And the problem is, you have people like the guy -- the absolute bad guy who killed Kate, and killed Jamil and killed other people.

HANNITY: All these people.

TRUMP: You know, you have all these people coming in and they're killing, and causing crime and the drugs are pouring in. So, I turned out to be right. I took tremendous heat that first day. A lot of your friends like Rush Limbaugh and a lot of people, they said boy, they used the word incoming. But Trump is taking tremendous incoming. It was an honor, and now some of the people that you would least expect it are calling me up and apologizing. What I am is true. The word illegal immigration would not have been a topic if it wasn't for me.

HANNITY: It was funny. I think it was quintessential Trump honesty when you said that you donate money. They'll pick up the phone. And yes, would you expect that they would do what you needed to do, or help you in whatever way. The only question I had, is why would you want to donate to Hillary to go to your wedding?

TRUMP: Well, no, I was using that as a joke. They did come to the wedding, but they came because I'm a donor. If I wanted something -- I never wanted it -- but if I wanted something -- and I've contributed.  Don't forget, that's a different life.

I was a businessman. I have to deal with Democrats, I have to deal with Republicans and I deal with politicians like I'm as good as it gets, I guess. I built a great business and part of that is dealing with politicians.

I sort of get a kick when people say you don't have political experience. I have more political experience than anybody.

HANNITY: It is a truth, though, people donate for the purpose of influence. Maybe the difference is you're honest about it.

TRUMP: When I see the candidates -- and I like these candidates, I had a great relationship with them tonight, as you can see, for the most part.


TRUMP: But I like them very much. They're good people. But when I see them raising $50 million, $40 million -- from friends of mine. A $100 million.

Well, Jeb is raising $100 million. It's great. But those people are not like charities. You understand. They don't -- you know, they want.  These are total tough cookies. I know many of them; I probably know most of them. And when they give million and millions of dollars, they're not doing it for the good of the American Cancer Society. They're doing it for themselves.

HANNITY: You got -- you gave a very forceful answer about all the hundreds of businesses, I guess, the corporations that you have. That you use the laws of the land.

TRUMP: I use the laws of the land.

HANNITY: You said something about bankers, though, that got a pretty good applause.

TRUMP: Yes, you know, because the people, I really did a number on were bankers. These are tough guys. These are the guys giving money to all of these candidates. I mean, these are very tough, very sophisticated guys. They know the game. They know game as well as I do. And I played the game better than they do. But I understand how to play the game.

And I also said, Sean, that's what the country needs. When you have 18 or 19 trillion in debt, they need somebody like me to straighten it up.  Because a politician is never going to understand how to straighten it up.

HANNITY: Which kind of goes -- I was a little surprised. You've been pretty harsh against Governor Jeb Bush tonight. You got along, you were complimentary towards him.

TRUMP: He was really nice. And I liked him. In fact, he even took, they put words in his mouth. Because these people were not so nice to me as far as I'm concerned. But they put words in his mouth, and he said I didn't say that. I thought that was a class act.

HANNITY: Yes. So, when you talk about the economy. And you mentioned 19 trillion in debt, we also have a 128 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

TRUMP: You don't want to even think about that -- it's terrible.

HANNITY: You also said you want to preserve the Social Security and Medicare. How do we do that, considering that's nearly 80 percent of the money?

TRUMP: By making our economy really powerful again. We have to take our jobs. You know, we've rebuilt China. We have single handedly, they have taken our money, they have taken our jobs, and then they loan money back to us. I mean, they put money in bonds, they buy our bonds. We owe them now $1.4 trillion. They do a number on us, and then we owe them money. Think of that.

So, I know the game better than anybody, and I'm the only one who can fix it.

HANNITY: When the issue of tone came up. You said -- I think the quote was, "Excuse me, they're chopping off our heads. We don't have time for tone." Is it time for all American politicians to get rid of political correctness? Are you kind of leading the way?

TRUMP: No. I don't really think that, I think I'm leading the way at a certain high level of leadership. But, look, they're not that way.  They're not inclined to be that way. But we need a leader at the top that will not worry so much about tone, that's going to get results. We don't have time for tone. And it is true; and Jeb, again, really nice guy, but he did criticize on tone, he thought my tone was a little tough, a little bit quick. We need strong tone. And we need enthusiasm, we need excitement and enthusiasm, because it's never going to get better.

HANNITY: There's never going to be an apology to Rosie. You're still glad you said all that to her.

TRUMP: She's terrible.

HANNITY: You wouldn't do that as president?

TRUMP: Probably not. Well, it sort of broke up the question from Megyn, which was an very nice question to start off with. But no, I'm not a fan of Rosie, but that's OK.

HANNITY: And you're in this to the end? You want this job?

TRUMP: I want this job, and I want to be the Republican. I want to be the Republican -- I'm the one who can beat Hillary. Believe me.  Hillary's worst nightmare is me. Who treats it rougher than me? She should be going to prison for what she's done with the e-mails. Nobody even says that. What she's done is totally illegal. Look at General Petraeus, Sean. They've destroyed his life over doing much less than what she has done.

HANNITY: Far much less. And you know what is confidential information was? His calendar.

Mr. Trump, good to see you. Thanks for spending time with us.

TRUMP: Thanks very much.

HANNITY: We appreciate it.

TRUMP: Great honor.

HANNITY: And coming up, Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Mike Huckabee joining us right after the break, and much more as we continue from Cleveland. Stay with us.

RUBIO: If I'm our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton going to lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck? I was raised paycheck to paycheck. How is she going on lecture me about student loans? I owed over $100,000 just four years ago.

HANNITY: All right, that was Senator Marco Rubio earlier tonight during the first 2016 debate Republican primary debate.

Now, we spoke with the Florida Senator just a few moments ago.

And joining us now, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is with us.

Senator, how are you?

RUBIO: I'm good.

HANNITY: Did you have a good time out there?

RUBIO: I did, did. I really did. It was a great opportunity.

HANNITY: You actually -- you looked relaxed from the opening answer.  I thought some guys may have been nervous and you didn't seem at all..

RUBIO: Well, I wasn't nervous, I was anxious. I mean, I wanted to do it. And obviously, you know, that's a big audience, a lot of people watching. You can't say you don't have a little bit of butterflies or something like this.

HANNITY: That's probably a good thing.

RUBIO: But these were a good group of guys that were up on that stage tonight. I get along with everybody on the stage. As I said, I meant it.  I think we're very blessed as a party to have so many good candidates. The Democrats are struggling to come up with one.

HANNITY: Big time they're struggling, in a lot of ways. You talked about your experience; early in the debate it was brought up about Jeb Bush, your relationship with him, but you also talk about your experience.  It goes beyond being a first term senator from Florida.

The speaker of the House, you worked with...

RUBIO: I actually started in the local government, in a small city, which is pretty intense. I mean, you want to help people, you help them at local government.

Small city, 5,000 people, West Miami. Then I joined the state legislature; I was there for eight and a half years. The last two years, I was the speaker of the Florida House, the third largest state in the country and the most diverse state.

Then I left politics, I was out when I decided to run for the Senate against Charlie Crist. And I'm proud of my service the last four and a half years in the Senate. In my time, I've become convinced that we can't turn this country to what it should belong, its full potential, unless we have a president that understands what that means. That's why I close to run.

HANNITY: One of the big issues that has been going on throughout the whole campaign, immigration. You tried it, comprehensive reform. But one of the times in the interview, you said the American people don't trust us.

RUBIO: They don't.

HANNITY: All right, and so you said, all right, so we have to build a wall for them first.

RUBIO: And not just build a wall, as I tried to make the point. It's 40 percent of the people who are here illegally came legally, and they overstay a visa. In Florida, it's like 70 or 80 percent, and you have to have a system to prevent that as well.

And that is an entry-exit tracking system, so you know who has overstayed, but you also need to e-verify. You have to make it almost impossible to find a job, and that will slow it down and stop it. And -- so we need all three things; we do need a fence ,but we also need more security at the airport and more security of course, when it come to jobs.

HANNITY: On the minds of everybody, and it came up on the debate is this horrible deal that the president is making with Iran. How bad is it?  What do people need to know that we can stop it from actually taking place?

RUBIO: Well, I can tell you a couple things that make it really bad.  Virtually, it guarantees Iran gets nuclear weapon in a less than a decade, and not just a nuclear weapon, but a long range rocket capable of reaching the United States.

Just think about it. Do we want a radical Shia cleric, the Ayatollah of Iran, to have in his possession the ability to attack the continental United States? And that's what he will have if this deal continues moving forward. Because we are not just making all sorts of money available to them by lifting sanctions, the rockets, that they're developing, the long range missiles, they're not even a part of the sanctions. They can continue to develop that.

And Iran, this deal isn't even over two weeks old and they're already cheating. They're already sending Soleimani, the head of the Al Quds force to Russia. And this notion that it's going to be enforced at the Security Council is ridiculous, because Russia is a member of the Security Council.  They invited them to come.

HANNITY: What is also unbelievable about it is the amount of money.  The equivalent of $8 trillion in the U.S. economy, 24 days notice before an inspection, they get to build inter -- continental ballistic missiles, and they get conventional weapons.

Last question. The economy. So many people are suffering. We have debt out of control. We have unfunded liabilities to the tune of a $128 billion. You know, what are the three big steps you would take to get this economy going again?

RUBIO: Well, to begin, we have to understand the economy is a dramatically different one; we now have to compete with dozens of other countries. And the very nature of the economy has changed. As I pointed out tonight, the largest retailer, Amazon, doesn't even own a store.

So, No. 1 we have to become competitive again. That's why we have to lower the corporate tax rate, that's why we have to allow businesses to immediately expense, so the more people we hire, the less they pay in taxes. That's we have to have a territorial system of taxation. So people bring money from abroad -- American money that now they're keeping overseas.

Second, we need regulatory reform. Basically, a regulatory budget that limits how much regulation can cost our economy. We need to fully utilize our energy resources. We do have to reform Social Security and Medicare so we can balance our budget.

And something we didn't talk about tonight, we must modernize higher education. Why need more vocational training -- why don't we teach people to be welders anymore in America? These are good jobs.

HANNITY: Good professions that pay a lot of money.

RUBIO: Fix airplanes and so forth. We also need to give people the ability to go to college without taking out all these loans. You know, I owed over 100,000 in student loans. And it's just crazy that we are -- graduating people with degrees that don't lead to jobs, and tens of thousands in loans, because these universities have no competition. We have to change that, too.

HANNITY: Senator Rubio, good job tonight. Thank you.

RUBIO: Thanks, Sean. Thank you, good to see you.

HANNITY: Thanks for stopping by.

And joining us now live from the spin room is 2016 GOP presidential candidate, Governor Mike Huckabee.

Governor, how are you? Good to see you.

HUCKABEE: I'm doing great, Sean. Nice to be with you.

HANNITY: You have a good time?

HUCKABEE: As much fun as you can have on a stage with nine other people that are taking all time that you want to use.

HANNITY: You didn't go for one period there, I noticed you were waiting for a question.

HUCKABEE: I was going to go get a sandwich. But I decided to wait around, and it's a good thing I did.

HANNITY: I don't want to ask you -- you've answered abortion questions to ad nauseum, and I understand your answer. I want to ask you about something that really interests me. That's fair tax. And you brought it up. I like the fair.

Can that happen? Is that politically possible?

HUCKABEE: Yes. It is absolutely politically possible. There are 75 House sponsors for the fair tax bill. The reason it is not a law, is because nobody has taken the leadership and explained it to the American people to how everybody is bettered by a fair tax. And imagine what happens if there was a president...

HANNITY: Explain it what it is, it's a consumption tax. You buy a car. You pay 19 percent extra. That goes to the government. No income tax. No IRS.

HUCKABEE: Right. There is no IRS. The only plan to get rid of the IRS. The current tax code punishes people's work, savings, investments and inheritances. In other words, it makes everything that makes an economy strong. People don't know that every time they buy something made in America, 22 percent of the cost of that is embedded in the cost of the product in hidden taxes. Because we tax capital and labor. Imagine two things. One, nothing taken out of your paycheck. You go to the store with your full paycheck. And if something is made in America, the 22 percent that was baked into it, it is gone. Now you have a competitive manufacturing environment with China, because the Chinese product, it doesn't have the 22 percent tax advantage.

HANNITY: I thought you had a big -- I wish it could be explained in 30 seconds or less, because I think we have short attention spans as a country. I like your answer on Iran. I have said radical Islamic mullahs that say they want to destroy America, and destroy Israel, coupled with weapons of mass destruction equals the potential, big potential of a modern day Holocaust. You've been saying that.

HUCKABEE: Yes. Well, I have. And interestingly enough, the support from the Jewish community has been incredibly solid. You would not think that because the liberal press goes out there and acts like, oh, everybody is offended bid Huckabee. The Zionist Organization of America, the largest, oldest Jewish support organization in America, very strong in support. Mort Klein -- there's nobody stronger than Mort Klein when it come to issues like that. Ken Abramowitz, head of friends of Likud.

I've had more comments from Holocaust survivors thanking me.

HANNITY: This president doesn't get it.

HUCKABEE: No. He doesn't. He said my comments were ridiculous and sad. Sean, his deal is ridiculous and sad.

HANNITY: And dangerous.

HUCKABEE: Very dangerous. And that's why I used that line tonight.  That Reagan said, trust and verify. His is trust and vilify. Trust your enemies. Trust the people that vow to kill you and vow they're going to kill Israel, and then vilify everybody that doesn't agree with your crazy position.

HANNITY: Governor, thanks for sticking with us.

HUCKABEE: Good to be here, thank you, all right.

HANNITY: Appreciate, good to see you, OK? We're going to have you on Sue, by the way, for your hour.

Coming up, Governor Chris Christie and Governor John Kasich. They're coming up next as Hannity continues, live from Cleveland, Ohio, right after the big debate.

CHRISTIE: I want to check more records from terrorists but less records from other people. How are you supposed to know, Megyn? How are you supposed to...

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Use the Fourth Amendment, use the Fourth Amendment, get a warrant.

CHRISTIE: Listen, Senator, you know, when you're sitting in a subcommittee, just blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that. When you're responsible for protecting the lives of the American people, then what you need to do is to make sure -- is to make sure that you use the system the way it's supposed to work.

PAUL: Here's the problem, Governor. Here's the problem Governor.  You fundamentally misunderstand the bill of rights. Every time you did a case, you get a warrant from a judge. I'm talking about searches without warrants. Indiscriminately of all Americans' records. And that's what I fought to end. I don't trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug. If you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.

HANNITY: All right, that was Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul in a heated moment in the debate. Earlier this evening, right after the debate, I had a chance to speak to Governor Christie about this very issue.

Governor, how are you? Good to see you.

CHRISTIE: Doing great, Sean. Thank you.

HANNITY: Feel good about the debate?

CHRISTIE: I do, feel really good about it. It is great to get out there and talk about the issues, and be able to have some good interchanges. And I think it is really instructive for the public. So, I was really happy to be here.

HANNITY: You had two present fiery exchanges with Rand Paul. Let's talk about the one about the NSA. Let's talk about that one first.

I almost felt like maybe you guys were coming from the same place, but had different perspectives. I talked to Jim Sensenbrenner, author of the Patriot Act. The original Patriot Act was never supposed to data mine American citizens. Only if they were connected to outside countries, people, and it went through the warrants. And I think he was talking about that, and you were saying that if we have reason, a cause, we ought to be monitoring people. Do you support full date mining?

CHRISTIE: Listen, what I support, Sean, is to allow to us collect that data and then max it up against whether or not folks who are receiving calls from known terrorists. Right now, the law Senator Paul put into effect, now the phone companies maintain that data. Well, if they don't maintain it, we can't get it. If they maintain it, we may say we need it now because we're looking to do something, and they say we'll get back to you in 15 days. It makes America less safe.

HANNITY: Maybe you would be good with that data. Why would I not trust Barack Obama to have data on every American?

CHRISTIE: I don't trust Barack Obama, either, but he is not the only person making the decisions, right? I trust the director of the FBI, I know him. I worked with him; he used to be my boss since the Justice Department in the Bush administration. I know Jim Comey, I trust him.

I trust the people in intelligence...

HANNITY: So, how should it be used, though? How should it be used?

CHRISTIE: It should only be used to match-up against the phone records of known terrorists. If there's a match between someone inside the United States and a known terrorist, then what Senator Paul said is absolutely right. Then you go get a search warrant. The idea, he says I want more records from terrorists and less from regular people. How do you who the terrorists are, Sean? There are people in the United States who are right now preparing to attack us. We don't know that. But if they're contacting someone outside the country who is a known terrorist, then we will know it.

HANNITY: Let me go to the other issue that you guys were battling on.  And you're right. 70 plus percent of our budget -- you know what, we don't have influence over. We talk about discretionary spending, but we never talk about mandatory spending, promises that we've made. Would you say we have to means test Social Security? Raise the retirement age, what are you talking about?

CHRISTIE: I'd say both, but let's be really specific. I put out a specific plan. No one else on stage tonight put on ought specific plan.  Two year increase in the retirement age, phased in over 25 years. That means one month a year for 25 years. Secondly, means test but only for those making over $200,000 a year in retirement income, and have four to five million dollars in liquid assets. They don't need a Social Security check. If we do those two things we can save Social Security and not raise taxes.

HANNITY: Let me ask you a question, and I don't want to sound like I'm two defending the quote, "rich" here. Were not they promised when they paid that money in, that they'd get it back?

CHRISTIE: They were.

HANNITY: Won't we just basically, over, licensing the government to steal and break a promise, though? I mean...

CHRISTIE: As I said tonight, Sean, the lying and the stealing has already occurred.


That's a really good point. The lock box Al Gore talked about, right?  Fifteen years ago. There's nothing but IOUs in the lock box. Listen, this is what my campaign is about. I want to tell the truth to the American people, and I have confidence in the American people that they're strong enough to hear the truth; I trust them to hear the truth.

What Governor Huckabee, with all due respect, tonight is fantasy, it's fantasy. And the American people have heard enough about that. That's how the lying and stealing happens in the first place.

HANNITY: So you had a good time?

CHRISTIE: I had a great time.

HANNITY: Governor, good to see you.

CHRISTIE: See you in California.

HANNITY: Thank you. See you in California. We'll be there. Thanks.

CHRISTIE: Thanks, Sean.

HANNITY: And coming up, Ohio governor John Kasich will join us, the home team. He'll join us on our set when we return.


And welcome back at Hannity. We're live from Cleveland. And joining us now, I guess he had a home court advantage tonight, the governor from the great state of Ohio, John Kasich.

How are you?

KASICH: Great.

HANNITY: I was just interviewing you two weeks ago. You've got to be excited you got in this debate.

KASICH: Well, you know, they said I wouldn't get in to begin with.


KASICH: And I did. Then they said well, he can't raise the money, and then I did.


KASICH: Then they said he is announcing too late, which we did.


KASICH: And now they say how did he get in, and then they're saying he did really well tonight. So, it's all good.

HANNITY: Are you surprised by that?

KASICH: Well, I've always been underestimated, you know that. Just like you.

HANNITY: I've been underestimated my whole life.

KASICH: Always, always -- and that's a good thing. I hope they keep underestimating me. It will make life easier.

HANNITY: You had a great answer on immigration. We all agree we have to build the fence. That's why Donald Trump is popular. You dealt with it straight-up. I like that. What is the answer to the 11 million people, though?

KASICH: We have to find out who they are. Look, the most important thing, Sean, is once we fix the border, and build the fence, and put all the things in, the new technology, we have to make one clear word, which is if you come in again, you're going home. That's the end of it. You're going home.

Now, look, I was there when Reagan did the amnesty thing. I was there -- amnesty, I there in '86. I voted for the bill. Our mistake was, once we did it, we didn't fix the border. And secondly, we never said if you try it again, you're going home. No debate, no excuses, no nothing.

HANNITY: Well, maybe you can could it now.

KASICH: Well, I think we can.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. It's funny. I read a poll. A lot of people didn't know you. You were on the Budget Committee.


HANNITY: You were part of that committee that actually balanced the budget.

KASICH: I was one of the chief architect.


KASICH: Of the balanced budget.

HANNITY: But then, people don't know that.

KASICH: They didn't know I was defense for 18 years. I was on the Defense Committee, you know, and...

HANNITY: So, do you look at that as an opportunity?

KASICH: Oh, yes. That's why I keep talking about my record. Because everybody talks what they want to do. I want to talk what I have done, and then you move from that time in Washington to being governor of Ohio, where we were a basket case, and now we've grown 350,000 jobs. We've got $2 billion of surplus. Our credit is strong and we're helping a lot of people.

HANNITY: What was your debt when you took over?

KASICH: $8 billion.

HANNITY: And you brought it -- now have a...

KASICH: A $2 billion surplus, with a balanced budget.

HANNITY: I told you. And jobs.

KASICH: 350,000. And $5 billion in tax cuts, including killing the death tax. And now we're working on killing death.

HANNITY: We're running out of time. You stood firm on accepting the Medicare.

KASICH: Well, I took the Medicaid...

HANNITY: Medicaid, sorry.

KASICH: ... because I brought the resources home, so we don't have to put the all drug addicted in jail for the rest of their life, or the mentally ill in jail. It saves us money, it's the morally right thing to do. If you don't have any health care, you end up in the emergency room and we all pay.

HANNITY: All right. Here's the question. Did you ever get to shoot in the same arena with Lebron?

KASICH: No. But I've been trying to take credit for bringing him back.


I don't think he likes that.

HANNITY: All right, Governor. Good to see you.

KASICH: Hey, guess what, I heard Aerosmith was here.

HANNITY: They were here. I saw them, I talked to them.

KASICH: Could you imagine that? Yes. Thanks.

HANNITY: All right. Good to see you. That's all the time we have left this evening. Thank you for joining us live from the spin room in Cleveland. We will be back in studio for a recap of tonight's debate, that's tomorrow night our usual time.

Thanks for being with us.  

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