Trump, Bush, Cruz, Christie react to big debate moments on 'Hannity'

Business mogul goes on 'Hannity' to discuss double standards, global threats and tax reform


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 17, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." Tonight, fresh off another strong debate performance, Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail. Now, he hosted a town hall meeting in New Hampshire just a few hours ago. Here are some of the highlights.


DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Always making speeches. I then -- because we have to make our country great again, right?


TRUMP: I love the vets. We have a lot of vets here tonight.


TRUMP: In leadership, I win, like, forget it, not even a contest, so much higher than everybody else, like two or three -- I don't know. You got all these cameras going, they can tell you.

And we're going to do question and answer. You can make them vicious, violent, horrible questions, even though you're sort of probably on live television. How many cameras are lit? Yes, there's a lot of them. Every time I speak now, it's on live television. You know why? It is a very simple business. Ratings.

The other thing I want to just dwell on for two seconds, and we -- probably, you've heard, but we are going to build a wall at the border.  We're going to build a wall.


TRUMP: I'm going to make this wall so beautiful because when I'm gone, they're going to probably change the name to the Trump wall. I've got to make it beautiful. I've got to make...


HANNITY: Also, tonight, Donald Trump was center stage at the second GOP debate. Let's take a look.


TRUMP: What I am far and away greater than an entertainer is a businessman, and that's the kind of mindset this country needs to bring it back. We will do -- between that, Ukraine, all of the other problems, we won't have the kind of problems that our country has right now with Russia and many other nations.

And nobody ever mentions North Korea, where you have this maniac sitting there, and he actually has nuclear weapons. And somebody better start thinking about North Korea and perhaps a couple of other places.

The hedge fund guys won't like me as much as they like me right now.  I know them all. But they'll pay more. I know people that are making a tremendous amount of money and paying virtually no tax, and I think it is unfair.

If I'm president, many of the things that we discussed tonight will not be forgotten. We'll find solutions. And the world will respect us.  They will respect us like never before.


HANNITY: Joining us now with reaction, 2016 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Mr. Trump, good to see you, sir.

TRUMP: Hi, Sean.

HANNITY: All right, you definitely get the best and funniest post- debate tweet award when you put up today, "CNN had the highest ratings in their history and the highest ratings ever. Will they send me flowers and a thank you note?"

Why do I not suspect that's coming?

TRUMP: Well, they probably will be sending me something. I think they're very thankful. But you know, these things usually have, like, a million people, two million people. And they'll probably have 23 million, 24 million, 25 million people based on their early numbers. So we'll see.  But maybe I'll get some flowers from CNN. Who knows?

HANNITY: Were you happy with the format? It almost was to me a little bit WWE. You said this about this person, they said this about you, and we want you to fight. and then it went on for three hours. Happy with it, unhappy? You think it was productive?

TRUMP: Well, the thing that made me most upset, and everybody else, too, was the three hours because to be standing up for three hours, answering questions in the form of a debate -- and I think the viewers probably -- you know, frankly, I think they would have done as well as -- you know, I think they set a record in the history of CNN. As well as they've done, they would have done better if it was an hour show. It was too much. It was too long. And I would imagine at a certain point, people get bore with that.

But I liked the way that, you know, certain things happened. I would say this. It was a little bit like WWE, the great Vince McMahon, who was a traffic guy, the way -- and every question had to do with me. It was, Mr. Trump said this, Mr. Trump -- I think they said 46 percent of the questions had something like that. So I thought it was a little bit unusual.

HANNITY: You know, there's a disparity. Three snap polls, Drudge poll, a couple of other polls last night, had you at 60 percent the winner.  If you listen to the political class, the punditry class, the so-called experts, they didn't give you the win. How do you explain that disparity?

TRUMP: Well, they've actually had, yes, three polls, "Time" magazine and Newsmax and Drudge, which are terrific polls. Those are big. You know, it's over a million people. And they voted for me between 60 percent and almost 70 percent. And that's out of 15 people. That's that lot of people. But they voted for me that I won and won easily. I think second place was, like, 10. I was at 60-something, and second place was at 10.

But if you watched the pundits, I mean, they all said I did fine, but they didn't say I won. So the people that vote -- and maybe that's the important ones -- but the people that vote said I won.

And you know, don't forget again, very much like Fox -- I hate to bring this up, but I was asked probably the toughest questions because everything was about, like, Trump said this, Trump said that. And even when the question wasn't asked to me, they were saying, Trump said this, how would you respond.

So I think probably by far I was asked the toughest questions. But the voters all said that I won by a lot. So we'll see. I guess in the end, it doesn't matter.

HANNITY: You know, you -- a lot of pressure was brought to bear on you that you signed the loyalty pledge, that if you didn't win the nomination yourself, that you would support the nominee. It's interesting because as I watched that all unfold, then you have some people on the stage last night questioning your temperament with the nuclear button. Did that bother you? And what's your -- what's your answer to them?

TRUMP: No, they want to get publicity off of me. I mean, they're dying. They have 1 percent in the polls. Some of them are sitting senators that have 1 percent. They're very embarrassed. They're embarrassed in terms of their own constituency back in their state.

And frankly, I understand exactly what they're doing. So they -- a couple of them -- actually, Mike Huckabee, who's a terrific guy, said to me, I'm going to attack you because the only way I'm going to get some publicity out of this is to attack you. And he was kidding. We were just having fun.

But he was having a hard time getting some air time. He said, The only way I'm going to get air time is to attack you. And we laughed, but there's a little truth to it, I guess, although everybody that's attacked me, if you look at Perry and if you look at everybody -- I mean, everybody so far that's attacked me has gone down. We'll see what happens.  Hopefully, that continues.

HANNITY: And obviously, I think you were prepared for it. You had made those remarks the day before, that you had anticipated that.

Let me show two moments with Jeb Bush, one I thought was a funny moment with your Secret Service names, followed up facing off in a battle of words, and get your reaction to this.


JEB BUSH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ever-ready. It's very high-energy, Donald.



TRUMP: Humble.


BUSH: According to what you said on one of the talk shows, you got Hillary Clinton to go to your wedding.

TRUMP: That's true.

BUSH: Because you gave her money.

TRUMP: That's true.

BUSH: Maybe it works for Hillary Clinton...

TRUMP: I was -- excuse me, Jeb.

BUSH: ... it doesn't work for anybody on this stage.

TRUMP: Jeb, I was a businessman. I got along with Clinton. I got along with everybody. That was my job, to get along with people.

BUSH: But the simple fact is...

TRUMP: I didn't want to -- excuse me, one second.

BUSH: No. The simple fact is...

TRUMP: I didn't want to -- Jeb...

BUSH: ... Donald...


BUSH: ... you didn't not take...

TRUMP: More energy tonight. I like that.


HANNITY: All right, both were pretty funny moments, but there's a serious side to this issue, and I've asked you this question before. And that is, you fully acknowledge the system is corrupt. You also say that you took advantage of it, you donate, they would take your calls.

What's the reason -- and that you want to change the system. You know, what would have happened if you didn't donate? Would projects have been lost? Would workers be fired? What would have happened?

TRUMP: Well, you wouldn't have done a lot of deals. I mean, frankly -- and that's maybe human nature to a certain extent, Sean. You know, you donate, and two years later, three years later, you need approvals or you need to go get something or you need something for outside or from outside the country, you need something from State Department, or whatever. And if you donated, they think well of you.

And if you don't -- and I'm not just saying one thing for another.  I'm just saying years later. If you donate, they think, well -- I would say, just to answer your question, yes, probably many things would not have happened, which is a shame.

We need transparency in our system. We have no transparency or we don't have proper transparency, so we need transparency. I know how to fix the system. Nobody else does because I've been a part of the system -- for better or worse, but I've been a part of the system as a businessman.

One of the magazines just called me a world class businessman, which in all fairness, I am. I've been part of the system. So whether it's that or whether it's taxes or whether it's anything else, I've been such a big part of it, I'm the one that knows how to fix it and fix it properly so that we can really go to greatness from where we are right now as a country.

HANNITY: All right, we're going to take a break. We'll come back.  More with Donald Trump right after this.

Also tonight, we'll check in with other GOP presidential candidates, reactions from Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Bush, Governor Chris Christie.  That and more tonight as "Hannity" continues.



HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity," as we continue with 2016 GOP presidential candidate -- Donald Trump is with us.

Last night, there was a battle, got a lot of press, the match-up between you and Carly Fiorina. You said she's a beautiful woman.

Do you think there's a bit of a double standard in terms of, people make fun of you all the time, make fun of your hair all the time. They did it on Jimmy Fallon with Hillary Clinton last night. Is there a double standard? Do you think maybe we're too sensitive about comments? And is that changing in politics?

TRUMP: Well, it's not only a double standard, it's being politically correct. And if you say something nice about somebody -- like, last night, I was very nice to her, and you know, some people thought I was being sarcastic, and you know, et cetera, et cetera.

But actually, if you look back at the records on Carly, she was brutal on Barbara Boxer. She was very nasty. She was running against Barbara Boxer. She lost in a landslide. But during the run, she was really horrible about Barbara Boxer's looks. And she attacked her on her looks.

And also, she attacked Meg Whitman on her look. And there's a big article about it. So I just read that. Somebody just sent it to me.

So Carly is, you know, playing the double standard. She's playing the game herself. But she attacked Meg Whitman and she attacked Barbara Boxer, who she ran against for the U.S. Senate in California, and probably a race she should have won and she lost.

HANNITY: When Frank Luntz did his focus group last night, one of the lines -- and there were a couple of them that resonated very well with voters -- had to do with you saying, Hey, we're ignoring North Korea and this maniac that already has a nuclear weapon. And then, of course, the issue of the Iranian deal.

I'm have something a hard time understanding why everybody on that stage wouldn't rip up this Iranian deal because I defy anybody to tell me one thing that we won in that deal. What would you do with both those countries?

TRUMP: Well, let me just say, first of all, the Iranian deal is a disaster. It's one of the most incompetently drawn contracts -- forget about between nations, it's just one of the worst drawn contracts I've ever seen.

Even the fact that we don't even get our prisoners back. I mean, they have these four prisoners. We don't get them back, and they're great people and there's no reason they should be there.

But so many things, including 24 days. We don't have to discuss it because you discuss it every night. It's an incompetently drawn contract.

But I said last night, you know, we're talking about Iran. In the meantime, you have North Korea where they actually have the nukes already made, and you have this maniac over there threatening them every two weeks that we're going to use them in the United States and every place else, and nobody even talks about him. Nobody mentions him.

You other places, too, by the way, but let's not even mention that.  But you have North Korea, where every two weeks, he's proclaiming that he's going to start sending nukes, and nobody ever even mentions it, and he actually has the nukes. Iran doesn't.

So it's -- you know, it's a terrible situation. Look, we're run by incompetent people, Sean. We need people of great competence.

HANNITY: That's true. Two other things that you touched on last night. I have always argued that English is the language of success in America. That's one. And the fact that you'd raise taxes on the hedge fund guys. And they're not going to like you.

Are you saying that they have loopholes, that they're not paying as much as the rest of us?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, the English -- I mean, this is a country where you're supposed to speak English. And the only way you're going to really assimilate -- and you said it very well -- and become successful and very successful in this country is to speak English.

So I came out very strongly that, you know, you should be speaking English in this country, as opposed to speaking Spanish because all of a sudden, we'll end up in a country with two languages, and I don't want to see that and I'm sure you don't.

As far as the hedge fund guys, I know them very well. They're giving a lot of money to Jeb Bush. They're giving a lot of money to Hillary.  They're going to be well-taken care of if that works, if they get in, if for some reason, one of them get in. But a lot of money -- I mean, these are people that I know. Some are friends of mine. But they're giving a lot of money to the different candidates.

I'm self-funding totally. I'm putting up my own money. I don't want any money. I turning down -- I feel foolish. I'm turning down tens of millions dollars of money that would come into my campaign, and I don't want it. I'm self-funding.

And I don't know if I'm given credit for that. I think I am. Some people say it's the best thing they've ever heard of. But I'm spending my own money so that I'm working for the people. I'll do what's right for United States. I won't be doing what's right for a lobbyist that's representing a big car company or country or something.

HANNITY: If you're elected president, would you take a salary?

TRUMP: No, I won't. I won't do that. Actually, you and I discussed that once before. I will take no salary whatsoever.

HANNITY: All right, Mr. Trump, thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate your time.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

HANNITY: Coming up next tonight right here on "Hannity"...


BUSH: You're proud of your family, just as I am.

TRUMP: Correct.

BUSH: To subject my wife into the middle of a raucous political conversation was completely inappropriate, and I hope you apologize for that, Donald.


HANNITY: All right, he didn't apologize. Former governor Jeb Bush went after Trump last night in the debate. He'll join us next.

Also, later tonight, you'll hear from Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Chris Christie and much more as we continue.


HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." So during last night's GOP debate, former Florida governor Jeb Bush -- well, he got pretty fiery as he promoted his track record, defended his family and even took on one of his biggest critics. Watch this.


BUSH: I have a proven record of conservative leadership where I cut taxes $19 billion over eight years. We shrunk the state government workforce. He created a climate that led the nation in job growth, 7 out of 8 years.

He wanted casino gambling in Florida.

TRUMP: I did not.

BUSH: Yes, you did.

TRUMP: Totally false.

BUSH: You wanted it, and you didn't get it because I was opposed to casino gambling before...

TRUMP: I promise, I would have gotten it.

BUSH: ... during and after! And that's not -- I'm not going to be bought by anybody!

TRUMP: I promise...

BUSH: You're proud of your family, just as I am.

TRUMP: Correct.

BUSH: To subject my wife into the middle of a raucous political conversation was completely inappropriate. I hope you apologize for that, Donald.

We don't have to be the world's policeman, but we certainly have to be the world's leader. We need to have -- make sure that the world knows that we're serious, that we're engaged, that we're not going to pull back, that our word matters.


HANNITY: Joining us now with a recap of his debate performance, the man himself, 2016 hopeful, former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Governor, good to see you. How are you?

BUSH: I'm doing great, Sean. Hope you are, as well.

HANNITY: By all accounts, everyone thinks you did a lot better than the first debate. How do you feel about the format, the debate, the, You said this about him, you said that about her, and on and on. Do you like that? Or is it productive, not productive?

BUSH: Look, it's ratings-driven, I think, and it's entertaining. And all that's OK, but it's not a debate per se. A debate would be where you actually can complete a sentence and have the ability to interact with people.

But it was great. I enjoyed it a lot, and it was certainly a chance for me to lay out my record and to point out some of the differences, particularly with Donald Trump, who's been saying things about me that aren't true. And so I had a good time doing it.

HANNITY: Yes. What do you say -- I mean, there was a lot of back and forth between you and Donald Trump. It seemed the media -- both of you got the most time. He got a little more time than you did, but you two had the most time of any of the other candidates during the debate.

What is your relationship with him like? And is it contentious? Do you -- are the things that you don't like? You asked him to apologize, for example, last night. He said he would not.

BUSH: Yes. Yes. Absolutely. Look, I got -- I have big problems with his lack of interest in learning about the job of being president of the United States. I have problems that it concerns me that he gets his foreign policy information watching the shows.

A lot of things concern me about him, but I don't hold any animus against the guy. I don't -- in the breaks, he seems like a nice person.  His children are good people. Everybody says that. And so I don't hold any kind of personal problem with the guy at all.

But I do think that he needs to be challenged, like all of us, about what our experience is to be president of the United States. This is a big, serious job and you have to have the skills necessary to lead.

HANNITY: What is going on in your mind when you see the top two people in the polls right now never held any political office, and in a field of 16, they get over 50 percent of primary voters, at least in terms of the polls. We're four-and-a-half months away. That's an eternity in politics. But what does it tell you?

BUSH: Well, it is an eternity. And we just started to advertise, and I'm campaigning hard and I'm confident as we move forward that I'll do fine.

But it is something that I think you have to respect. And that is that people are deeply, deeply angry about the dysfunction in Washington.  And I can tell the story that I was a disruptor in Tallahassee. I turned the whole place upside down and things got better because I did it.

The things that people want in Washington I did in Tallahassee -- career civil service reform, Lobbying reform, making sure that government didn't grow faster than people's ability to pay for it. All the things that I got to do I could bring to Washington because I have the experience to do it. But I got to go tell people that. That's my job. That's my responsibility.

HANNITY: Governor, I've looked at your Florida record. I've discussed a lot of these issues with you. You governed as a very solid conservative. You created a lot of jobs. You cut taxes -- don't remember the exact number -- you probably do -- a number of times.

BUSH: $19 billion!


HANNITY: What's that?

BUSH: Yes. Every year.

HANNITY: All right...

BUSH: $19 billion every year I cut taxes.

HANNITY: ... you went up to AAA bond rating, which is an enormous success. You even where the first governor to institute state -- state vouchers, a school voucher system.

And whenever your name comes up on social media, it always immediately races to immigration and Common Core. I think you know that that's true, right? What is your answer to those people that doubt your conservative credentials because of these two issues?

BUSH: Listen to me talk about education, where we had the greatest gains in learning of any state in the country by comprehensively challenging the teachers union, the bureaucracy and creating school choice and eliminating social promotion. Higher standards with real accountability created the greatest learning gains.

Listen to me explain that I've never said that the federal government should have any say in the creation of content or curriculum or standards.  This should be a state responsibility that is implemented at the local level.

Listen to me, and I think people begin to know that when they see that I've done and see what I believe that there should be no concerns at all.

As it relates to immigration, three years ago, I wrote a book about it called "Immigration Wars" that sets out a clear strategy to secure the border, to deal with the problems that are real.

I get why people are angry. This administration is an administration that has done absolutely nothing to secure the border. And he's used -- Obama's used this as a wedge issue.


BUSH:  Hillary Clinton wants to use it as a wedge issue. I think we need to get beyond that.

HANNITY: Our intelligence agencies tell us that there is zero doubt in their minds that they believe that Syrian, Iraqi refugees will be infiltrated by ISIS and al Qaeda. The president's bringing at least 10,000 into this country. Bad idea?

BUSH: Its a bad idea if there's no screening. And I for one think that we should take every Christian Iraqi and every Christian Syrian who are in a situation right now that if they say where they are, they'll be killed. That's the -- that's the...

HANNITY: How do we ascertain...

BUSH: ... the world that a Christian lives in the Middle East with Islamic terrorism. We have a duty I think to help people. But the best way to solve this problem is to lead the world in creating a third way, which is to eliminate ISIS from the face of the earth and to remove Assad so that there could be a stable Syria. It is a tragedy that 11 million people have been displaced in a country of 23 million, and 250,000 probably have died under the brutality of the Assad regime.

HANNITY: What about Kim Davis? That came up last night. You said she must respect the rule of law. Didn't her job description change, though? In other words, she was hired to do one job, that job description changed. She's obviously a person of deep faith and conviction and conscience, and the woman spent six days in jail.

And you know, there's been talk about -- you know, I can't imagine that if somebody held a liberal position in government that they would lose their job or be sent to jail like that.

BUSH: They have a duty to enforce the law, and the law did change.  But there's a way to have accommodations for someone that's clearly acting on her religious conscience. It was clear when she -- this Monday morning, last Monday morning, when she spoke, she spoke from her heart. There is a deep, abiding faith there. This isn't made up.

And the 1st Amendment protects her right to have a conscience based on a set of values that comes from her -- in her case, her belief that Jesus is her savior. And I think that (INAUDIBLE) a big, tolerant country like ours, we ought to find some accommodation.

It may require the Kentucky legislature to change the law, but it ought to be done. This is -- this is something can be worked out in Kentucky and every other place where it plays out.

What we shouldn't do, though, is to say you can't have religious conscience. As Hillary Clinton has said, basically, you can have your religious views in the church pews or at your home, but don't act on those views in the public scare. That is a violation of the 1st Amendment of our great -- of our Constitution.

HANNITY: Governor, thank you for being with us. And congrats on a good night last night.

Coming up next tonight here on "Hannity"...


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If there's anyone up here who would be bound by this catastrophic dealt with Iran, they're giving up...



CRUZ: No president of the United States, Republican or Democrat, has the authority to give away or sovereignty. And so if there is anyone up here who would be bound by this catastrophic deal with Iran, they are giving up the core responsibility of commander in chief.

I am only candidate on this stage who has never supported and in fact who helped lead a fight to stop a massive amnesty plan in 2013 when Barack Obama and Harry Reid joined the Washington Republicans in a massive amnesty plan.


HANNITY: That it was 2016 presidential candidate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz at last night's GOP presidential debate. He joins us now. Senator, good to see you, senator.

I want to get into this, because I agree with you, I think that there is a reason that we have insurgent candidates at the top, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, and you. I would view you as the insider insurgent, if you will. And that is people have had it with the Republican Party betraying their base, breaking their word, now using the power of the purse on either immigration or on Obamacare. And I would imagine Planned Parenthood is going to be a huge fight, too. Why won't they fight? Why are they surrendering?

CRUZ: Sean, you're exactly right, people are fed up with Washington.  And I think this 2016 primary field reflects that.

You know, you look at Republican leadership in Congress and their first step is always, always, always to surrender. And it's a pretty clear contrast. Barack Obama is actually committed to his principles. I'll give him credit for that. I disagree with his principles. I think they're dangerous and they're wrong, but he's committed to them. So Barack Obama tells Congress if you don't fund 100 percent of Obamacare, I, Barack Obama, will veto funding for entire federal government. And GOP leadership caves.

Barack Obama says, if you don't fund 100 percent of my illegal executive amnesty, I'll veto funding for the entire federal government.  And GOP leadership caves.

Barack Obama says now, if you don't fund Planned Parenthood, a private organization, is not part of the government, but if you don't give $500 million to this private organization that is committing ongoing criminal acts, I, Barack Obama, will veto funding for the government. And the response from Republican leadership is they preemptively surrender. They say we will not have a shutdown, which means they hand all decision-making authority to Barack Obama and Harry Reid and to Nancy Pelosi.

That's why people are frustrated. And they're looking for leaders who don't just talk about it but have a record to standing up to Washington, standing up to both Democrats and, this is critical, to members of our own party, to Republican leadership as well.

HANNITY: Is it another example -- I never understood the Corker- Cardin bill. Doesn't the constitution talk about a two-thirds majority in the Senate over treaties? Shouldn't they define it as a treaty and not let the president get away with defining it as not being a treaty?

CRUZ: Absolutely, Sean. It made no sense. The Senate gave up our constitutional authority to ratify this as a treaty. And right now leadership doesn't want to win this fight. We've had a series of show votes.

But I laid out last week in a long letter to Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner a plan of attack to actually win to stop this Iran deal.  Number one, for Republican leaders in both chambers to conclude that the president had not submitted the entire deal because he didn't hand over the side deals -- there are a couple of side deals dealing with inspections.  And under the terms of federal law, actually under Corker-Cardin, until the full deal is submitted and 60 days have expired it's illegal for President Obama to lift sanctions.

HANNITY: Then why don't they do that? Why don't they enforce the law as it's written? It is very specifically says --

CRUZ: Yes.

HANNITY: -- any other amendments or annex indicators in this thing.  Why don't they hand over the whole deal, then the clock starts?

CRUZ: Because they don't want to win. Their sole object -- they were grinning ear to ear because we had the votes this week, and the votes the Democrats by and large all voted with Obama on this catastrophic Iranian deal and Republicans voted against it. And from their view, OK, we've got a political show vote, that's all that matters.

How about we use every constitutional power we have? And let me not right now we're heading into a funding fight on September 30th. If Republican leadership actually meant what we're telling the American people, that this is the single greatest national security threat facing America, that the Ayatollah Khomeini with a nuclear weapon could murder millions of Americans or Israelis or Europeans, then we would use our constitutional authority to stop it. We would pass a continuing resolution that says no funds may be used to administer this catastrophic deal.

HANNITY: You can do it on all these things.

So I'm watching the WWE debate last night.


CRUZ: "You said this about, you said that about." I find myself frustrated because I wanted to hear more from you. You did not get anywhere near the time of the candidates. I wanted to hear more from Marco Rubio, more from maybe Scott Walker, who got probably the least amount of time. Do you think this is a helpful process? Would you do it differently?

CRUZ: Listen. I am encouraged by what we're seeing in the primaries across the country. The debates themselves, the moderators are looking for clash.

HANNITY: A food fight.

CRUZ: They're looking for a food fight. They're trying to turn it into Jerry Springer. I really was waiting to see if they would get someone to actually take up a chair throw it.

HANNITY: I was waiting for a chair to go flying.

Here's what I want -- you are viewed as an insurgent candidate. How do you break through to the top tier as you sit in the second tier right below in the top four?

CRUZ: Well, we're right now national we're polling number four nationally. I'm number three in Iowa. We're polling near the top in both New Hampshire and South Carolina. Our focus is very much playing the long game. We're building a grassroots team. We have united conservatives on the ground, particularly in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, then all through the Super Tuesday states, the so called SEC primary.

Our focus right now is on grassroots, number one, and then fundraising. One of the incredible things -- the first debate we had on FOX News, in the hundred hours that followed that, we raised $1.1 million as people all over the country, they went to TedCruz.org, TedCruz.org, and they contributed. We saw an explosion of momentum. It is my hope that that will continue.

   And so our focus is on the long game because I think -- listen, after all the fireworks and after all the fun ends, people are going to ask the question, OK, I want an outsider, I want someone who will stand up and fight in Washington, fight the Washington cartel. They're going to ask the next question -- who actually has stood up and fought the Washington cartel? And I think when it comes to record, there is a clear difference between campaign conservatives who suddenly discover they're against Planned Parenthood when they're running for president, and a consistent conservative who's been standing and fighting the fight.         

You know, when the gang of eight was being pushed, when Marco Rubio and a number of others were pushing the gang of eight, I stood shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions leading the fight to defeat amnesty. And if you look at the other folks on that stage, none of them were there as part of that fight, leading the fight to stop amnesty. So now they say they are against it. But when the fight was happening, when they had an opportunity to take on the Washington cartel they didn't step up to the plate. And I think that's what primary voters are looking for is someone they can trust, a consistent conservative the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.        

HANNITY: I hope I'm wrong, but I predict on the two issues we were discussing earlier, Planned Parenthood funding and on the conditions for the release of funds to Iran, I don't think they're going to make it. I think they're going to cave. And I think this is just going to fuel conservative anger, justifiable anger, in my view.         

But Senator, good to see you. Thank you so much for taking time to be with us.         

CRUZ: Thank you, Sean. God bless you.        

HANNITY: Appreciate it.        And coming up next right here tonight on HANNITY.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: To the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn't have a job, who can't fund his child's education, I've got to tell you the truth. They could care less about your careers. They care about theirs. Let's start talking about that on the stage.



HANNITY: Big talk from last night's debate. We'll check in with Governor Chris Christie in studio coming up next.



CHRISTIE: While I'm as entertained as anyone about this personal back and forth about the history of Donald and Carly's career, for the 55-year- old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn't have a job, who can't fund his child's education, I've got to tell you the truth.  They could care less about your careers. They care about theirs. Let's start talking about that on this stage and stop playing the games.



HANNITY: All right, that was 2016 Republican presidential candidate, the governor of the great state of New Jersey in last night's debate.  Christie's line struck a chord with viewers. Joining us now is the man himself, Governor Chris Christie. You don't look tired. Three hours up there is a little rough.

CHRISTIE: It was a lot. It was a lot. But we're all right. We're standing.

HANNITY: I thought you had two really great moments last night. And I thought you had a great debate overall, and that was the consensus of everything I read this morning. One was what happened there, but also when you started the debate, you said pan away to the crowd. Are you better off than you were seven years ago? No, we're not.

CHRISTIE: No. I mean, listen, and what I said exactly to these folks is do you think your children are going to have a better life than you have? And that Sean is the sin, the biggest sin of the Obama administration. In seven short years they've stolen people's faith and their trust in the fact that their children will have a better life than them. And that's why I'm running for president because I'm going to restore that.

HANNITY: I got the feeling last night that you got your mojo back, that the Chris Christie, the brash, funny, loving -- you enjoy the spotlight.


HANNITY: You are very comfortable up there. I felt some other candidates were not as comfortable. So I felt like you really hit your stride last night.

CHRISTIE: I felt good last night, Sean. I was on Megan's show. And she asked me what do you need to do? I said, listen, I just need to be myself. And I think that's sometimes easier said than done when you're in an atmosphere with 11 people in three hours. But we did it.

HANNITY: Why do you want to steal my Social Security money? Here's my argument, and I agree with you there was never a lockbox. Yhey stole our money.


HANNITY: OK. Why do I feel that means testing at this point -- which, by the way, I understand the arguments. But isn't it really government stealing? It's my money, I paid it in, and the government will take it.

CHRISTIE: Well, here's the alternative.


CHRISTIE: The alternative is they're going to take the cap off the Social Security tax and they will steal from you now. And they'll steal more from you now.

HANNITY: So I'm going to get ripped off legally by my government.

CHRISTIE: That is exactly right. And here is the thing. I don't want to give this government another nickel, because, you know what, if they take the cap off the Social Security tax to fix the Social Security problem, you know what's going to happen, they'll steal that money, too.  And then they're going to come to you 15 or 20 years from now when you and I are ready to retire and they're going to tell us we can't have it anyway.

Let's belly up to the bar now and be honest about it. And you know what, for guys like you and I --

HANNITY: Like you.



CHRISTIE: We do not want to compare W2s, buddy. But for guys like us, we've worked hard. This country has been great to us, too. I don't want people who have worked hard and played by the rules, that 55-year-old construction worker I was talking about last night, to have to choose between rent and food when he retires.

HANNITY: It's been a $5,000 median income decline since Obama has been president.

CHRISTIE: It's outrageous. And that's why last night I was saying the things I'm saying, Sean. You can't continue to talk about yourself.  Leadership is not about me. It's about us.

HANNITY: I think that is a good narrative. I think it's working for you. I'm sure you're going to continue that.

Let me go to the immigration issue. You said that you think that the Trump plan is unworkable. Here's what we're paying. We're paying billions and billions of dollars every year, the impact on our educational system, our health care system, our criminal justice system. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. People don't respect our laws and sovereignty, 94 million Americans out of the labor force, 50 million in poverty, 46 million on food stamps. My question is, those people are now competing for limited jobs, driving down wages. Wouldn't we, in the end, save money if we said you didn't respect our laws, go home?

CHRISTIE: We'll save money by enforcing the law, right? So understand what I'm saying. Donald thinks we'll get rid of all of them within two years. That is 15,000 people a day, every day for two years.  It's not going to happen.

So what I'm saying is let's enforce the laws, let's enforce the laws, Sean, this way. Let's make e-verify happen immediately. And anybody who employs someone who is here illegally will get double the fine, the find will be double whatever they make off those folks. That's where you'll dry it up and then those people will leave on their own.

But they're not going to leave -- If what we're going to do is have police that we're going to round everybody up that way, I know this because I did this for seven years. There are not enough police officers to do it.

HANNITY: Can we hire more?

CHRISTIE: We could hire more. We're talking about a hundred thousand or more.

HANNITY: If you do the math and how much it's costing the educational, criminal justice, health care system. I haven't fun the numbers but I have to imagine that in the end we save money.

CHRISTIE: You may save money over 30 years, but in the short term, it's going to be huge. But here's the thing. We can do it an easier way.  People are here to work. Unlike what Hillary Clinton thinks, they're not here to vote.

HANNITY: Some are here to wreak havoc on our country.

CHRISTIE: And, by the way, those people should be arrested, jailed, and after they serve their time for committing their crime --

HANNITY: We let them out so they can commit more crimes.

CHRISTIE: Of course, and that is because this president is lawless and he allows sanctuary cities. Let me tell you, Sean, one of the first things I'll do as president is give everybody, you've got 100 days, 100 days to start enforcing immigration laws in your city. And if you don't, we're going to revoke federal aid.

HANNITY: Let me ask you. You are a prolife governor in a blue state.  You defunded Planned Parenthood. Republicans have this tough moment. I want to go back to this moment in the debate last night. They've got to decide are they going to let the president, pass a CR and let the president veto it and shutdown the government? Should they do that in your opinion?

CHRISTIE: They should not only do that, they should put everything on the president's desk that he's going to veto. We should do tax reform and put it on --

HANNITY: Why haven't they done it?

CHRISTIE: I don't know, Sean. Listen, I campaigned, as you know, in 2014 not only for governors but for Senate candidates around this country who said if we get a majority in the United States Senate we're going to do these things. Now they're saying, oh, no, no, we need 60 because of the filibuster rule.

Do your job. And that is what the American people are so frustrated by. Let the country see he's the obstructionist in chief. If we pass good Republican tax reform and he vetoes it, there will be outrage in this country.

HANNITY: You need to do that on everything.

CHRISTIE: Of course. Let's repeal and replace Obamacare with a market based system that we put on his desk. He wants to veto it, let him veto it.

HANNITY: You don't look tired from a guy that flew in from California.

CHRISTIE: Listen, I'm hot, baby. I'm ready. I'm rolling.

HANNITY: All right, governor, good to see you.

CHRISTIE: Thanks for having me on.

HANNITY: Appreciate it.

When we come back, we need your help, a very important "Question of the Day" next, straight ahead.  


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." And it's time for tonight's "Question of the Day." So who do you think won last night's debate? Just got to Facebook.com/SeanHannity, @SeanHannity on Twitter and let us know what you think. That is all the time we have left this evening. Don't forget, set your DVR so you never miss an episode. We take attendance. It hurts our feelings when you're not here. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.

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