2016 GOP horse race: The media instigate feuds in an unpredictable primary

Radio host blasts CNN on 'Hannity' for running a 'reality debate'


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 18, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.



DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you're illegal, you've got to go back.

CROWD: Trump! Trump! Trump!

TRUMP: One second.


TRUMP: I didn't want to...

BUSH: The simple fact is, Donald...


BUSH: ... you cannot take...

BUSH: More energy tonight. I like that.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This election is not just a choice between political parties. It is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be in the 21st century.

CARLY FIORINA R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is an entertainer. I am a leader.

We need the strongest military on face of the planet, and everyone has to know it.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 got to tell you the truth, they could care less about your careers! They care about theirs!

BUSH: People are supporting me because I have a proven record of conservative leadership. I cut taxes, $19 billion over eight years.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I am elected president, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal!

DR. BEN CARSON R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think that my strategy's going to change at all. It's going to be to tell the truth and to talk about my vision for America, which I think is something that a lot of people resonate with.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WIS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For us, that's what we need in Washington, someone to say it is put up or shut up time. We sent you there for a purpose. It's time to lead this country going forward!

CRUZ: The difference between me and the other candidates is that I'm going to do what I told you I would do!

TRUMP: And we're really killing it. We are killing it!


SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome to this special edition of "Hannity: 2016 Horse Race." So who won the week? Now, it was a big week in presidential politics, with candidates busy on the campaign trial, also squaring off in the second GOP debate.

Here are some of the most talked about moments from Wednesday's second Republican showdown.


FIORINA: Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly, and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.

CRUZ: President Obama is violating federal law by not handing over the side deals! And we ought to see the United States Congress stand up together and say, Hand over this treaty and protect this country!

TRUMP: I hear your wife is a lovely woman.

BUSH: She is. She's fantastic.

TRUMP: I don't know her.


BUSH: ... the love of my life, and she's right here.

TRUMP: Good.

BUSH: And why don't you to apologize to her...

TRUMP: No, I won't do that.

BUSH: ... right now!

CHRISTIE: 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 got to tell you the truth, they could care less about your careers! They care about theirs!

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His visceral response to attack people on their appearance -- short, tall, fat, ugly -- my goodness. That happened in junior high.

TRUMP: I never attacked him on his look, and believe me, there's plenty of subject matter right there.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I were sitting at home and watching this back and forth, I'd be inclined to turn it off. I mean, people at home want to know across this country -- they want to know what we're going to do to fix this place!


DOBBS: Here now with analysis of the GOP field, author of the number one New York Times best-seller five consecutive week, "Plunder and Deceit: Big Government's Exploitation of Young People and the Future," I call him the "great one," Mark Levin. Thank (ph) me.

How are you, sir?

MARK LEVIN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I'm good, my brother. How are you?

HANNITY: All right, like you, Mark, I am undecided. This WWE debate, you know, This one said this about you. This one said that about you. What do you say? Say it to them. Say it -- I did not -- it did not move the needle for me this week in terms of choosing an ultimate nominee that I think is best qualified. How about you?

LEVIN: No, I agree with you. This -- these attempts to instigate the fights over the most moronic things -- by the way, I would remind the viewers, early in our history, what they used to say about each other was unbelievable, that this candidate was an adulterer, this candidate had babies out of wedlock. This stuff about somebody's face, that's small potatoes.

Now, that said, I don't like this media instigated, You said this, and what do you think about that, and he didn't like your face, do you like your face?

This is -- you know, for many of us, the country is at a precipice. We're looking into the abyss. There are major issues out there. This is not a format that really lends itself to a thoroughly serious discussion on the issues.

And this is problematic and this is something we need to think about as a Republican Party and as a people. I mean, Ted Cruz was given minimal amount of time because CNN is running a reality debate here, and they want as much food fight as possible.

You've got two of the other contenders (INAUDIBLE) hour. Scott Walker barely had any time. It's not a question of who I support or don't support. It doesn't matter, at least right now.

And so I'm troubled by this. And so what I think we need to be able to do is, I want to hear five minutes from each candidate on Iran. I want to hear five from each candidate on the border. I want to hear five minutes from each candidate on how to create jobs and create growth and economic opportunity in this country.

There are many issues that can be broken down very simply, but the reason the media don't want to do that, particularly networks like CNN, is it's not exciting. They want a pie fight. They want the Three Stooges. This is what they want.

Some of the candidates are better at navigating through this. Some of the candidates are better at muscling through and getting their sound bites in, but I don't really think it helps the republic very much.

HANNITY: Let me ask you -- let's go through some of the individuals here. Obviously, Donald Trump got the majority of time. He's the front- runner. He was attacked a lot. How do you feel he handled it?

LEVIN: Look, I mean, right from the get-go, Jake Tapper and CNN and a number of the candidates, they said in advance they're going after Trump. He's the guy that's out front, so he had a scrum. I thought that was the worst 30 or 40 minutes of TV. of debate, of politics I'd ever heard or seen. I thought it was outrageous.

But you know, the Republicans have to show some restraint on that stage, too, but they didn't want to. So that troubled me a lot. I thought he muscled through it fine. I mean, when you're getting hit with machine gun bullets, at some point, you may say something that's a little odd or not, but I thought he muscled through better than most candidates would.

HANNITY: Yes. Ben Carson -- when you look at these polls, they're fascinating to me. You got two outsiders that are leading in the polls. You know, Ben Carson -- my take is he's a great guy. He has a compelling story. He's a thoughtful guy. But a debate format is not his format, and I feel that it's never going to be helpful to him. Your thoughts.

LEVIN: I agree with you. I mean, there is a middle between relatively passive or soft-spokenness and loud provocation. But again, it's the format that troubles me because Abraham Lincoln had a very high, squeaky voice. Others had other problems throughout American history. And I just don't think -- and I'm not saying it's Ben Carson, even though I'm a big fan of his. I just don't think we should be making judgments based on such superficial things.

He's an intelligent man. He's a solid conservative man. He's a man of faith and he should be taken very seriously.

HANNITY: What do you think a lot of -- obviously, if you read the pundits -- I do think Carly had a good night. I thought she stood out in a lot of ways. I didn't quite take it the same way that some people talk about it. I'm interested to see if it translates into poll numbers.

Marco Rubio gave, I thought, one of the best answers about a gangster by the name of Vladimir Putin, who's trying to co-opt and fill the vacuum of America being off the national -- international stage and co-opt Syria and Egypt and Saudi Arabia and others. I thought that was a solid answer.

HANNITY: Well, there were a lot of solid answers. You know, they're all running as Barry Goldwater and Milton Friedman and George S. Patton right now, if you'll notice. A lot of them have records that are much more moderate or even liberal. Some of them have massively expanded Medicaid. Some of them used to be for amnesty. Some of them used to be against limiting the debt ceiling, and so forth.

And you asked me about Carly Fiorina. You know, today, the establishment likes Carly Fiorina. Last week, it was Kasich. The week before that, it was Jeb Bush.

These people have records, too. And in all the discussion I've heard about Carly Fiorina so far, I've heard nothing about what she said when she ran in the Republican primary in the Senate in 2009 and 2010, where she was the moderate running against the conservative, Chuck Devore (ph), and her positions were quite different.

So we have a lot of flip-floppers. I'm not saying they shouldn't evolve into being more and more conservative. I also think it's very interesting, Sean, that these candidates are moving to the right as they run, some of whom who are not so conservative, and this is an important message for Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, a message that I don't think they're really paying much attention to.

HANNITY: Yes. Well, that's the bigger problem, and that is that the Republicans -- they didn't use the power of the purse on "Obama care." They funded illegal, unconstitutional immigration. I bet when all is said and done, Mark, when this two-week period when they debate the CR, they'll end up funding Planned Parenthood because, quote, "They don't want to get blamed for a shutdown."

Isn't this causing or creating the rise of the insurgent candidates? And where does Ted Cruz fit in all this? I thought he had a good night. I would have liked to have heard more from him and more from Walker and more from Rubio and some others. Where does he fit in this?

LEVIN: Well, you weren't going to hear more from them because the moderators wouldn't let them. When you heard the discussion about this so- called global warming, I actually heard Marco Rubio and Chris Christie and -- who else? -- and Walker basically say, yes, it exists, but the question is what do we do about it? And we don't want to destroy jobs and -- and Tapper was there saying, Well, you know, you're skeptics. No, we're not.

And then at the end, Cruz says, Well, I'm a skeptic, let me comment. And he says, No, you'll have your turn later and dismissed him and moved on. Do you know why? Because the food wasn't flying. That's why. The shoes weren't flying, and he could see this might be boring.

So again, the media is problematic here. They're pushing for ratings, so they're driving up their commercial rates, and so forth and so on. But we've got seven more debates. And let me predict to you right now, Sean, in debate number six, nobody will remember what happened in debate number two.

HANNITY: Well said. All right, the "great one" -- by the way, congratulations, five consecutive weeks, number one on The New York Times list. Congrats.

All right, coming up next tonight right here on "Hannity"...


TRUMP: And you're going to say to your children and you're going to say to anybody else that we were part of a movement to take back our country!



HANNITY: Donald Trump -- he held several big events this week. We're going to have the highlights and reaction from Mark Steyn.

Then later, some of Trump's rivals have come out with new attack ads aimed at the Republican front-runner.

Plus, it's all about the outsider candidates, Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Cruz, the insurgents -- they continue to see big jumps in the polls. We'll explain why straight ahead.



HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." Donald Trump has had a huge week. Not only did he take center stage at the debate this week, but Trump also held several massive rallies where he spoke to thousands and thousands of supporters. Watch this.


TRUMP: The silent majority, believe me, is back! And I think...


TRUMP: And I think we can use it somewhat differently. I don't think we have to call it a silent majority anymore because they're not silent.

But we're going to have so many victories -- and they're going to be great victories, and we're going to have them all the time, and you're going to say to your children and you're going to say to anybody else that we were part of a movement to take back our country!



HANNITY: Joining us now to talk about Donald Trump's big week and how he impressed so many people, with reaction, the author of the brand-new book, "Disgrace to the Profession," Mark Steyn is with us.

You know, I actually think a sort of mental malaise has set in in America and we haven't really talked a lot about it.


HANNITY: Median income is down $5,000.

STEYN: Yes. Yes.

HANNITY: Doubling of the national debt. He'll take on more debt than any other president...

STEYN: Right. Right.

HANNITY: Labor force participation rate lowest since the '70s. Tens of millions more Americans in poverty, on food stamps since he's been president. And we are being crushed on the world stage!

STEYN: Right.

HANNITY: The latest example, the Iranian deal. "I want to make America great again"...


HANNITY: That -- that resonates, if he doesn't say anything else.

STEYN: Yes. And he says the American dream is dead, and I'm going to bring it back. And he's right that it's dead in the sense that if you're in the bottom 20 percent of this country, if you're born into that, you're likely to stay there. You're stuck there, compared to other developed nations.

And then the political establishment tells you you're going stay stuck in the bottom at 20 percent, but you'll have a choice between voting for the wife of the previous president and the son and brother of the previous president.


STEYN: And he's saying, No, there's -- we can bust through this. There's something else.

HANNITY: What do you make of the disconnect? You know, three or four polls come out after the debate. Trump has 60 percent among the people. They're flash polls...


HANNITY: ... Drudge, Newsmax, Time Magazine. You know, an interesting barometer, but -- then when you listen to the punditry class...

STEYN: Right.

HANNITY: ... you know, fellow TV commentators...

STEYN: Right. That's right!

HANNITY: ... they have a very different view than what people are voting on those polls. Why is there that disparity.

STEYN: Well, they were completely wrong last time. And I think the idea was that they think of Trump as this kind of noisy reality show distraction -- a month ago, they thought this -- and that after the FOX debate, it would settle down and become a normal Republican primary process.

And I think it's clear that between now and Iowa and New Hampshire, it's not going to be a normal primary process. We don't know what it's going to be, but...

HANNITY: Nobody can tell you, right? I can't tell you.

STEYN: No. But if you -- by the time -- an hour before the debate, the two front-runners were Trump and Carson, two political outsiders. By common consent, the person who did well in the debate is another outsider.


STEYN: Carly. And if you think about it, we have this extraordinary moment where two CEOs are arguing back and forth about who has the lousiest record...


STEYN: ... as all these senators and governors are standing around saying, Well, wait a minute. What has this got to do with -- and that's the -- we now know that this idea that he was, like, a six-week flash in the pan -- it's not going to be a normal presidential nominating process.



STEYN: ... uncharted territory.

HANNITY: They may be writing books about this campaign in the history books! All right...

STEYN: But you know, that -- that -- in a way, Sean, that goes back to what Obama did. Obama is essentially, I would say, a creature of the culture in the way that people like Biden and Bill Clinton are conventional Democrat politicians.

HANNITY: I think every future president...


HANNITY: ... will be a media president, meaning they have to project themselves well on TV and show energy before a crowd. If you're not connecting on television, if you're not connecting with crowds, I think you're going to have trouble.

Look at the trouble, though -- and we don't talk a lot about the Democrats. Bernie Sanders is up 22 points in your home state. He's up 10 points in Iowa.

STEYN: Right.

HANNITY: and Hillary now telegraphed to The New York Times that she's going to show warmth and humor...

STEYN: Right.

HANNITY: ... and here's an example of it.


HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, Trump is entertaining. I have to tell you.


CLINTON: I really do. I really do find him entertaining.


CLINTON; And you know, I kind of wish I had that same sort of mentality, like, Oh, listen, I don't need to tell you anything. When I get there, peace will be breaking out everywhere. Prosperity will be raining down upon you. We will have the new age.


HANNITY: She seemed -- that might be their goal.

STEYN: Right.

HANNITY: But unprompted, the number one words that show up -- liar...

STEYN: Right.

HANNITY: ... dishonest...


HANNITY: ... untrustworthy.

STEYN: Right.

HANNITY: Can she change people's perceptions?

STEYN: I think if there were no e-mail scandal, her attempt at stand- up comedy would be enough to kill her in Iowa and New Hampshire. I'm in favor of a constitutional amendment -- I know there's, I think, laws in this country against bills of attainder, but I would be in favor of a constitutional amendment forbidding Hillary from attempting stand-up comedy ever again because this is...


HANNITY: What are they -- showing more humor -- we can expect Chris Rock, Larry the Cable Guy...

STEYN: Right. Right.

HANNITY: ... Amy Schumer. She's not any of them!


HANNITY: She's not warm and she's not funny...


HANNITY: ... which then goes to the question, can somebody -- in this country, when 60 percent of the American people view you as dishonest and untrustworthy, can you win the presidency?


HANNITY: I don't think you can.

STEYN: No, I think if Bernie wins Iowa and New Hampshire -- I think - - I don't claim to have any great insights into Iowa, but I think...

HANNITY: In New Hampshire.

STEYN: ... in New Hampshire, I think he will win. I was in the most liberal town in New Hampshire. Hadn't been there for a while, Hanover, New Hampshire, home of Dartmouth College...

HANNITY: I bet they love you!

STEYN: ... the other week -- yes, I'm not -- I'm not big there. But they love Bernie. They've got their -- these are wealthy liberals. In other words, they're not hard-core broken-down welfare socialists. Wealthy boutique liberals at Dartmouth College love Bernie Sanders, and they have no warmth and they have no enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton.

HANNITY: Do we have to prepare for a new entrant into the Democratic primary? Moonbeam Brown suggests that he might get in. Joe Biden is flirting with it. I've got to believe in the back of John Kerry's mind, he's thinking he might get in, and as an outside shot, Elizabeth Warren or Al Gore.

STEYN: Well, I think Elizabeth Warren has a constituency. I think, basically, it's Biden or bust because I think -- there's no love lost between Obama and the Clintons, and Obama would love to have a third term, and Joe Biden is his third term in a way that Hillary Clinton isn't.

HANNITY: Do you think Obama sabotages Clinton?

STEYN: I think so. I mean, I think that's...

STEYN: Even though Bill came to the rescue in 2012?

STEYN: Yes, but Bill didn't come to the rescue! Bill...

HANNITY: Bill was the rock star at the convention!

STEYN: Bill was the one telling Ted Kennedy, Can you believe this guy? He should be bringing us our drinks. I mean, that's what Bill Clinton said about Obama!

HANNITY: And remember, Clinton was saying, Oh, they played the race card against me. But he did come to the rescue in 2012.

STEYN: Yes, but...

HANNITY: He helped.

STEYN: But you know, Obama despises Clinton. If you -- that whole 1990s third way new Democrat...

HANNITY: Triangulation.

STEYN: Yes, meeting (ph), the age of big government is over. Obama buried that. Obama has said, No, we got (ph) big government. I've spent $10 trillion. Nobody in human history has ever done that in -- in -- ever, ever. I did it. The age of big government is back, and we don't need Bill Clinton micro-liberalism. I think he'd rather have Biden (INAUDIBLE)

HANNITY: It's great to have you in New York. You need to stick around a little longer. I'm going to get you new ties, though. I don't know -- where did you get that tie? What did you get that tie...


HANNITY: That is horrible!

STEYN: What?


STEYN: I'm -- I'm -- you know...

HANNITY: I have the total (ph) Trump collection. I'll give you something.

STEYN: No, that's not -- I'm not -- this isn't a Donald Trump tie.

HANNITY: Mine is!


HANNITY: ... nicer than that!

STEYN: This is a -- this is, like, Turnbull (ph) (INAUDIBLE) in German (ph) Street in London!

HANNITY: Oh, my God.

STEYN: Best tie in the world, this!

HANNITY: Whatever. All right.

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

STEYN: You loser!



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Best football game you've ever been to.

RUBIO: 1985, "Monday Night Football," undefeated Bears against the Dolphins. I was there with my dad. Never forget that night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Favorite Miami Dolphins cheerleader.

RUBIO: That's easy. Jeanette (ph) Rubio.


HANNITY: All right, we got new political ads just released this week. So whose message may be resonating with you, the voters? We'll check in with Doug Schoen and Ari Fleischer coming up next.

Plus, the outsider candidates -- they continue to dominate in the GOP field. New polls released this week prove it.

That and more tonight as "Hannity" continues.



FIORINA: And look at all of your faces, the face of leadership. This is the face of a 61-year-old woman. I am proud of every year and every wrinkle!



HANNITY: And Marco Rubio, he got into the spirit of football season in his new ad. Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most underrated president.

RUBIO: Probably Truman. I don't think we give him enough credit for the difficult decisions he had to make at the end of the Second World War.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Best football game you've ever been to.

RUBIO: 1985, "Monday Night Football," undefeated Bears against the Dolphins. I was there with my dad. Never forget that night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Favorite Miami Dolphins cheerleader.

RUBIO: That's easy. Jeanette Rubio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harder to recover, Hillary's e-mails or Tom Brady's text messages?

RUBIO: I think it's been harder to get Hillary Clinton's e-mails, and a lot more meaningful (ph) what's (ph) in those e-mails.


HANNITY: All right, whose message is working best with you, the voters? Joining us now with reaction to these ads, Fox News contributor Doug Schoen, and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer is back with us.

I like fun ads. I like funny ads. Funny always works. and it's underutilized.

DOUG SCHOEN, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, but it has to make a point. The Carly Fiorina ad, Sean, made a point about her differences with Donald Trump. Thought it was a good ad. I don't think it's going to have as much impact as perhaps some of the commentators today said. I thought the Marco Rubio ad was cute, but that's not going to be a game changer.

HANNITY: It's not going to be a game changer, but you know what it does help define -- I thought Marco had one of the best lines on foreign policy the other night, Ari, when he said, you know, Hey, Vladimir Putin, the gangster, is filling a void that Obama has left open, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Syria and all these countries -- you know what? He's going to go over to them and say, Hey, America's abandoned you. Come -- come with me. And I think he's very right on that.

FLEISCHER: Senator Rubio is fluent when it comes to foreign policy. He's fluent, he's accurate, and he's Ronald Reagan "peace through strength" style.

It's interesting, Sean, too, to contrast the way he speaks. When he talks about foreign policy, it's spontaneous. It just flows out of him like emotion. When he talks about domestic policy, it's almost as if he is so articulate, he's reading off of a teleprompter, it sounds like. And notice that difference. Foreign policy really is what motives him, but he's a great freedom story, and that's a powerful part of Republicanism and conservatism and peace through strength.

HANNITY: You know, one of the things -- he's the second choice of almost every Republican. How does he jump from being people's second choice to their first choice?

SCHOEN: You know, because issues matter, Sean. If he did 30-second ads where he talked, as Ari suggested, about what we should do to take on Vladimir Putin, what we should do to reform welfare -- the reason Donald Trump is doing as well as he is -- yes, he's an outsider, but you know what? He's the candidate who's been most plainspoken on immigration and has hit a responsive chord.

Voters want to hear what you're going to do to change the country. That's more important than anything else.

HANNITY: All right, you've not been a big fan of Donald Trump. Why?

FLEISCHER: Because I just question whether he has the right skills to be an effective president of the United States. I do not like the pejorative style of politics that he embraces, the remark about Rand -- Ron (sic) Paul, about his looks. Why does he have to do that? This county needs somebody who actually knows how to build bridges and coalitions. That's what we have to do under our Constitution. And so therefore, it's his style. You know...


HANNITY: ... like his style.

FLEISCHER: ... energy, he brings this -- a bluntness that there's something to be admired. And of course, he is the outsider. But at the end of the day, can he build a coalition? And that's where I think he's going to fall short.

HANNITY: Well, time's going to tell. So far, it has not worked against him. Maybe -- are there diminishing returns? Probably at some point, but he does defy political...


FLEISCHER: ... a multi-candidate field. When there are 16 people, the person with the 20, 25 percent plurality's in first.

SCHOEN: Right.

FLEISCHER: This field will whittle, and when it gets down to Trump against one, Trump against two, that's when it really becomes an interesting...

SCHOEN: There's a larger message here...


SCHOEN: Let me finish.

HANNITY: Go ahead, Doug.

SCHOEN: What's going on is that Donald is saying, I tell the truth. Whether you like it or not, whether you find it pleasant or not -- you're right statistically, but the Republican electorate is so angry with insiders. Sean and I have talked about this...

HANNITY: I'm angry.

SCHOEN: ... for years. We're all angry. And you know what? Donald is saying, I'll change America. I'll tell you what I think, whether you like it or not, and it's resonating.

HANNITY: You know, Ari, I am one of those conservatives that feel disappointed by a Republican Party in D.C.

FLEISCHER: Yes. I've noticed.

HANNITY: They make -- you noticed? They make promises and they don't keep them. 2014 was all about stopping executive amnesty, which is unconstitutional, and they -- they -- they caved. They gave in. They won't use the power of the purse on "Obama care." All of these examples -- I will predict they will cave on funding Planned Parenthood. And people have had it! And 50-some-odd percent of the voters are looking to two outsiders right now, I would argue in part because these guys are so weak.

FLEISCHER: Sean, you can't govern this nation just from Congress. Your beef is with James Madison, the writer of the constitution.



HANNITY: Ari, wait a minute.

FLEISCHER: -- who doesn't sign what would get to his desk --

HANNITY: Ari, we have a constitution. We have enumerated checks and balances, separation of powers. One power that Congress has is the power of the purse. They won't use it. They won't use it for fear there will be a political backlash and they will get blamed for a shutdown, so they won't confront the president and the acquiesce time and time again. How is that James Madison's fault?

DOUG SCHOEN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You know what it is. It's political dumb, just dumb, because they stake out right wing positions, they take the negative hit for doing it, and then they cave. Bottom line, Sean, it only helps Hillary and the Democrats.

HANNITY: Ari, how can you not see and feel what so many of us are feeling --

SCHOEN: Of course I'm right.

FLEISCHER: Because, Sean, I've lived through two government shutdowns, neither of which worked and both of which hurt Republicans, and then the government did open.

HANNITY: OK, so the alternative is give in to Obama, give in to Obama, give in to something you believe is unconstitutional. Give in to the worst health care plan we could ever imagine.


FLEISCHER: Sean, what is your alternative?

HANNITY: My alternative is simple.

FLEISCHER: Remember the government shutdown a few years ago --

HANNITY: My alternative is simple.

FLEISCHER: You would keep the government shut down for three years?

HANNITY: No. What I would do is I would, on this continuing resolution over Planned Parenthood, I would not only fund the government completely, I would also pass a bill that took the $500 million a year that we give to Planned Parenthood, give it to other women's groups, put it on the president's desk, and then let the president decide if he is going to shut down the government over his radical support of a radical group.

FLEISCHER: That's what they did on Obamacare. Did that work?

HANNITY: No, they actually never did do that. They never did that.


SCHOEN: You and Ari have made the best argument for why the Democrats in an election where they shouldn't be competitive will be very competitive. The divisiveness, the arguing, the fighting, the lack of policy is the reason Hillary is in better shape than you want to acknowledge.

HANNITY: All right, guys.

FLEISCHER: And my point here is when the Republicans shut down the government over Obamacare --

HANNITY: They never shut it down over Obamacare.

FLEISCHER: Yes, they did, Sean. The two houses and the White House did. Republicans took the heat for it.

HANNITY: That was not a shutdown.

FLEISCHER: They funded the government with everything except Obamacare. Obama didn't sign it.

SCHOEN: Now you see why insiders are doing so badly, Sean. Isn't it clear? Isn't clear the Democrat is right today.

FLEISCHER: I hate agreeing with him over you, Ari, because you and I agree a lot more than me and Doug, but I'm on Doug's side.


SCHOEN: Thanks very much.

FLEISCHER: But neither one ---

HANNITY: All right, we've got to break, though. Coming up next tonight on "Hannity."


CARSON: This country, America, is the greatest country the world has ever known. It is such an exceptional nation.


CARSON: And you know, before, before America came on the scene, for thousands of years people did things the same way. Once we were on the scene, within 200 year men were walking on the moon. And when people say we're not exceptional, they are not thinking. We are by far the most exceptional nation, and our job is to make sure that we remain an exceptional nation.



HANNITY: The rise of the insurgent, outsider candidates, we're going to break down why Trump and Carson and Fiorina and Ted Cruz are all rising in the polls, that and more as we continue.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." So far this election cycle, it's been all about the outsiders, insurgent candidates. Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson sit at the top of the polls while Carly Fiorina, Senator Ted Cruz, they're rising fast.

Now, part of the reason that they're connecting so well with you, the voters, is they don't use talking points. They're not afraid to take on their own party. Here's Dr. Carson doing just that. Take a look.


CARSON: There's no question that the GOP has a very excellent opportunity by paying attention to some to have communities that they have neglected and informing them about history of the GOP. In fact, a party that was formed as an abolitionist party, a party that worked hard to get gun rights for freedman, a party that pushed civil rights and voting rights.


HANNITY: And here now with reaction, Fox News contributor Eboni Williams, Republican strategist Mercedes Schlapp. Welcome, both of you. Welcome to the family, by the way, good to see you.

I think it's simple. I think Republicans have failed. They make these very conservative promises. People's expectations go up, OK, they're really going to do it this time, and then they wimp out and they back down.

EBONI WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Sean, this is an incredible opportunity. Dr. Carson is just right. I think for the first time in a long time, they're the real chance here. I think many Republicans in the past have felt like it was a waste of their time. But now because the Democrats have made it really easy. They're not particularly compelling. The state of black America is in crisis, black employment, as high as ever. The crime in black communities, absolutely rampant.

HANNITY: Isn't it amazing that if you look at demographic breakdowns of people that supported Obama, they have fared far worse under his policies than anybody else, and yet many still support him.

WILLIAMS: Here's the thing. We can argue the merits as to whether that's Obama's fault or not, but the truth is that's over. It's a new day. I would think it very smart of the GOP to take this opportunity and put some specifics on the bones and really tweak to that agenda. I think Dr. Carson's right.

HANNITY: It's funny you say that. Mercedes, they came out in 2014 with the Conservative Solution Caucus, listed very specific things that I think Republicans ought to run on. Are you as disappointed? I got a chance to spend some time with you as CPAC. Are you as disappointed that they make these promises and then they do not fulfill them?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Right. I'm incredibly disappointed. And when you look at the last election and 2012 we only got three percent of the African-American vote, 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. Those are dismal numbers. And the mere fact is that these candidates need to go into these communities and to deliver their message. I think you've seen a couple of these candidates do that, starting with actually Senator Rand Paul.

HANNITY: Rand Paul has been the best at it, absolutely.

SCHLAPP: That's right. That's right. And Jeb Bush has talked about helping the most vulnerable in our society. There are these candidates that are really able to go in there and say, look, it hasn't worked. Poverty levels for African-Americans are skyrocketing to 27 percent. As Eboni said, high unemployment. We need to bring a message of hope, a message of the fact that in these cities, guess what, Sean, they're all run by a bunch of Democrats. Democrat mayors, you know, councilmen. There needs to be --

HANNITY: Republicans don't go into the communities, then -- you've got to ask people for your vote. You've got to tell them what your plan is.

SCHLAPP: Absolutely.

HANNITY: I'm taking what both of you are saying and I think you're right.

WILLIAMS: Let's talk about Rand Paul really quick, Sean. He did go to Howard University and spoke a lot about mass incarceration, and that is an important issue. But I think what is even more important to many in the black community are jobs and education.

SCHLAPP: That's right.

HANNITY: All right, but here's where we are. The median income comes down about $5,000 per family since Obama is president. The poverty rate, we have millions and millions more Americans in poverty, millions more on food stamps, the lowest labor participation rates since the '70s. This is Obama's policies that have brought us there. But when I interview some people they will still defend him and say it's working. It's working. I'm like when is it working. It's Bush's fault. Seven years in they're saying it's Bush's fault.

WILLIAMS: Many are going support president Obama until the end of the road. But I do not see that same excitement around the Hillary Clinton candidacy. So regardless as to where we have been in that --

HANNITY: Do you like Trump?

WILLIAMS: I would consider him. Look at Bush. He has an excellent education record to run on. But sometimes you have got to connect the dots, here, Sean. You've got to say to a community that's struggling in that area more than almost anyone look at what I've been able to do in Florida. I can do it for you, too. At least make the argument.

HANNITY: Let's look at the latest Monmouth University GOP poll here. There you've got it. It's pretty similar to what we've been saying. You've got Trump at 28 percent, Carson, 17. Kasich is up in this poll. This is a New Hampshire poll. Cruz, Fiorina, and Bush coming in with seven percent. Do you see any movement in the polls, Mercedes? We've anticipated, we expected. It hasn't happened yet.

SCHLAPP: I think, well, with this debate obviously presents another opportunity where I think we're going to see another shift of numbers. I think Trump pretty much stays where he is at. I don't think he's going to grow much. I think his loyalists or his supporters are with him.

The numbers may shift between Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. Why? Sean, obviously it's solid performance by Carly. I think those supporters, especially watch for the women. The women I think will definitely -- felt very empowered by her message yesterday. She was able to stand up against the big boys, and she performed well.

HANNITY: In fairness to Dr. Carson, he is a brilliant man, but he is not going to be a great debater. That's never happening.

WILLIAMS: That's not his wheelhouse and that's not his place of strength. But he's thoughtful and he's certainly --

HANNITY: Will people figure that out, that you've got to listen to him. He's a little more quiet, soft spoken than, say, Donald Trump. Do you think that will hurt him or people will understand?

WILLIAMS: I think it's going to hurt him. I wish that people gave him an opportunity for that, but this is American politics. It's fast paced and it's fast moving and I think his tempo will hurt.

HANNITY: You've got to pick up the speed. Do you agree, Mercedes?

SCHLAPP: Absolutely. I think especially in the bloodbath that we saw, Ben Carson needed to be loud because the one that spoke the most and spoke the fastest and filibustered, they got their points across much more effective than Ben Carson.

HANNITY: So he's got to prepare for WWE, maybe do a little MMA octagon training like I'm doing. All right, guys, good to see you. Welcome aboard. Mercedes, always good to see you, and my best to your better half.

And coming up, a very crowded GOP field, so who do you think did the best this week to separate themselves from the rest of the pack? We'll debate that and more straight ahead.


PATRICIA STARK, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is a Fox News alert. I'm Patricia Stark from New York.

Word just in from Arizona. Officials there reporting that a suspect has been arrested in connection with a string of shooting along Phoenix area freeways. A spokesman for the governor says a man was taken into custody by a SWAT team around 7:000 Arizona time at a Wal-Mart in Glendale. That's a suburb west of Phoenix. No other details are known at this. Since late August there have been 11 confirmed shootings of vehicles in the Phoenix area involving bullets or other projectiles. Most occurred along Interstate 10, a major route through the city.

There have been no serious injuries, though a 13-year-old girl's ear was cut by glass after a bullet shattered a window in a vehicle that she was riding in. The shooting prompted several schools districts to keep their buses off freeways, and some motorists alerted their commutes to avoid driving on I-10.

Repeating, officials in Arizona reporting that a suspect has been arrested in connection with a string of shootings along three Phoenix area freeways. And we'll provide information on this late-breaking story as it becomes available. We are expecting a press conference in about an hour or so and will bring it to you as soon as it happens.

I'm Patricia Stark in New York. Now, we return to "Hannity."

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: -- ones that have gone after him directly have met with a pretty terrible demise. And I'm thinking of Jeb Bush and Rand Paul. That beat down that Trump did on Rand Paul last night was absolutely devastating and he looked terrible. And the same with all the exchanges that he has with Jeb Bush.

But I would actually argue that these debates, they're food fights. There is a lot of nonsense going on, but they definitely reveal something very important, and that is that the presidency is about more than -- or the presidential candidate is about more than a checklist of positions on certain issues. It's about ability to communicate and to break through all the noise and reach people. That is why Donald Trump has done very well. It's why Carly Fiorina did very, very well last night. And it's why Marco Rubio, as you were just saying, he often does very well because he's a marvelous communicator.

And so I think that if you're able to break through that nonsense and that noise you can pretty much break through anything, and I think that that is not a bad way to figure out who the best person is to send out against Hillary Clinton, or whoever --

HANNITY: We still have four and a half months, Deneen.


HANNITY: It's amazing.

BORELLI: It is amazing. And listen, it's a marathon. You know, think of it that way. It's the whole theme of your show too. We have a ways to go. And it is important for the candidates to separate themselves. I think Carly Fiorina, we saw her passion and her commitment in terms of what she would do with our military, building up our shipping fleet.


BORELLI: And that as well, yes.

HANNITY: You have been a big supporter of Donald Trump. How did you feel about his debate performance this other night?

HURT: I was fascinated. He said earlier in the day that he might be open to toning it down a little bit. And he kind of did tone it down a little bit. Also it was a three-and-a-half or seven-hour debate. I lost track at some point. It was a very long debate. And having that Gatling gun fire over that period of time is kind of hard to keep up.

But I thought it was interesting. I thought he was kind of toned down a little bit. And it will be interesting to see whether or not, you know, that reflects in polls if people don't like that as much.

HANNITY: Who do you like? I have never asked you. Are you supporting anybody yet?

BORELLI: I don't divulge.

HANNITY: That is not what the show is about. This show is about divulging.

BORELLI: I'll say this. I'm for anyone who is for the constitution and who will listen to Americans. I was just in Florida last weekend --

HANNITY: Will you give us a top three? Who are your top three?

BORELLI: Well, the top three who I felt were impressive based on their views the other night were Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio. I think they had a great passion and great message. They're all really good communicators. And talking to people on the ground, I was in Florida last week. They are really charged up and excited about this election. And they want leadership, they want representation and a politician who is going to listen to we the people, and not just be a politician just because.

HANNITY: All right, thank you both for being with us. When we come back, we'll continue more, right after this quick break.


HANNITY: All right, that is all the time we have left this evening. As always, thank you for being with us. We hope you'll set your DVR so you never miss an episode. We take attendance. It hurts our feelings if you're not here. Thanks for being with us. Have a great night.

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