Carson stands by Muslim president comments; Rubio talks pope's Cuba visit

2016 GOP hopeful explains his controversial stance on 'Hannity'


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 21, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome to "Hannity." And this is a Fox News Alert. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is suspending his campaign for president. He made the announcement earlier this evening.


GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WIS.: Today, I believe that I'm being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.

I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front-runner.


HANNITY: Now, we'll have more on Governor Walker's exit from the race in a few minutes..

But first, Dr. Ben Carson continues to surge in the polls. Over the weekend, he caused a bit of a controversy over remarks that he made about faith and politics.

Take a look.


CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Should your faith matter to voters?

DR. BEN CARSON, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it's inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then, of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.

TODD: So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution?

CARSON: No, I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.


HANNITY: Now, those comments by Dr. Carson have caused an uproar among many politically correct liberals. But let's look what happens when you mix Islamic values with a political system. For example, religious dictatorships known as theocracies dominate the Muslim world. In Saudi Arabia, it's against the law for women to even drive a car. Being gay is also illegal, and leaving the Muslim faith -- well, that carries the death penalty.

And in Sudan, another Islamic theocracy, women are the target of many, quote, "public order" laws, and according to Amnesty International, quote, "Whoever commits in a public space an act or conducts himself in a manner, an indecent manner or manner contrary to public morality or wears indecent or immoral dress which causes annoyance to public feelings shall be punished with whipping not exceeding 40 lashes or with a fine or with both."

In the country of Bahrain, Islamic courts enforce the rule of law where a woman's testimony is worth half that of a man's. And a rapist can avoid punishment if he marries his victim.

Here now with reaction, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Dr. Benjamin Carson. Dr. Carson, good to see you, sir. Let's talk about the interview and what you said specifically about a Muslim president. Do you stand by the comments?

CARSON: Absolutely, I stand by the comments. You know, what we have to do is, we have to recognize that this is America and we have a Constitution. And we do not put people at the leadership of our country whose faith might interfere with them carrying out the duties of the Constitution.

So if, for instance, you believe in a theocracy, I don't care if you're a Christian, if you're a Christian and you're running for president and you want to make this into a theocracy, I'm not going to support you.  I'm not going to advocate you being the president.

HANNITY: Yes. I spoke with Dr. Zudi Jasser today. He's a moderate Muslim. And I asked him if he could name a single Muslim country that treats women the way we treat women or minorities the way we treat minorities in this country. He couldn't name a single one.

Was that what you were thinking in your mind when you were answering the question -- in other words, the way Muslim theocracies currently operate?

CARSON: That's correct. They currently do not tend to operate the same way that our system does. Now, if someone has a Muslim background and they're willing to reject those tenets and to accept the way of life that we have and clearly will swear to place our Constitution above their religion, then, of course, they will be considered infidels and heretics, but at least I would then be quite willing to support them.

HANNITY: All right, so I think -- what I hear in your statement there is you kind of are tempering those remarks. For example, if there was a moderate Muslim that denounced sharia, that denounced radical Islamists, that denounced quotes in the Koran about killing the infidels or not taking Christians and Jews for your friends, that denounced the controversial life of Mohammed, you would be open to that Muslim running for president.

CARSON: Of course.

HANNITY: OK, but well, then, so basically, the controversy is over in that sense. Did you mean to say radical Islamist or one that supports a form of government as is practiced in Muslim countries? Is that more what you meant to say?

CARSON: Well, you know, that was implied in the comment because I prefaced that by saying I don't care what religion or faith someone belongs to if they're willing to subjugate that to the American way and to our Constitution, then I have no problem with it. That's what I said before that.

HANNITY: Yes. What do you make of Scott Walker getting out of the race? And he made a statement that this has become too much about personal attacks, this campaign. Do you agree with that? Because that's what I felt the last debate was like -- You said this about him, he said this about you, tell him what you think of what he said.

Do you feel there's been too much of that?

CARSON: Well, I thought that was ridiculous, and that's why I absolutely refused to get into it. And some people said it was a weak debate performance. But there was no way I was going to fall for that bait. That's what they did the last time around. We have to be smarter than that.

HANNITY: You know, I agree with you. And I actually, having interviewed you enough over the years, I -- not in a million years are you going to get involved in that. I can't see you.

So in that sense, I don't think the debate format is particularly helpful to you, even though you keep surging in the polls. Are you convinced now, with your poll numbers, that you can win the presidency?

CARSON: I absolutely believe that. But you know, I listen to the people everywhere I go. You know, they're saying, You are our hope. And the crowds are big and enthusiastic. And you know, I will do everything I can, working with the people, to return this country to a place that is of, for and by the people. The people should be at the pinnacle. The government is there to serve the people.

HANNITY: Let me ask you about the refugees from Syria and Iraq that we're now talking about or the administration's talking about, some 200,000. We've been told by James Clapper, by the State Department, that, in fact, al Qaeda and ISIS will infiltrate, Dr. Carson, the refugee population. In other words, they want to get into Western Europe. They want to get into America.

Knowing that, is it wise to let those people into this country, knowing that some terrorists are likely to be among that population?

CARSON: Of course not. That would be the height of irresponsibility.  I mean, we have a responsibility to protect all our people. And what I advocated last week is that we use some of our expertise and some of our resources to help those people get settled in that part of the world.

You know, what is wrong with all the places on the Arabian peninsula and Turkey taking those people in? We can help them.

HANNITY: Yes, we...

CARSON: We have our own refugees to deal with.

HANNITY: Yes, we have 50 million Americans in poverty, 46 million on food stamps and 94 million out of the labor force.

If you watched this weekend "60 Minutes," President Rouhani made a lot of statements. He wouldn't denounce chanting "Death to America" and the destruction of Israel's non-negotiable while this president was negotiating the nuclear deal.

Why would -- is there anything good that America got out of that deal or is getting out of this deal?

CARSON: Well, maybe there's a secret deal that we don't know about, but it seems to be very foolish. And I just for the life of me can't figure out why we don't use common sense. And why don't we put the American people and their interests first? Why are we always looking out for somebody else who doesn't have our interests in mind? It's very hard to understand.

HANNITY: Back to the immigration question which came up during the debate. You had a little different opinion than Donald Trump. Let me ask you this. Should anybody that didn't respect American law and sovereignty and came into the country illegally -- should that prevent them from ever getting citizenship, whether or not they stay or not?

CARSON: Well, I think that's something that we should leave to the American people. If I were elected president, I would be very interested in what the American people wanted to do on that respect. And if they decided that they would never allow such a person to become a citizen, I would abide by that wish.

HANNITY: All right, Dr. Carson, congratulations on your poll numbers.  We appreciate your time, as always. Thank you.

CARSON: Thank you.

HANNITY: And coming up tonight -- Governor Scott Walker suspends his presidential campaign. What does that mean for the rest of the Republican field? We'll check in with radio talk show host and Republican debate moderator, my friend, Hugh Hewitt, who didn't get enough time last week.

Also, later tonight, Iran's president tries to explain away a disturbing video showing Iranians and the supreme leader chanting "Death to America."

Also, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio -- he's here to talk about the pope's visit to Cuba and much more as his poll numbers now begin to surge. Straight ahead.



HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." So Governor Scott Walker sent shockwaves through the political world earlier this evening when he announced that he was suspending his presidential campaign. How does this impact the rest of the GOP field?

Joining us now, author of "The Queen: The Epic Ambition of Hillary and the Coming of a Second Clinton Era, " Hugh Hewitt is back with us. Hugh, good to see you.


HANNITY: Before we get to -- before we get to Walker, I watched the debate. You know how much air time you had in a three-plus-hour debate?  Take a guess.

HEWITT: Oh, about six minutes, I think.

HANNITY: No. Three. Three minutes. Six questions.

HEWITT: Well, it was fine...


HANNITY: But wait a minute! But -- but you asked -- you're a conservative. They partnered with the Salem Radio Network. Friends of mine own the Salem Radio Network. I kind of felt bad for you because your questions were solid, they were strong, your follow-ups were strong. And I just felt, like, What are you, a prop here? I was disappointed.

HEWITT: You shouldn't be, and I'll tell you why. The 11 candidates on the stage deserve to be the absolute focus of attention. And what Jake was doing there is he's Cardale Jones (ph) for the Ohio State Buckeyes, and there's Terrell Prior (ph) and there's J.C. Barrett (ph) out on the wing, Dana and Me, and so we got our touches (ph) and we got our chances. And in the question development phase, which is very important, it went well. And I liked the fact that the next day, Sean...

HANNITY: Jake Tapper had 40 questions, you had 6 direct questions!

HEWITT: I know, but I liked the fact that the next day, the focus was on the candidates, not on the questioners. And there will be more debates.  And as the field shrinks, as it did tonight, there will be more time for the designated conservatives. I say I'm now the first -- like Ron Bloomberg (ph) was the first designated hitter and the first designated conservative. There will be more times and more touches.

HANNITY: All right, I'm going to be...

HEWITT: I can't take it away from Jake. He did a good job. It was a very solid job.

HANNITY: I'm not saying anything against him. I'm just looking at CNN, and I felt like here you're the conservative that's on the panel.  You're the one that served in the Reagan administration. I really -- you asked hard-hitting, fair questions, and I wanted you to be in the mix more.

Which leads us to Scott Walker. I look at Walker's record -- I think the guy would have been a formidable candidate in this race. I talked to him earlier. He said, Look, I can't say that we're running a debt as a country and run against that and run a debt in a campaign, which was a solid answer.

HEWITT: You just used the right word. He's a solid, stable guy, as is Tonette Walker, the first lady of Wisconsin. I'm sure that they took a look at the numbers. And you know, he doesn't have term limits in Wisconsin, so he can run for a third term. He's a very good governor, very accomplished. He's a very young man. I call him the Harry Potter in the race because everyone keeps killing him off, and he keeps coming back from the dead.

Scott Walker's got a long and very useful life in American politics ahead. So he gracefully exits stage right. I look to other candidates now to study that example and say, When have I spent enough time on the stage and the cards aren't falling my way?


HANNITY: Let's be honest here. Lindsey Graham needs to get out of this race. George Pataki needs to get out of the race, and maybe a few others. I won't mention any more names. To me, it's frustrating. You had 11 people on the stage. And I felt the questions were too, Well, this person said this about you. You know, it was sort of WWE wrestling a little bit.

But the candidates did get into substance. I liked that part of the debate a lot.

HEWITT: I think it was the most foreign policy national security- centric debate in the last 30 years. And I'm very proud of that, that we shaped that. But I will say this...

HANNITY: I'm still mad about it.


HANNITY: You're taking this like a -- I wanted more Hugh Hewitt!  That's a compliment!

HEWITT: You're very kind, Sean. And I look forward to having more touches (ph) the next time around. But I'll tell you this. What matters most is that the field get down to the serious people who have a path to the nomination.

I had Donald Trump on my radio show today. We spent 20 minutes with Donald talking about global warming, talking about what if Pakistan becomes unstable. As soon as we get to the top five or six, and I think that'll happen over the next six to eight weeks, there are going to be long, sustained conversations...

HANNITY: But you've had...

HEWITT: ... about the most important thing, which is beating Hillary.

HANNITY: I agree with that. You've had your issues with Donald Trump. How do you feel about him now?

HEWITT: Oh, I've always gotten along with him. You know, I've been called so many bad things by my teenagers when I wouldn't let them use the car that I'm used to anything.

And we had a great conversation tonight. He remains the best interview in America. I've said that for months now. If you lined up Tiger Woods, Oprah and Donald and said, Which one do you want to lead your show with every night for a week, I'd pick Donald Trump...

HANNITY: Yes, I would, too.

HEWITT: ... every single time.

HANNITY: I would, too.

HEWITT: No, wouldn't you? Yes.


HEWITT: He's the best interview.

HANNITY: Yes, and -- but I thought you guys had -- you've been somewhat critical of him.

What do you think of the issue of Ben Carson, who we just interviewed, and his comments about Islam or a Muslim president? And do you think it was fair for the media to jump on Donald on something that somebody in the audience is asking him? And people called my radio show that were saying that Donald really didn't really want to embarrass the guy.

HEWITT: Yes, let me go to the latter question first. I think that was a made-up controversy. I'm not even sure that guy is for real and wasn't a plant. And I also have been in a number of situations where I cannot hear, where I do not know what the question is. And you've been there, too. You don't know...


HANNITY: I've been there many times.

HEWITT: ... totally a fake controversy designed to embarrass Donald Trump.

HANNITY: By the...

HEWITT: As to the religious test, Article 6 of the Constitution says there isn't one. Now, we can judge every candidate on their merits. But I wrote a book about Romney about this. I'm an evangelical Catholic, right?  So I go to -- I'm as Catholic as the pope coming here. And I do not care if it's a Catholic or a Muslim who's running. I want to judge the candidate.

And our founding fathers -- and our good friend, Mark Levin, would agree -- put in Article 6 for a reason, which is to prohibit a religious test for office. And I think Dr. Carson should revise and extend his remarks on this because martin Luther, of all people, said he'd rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a corrupt Christian. And I go along with that, and I think our framers did not want a religious test for a reason.

HANNITY: All right, Hugh Hewitt, good to see you. Thank you, my friend.

HEWITT: Good to see, Sean. Thanks for your kind words.

HANNITY: And coming up next tonight here on "Hannity"...


HANNITY: Remember that, when the Iranian people and leaders caught on tape chanting "Death to America"? Well, Iran's president was asked about that video. You won't believe his lame excuse.

And then later, Pope Francis stirring up controversy during his visit with the murdering Castro brothers. Well, he took time to meet them, and he isn't meeting with dissidents. Why not? 2016 Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio, who's way up in the polls, will join us next.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." It seems like each week, we are learning new details about just how disastrous this Iranian nuclear deal really is. Now, keep in mind, just a few months ago, the ayatollah was caught on tape chanting "Death to America" along with a large crowd of supporters. You may remember this.


HANNITY: Yes, "Death to America," of course. Pretty unbelievable.  Now, the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, sat down for an interview with "60 Minutes," and he said this about that chant. Take a look.


HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The U.S. has made many mistakes in the past regarding Iran and must make up for those mistakes. This slogan that is chanted is not a slogan is against the American people. Our people respect the American people. The Iranian people are not looking for war with any country.

But at the same time, the policies of the United States have been against the national interests of Iranian people. If America puts the enmity aside, if it initiates good will and if it compensates for the past, the future situation between the United States and Iran will change.


HANNITY: Joining us now, Act for America founder Brigitte Gabriel, FOX News contributor Dr. Robert Jeffress and the author of a new book, Indianapolis-area imam Muhammad Siddeeq is with us.

Muhammad, let me ask you this question. Real simple. We're giving them $150 billion, building ICBMs. They'll have nuclear weapons in 11 years. You know, what did we get out of that deal? And why would we do a deal with people chanting "Death to America" and the destruction of Israel is non-negotiable? Why?

IMAM MUHAMMAD SIDDEEQ, NUR-ALLAH ISLAMIC CENTER: Well, keep in mind, Sean -- (INAUDIBLE) name most gracious, most (INAUDIBLE) -- I'm American, and I'm sensitive to anything that hurts America.

HANNITY: I asked you, why should we do a deal with a country that chants "Death to America" and the destruction of Israel is nonnegotiable?  Why would we do that?

SIDDEEQ: Because we're looking for a way to head off any type of nuclear disaster in the future.

HANNITY: OK, what did we get out of this deal? Tell me what we got out of this deal.

SIDDEEQ: What we get out of this deal is we get a chance to have a civil conversation...

HANNITY: A civil conversation...


HANNITY: ... getting $150 billion!


SIDDEEQ: But that's their own money, Sean!

HANNITY: And they're chanting "Death to America"!

SIDDEEQ: That's their own money!


SIDDEEQ: I'm not in agreement with the chants. I'm not in agreement with any of that!

HANNITY: I wouldn't give those people $150 billion. They don't deserve it!

SIDDEEQ: But it's their own money! Maybe they don't, but all I'm saying is...

HANNITY: All right...

SIDDEEQ: ... we're...

HANNITY: ... Pastor Jeffress?

ROBERT JEFFRESS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, let's put this into context, Sean, of what we've been talking about Ben Carson's comments about Islam.  Look, let's all be clear. Article 6 of the Constitution says that government can't impose a religious litmus test, but it has nothing to say about individual voters!

Look, I think we ought to know what a candidate's faith is because it shapes his world view, and Islam is a good illustration of that. Before I ever voted for a Muslim candidate, I'd want to hear that candidate renounce radical Islam, renounce the portions of the Koran that call for jihad against Israel and those who support her and also renounce Mohammed for his atrocities against the Jewish people!

SIDDEEQ: How do we get there? How did we get -- how did we get there...

JEFFRESS: Because all of...


SIDDEEQ: How did we get there?

JEFFRESS: ... because all of Iran's hostility toward Israel comes out of a religious belief that Israel doesn't belong to that land...

HANNITY: All right, let me...


JEFFRESS: ... face of the earth. A person's faith does make a difference!

HANNITY: Brigitte...


HANNITY: Let's go back to Dr. Carson a second because this is where this is going.

SIDDEEQ: Dr. Carson is a hypocrite!

HANNITY: All right -- excuse me...


HANNITY: You're not Brigitte. You don't look like Brigitte.

SIDDEEQ: He's got his own (INAUDIBLE)

HANNITY: Hang on. Imam, Imam...

SIDDEEQ: ... hypocritical (INAUDIBLE)

HANNITY: It's not your turn. Hang on a second.

SIDDEEQ: OK. All right.

HANNITY: Brigitte, is there any -- I got the impression -- we just talked to Dr. Carson. Is there any Muslim country that you can name that has values that are compatible with American values, in other words, in their treatment of women and minorities, et cetera? Any Muslim country you can think of?

BRIGITTE GABRIEL, ACT FOR AMERICA FOUNDER: No, I cannot think of any Muslim country because in almost every Muslim country around the world, their code, their law is sharia law, and sharia law is not compatible with the Constitution.

And therefore, the way they live their life according to Islamic law is very different than our definition of what freedom and democracy are all about.

HANNITY: You know, and Dr. Jeffress raised a number of points -- I agree. You say you might consider voting for a Muslim president, but you'd want him to denounce sharia. You'd want him to denounce some of the actions of Mohammed. You would want him to denounce the radical use of the Koran and get rid of war against the infidels and jihad against the infidels.

Should that be mandatory, Dr. Jeffress?

JEFFRESS: I think -- I think that is in the voter's mind, whether or not that is something that is mandatory. But Sean, I want to point out something. People who call Ben Carson a bigot for saying what he did -- they would have to call John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States, a bigot, as well, because John Jay said, quote, "In this Christian nation, we have the duty and the responsibility to prefer and select Christians as our leaders."

He wrote those words just several years after Article 6 was ratified.  I think he knows better the meaning of the Constitution than these liberal pundits!


HANNITY: Imam, I have a question for you. Name one Muslim country that treats women and minorities fairly.

SIDDEEQ: I can't say anything about that.

HANNITY: You can't name one of...


HANNITY: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop! Stop! Wait a minute!

SIDDEEQ: No, wait a minute, Sean...

HANNITY: You can't name -- stop!

SIDDEEQ: I don't -- I don't (INAUDIBLE) What are we saying when we say "fairly"?

HANNITY: Imam, Imam, I'm asking you a simple question. We have all these Muslim countries, Indonesia. We could talk about any one you want.  Name one that treats women and minorities fairly.

SIDDEEQ: I can say this, Sean. I don't know the inner workings of every Muslim country. But I can this...

HANNITY: You can't name one, can you! You can't name it!

SIDDEEQ: I can name plenty of countries who...

HANNITY: Name one! Name one!

SIDDEEQ: Well, first of all, that's not the issue right here, Sean.

HANNITY: No, that's my question. Brigitte, I don't think he can, can he.


GABRIEL: All he can is come and shout. Now, you are an imam and you are a leader, and supposedly, you are a thinker who can come on national television...

HANNITY: All right...

GABRIEL: ... and defend your views...


HANNITY: I've got to end the debate here. Guys...

GABRIEL: ... person who does not have a person (ph) in this debate!

HANNITY: And coming up -- ahead of his visit to America, Pope Francis is causing controversy by meeting with the murderer Fidel Castro and his brother in Cuba. 2016 GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who took a huge jump in the polls -- he'll have reaction coming up next.

And then later tonight...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality of the situation is that you don't get invited to the White House for building a clock. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I hate to be harsh, but it's the blatant truth.


HANNITY: A young teen is calling out President Obama for inviting the Muslim student who was arrested for bringing a home-made clock to school to the White House. The creator of that viral video is here tonight straight ahead.


HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." Controversy swirling tonight around the Pope's visit to Cuba. According to reports political dissidents in the communist country are saying that they're being blocked from meeting the leader of the Catholic faith. But Pope Francis did meet with Fidel Castro and his brother Raul. Here with reaction, 2016 GOP presidential candidate and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, an outspoken critic about normalizing relations with Cuba.

What frustrates me here is we're told when the Pope comes to the United States he's going to lecture the country about immigration, about economic justice. He's meeting the Castro brothers. They're murderers, they jail political dissidents. They created poverty for their people. Is he going to lecture them, too?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course it's disappointing when -- I understand he's a religious figure and there to inspire the flock and went to celebrate mass, didn't necessarily go there as a political visit, but there are political implications to such a visit.  And I wish he would have met with dissidents. And I find it disappointing that he didn't. And I hope he brought that up in private meetings, although it won't matter to the Castro brothers or to the regime.

But what did happen yesterday is people got to see the images of those dissidents being rounded up and arrested and thrown on the streets. In fact even before the mass you had people being arrested as they left their homes to prevent them from even getting there. And so at least the world is now being exposed to the reality of what the Cuban government is all about.

HANNITY: And the president saying he's going to go further with this.

Let me put up the latest poll numbers, big jump for you post-debate.  You are now in double digits with a little over four months to go and at 11 percent. But more importantly, the three people ahead of you are outsider insurgent candidates. You are the number one person that actually has a political background. What do you think these polls tell us?

RUBIO: Well, look, we've been hearing it for a long time. I don't think it's just this year. It's been happening for years. There's a massive disconnect between leaders in Washington, quite frankly in both political parties, and what's happening in the lives of our people. Think about the national debt. No one talks about it anymore. The debt is a serious problem, $18 trillion and growing. It will eventually bankrupt our country and create a debt crisis. People are frustrated that no one is talking about that or all these other issues. There's a massive disconnect between Washington and leaders in both parties and what's happening in the country. And you see that reflected in not just in the polls, but you've seen it reflected in three out of the last four elections.

HANNITY: I don't recall even in that debate, the WWE CNN debate where you said this about him, he said this about you, I don't remember the debt even being discussed. But you're right.

RUBIO: It wasn't.

HANNITY: The next president will inherit $20 trillion in debt and $120 trillion in unfunded liabilities. That to me almost sounds like Greece. It doesn't seem that it's a problem we can even solve. Thoughts?

RUBIO: If we weren't America, we would have had a Greece crisis already. The fact that we're America, we remain the greatest country in the world, has given us some flexibility and a little bit wiggle room and bought us some time. But eventually we'll have to pay the piper as well.  Eventually the world will say we're not buying any more of this debt from America because they have no plan to pay it back. That is going to happen.  It is the most predictable crisis in American history, and we have political leaders in boat parties that aren't doing a thing about it.

And again it reflects in the polls and the frustration people have.  Quite frankly, Sean, if you recall, that's why I ran in 2010 against the establishment of my own party, because I felt there were people who were not willing to fight for what mattered.

HANNITY: Senator, I want to ask you about the president's plan, the secretary of state's plan, they're now talking about bringing in as many as 200,000 Syrian, Iraqi refugees. James Clapper, National Intelligence Agency, has said that ISIS and Al Qaeda will infiltrate the refugee population. Is it worth the risk? If our intelligence officials are saying they'll infiltrate the refugee community, is it worth bringing anybody in here or it is too great a risk?

RUBIO: Yes, that's why this refugee crisis is different from the ones we've seen in the past. We've never had one like this where you have people coming from a part of the world where we know that terrorist elements are using the crisis to infiltrate people into other countries.  We know this already from the Jordanian camps where you have people that have come across.

And so we want to continue to be a compassionate country. And we should be open to taking in some refugees. But we also have to continue to be strict about the background checks. And here's the truth -- it isn't easy to background check someone who is coming from Syria or the Middle East. You can't pick up the phone and call over there. It may not even be possible in many cases. It may not even be possible. Like I said, it's not that we don't want to do it. It's that we may not be able to do it.

HANNITY: Yes, because I would imagine that any ISIS or Al Qaeda affiliate or trainee is going to be trained in the answer. Oh, I'm a refugee. I'm seeking peace and happiness for my family. I don't think they're going to admit that they're terrorists.

Look, then that goes into the expanded issue. As you now continue your rise in the polls -- and this was a really significant jump for you post-debate -- the only issue that conservatives ever bring up about you is the issue of immigration. I want to ask you very specifically one thing.  I know that you said it was a mistake to go over comprehensive reform, and I know you said we need to secure the border first because the country doesn't trust politicians. My question is, are you prepared to say that those that didn't respect our lawed and sovereignty should not have the opportunity to be citizens unless they go back and come in the right way?

RUBIO: What I've always said about that is that we can't even get to that stage until we've done the other two things, like secure our border and modernize our legal immigration system. A lot of people believe that if you violated the law, you should not be able to ever apply for a green card which you have to have first before you can even apply for citizenship. My argument has been is obviously if you're a dangerous criminal you can't even stay. I personally have said I don't want there to be millions of people that are permanently barred from ever becoming American. But a lot of people don't believe that. A lot of people thing it should just stop at the legalization portion.

So if that's all we can get, it's a lot better than what we have right now. But I think that's a debate -- even though I'm personally open to the green card, that's a debate that we can have down the road after we've seen how the program has worked. I don't think it's a decision you have to make on the front end.

The first thing you have to do is stop illegal immigration, then, second, modernize our legal immigration system, and then, third, you can have a debate about how to even legalize people to begin with. And then ultimately in 10 or 12 years you can have a broader debate how has this worked out and should we allow some to get green cards and eventually citizenship. I personally am open to that. A lot of people are not. And we'll see how that plays out over the next 10 or 12 years.

HANNITY: But we're a long way from that. I agree with you, we have got to secure the borders first. I think that's a good first step.

Last question -- the issue has come up in recent days about a Muslim being president. Dr. Ben Carson said "I would not advocate we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I would not agree with that." If you look at Muslim countries, it seems that in many of them their values are the antithesis of values we cherish in this country, incompatible with American values, especially countries that practice Sharia. What is your take on this statement and what is your take on the overall position that a Muslim could be president?

RUBIO: Well, let me start by saying I personally know, first of all, that there are Americans that are Muslims and are also very patriotic and they love the United States of America and they don't want to see Sharia law and they don't want to see any sort of thing like that happen in this country. I don't believe anyone should be disqualified from the presidency because of their denomination and because of their faith. I believe in that strongly as a country.

Now, I personally also believe if someone believes in Sharia law they're not going to be elected to anything much less the presidency.  That's just a fact.

But I do believe you can, and there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in this country who are Muslim but love America.  They're not political about their religious views with regard to that the way you would see in some other countries around the world. And I guess because I know there are people out there that love America and even served in our armed forces and some are in elected office.

But I personally do not believe your religious denomination should disqualify you from serving office. I think that's what voters decide on a variety of issues, including the values of someone. And I just say this, whether you're Muslim or Catholic or anything, if you have radical views and values you're not going to get elected in this country, at least I would hope. And certainly someone who supports Sharia would not get elected in this country.

HANNITY: Well said. Senator, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us.

RUBIO: Thank you. Thank you.

HANNITY: Coming up, fallout over a Muslim teenager arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. Did the cops do the right thing?  We'll debate that. That's coming up next.  


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." A Texas Muslim teen was arrested after bringing his homemade clock to school. Officials fearing that it was a bomb, they called the police. Always one to politicize a story, President Obama quickly invited the student to the White House. This has since sparked a national debate. Did police and the school do the right thing? Now a 13-year-old conservative teen, he put out a video that's now going viral for criticizing the president over that decision. Watch this.


C. J. PEARSON, 13-YEAR-OLD YOUTUBE STAR: Now, Mr. President, when Kate Steinle was gunned down by illegal immigrant, you didn't do anything.  You didn't even call the family. You didn't invite them to the White House. Is that OK? I don't think so, Mr. President.

And to go even further, Mr. President when cops are being gunned down, you don't invite their families to the White House. You never did.

But when a Muslim kid builds a clock, well, come on by. What is this world that you're living in?


HANNITY: Joining me is the teen in that video, C. J. Pearson. C. J. announced, by the way, that he is supporting Ted Cruz for president. He's currently working with the campaign. C. J., how old are you, 13?

C. J. PEARSON: I'm 13, Sean.

HANNITY: I'm very impressed. Are you surprised that this has gone so viral?

PEARSON: I'm not. You know, I think many young -- many people across this nation believe as I did. They believe that this president has constantly politicized every single tragedy in this nation. And he has used this child as a political prop. And they find it equally as disgusting as I do. I'm 13-years-old. I've been involved in politics for quite some time in my short life. And I know that many politicians have their own agenda. And this president has used this child to push his radical leftward agenda, and I think it's disgusting. I think many people agree.

HANNITY: You know, Bill Maher, who I rarely agree with, over the weekend, he said, tell me over the last 30 years if so many Muslim young men -- and he's 14, talking about Ahmed -- that nothing had happened before, having blown up a lot around the world, this wouldn't have happened. In other words, he's pointing out that there seems to be a natural suspicion. In other words, why not err on the side of caution? To me it made sense as uncomfortable as it might have been for this young man.  Thoughts?

PEARSON: You know, a few weeks ago we remembered 9/11. We used social media. We used the #neverforget. But yet this week, due to politics, we're willing to forget 9/11. This school and the cops, they erred on the side of caution. And they should have. And the kid couldn't even explain what the clock was. It wasn't even a clock. That's why he was arrested. If he was able to explain what exactly he brought to school that day, maybe the issue won't have been there. But he couldn't explain it. They erred on the side of caution and I commend the school administration and the police for doing the right thing.

HANNITY: You know, I'm very impressed, C. J., because I got interested in politics at a young age like you are. And I wish you all the best. And I was very, very impressed with your video. Thanks for being with us. Thanks for your time.

PEARSON: Thanks for having me, Sean.

HANNITY: You bet.

Former NYPD detective Bo Dietl, criminal defense attorney Eric Guster are with us. Eric, what a fascinating young man. I mean, if more younger kids were as interested and informed as C. J. I think the world would be a better place.         But why not err on the side of caution? Unfortunately this is the world we live in where a lot of awful, evil, horrible things are happening.  Why is there such a big deal over this and politicize this from a president that can't even say the words "radical Islam"?

ERIC GUSTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They did not do something over overabundance of caution. Sean, if they thought this was a bomb, they would have called the bomb squad. They would have evacuated the school.  They did none of that, because if they thought this was a bomb and they didn't do those things, those cops are totally inept --

HANNITY: Wait a minute, this is 25 miles from Garland, Texas. If it turned out that it was an item, then what do you say? We didn't do it because we didn't want to hurt a kid's feelings even though it looks like a contraption that normally a kid that age doesn't have?

GUSTER: They put this kid in handcuffs in order to embarrass them.  If they thought it was a bomb, they would have evacuated the school.  That's just common sense. I don't think they thought it was a bomb. They were just trying to harass this young Muslim kid and embarrass him.

HANNITY: No, I don't think so. I think they've got better things to do. I think they thought this was a significant, real threat. Bo Dietl.

BO DIETL, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: First of all, we weren't there. We don't understand that happened. We don't know if this thing could have been connected to a device. Let's stop being Monday morning quarterbacks.

   We have to have an overabundance of caution. Things are happening around our world and in this country by radical Muslims. And if we don't recognize it now, a bomb will go off and people will say, well, why wasn't he removed from the classroom? When it's investigated, I'm sure they wrote him off, I'm sure. So let's not get crazy about this. We don't know. It looks like a contraption. Cops, first of all, are not electronic scientists. We don't know if he was able to put dynamite onto it. We don't know if in fact it was that. So let's stop being so politically correct. I'm here in Vegas with the PDA of New Jersey, and that's exactly what they're talking about. They can't do their damned jobs because everyone is second guessing the cops around this country. And I'm getting sick and tired --

GUSTER: If they thought it was a bomb, they would have evacuated the school. That's commons sense.

DIETL: You're presuming that every small police department has bomb squads, Eric. Some small police --

GUSTER: No. If you think there is a bomb in the school you get everyone away, Bo. Isn't that police officer 101?

DIETL: Yes, but you didn't have it attached to an explosive, that much I'll agree. But who is --


DIETL: Listen to me. It had a timing device on it, Eric. It certainly could have been used if it was connected to some C4 or dynamite, it could have been used as something and we wouldn't even be talking about it if there's a bunch of kids that were killed in that school. Let's calm down, stop with the political correction. Let's bring us together. Let's all bring us together.

HANNITY: All right, I've got to break. Guys, thank you both. When we come back, we need your help. Our "Question of the Day," straight ahead.  


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity". Time for our "Question of the Day." So we told you earlier tonight what Iran's president said about the ayatollah chanting "Death to America." Our question, do you believe him?  No. Just go to Facebook.com/SeanHannity, @SeanHannity at Twitter and let us know what you think.

Also, big news, we're bringing back our segment "Ask Sean." Now send a video question over to my Twitter account @SeanHannity, and whatever question you want to ask me, and you might be a TV star. We'll put your video, you question on TV.

But that is all the time we have this evening. Don't forget, set your DVR so you never miss an episode. We take attendance and it hurts our feelings when you're not here. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.

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