KELLY FILE

Carson campaign responds to hateful GQ article; Keane warns Putin starting proxy war with US

A 'Kelly File' exclusive, candidate's team sickened by intolerance shown by 'enlightened left'

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," October 8, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SANDRA SMITH, GUEST HOST: Breaking tonight, a week of media attacks on Dr. Ben Carson sinks to an ugly new law with what critics are calling a racist hit piece from a mainstream magazine.

Welcome to "The Kelly File," everyone, I'm Sandra Smith in for Megyn Kelly tonight. And we have a dramatic new moment in Dr. Carson's campaign for the White House. This controversy started with Carson talking on Tuesday about a campus shooting in Oregon suggesting that if he faced a similar situation, he would, quote, "Not just stand there and let him shoot me." He went onto explain that he would encourage everyone to attack the gunmen. The critics went wild accusing the candidate of victim blaming at worst and insensitivity at best.

But, tonight, GQ Magazine took the debate to what maybe an all-time new low and political writing posting a piece headlined, "Blank Ben Carson." You're looking at it. We have reached out to GQ for comment, complete radio silence from that publications so far.

But in a "Kelly File" exclusive, we have campaign Manager Barry Bennett here with us live tonight. First, let's start with Fox News Digital Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt.

Chris, you've had a change to look at this article. It's the political discourse in this country is unbelievable right now. And this is a new low.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR: Yes, I had the time to reflect on the two-minute read of an article that is basically was a person throwing up their bile and putting a nasty headline on it to get attention and to get clicks. And what is funny about it, is that basically, you are reading a writer and you are reading a magazine and you're reading this moment. And it's not just in GQ, it was when he was on "The View," it's all over the place. The Ben Carson effect of making people's head just pop. They just cannot take it because you have a guy who is very conservative, very Christian who also is a black man, who is a brain surgeon. And it is, it's just, it is so mind boggling for the people who defeats the convention.

So what you're reading in this piece essentially and the attitude that's out there in television allowed the mainstream's reporting is basically this. They've been tolerant of Ben Carson for as long as they can take it. They take it as long as they can. When he said that he wouldn't support a Muslim for president, they sort of took it a little bit.  But now they've decided that it's over for Ben Carson and they're going to just -- they have to end this and they're going to shout him down.

SMITH: Chris, in the piece, which as you mentioned, it's not a very long piece.

STIREWALT: Right.

SMITH: this isn't a very serious journalist, by any stretch. I looked back at some of his previous articles. But this is making front page headlines on their publication. And in it, he wrote that he doesn't believe Ben Carson on some of the stories that he's telling referencing when he was held up at a the pop eyes.

STIREWALT: That he made it up. Yes. He says, he made it up. Says he's a liar. Says he fabricated this story. Now Ben Carson's life story.  I don't know whether you read his book or know about his -- read books on movie or any of that stuff, Ben Carson's life story is indeed the stuff of books and movies. It is astonishing. It was the amazing rise of a guy who was basically destined for the dust bin and rose to greatness.

SMITH: So, Ben, there's an attack on his credibility here without any evidence or reason why this author felt compelled to write this piece. But he said, quote, "You are now bearing witness to an arm's race of stupid.  Because stupid is in such high demand from the GOP base at the present moment." So, clearly, this isn't just an attack on Dr. Ben Carson. This is an attack, a violent attack on the GOP in general.

STIREWALT: Well, the secret I think Ben Carson needs to start wearing some skinny jeans, get a man bun and really get the metro sexual vibe pumping. And then maybe GQ will be on board. But the reality for Ben Carson is this. They're not going to like him. They're never going to like him. But he has something. And, by the way, we look at the democratic field, we have a lot of old white people. We look at the republican field. You have in the top tier two Hispanic, young Hispanic senators. You have a female businesswoman, you have an African-American brain surgeon and it just is shattering the basic construct that journalists have worked with for so long which is the Republican Party is the party of old white men. And their country clubs and boo hiss and the Democrats of party of inclusion and this is causing a certain amount of --  

SMITH: Well, Chris, right now, the reaction that G.Q. left-leaning publication is not getting very good response even from its own readers tonight on Twitter and other social media outlets. They're calling the author racist, smug, full of intolerance. And obviously, that's not just conservatives on there, as I mentioned. Most of their readers wouldn't be.

All right. Chris, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

STIREWALT: You bet.

SMITH: Here now in an exclusive interview is Ben Carson's Campaign Manager Barry Bennett. Great to have you here to react live to this tonight because it is breaking, and it is exclusive and it's just now getting out there. What is your reaction?

BARRY BENNETT, CAMPAIGN MANAGER TO DR. BEN CARSON: You know, it's kind of the height of hypocrisy, isn't it? I mean, the enlighten Left full of intolerance and hatred. It's amazing. I mean, you know, this guy should be writing about the dos and don'ts of pocket squares. When it comes to political fought, he needs to get out of the building.

SMITH: Barry, I mean, some of the words written in the article, I mean, they're in a direct attack on Ben Carson. And as they noted to Chris, it's an attack on the GOP in general saying some of these guys have done a cynical bit of calculus and are betting that the stupid vote constitutes the majority of the American electorate. They are also insulting the American electorate.

BENNETT: Yes. Well, everybody is stupid who doesn't agree with him 100 percent. I mean, we had -- with the university professor yesterday at the University of Pennsylvania called Dr. Carson a coon, can you believe that? I mean, at the university, I complained to the university today and they said, she was just practicing in her academic freedom. Amazing!

SMITH: All right. Well, Barry, we know what all of this started from when it comes specifically to Dr. Ben Carson. And it was about those comments that he made that turned out to be very controversial and they were viewed as insensitive. His comments about how he would have attack that shooter that walked into the classroom at the community college in Oregon. Does the doctor have any regrets about his response to that?

BENNETT: He was asked what he would do, and he said what I will hope I would do is fight back. That's what we all hope. We never know until we're in that situation. He wasn't casting judgment on anyone. They're just asking what he would do. And then they take that out of context and try to turn it into something else. I mean, it's ridiculous. Obviously, you know, we're doing well in the polls, we're raising a lot of money, you know, we're number one in some of the polls now. So, we're going to be (INAUDIBLE) vegetarian.

SMITH: I think there are some people who say no, they kind of got the insensitivity thing you know, in one of the video clips we saw walk away and he -- but when you take it out of context than you see it as insensitive, when you really look at the entire story and you see really and read really what he said, it is a different story. Which not a lot of people, obviously, today, take the time to do. That being said, Dr. Carson ranked second among GOP candidates with over 17 percent of the vote. I will point out that this polling and recent studies that we've seen though he's still doing very well as far as people, their likability factor is huge for Dr. Carson. Most of this was done along with recent focus groups before those comments were made. Do you expect new polling to show any change from the American voting base.

BENNETT: I don't. I mean, he's leading Hillary in Ohio by 11 points.  North Carolina is leading her by 11 points. They're panicked. The left wing. You know, so called enlightened tolerant people are just attacking him at every angle. That's fine. Let's have a debate.

SMITH: Barry, is Dr. Carson aware of this GQ article yet?

BENNETT: Yes.

SMITH: Does he have a response?

BENNETT: He's a little sickened by it.

SMITH: All right. I think we all are. Barry Bennett, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BENNETT: Thanks for having me on.

SMITH: All right. Also breaking tonight. Dramatic new revelations from one candidate today called the effort to burn Washington's political machine to the ground.

Frank Luntz and Marc Thiessen are next on the history-making moment unfolding as we speak.

And then the U.S. serviceman who managed to stop a terror attack just weeks ago is hospitalized. He is now in serious condition, we're told. We now have the surveillance video to show you the knife attack that almost killed that man. And wait until you see what he and his buddy said to Megyn just weeks ago about confronting danger.

Plus, General Jack Keane today went to Congress with a warning for what happens if we do nothing about Russia. Tonight, he is here with the rest of that story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin has begun a proxy war with the United States. How can the United States standby and do nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: Breaking tonight, dramatic new fallout after years of pent up anger and frustration boils over in Washington leading to an all-out meltdown on Capitol Hill today. It's no secret that a segment of the voters have been angry for years. But something changed. Back in 2009, with the rise of the Tea Party and growing complaints about an out-of-touch government and presidential overreach, voters gave the GOP majority and sent increasingly conservative lawmakers to Washington and their fights with the White House and their own leaders have become very public. Today, that struggle manifested itself in a shocking announcement. Kevin McCarthy, the top picked to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House bails from the race amid concerns he couldn't secure enough votes from within his own party.  

With us tonight, pollster Frank Luntz. Plus, Marc Thiessen, Fox News contributor and former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush.  And Congressman Tim Huelskamp, chair of the House Tea Party Caucus. Let's start with you first, Frank. It has been an unbelievable 48 hours. Angry voters everywhere. What does the last couple of days tell you about the state of politics and Washington and, in general, the state of America right now?

FRANK LUNTZ, LUNTZ GLOBAL, CEO: There's a poison in Washington. And that poison just took the political career of Kevin McCarthy. Now he's staying as majority leader. But this is the man who had the capability of bringing together all of the aspects of the Republican Party and even bringing over a few Democrats, as well, to actually get things done. What this congressman has done. And I won't use any name calling because even though I was done against Kevin McCarthy, that's not productive. There's too much negativity in politics right now. But he had the ability to stop the President's legislation. He had the ability to rally Republicans. But it wasn't enough for certain members.

A new beginning to that a little later on your show. This is the first time that social media has actually Trump, the voice of the voters.  They have the ability now. A few thousand people can actually influence what's happening in Washington. But that doesn't mean that the represents the vast majority. I know three things from my polling. Number one, voters are sick and tired of this negativity. Number two, they want to get something done. They want accomplishments and number three, they expect these elected representatives to work together. Not to destroy each other, not to bring each other down.  Kevin McCarthy was uniquely capable of bringing together the membership. But he's not going to get that opportunity now. Because there are 40 members that believe that it is their way or the highway. And that's a mistake, that's a misleading of what the American people wants.

SMITH: Frank, you talked about McCarthy like you know him. And I know you do and I know you have for quite some time. Were you taken by surprise by his departure?

LUNTZ: I've been spending the last two weeks on Capitol Hill. And I know that Republicans, that everyone is upset. That everyone is frustrated. But I thought in the end, that people would come to their senses and that they would understand that they're not just there to represents 10 or 20,000 of their most conservative constituents. That Congress is the representative body of the entire institution. And what scares me the most is that people they're talking about getting a fresh face as speaker. The Speaker of the House, this is the most important deliberative body on the face of the globe. And we don't need a fresh face. We need somebody with experience. We need someone who understands the rules. We need someone who understands Congressional procedure. A fresh face, are you kidding me? You want someone who only -- the Congress for two years?

SMITH: There's so much negativity out there, Frank. There's so much negativity out there. I mean, we started the hour talking about this new GQ article about Dr. Ben Carson. And you're detailing from what you're hearing from this focus group is that the Americans that you speak to, they see Washington as a mess. There's so much negativity. Is there optimism that we can actually see change? That things are going to turn around, specifically with this election?

LUNTZ: No, they're very concerned about it. And I'll tell you something, if anything leads because I was involved in 2006. And I watched the Republican Party tear itself apart. And the members who pushed Kevin McCarthy this time, this is exactly what happened in 2006. This kind of division, this kind of strife, this kind of internal battle and Republicans were thrown of office in a landslide. The same thing could happen in 2016.  And this congressman need to be held accountable. That there has to be someone who can stretch across the aisle and stretch across the ideology to get something done.

SMITH: All right.

LUNTZ: And that's not what happened today in Washington.

SMITH: All right. Frank, thanks for being with us tonight.

LUNTZ: Thank you.

SMITH: My next guest is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, the group leading the revolt underway in Capitol Hill.

Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp joins us. He is also the chairman of the House Tea Party Caucus. Thank you for joining us tonight.

REP. TIM HUELSKAMP, R-KAN.: You're welcome. My pleasure.

SMITH: What happens now? I mean, how does this change things?

HUELSKAMP: Well, I think the establishment lost again. Essentially two speakers and two weeks gone and paid consultants in Washington, D.C.  They don't get it. Folks across America are angry. About three quarters of them didn't want John Boehner to stay as speaker and they saw Kevin McCarthy as more as the same. We need fresh ideas but we also need an old approach. And that's listen to the American people. When you look at the republican presidential primary, and Mr. Luntz knows that. Over half the people if not more are telling Washington they've had enough. They want some changes. They want Republicans to actually stand for conservative principles and ideas, where do we go from here? We need to make certain the House is open for business that allows conservatives to have a voice.  For four-and-a-half years under John Boehner, day after day, month after month.

SMITH: But I feel like, I feel like we're just still talking, right?  And nothing is getting done.

HUELSKAMP: If you were a conservative in the House, you didn't have a voice. You weren't allowed. Just last week, Kevin McCarthy and John Boehner capitulating to Barack Obama funded the Iranian deal, funded his amnesty, fully funded Planned Parenthood. And caved into him for another two-and-a-half months. And we have this debt ceiling coming up. This folks caved to him again and you wonder why people are angry. But the consultant in Washington Case Street, they're worried about the status quo changing. It's time to change the status quo. And then Webster, another candidates are --  

SMITH: But you're still not telling me how we do that. I mean, that's the dilemma, right? America sees chaos. They're seeing a lack of leadership. They don't like what's going on. Everybody says, we need change. But nobody's telling us how that's going to happen. I'm looking to you for that, sir.

HUELSKAMP: Okay. I'll be happy to tell you. This is how we do it.  We actually empower members of Congress to represent constituents instead of special interest in Washington. Nothing happened for the last four years unless (INAUDIBLE) thought it should happen over in Capitol Hill. We need members that actually go to work and do their job. Committees do their work and go to job. We have a debt ceiling coming up in a couple weeks. And the leadership in Washington has yet to have a conversation how we face our overspending problem in Washington. The President probably wants a trillion dollars spending it, debt ceiling increase. There's been no response from our leadership and that's been happened for years now.

SMITH: All right. Thank you for joining us tonight.

HUELSKAMP: My pleasure.

SMITH: On the campaign trail, reaction has been mixed with some like Governor Mike Huckabee suggesting this was a good thing saying, quote, "The race for Speaker of the House is not about Kevin McCarthy. It's about burning the corrupt Washington political machine to the ground and rebuilding our country so America can win again." Is he right?

Marc Thiessen is a Fox News contributor and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Thank you for joining us tonight.

MARC THIESSEN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me.

SMITH: So, how does this change 2016?

THIESSEN: Well, I don't know if anybody specifically helped, but if the House Republicans had elected Kevin McCarthy, it would have super- charged the outsiders like Trump, who are running against the GOP political establishment. I mean, electing McCarthy would have been politically toned deaf. It would have been as if the presidential campaign wasn't happening.  You've got an election right now going, republican primary where 56 percent of Republicans are so frustrated with their leadership in Washington with the republican establishment but they're voting for people who have never held political office in their lives.

SMITH: I mean, Marc, Democrats are laughing tonight after this. GOP has to get their act together.

THIESSEN: So, Democrats are laughing, let them laugh. The point is, this atmosphere, where you have such an anti-establishment electorate right now, you can't just promote the next guy on the totem pole. Kevin McCarthy, it was John Boehner's deputy. You can't just put the deputy up into the next position. You need somebody who is going to go out --  

SMITH: So, who is that? Any ideas?

THIESSEN: Well, I've got a few ideas. I mean, Paul Ryan is being talked about. But what you need is, you have an opportunity now because the problem is, if you have the same leadership, you get the same results.  You have a speaker, and Kevin McCarthy, just like Boehner who couldn't unified the Republicans around the vote and had to go to Democrats to get the votes, to pass a deal, which means you have more liberal results and that the electorate gets more and more angry and more and more polarized.  Now, you have an opportunity with McCarthy out of the way, you have an opportunity for consensus candidate between the Freedom Caucus and the rank-and-file Republican who can actually get conservative results. And that will depolarized the electorate.

SMITH: So, you agree with Governor Huckabee then that this was actually a good thing?

THIESSEN: I think that you need -- if we had just elected Boehner's deputy, it would mean that the Republican Party was completely tone deaf.  Not listening to their own constituents. People are sending a message.

SMITH: It's hard to -- I'm taking what you're saying with a grain of salt. Because right now we're seeing that there's no one really jumping into that seat right now. There's nobody rushing to sign up for that job.

THIESSEN: Yes. It's a very hard job to do. And I mean, look, Paul Ryan has said repeatedly he doesn't want to do it. And everybody is saying, Paul, you have to do it. So, it's not the ideal job. But you have an opportunity to have a clean break. What we've had right now, I mean, if you look at the presidential campaign, they're not running against Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. They're running against Boehner and McConnell, the republican candidates. So, you know, we need to have -- you have a chance to have a fresh start, to have a new speaker. Somebody who is going to be a consensus between the freedom caucus guys and the rank-and-file and you can have different results and start putting conservative bills on Barack Obama's desk.

SMITH: All right. Well, it's wishful and hopeful thinking. We'll see, Mark. Thank you for joining us.

THIESSEN: Thank you.

SMITH: Coming up, did an admitted domestic terrorist just ask for a seat in the White House? See why Bill Ayers is suggesting he maybe the man to replace one of the President's longest serving cabinet members.

Plus, the American hero who managed to stop a terror attack is tonight hospitalized after he is jumped and stabbed in the street. His story is next along with what he and his buddies recently told Megyn about confronting danger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, HOST, "THE KELLY FILE": Had you always known that you would rush to the danger to take it on?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: Breaking tonight. We just got word that Airman First Class Spencer Stone, one of the three man recently credited with stopping a terror attack in Europe is tonight listed in serious condition. Stone was jumped and stabbed in Sacramento last night. We just got this surveillance tape in to FOX News. He's the one in the shirt that you see around with the men chasing him in the streets. Spencer then knocks one of the men down to the ground, you're going to see. Spencer hits the guy down one more time while another guy then reaches around from behind Spencer and stabs him in the front upper body, we're told.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Megyn Kelly became the first journalist to interview Spencer and his friends together about how they stopped that terror attack back in August.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: Is true you actually recall thinking to yourself, I'm not going to die sitting down?

SPENCER STONE, STOPPED FRANCE TRAIN ATTACK: No, it's more for like an afterthought.

KELLY: Uh-hm.

STONE: I mean, I've always had that mentality. So, it was kind of there.

KELLY: Had you always known that you would rush to the danger to take it on?  

(CROSSTALK)

STONE: You're going to take and you're going to die. So --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: For the latest on this breaking story, we go to Trace Gallagher in our West Coast Newsroom. It's just a tragic story. Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It is Sandra and although his condition is serious, we're told tonight the U.S. Airman First Class Spencer Stone is suffering nonlife threatening but significant injuries after being stabbed three times. Police say, the 23-year-old was out with friends, a man and three women, in Midtown, Sacramento when sometime, after midnight, they got into a verbal argument with another group. You can see if you watch this surveillance video, that it quickly went from verbal to physical.

Starting on a street corner and then spilling into the street would both sides as you can see trading punches. One man falls to the ground, but you can't see any knives if you watch it over and over. However, when Spencer Stone walks away, you do see that he is bleeding. And because Stone is one of three Americans who helped stop that terror attack in August on a train from Amsterdam to Paris, police were asked if there was a connection. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEPUTY CHIEF KEN BERNARD, SACRAMENTO POLICE DEPARTMENT: This incident is not related to terrorism in anyway. And we do not believe in any way we know is not related to what occurred in France months ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: Although the exact motive remains unclear, there's also no indication this was any type of hate crime. Police are now looking for two Asian males who fled the scene in dark Toyota Camry. Now, police do not yet know of Spencer Stone had been drinking but other members of his group had been. Stone is stationed to Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento.  One of his fellow heroes from the European train incident Alex Skarlatos who was on this season's "Dancing with the Stars" by the way, tweeted, quote, "Everybody send prayers out to the Stone family today." Spencer Stone also suffered stab wounds during the train attack. You'll recall Sandra that it was a box cutter that he was cut with and he almost lost part of his hand.

SMITH: All right. Well, we wish the best for him and his family tonight. Trace, thank you.

There's a new story to add tonight to the list of disturbing incidents where police are targeted for criticism while just working the beat. We'll have that.

Plus, with Russia launching dozens of missiles into Syria on an almost daily basis now, we'll going to ask General Jack Keane why he told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that the White House's current approach is only likely to bring more bloodshed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASH CARTER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It remains our hope that Russia will see that tethering itself to a sinking ship is a losing strategy.  Because Russia has the opportunity to change course and do the right thing.  I don't know if they will.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASH CARTER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We've seen increasingly unprofessional behavior from Russian forces. They violated Turkish airspace, they shot cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea without warning.  It remains our hope that Russia will see that tethering itself to a sinking ship is a losing tragedy. Because Russia has the opportunity to change course and do the right thing. I don't know if they will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: That was Ash Carter earlier today.  The American Secretary of Defense suggesting that Russia's all-out military offensive in the Middle East was "unprofessional." He also said he hopes that Russia will eventually do the right thing. But in testimony before the Senate Armed Service Committee today, General Jack Keane warned that now is not the time to simply hope the Kremlin comes around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK KEANE, INSTITUTE FOR STUDY OF WAR CHAIRMAN: Putin has put Russia on a path to be a world power with global influence. Putin is counting the U.S. fear of escalation, and fear of confrontation to stop any thought of retaliation. Historically, aggression unanswered has led to more aggression. We are certain to lose the war unless there is major and comprehensive change. Putin has begun a proxy war with the United States.  How can the United States stand by and do nothing? If we continue to ring our hands and continue to be dominated by fear and opposed to instilling fear, then Russian aggression will not just advance in the Middle East, it will with certainty escalate in the politics and in Eastern Europe. Now is the time for a firm hand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: General Jack Keane is Chairman of Institute for the Study of War, a Fox News Military Analyst and he is the man whose surge strategy helped turn the tide during the war in Iraq, General, welcome and thank you for being here.

KEANE: Delighted to be here. Good to see you.

SMITH: You too, General. General, listening to your words there today, so strong, but so scary, in fact, at one point you said aggression that is unanswered normally leads to more aggression. What did you mean by that?

KEANE: Well, say it as it is. When you had thugs and bullies and killers imposing their will on their own people or other people -- if you don't respond to it, it just keeps coming, because they're encouraged by their own success. The most vivid example of it, 1938 Nazism, war worry leaders at that time, Hitler began to march. He could've been stopped easily at the beginning and nobody did anything.

SMITH: General, what are we doing, then? You heard Ash Carter.  We're talking about being professional. Or that we were being unprofessional. I don't know but, meanwhile, Russia is gaining ground.  They are strengthening. Putin is gaining power. What are we doing? It feels as if we're standing idly by.

KEANE: You're absolutely right. We essentially are. Those comments, I find those comments stunning. Listen, here what Putin has done, he has moved out of Europe and Russia for the first time ever with military force.  Why is he doing that? He is bringing everything that he has to make certain that his ally does not fall. We have a far better military than he does. But he's going to make certain that Assad's regime is going to be preserved. Meanwhile, you know United States abandoned Iraq, we retreated from Yemen, and we retreated from Libya. What a message he is sending to the region.

SMITH: And you said also, by the way, General, in that testimony today, that even more significant is Russia's alliance with Iran which will diminish U.S. influence and interest in the region. Your words are very powerful. I was talking to Ambassador John Bolton the other day. I said do you think that Putin is capable? Because I do think that the United States for a long time has underestimated his ability to strategize and to commit to that strategy. Is it a matter of the United States underestimating his ability to be that strong, or is that we committed to a strategy in where I'm willing to change it in the face of failure?

KEANE: Yeah, that's really a great question. It goes deep to the heart of what this issue is all about. Putin clearly sees NATO countries that border on Russia as a threat to his security. I think he clearly is about eventually trying to break up NATO. He's also made an important decision. This alliance with Iran that you mention is an absolute game changer, and the strategic implications of it are very significant. It will impact every country in the region that will now begin to have relationships with Russia and Putin, as opposed to the long standing relationships that we had with the United States. It doesn't mean that the United States isn't a player anymore. But our role in the Middle East is about to be diminished significantly, Samantha.

SMITH: General, what is the one thing that we should do now if anything if we act right now?

KEANE: Well, I still think we should back up our opposition moderates who we trained much as Putin is backing up Assad. There are prudent things we can do. Put up safe zones. Put refugees in there and opposition forces. That would get huge community support. There's much that we can do. The Pentagon knows what to do.

SMITH: General Jack Keane, always great to talk to you. Thanks for joining us.

KEANE: Good talking to you, Samantha.

SMITH: All right. Joining me now to react, someone whose father who has also been incredibly out spoken on this issue, Meghan McCain, a Fox News Contributor and Host of America Now, Meghan, great to have you here.

MEGHAN MCCAIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you. I wish it was under better circumstances.

SMITH: And it's difficult to hear it. General Jack Keane with all of his experience says that things are likely to escalate at this point, it's not getting any better.

MCCAIN: This is something out of a horror movie. I have no doubt, and many people have predicted this. My father has been talking about for over ten years. Hearing the words that Russians being unprofessional, really? People that we have armed and trained, that's unprofessional? I think I can of other words that I would use instead of that. We've lost complete and total -- all credibility in regards to the Middle East. I don't understand what President Obama is doing, but I know every day Putin is growing stronger, and now he's aligning with our enemies and -- it's just something that really takes my breath away right now because I live in fear right now of what Putin is going to do next.

SMITH: Your father has been talking about this for quite some time.  In fact, you talked about it this morning. As the old saying goes, here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the old saying goes, Mr. Putin's appetite is growing with the eating. Now, in a profound echo of the cold war, Russia has intervened militarily in Syria on behalf of the murderous regime of Bashar Al-Assad, and it has become the latest disastrous turn for the Middle East as well as another humiliating setback for the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: He says that Putin is treating us with distain and contempt.

MCCAIN: This is what happens when you lead from behind. This is a direct result of seven years of the Obama administration's foreign policy of -- all of the disasters of the Obama administration and there are plenty. I believe this will be the most deadly long term. It scares me.

SMITH: We don't have a strategy. It's the big criticism of this current administration. It's clearly failing as General Keane pointed out.  But it's more of a lack of strategy and lack of knowing what we're going to do going forward. It's that unknown.

MCCAIN: Vladimir Putin is a two-bit dictator. We are the United States of America. We are a superpower. And President Obama is just letting him to whatever he wants. President Obama met with Putin two days before he knocked on our door at our embassy and said that he was going to strike down Syria and we still have done nothing.

SMITH: You've announced your support for Carly Fiorina...

MCCAIN: And Marco Rubio.

SMITH: And Marco Rubio. Who do you think is best on foreign policy to handle this crisis going forward?

MCCAIN: Marco Rubio predicted this very thing was going to happen in the last presidential debate. I actually think he and Carly Fiorina are the strongest and Lindsay Graham.

SMITH: All right, Meghan McCain, thank you for joining us.

MCCAIN: Again, I wish it was under better circumstances. It's just absolutely petrifying, and I really hope the American public wakes up to what is happening because we are at a turning point right now. The next leader of the United States needs understand the kind of times we are living with and what kind of dictator Putin is.

SMITH: Well, General Keane very clearly dictated what this means.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: Thank god for people like him.

SMITH: All right. Well, we have a troubling new incident tonight in a rash of ugly messages to cops on the job. That is just ahead.

Plus, did an admitted terrorist just ask for a job at the White House?  See how Bill Ayres is now making news.

Plus, the ACLU is now going after a group of catholic hospitals.  We've got both side of that fight when we come back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It starts with -- I truly think the ACLU will be happy until every single catholic healthcare worker in this country is somehow forced to be complicit with abortion.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMITH: All right, developing tonight, the American Civil Liberties Union is suing one of the largest catholic hospital systems in the country for refusing to provide emergency abortions. The ACLU is going after Trinity Health, which runs more than 80 hospitals across the country, saying, "We all have a right to our religious believes. But a hospital that serves the public and accepts public funding cannot hide behind its religious affiliation as an excuse to withhold emergency care." Trinity says the case has no merit and it takes cues from the directives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which states that the abortion is never permitted. Both sides are here tonight, with Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, and Nomiki Konst, the Founder and Executive Director of the Accountability Project.

We'll start with Nomiki first, Nomiki, your take on this at this moment?

NOMIKI KONST, THE ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT FOUNDER: Well, catholic churches are one out of every six catholic hospital is receiving federal funding, 45 percent of the money is federal. That's over $110 billion a year that comes from Medicare and Medicaid. Now under the Emergency Medical Care Act, it is the law. It's federal law that these hospitals must provide emergency care to women who have cancer and need to have a termination otherwise they'll die. This is blatant federal law that they've been violating. And they've found five instances where these catholic hospitals have violated the law.

SMITH: Well, they have, they have found those instances where they've violated the law. Do you believe that this is an anti-Catholic thing or is there something more to this?

KONST: I don't think this is an anti-Catholic thing at all. I think what's going on here is you have catholic hospitals that aren't seeking advice from medical professionals but are looking to bishops, and the United States Council of Bishops who are following religious doctrine over medical doctrine and the federal law. There's really nothing more to this other than the fact women's lives are at risk, because they can't walk into a hospital. Many communities don't have any other hospitals than catholic hospitals. One out of every six is a catholic hospital. So when a catholic hospital denies services and doctors who may or may not be catholic to basically provide health care to everyone, to save lives, they're looking at religious doctrines over the federal law.

SMITH: All right, so Nomiki, it was great to get your perspective on this. But we want to get the catholic perspective on all of this, and we're going to turn to Phil Donahue, President of the Catholic League. She makes the point that in the case of emergency care, these hospitals should respond as appropriate in which each of these cases that has been detailed that those women did need emergency care.

BILL DONOHUE, THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE PRESIDENT: First of all, she's wrong on one thing. Senator Frank Church passed the church amendment. It means that religious hospitals do not have to perform sterilizations or abortions. That's been in the law ever since. The ACLU going back to the 1970s, they tried with their witch hunt against Representative Henry Hart, a catholic from Illinois. They wrote this in a court opinion that he took Holy Communion and he was trying to impose his catholic views on the law.  It was thrown out of court, just as this case was thrown out this past June, very similar to the trinity case.

SMITH: So is there a solution then, because these hospitals do receive federal funding.

DONOHUE: Well, if they don't like it, let them change the law. But the law is that you are protected. And we also have a first amendment right to it. The ACLU is like a moving target on this. Every time you have a secular hospital, they come in like they did in New Jersey and say you have to have an abortion clinic, not just in hard cases, but in every single case. I did a PHD visitation on this organization, I've written two books in this organization, I know exactly what it is.

(CROSSTALK)

DONOHUE: Of course they don't have a chance. We have something called the First Amendment.

SMITH: All right, powerful words, thank you for joining us.

All right, we will be right back with a troubling new attack on police.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMITH: An admitted domestic terrorist finds himself back in the news today. Weather Underground co-founder Bill Ayers is getting attention after recently tweeting that he's "Officially available to be the next Secretary of Education." and suggesting we need a radical new direction.  It is unclear if Ayers, whose group was responsible for dozens of bombings, is actually serious. Deputy Education Secretary John King is expected to replace Arnie Duncan when Duncan leaves in December.

Also tonight, a new incident in what has been a string of troubling incidents involving the police. This time it involves coffee shop employees who are writing FTP on the tops of its coffee cups. The initials are believed to be directed toward police. With the latest on this story, we go to Trace Gallagher from our west coast newsroom, Trace?

TRACE GALLAGHER, LOS ANGELES: And it's a St. Louis coffee shop, Sandra. And here's the tweet that started the controversy, it's from a Mocha Bee's customer who writes, "When you realize why bay is bay, that's short for baby, and why Mocha Bee's is your favorite place, FTP on all the to-go orders, FTP of course means F the Police." The post also includes a picture of an employee who happens to be the owner's son, writing FTP on all the lids. Because of the tweet, the Mocha Bee's coffee shop was inundated with criticism from many who believe they should keep their business and political views separate. Even a long time customer accused the coffee shop of hypocrisy writing, "I've seen them call police numerous times for disturbances, panhandlers, and people who refuse to leave. If you can't support the police, please opt out of their services and handle it yourself. Good-bye, Mo."

Mo, being the owner -- Mo Costello who refused to comment, but Mocha Bee's did post a facetious comment on twitter talking about the employees who wrote on the cups saying, "Per our policy he is on paid leave pending an investigation because we take cup graffiti as seriously as the police take police murder." Turns out Mocha Bee's owners and employees are very active with the Black Lives Matter movement and have attended several protests. The coffee shop even had a very tense gathering the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown.  One customer says when she once wore a the-shirt supporting Officer Wilson, she was told if she wore again she would not be served.

SMITH: Trace, thank you. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMITH: Go to facebook.com/thekellyfile, tell me what you think. You can also tweet me @SandraSmithFox. Thanks for watching. I'm Sandra Smith. This is "The Kelly File."

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