GOP candidates sound off on CNBC debate on 'Hannity'

New Jersey governor discusses his performance at CNBC debate


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 28, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." And we are coming to you live from Los Angeles tonight.

Now, the Republican 2016 presidential candidates squared off in their third debate in Boulder, Colorado. Now, you're going to hear from many of the candidates in just a few minutes. We'll be checking in tonight with Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio and many more. Now, they'll be making their way here shortly.

But first, here are some of tonight's highlights. Take a look.


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GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My great concern is that we are on the verge perhaps of picking someone who cannot do this job.

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And he said, Oh, I'm never going to attack. But then his poll numbers tanked. He's got -- that's why he's on the end.


TRUMP: And he got nasty. He got nasty!

JEB BUSH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you signed up for this, this was a six-year term. And you should be showing up to work. I mean, literally, the Senate -- what is it, like a French work week? You get, like, three days where you have to show up. You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not running against Governor Bush. I'm not running against anyone on the stage. I'm running for president because there is no way we can elect Hillary Clinton to continue the policies of...


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you look at the question -- Donald Trump are you a comic book villain, Ben Carson, can you do math, John Kasich, will you insult two people over here, Marco Rubio, why don't you resign, Jeb Bush why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues...


SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm worried about bankrupting the American people.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The government has lied to you and they have stolen from you.

CARLY FIORINA, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is how socialism starts. Government causes a problem, and then government steps in to solve the problem. This is why, fundamentally, we have to take our government back.


HANNITY: All right, joining us live with analysis before we get to the candidates, we have FOX News legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr., from The Weekly Standard, Steve Hayes, and the editor-in-chief of Lifezette.com, Laura Ingraham.

Laura, we'd be negligent if we don't start off with an analysis that the biggest loser in this debate is the media. I mean -- and I think Ted Cruz had maybe what will be a moment in the campaign here today.  Seriously. I mean, I think they really exposed their agenda tonight. I think the questions were awful, off base, prejudiced. Everything that's wrong with, quote, "media" today, was exposed in this debate. And the Republicans, to their credit, they're the winners because they were substantive in spite of it. Your thoughts.

LAURA INGRAHAM, LIFEZETTE.COM: Let me just say, Hannity, I think that your clip job at the beginning of the show was much better than the actual debate. It made it look really, really interesting (INAUDIBLE)

But Ted Cruz absolutely nailed it. Why does the RNC, led by Reince Priebus -- why do we agree to debates that are hosted by liberals? I mean, there are a couple of good people in there like Santelli and -- you know, we have other friends who were hosting. But I mean, John Harwood (INAUDIBLE) a good guy, but he's kind of left of center.

And the goal here is to make conservatism look weird and conservatism look fringe. And I think in the end, most of the candidates, I think, with the exception of maybe, Jeb whose hit on Marco fell totally flat -- that didn't work. I think Marco Rubio ends up coming out as the establishment favorite after this debate. I think he handled himself as well as he could.

Donald Trump I think owned John Kasich on the Lehman Brothers point at the very beginning. Doesn't surprise me on the Drudge poll, Donald Trump is leading right now. I don't think the needle has moved much, except I think Cruz and Rubio stand out, and Trump I still think dominates a lot of the conversation.

HANNITY: All right, we're actually in full agreement. I think the media is the big loser, Peter Johnson, Jr., but I do think the winners -- I think Ted Cruz had a number of moments tonight. Marco Rubio had a number of moments. I was shocked to the degree that Jeb Bush went after him, and we'll play it in a second.

And I would argue that I agree with Laura. I think that Donald Trump had the better of that exchange with John Kasich. Thoughts?

PETER JOHNSON, JR., FOX LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely agree. I mean, he put him at Lehman Brothers in 2008. And John Kasich collected about $600,000 from Lehman Brothers in the year that they went down.

What we saw here, Sean, was a CNBC-dispatched assassination team, a SWAT team on Republican presidential candidates! They had the facts wrong.  They had the content wrong. They had the context wrong. They looked like Statler and Waldorf on "The Muppet Show"...


JOHNSON: ... up in the -- up laughing at these candidates and guffawing as they tried to answer these mostly nonsensical questions, which didn't go to wage disparity, which didn't go to lack of growth in the economy, which didn't go to the real issues that are affecting Americans who are so angry about the economy and the way that Congress and the White House is responded to it. They missed it big time!

And what they've done is dug a tremendous hole for the mainstream media in the United States of America that no one's going to trust them for a long, long time when it comes to these debates.

HANNITY: You know, it's funny you say that, Peter, because I was thinking, as I was watching this, John Harwood in particular, that they're destroying their profession right now before the American people!


HANNITY: Steve -- let me just give a couple of examples of the hostility that they have towards conservatives. And I think Laura was right in expressing that that was their -- that was their motivation from the beginning. Here are a couple of examples.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've done very well in this campaign so far by promising to build a wall and make another country pay for it...

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... send 11 million people out of the country, cut taxes $10 trillion without increasing the deficit...

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and make Americans better off because your greatness would replace the stupidity and incompetence of others.

TRUMP: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's be honest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?

TRUMP: No, not a comic book, and it's not a very nicely asked question, the way you say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said that you have as much chance of cutting taxes that much without increasing the deficit as you would of flying away from that podium by flapping your arms.


HANNITY: Did he think he was part of this debate in some way, Steve?

HAYES: Yes, I don't know -- that's a good question. I mean, I -- what we've learned from watching this debate tonight is we saw in the FOX News debate how to ask challenging, tough questions of Republicans, but doing it in a respectful way that elicits information, valuable information that voters can get.

And I think what we learned tonight is how not to do that, how not to question Republican candidates, in many respects. I mean, I think the questions -- you've seen this from the candidates challenging -- the questioners challenging the moderators repeatedly, not just on tone, although they did that several times, but also on facts. And in several cases, it appears that the moderators didn't have their facts right. That is fatal to a journalist if you're running a debate!

HANNITY: Yes. All right, let's...

INGRAHAM: And Sean -- Sean, can I just mention one thing on the foreign workers. There was an interesting moment where they brought up, Well, Mr. Trump, you talked about how, you know, Mark Zuckerberg wants to bring in all these foreign workers. And then Trump says, Oh, no, I don't have any problem with that.

That -- I think that was a slip-up by Trump because, obviously, his Web site mentions that Zuckerberg wants to triple the number of foreign workers coming into the country. And we have specific examples where Disney, Fossil (ph), California Southern -- Southern California Edison has literally had American workers train their foreign replacements.

HANNITY: With 90...

INGRAHAM: This happens routinely in America.

HANNITY: It does. And with 90 -- this is the key. With 95 million...

INGRAHAM: It's ridiculous!

HANNITY: ... Americans out of the labor force and 50 million in poverty and 46 million on food stamps, you know, I think the American people -- the whole issue of immigration is resonating because Americans want Americans hired first!

INGRAHAM: Americans want to work! They want to work. And Trump missed an opportunity there. I think he just missed an opportunity.

HANNITY: All right, when we come...

INGRAHAM: I'm not sure why. But that was interesting.

HANNITY: ... back, we're going to show you the Rubio/Bush exchange, which really shocked me. Also John Kasich and Donald Trump going at it.  We'll also be joined in a few minutes by Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio. They'll have reaction to tonight's debate.

Plus, you're going to hear from several of the other GOP candidates as we continue tonight from Los Angeles.



BUSH: But Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term. And you should be showing up to work. I mean, literally, the Senate, what is it, like, a French work week, you get, like, three days where you have to show up? You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job.

RUBIO: ... that you're modeling your campaign after John McCain, that you're going to launch a furious comeback the way he did, by fighting hard in New Hampshire and places like that, carrying your own bag at the airport.

BUSH: I will.

RUBIO: You know how many votes John McCain missed when he was carrying out that furious comeback that you're now modeling on?

BUSH: He wasn't my (INAUDIBLE)

RUBIO: Jeb, I don't remember -- well, let me tell you. I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's vote record. The only reason why you're doing it now is because we're running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.


HANNITY: All right, a very heated exchange from tonight's Republican debate taking place in Boulder, Colorado, between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

Back with us, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr., and from The Weekly Standard, Steve Hayes, the editor-in-chief of Lifezette.com, Laura Ingraham.

Peter Johnson, Jr., I'm watching this -- now, this is on the heels of Jeb Bush comparing Marco Rubio to Obama this week! Is this a French work week, suggesting he resign. What is he trying to gain here? And I didn't think he got the better of the exchange. What are your thoughts?

JOHNSON: Well, I don't think he did either. Obviously, a lot of personal enmity between the two. I think he thought that he was his protege and that he was Marco Rubio's mentor along the way.

And Marco Rubio responded to a lot of attacks tonight in a very positive, strong way, on his voting record not only from the moderator but from Jeb Bush, also on one of his tax plans. John Harwood got it wrong and had to be corrected by Marco Rubio. And so he came back on the defensive, but in a strong way and showed a lot of moxie and a lot of resolve that we haven't seen from him in any of these debates yet.

That being said, Bush was not bad tonight. He's still in the race, I believe. He didn't hurt himself terribly, but Rubio came on real strong.

HANNITY: All right, let me -- let me go back to this issue of the media because this might very well be the line of the night because I think the media destroyed itself tonight, it was so bad.

This is Ted Cruz taking on the media. And listen to the crowd applause after this. I think this was the line of the debate. Watch this.


CRUZ: The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media.


CRUZ: This is not a cage match.

How much talking about the substantive issues people care about?


CRUZ: (INAUDIBLE) And Carl (ph), I'm not finished yet. The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every fawning question from the media was, Which of you is more handsome and wise?

The contrast with the Democratic debate where every fawning question from the media, Which of you is more handsome and wise.

The men and women on this stage have more ideas, more experience, more common sense than every participant in the Democratic debate. That debate reflected a debate between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.


CRUZ: And nobody watching at home believes that any of the moderators have any intention of voting in a Republican primary!


HANNITY: All right, Laura, does this now launch -- Ted Cruz, I view him as an insurgent candidate, as well. Does this now take him to a new level? Does he see a big poll bounce as a result of what I would argue was the line of the night?

INGRAHAM: Yes, I think he'll have some bounce. And I think -- look, Ted Cruz is really smart. He is a Supreme Court law clerk. He's super, super sharp. And he's reviled by the establishment, which is interesting because he complimented the whole stage and said, These people have more common sense and more moxie than -- and at least some people on that stage really don't like Ted Cruz at all and kind of despise him on what he's done in the Senate. So I thought that was a minute of grace from him.

And you never go wrong as a conservative going after the liberal media, let's face it. So that was -- that was very, very smart of him to do. He did what Newt Gingrich did in South Carolina in 2012, Sean.  Remember that moment? Newt really owned that stage that night.

But I just want to go back for a moment to Jeb/Marco. I believe tonight Jeb Bush becomes the also-ran of the establishment. Marco Rubio has eclipsed Jeb Bush in the eyes of, I believe, many donors after tonight.

And I -- I -- I'm -- I'm seeing a real shift on line. You know, The Weekly Standard has a big piece out. During the debate, we're writing about it on Lifezette. Marco Rubio knew what Jeb was going to do, was ready for it.

HANNITY: He was ready, yes. I agree.

INGRAHAM: And I think he just...

HANNITY: All right...

INGRAHAM: I think he made Jeb Bush look like a small person, and I don't think -- I don't think that works.

HANNITY: All right, 20 seconds, your reaction, Steve Hayes.

HAYES: Yes, I agree with Laura. I think this was a very bad night for Jeb Bush. He lost that exchange and had several other moments where he didn't seem to know what he was doing. I thought it was a great night for Marco Rubio, really had an answer to every single question he was asked.

And I agree with you, Sean, about Ted Cruz. That was really one of the highlights of the debate. I think Cruz will see some bounce out of this debate. He conducted himself very well and made several very good arguments.

HANNITY: Yes, I agree. All right, guys, stay right there.

When we come back, the debate is now officially over. We have Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio and more of the GOP presidential candidates. They will be here in just mere moments with reaction to tonight's debate. That and more as we continue tonight from Los Angeles.



RUBIO: Back in 2004, one of my predecessors to the Senate by the name of Bob Graham, a Democrat, ran for president, missing over 30 percent of his votes. I don't recall them calling for his resignation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that the standard?

RUBIO: Later that year, in 2004, John Kerry ran for president, missing close to 60 to 70 percent of his votes. I don't recall the Sun -- in fact, the Sun-Sentinel endorsed him.

In 2008, Barack Obama missed 60 or 70 percent of his votes, and the same newspaper endorsed him again. So this is another example of the double standard that exists in this country between the mainstream media and the conservative (INAUDIBLE)



HANNITY: All right, joining us now as we continue -- the candidates have just stepped off the stage -- we have Fox News contributors Katie Pavlich and Doug Schoen with us.

You know, I got to tell you, this is going to go down in history.  Mark my words, Doug Schoen, this is exactly what the media should not have done. They basically read Democratic questions, Democratic talking points, took Democratic positions. And the Republicans fought back with substance.  This is going to be a turning point in terms of debates, in my opinion.  Your reaction.

DOUG SCHOEN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, my sense is you haven't mentioned the name of that front-runner, which is Ben Carson. You know, I don't think it was a bad night for him. It wasn't a particularly good night for him. But he's been surging. He's got the highest favorability. And I think he's going to be ahead tomorrow and going forward.

And sure, Cruz and Rubio did well, and I don't disagree with your basic premise, but Ben Carson and Donald Trump did well. We've got an outsider-establishment division. And all of this plays into the hands, yes, you got it, Sean -- Hillary Clinton.

HANNITY: You know, I -- you were right up to a point. Then you lost me at the end.

Katie, I see this a little differently here. I think the real winner tonight were the Republican candidates. And we're going to be joined in a minute by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and many of the other candidates.  They're just getting off the stage, moving to our camera right now.

And to me, they were substantive in spite of the hostility that was shown to them by John Harwood and the rest of that team. And I think there's a big, huge backlash here. And Cruz, I think, had a big breakout moment against the media. Christie had one. Rubio had one. And they got the biggest applause! What's your reaction?

KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you'll notice at the beginning of the debate, Republican candidates kind of started going after each other, but once the moderators got more hostile, they banded together and became allies on stage and stopped attacking each other really and took on the moderators for their questions.

And I think Republicans have finally learned this lesson, much like Newt Gingrich did last time around, of taking on the moderators scores you points with the American people and the public, especially in a primary, when I believe it was Ted Cruz who said, Look, none of the moderators tonight are going to be voting in a Republican primary.

So the questions that they were asking, which, by the way, were very close to Democratic talking points -- were exactly that. They were attacks. I think the fact that this debate was held in Boulder was a reflection of the kind of questions that were going to be asked based on how liberal they were.

And I think Marco Rubio handled them very well. I think Donald Trump handled them well when he said that they didn't have all their facts correct. And I think Ted Cruz had the biggest moment of the night when it came to taking on the moderators and defending his fellow Republicans on that stage.

HANNITY: All right, big win for all of them. And they kind of did stay united, except for a couple of moments.

All right, we're going to break early here because when we come back, the candidates will be joining us. We'll check in, for example, when we get back, with Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz and others. They'll be joining us next tonight on "Hannity" as we continue from Los Angeles.



CHRISTIE: Let me be honest with the people who are watching at home. The government has lied to you and they've stolen from you. They've told you that your Social Security money is in a trust fund. All that's in that trust fund is a pile of IOUs for money they spent one something lese a long time ago. And they stole it from you because now they know they cannot pay these benefits because Social Security is going to be insolvent in seven to eight years.

We're sitting up here talking about all these other things. And 71 percent of federal spending today is on entitlements and debt services.  And that's with zero percent interest rates. Now, I'm the only person who has put out a detailed plan on how to deal with entitlements.


HANNITY: All right, that was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at tonight's big debate in Boulder, Colorado. And he joins us now with reaction from Boulder. And, governor, I'd say a really good night for you on a lot of different fronts. And not a good night for the media, and not a good night -- this is like -- it was almost like the Democratic Party wrote a lot of these questions. But you guys stuck on substance. Talk about it. And you, also talking about how we've been robbed and lied to, thanks for telling us that the government robbed me blind. I really appreciate you explaining that to us tonight.

CHRISTIE: Sean, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that's exactly what it is. If we don't deal with entitlement reform and we can't just wish it away, and it's not going to be wished away by economic growth.  We've got to do the hard things. We've got to treat people like adults and tell them the truth.

And as far as the tone on the stage tonight, you saw 10 really good candidates for president of the United States talk to the American people about exactly what they want to do for the future. But what you saw I think in me tonight is that I'm tested and I'm ready to maturely and just smartly deal with these issues. That's what we tried to get out there tonight.

HANNITY: But governor, when you talk about they stole from us, I appreciate the fact that you're being honest, because I believe that that's true. But that means that Americans -- I had my first paid job paying Social Security when I was 12 years old. I'm 53 years old. My entire life I've paid into it. You're saying that I'm not going to get that money back and Americans are not going to get the money that they paid into it, that's how corrupt our government is? And nobody's going to go to jail for that?

CHRISTIE: Washington, D.C., has shafted us, Sean. And the fact that everybody who needs that money is going to get it, but there are going to be some of us who have done extraordinarily well in this life who are going to have to make some sacrifice. And we're going to acknowledge that we're living longer, Sean. We're going to have to raise the retirement age. But it's not going to affect people who are getting benefits now or who are about to get benefits.

What is going to affect my generation and yours, we're the same age, it's going to affect us and it's going to affect younger people as well.  But the alternative, Sean, is either Hillary Clinton's massive tax increase and massive governing intervention even further in our lives, or to have folks that are trying to use this money to get between heat and rent and food paid for, for them not to have any money. I can't live with that kind of America, Sean, and I don't think most Americans would either.

HANNITY: Governor Christie, as always, thank you for being with us.  Good night for you tonight. We appreciate it.

Here now with more reaction to the GOP debate, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Senator, good to see you.

PAUL: Hey, Sean, thanks for having me.

HANNITY: I wouldn't say this was a big night for the media. What was your reaction to the debate in general?


PAUL: You know, I think one of the funny things is that I agree with Governor Christie. I saw more unity among the Republican field mainly because they're all unified against the moderators. And the crowd also sensed that the moderators seemed to be a bit biased with all of their questions.

HANNITY: Let's talk about what you have planned tomorrow, because -- and a lot of the candidates tonight were critical of this new budget deal, again spending more money, more deficits. You are going to start a filibuster tomorrow. Are you planning on not drinking a lot of water tonight? You planning on being out there a long time?

PAUL: We'll see what happens. But to me this deal represents exactly what's wrong with Washington. You've got the Republican establishment making an agreement with the president. And do you know they're going to raise the debt ceiling by an unspecified amount? So they're giving the power to President Obama in his final year to spend whatever he wants to spend. No limits. There will be no limit on the debt ceiling when this passes. This is horrendous. Every conservative in the country ought to be up in arms. And I ask them, call your congressman.

HANNITY: The next logical question, though, is, why are Republicans allowing this to happen? John Boehner is going to leave his job as speaker and Paul Ryan will be the new speaker tomorrow. But since he's been speaker, the debt has gone up $4.1 trillion. That doesn't sound like a party of limited government to me.

PAUL: It bothers me also. And Paul Ryan's going to vote for this increasing the debt, which is an unlimited increase in the debt. They're also busting the budget caps for both military and domestic welfare. And this is the unholy alliance I've been talking about in Washington, where the right gets what they want, increased military spending, the left gets what they want, increased domestic spending, and there's short of the secret handshake and all the spending goes up. But they're bankrupting the country, both the right and the left.

HANNITY: All right, so how do you feel about where you stand in the campaign right now? Poll numbers are I'm sure not where you want them to be. Do you take them seriously? And how do you get the poll numbers up, and how do you get to the top of this race?

PAUL: Right now the polls are of undecided voters. Two-thirds of everybody in every poll they put out is undecided. So there's sort of a fiction, but the media is obsessed with the numbers. They think it must be math because it's a number. But these numbers mean absolutely nothing now.  We have a great ground game. I had 700 kids at the University of Iowa the other day. I had 700 at Iowa State. We are on the ground.  We are planning on winning. We're going to be in the middle of this. We think the polls really don't represent anything and may not until January.

HANNITY: All right, thank you, senator, for being with us. We appreciate it.

When we come back, we have more reaction to tonight's GOP debate.  When we come back, the one and only Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, who I would argue had the line of the night, and other 2016 Republican candidates. From Los Angeles, it's "Hannity" live. Thanks for being with us.



CRUZ: The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media.


CRUZ: This is not a cage match. How about talking about the substantive issues people --


CRUZ: And Carl, I'm not finished yet. The contrast with the Democratic debate where every fawning question from the media was, which of you is more handsome and wise?


HANNITY: That was Senator Ted Cruz with what I think was the line of tonight's GOP debate. He joins us now with reaction from Boulder, Colorado. Senator, I would argue, you changed the entire trajectory of that debate which, if I was a judge, I would say the candidates combined beat the moderators who were taking the Democratic Party line. That went over extremely well. Explain.

CRUZ: Well, Sean, look, we've seen now over and over again where the media, they are the Democrats' cheerleaders. And in these debates the media tries -- every question is an insult, every question is an attack, every question is asking one Republican to attack another Republican. You know, they don't do that to the Democrats. The Democrats, they give them each a chance to talk about what they believe in.

And I've got to say, Sean, one of the most ridiculous things, why is it where we keep having debates where the moderators, no one in the right mind thinks any of the moderators actually will vote in a Republican primary. In my view, Republican primary debates ought to be moderated by people who would vote at a primary. How about a debate moderated by Sean Hannity and Mark Levine and Rush Limbaugh? Now, that would be a debate.  But instead --

HANNITY: I'm in. And I think I can speak for the other two, they're in as well.

And I do agree with you, because these questions are downright hostile. And I believe this was a horrible night for the news media. And I will say in many cases, in many instances tonight a disgrace to the, quote, "profession of journalism." This is a serious issue.

CRUZ: And the reason is the moderators and the networks don't want the American people to vote for any of the 10 men and women on that stage.  They want to beat up whoever the Republican nominee is, and then they want people either to stay home or vote for Hillary.

And the purpose of these debates, listen, Republican primary voters are making a choice. We ought to have questions that focus on our vision for America. For example, today I rolled out my tax plan, a simple flat tax. The first $36,000 of income for a family of four, there's zero tax, zero income tax, zero payroll tax, and then a simple 10 percent tax above that. That's the sort of thing we ought to be talking about -- well, how would that tax plan compare to other candidates' plans? Everyone else's plans have much higher rates than a simple 10 percent plan. And the critical thing I think --

HANNITY: I didn't mean to interrupt you, senator, I apologize. You did get very substantive tonight because you had an opportunity to lay out your economic plan. More important, you were tackling the third rail of politics, which was Social Security and raising the retirement age. There was a lot of substance going on in spite of the hostility of the questions.

I want you, in light of today's bad economic deal, budget deal that was made, explain how things would be different under your economic plan, because I think that's the type of substance that people want to hear about.

CRUZ: I think you're exactly right. For one thing the cronyism and the sellout that we're seeing in Congress wouldn't be happening. This budget deal is a disaster. It is Republican leadership joining with the Democrats. Every single Democrat in the House voted for $80 billion more in spending and debt and deficit. It was just a handful of Republicans in leadership. They're going to try to do the same thing in the Senate.

What we need, Sean, is a strong president who stands up and says this ends now. If you send me a spending bill filled with corporate welfare and cronyism, if you keep growing the debt, I will veto it. And it's one of the reasons the distinction that I think is prepares most important that came out tonight is almost everyone on the stage talks about standing up to Washington, but there's a marked difference if you ask who actually has a record of doing that. Who has stood up not just to Democrats but to leaders in their own party? And in that regard I think that's why we're seeing conservatives uniting behind our campaign because I have a proven record as a consistent conservative of standing up to Washington and fighting for the constitution.

HANNITY: You know, you keep talking about this divide that does exist, and that is you explain, you talk about the Washington cartel. For example, John Boehner is out. Paul Ryan will step in as speaker tomorrow.  Under John Boehner our debt went up $4.1 trillion. You tried to use the power of the purse.   I assume it's probably a fine line. You can't use it all of the time. But on issues like Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, illegal immigration, are they three examples where maybe the Republican Party ought to be in a room strategizing and using that enumerated constitutional power? Where do they use it? When would you use it or advise them to use it?

CRUZ: Right, right. Sean, of course, you're right, that we have Republican majorities in both houses. We ought to use the constitutional power to given to Congress.

Here's the sad reality. Republican leadership is in a room strategizing, but it's not about how to beat Harry Reid and Pelosi and Obama. It's how to beat conservatives. It's how, frankly, their target, Mitch McConnell's staff brags to the press that they've developed a strategy to beat Cruz and beat the conservatives and fund all of Obama's agenda. And it's why people are so furious because we end up -- this deal was a golden parachute for John Boehner. If you recall, the day Boehner announced he resigned, I said at the time, I said this means he has cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling and fund all of Obama's agenda for two years. It turned out some in the media criticized me, saying you don't know that. Well, that's exactly what they did. People are fed up with it.

HANNITY: Yes. I've got to run. I would say this is a very big night for you. In part you got more time in this debate than probably the other two combined, and probably the line of the night against the media. And I want to say something. I would be all in for a moderated debate with me, Rush, and Mark up there if they're on board. I'll ask Reince Priebus if he's willing to do so. So thank you, sir.

CRUZ: And Sean, let me tell you, the Republican primary voters would love to hear that debate because you're strong conservatives who would want to focus on the difference between the candidates and help people make the decision we need to make.

HANNITY: It wouldn't be a gotcha debate. Thank you, senator.  Appreciate your time, and good night for you tonight.

CRUZ: Exactly. Take care.

HANNITY: Joining us now with reaction to tonight's presidential debate is candidate, the number one front-runner in the polls, Donald Trump is here with us. Mr. Trump, how are you, sir?


HANNITY: I've got to be honest. We spent a lot of time talking about this. Right out of the gate I felt John Harwood was extraordinarily unfair to you and attacking you in the line about the clown and unnamed sources that tell him that you would fly before that ever passed. I've got imagine that that's pretty aggravating for you. What's your reaction to it?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know. I think we did very well tonight. The debate itself went very well. And the audience started booing him. And I guess I expect it. I'm number one in the polls, and I would maybe expect it. But I thought it was unnecessary. And it was very interesting. I think the result was very interesting. But the evening was a great success.

HANNITY: You know, one of the big moments of this debate, and I actually think you got the better of this moment, is the exchange you had with John Kasich. Let me play it for you, remind our audience, and let them see how this went down.


TRUMP: First of all, John got lucky with a thing called fracking.  OK, he hit oil. He got lucky with fracking. Believe me, that's why Ohio is doing well. And that's important for you to know.         

Number two, this is the man that was a managing general partner at Lehman Brothers when it went down the tubes and almost took every one of us with it, including Ben and myself, because I was there and I watched what happened. And Lehman Brothers started it all. He was on the board and he was a managing general partner.        

And just thirdly, he was so nice. He was such a nice guy. And he said, oh, I'm never going to attack. But then his poll numbers tanked.  He's got -- that's why he's on the end.         (LAUGHTER)        

TRUMP: And he got nasty. And he got nasty. So you know what? You can have him.

KASICH: Let me just -- let me respond. First of all, Ohio does have an energy industry, but we're diversified. We're one of the fastest grows states in the country. We came back from the dead. And you know what, it works very, very well. And secondly, when you talk about me being on the board of Lehman Brothers, I wasn't on the board of Lehman Brothers. I was a banker, and I was proud of it and I traveled the country and learned how people make jobs.


HANNITY: What is your reaction, because in last 24 hours, 36 hours, John Kasich, the governor, seems to be getting more aggressive and hostile?  Where do you think it's coming from?

TRUMP: Well, he has very bad poll numbers. It's very simple. So he attacked us. And I think it was inappropriate. But that just came from poll numbers. He seems like a nice guy. But he has very, very low poll numbers, and therefore he attacked us. So I think it worked out well for me.

HANNITY: Let me go to the issue of the substance of your economic plan, because there's a lot to it. And I don't know who these unnamed sources that John Harwood was talking about, but you talk about trillions of dollars that would be --

TRUMP: I don't think they exist. Sean, I don't think those sources exist. I don't believe they exist.

HANNITY: I actually got the impression it was his personal opinion.  It was a great line when you mentioned Larry Kudlow who works on CNBC, and you said, well --

TRUMP: He's a good guy.

HANNITY: Yes. I like Larry. He's a friend of mine. He is a good guy, and I think he's going to run for senator. Explain your economic plan, though, because what he didn't seem was factor in was the economic growth aspect of repatriated money and a lower corporate tax rate, et cetera. So I want you to --

TRUMP: We're lowering taxes, Sean, we're lowering taxes big league.  We're bringing rates down. We're the highest taxed in the world, we're the highest taxed country right now and it's not even close. We're bringing the rates down to 15 percent for corporations. We're simplifying the code.  We're bringing it down to 10. You're able to get your money back in.

We have right now $2.5 trillion outside of this country that can't get in. We're bringing that rate way down. Everybody is going to bring the money back in. It's going to be used in our country and so many other things. And then, of course, we're starting to cut, and we're going to cut expenses and cut waste and fraud and abuse, and we're going to have a really dynamic country, again.

HANNITY: Mr. Trump, it's estimated that there is some $4 trillion overseas that multinational corporations won't bring back to this country because of the high taxation rate.

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: Corporate inversion, repatriation.

TRUMP: It is all about the corporate inversion, right.

HANNITY: But wouldn't those corporations spend the money here, build manufacturing here if they have ability to bring it back?

TRUMP: They would. They would spend it here. They want to bring it back. They can't bring it back. The tax is too high. And the bureaucracy is too high. The paperwork is unbelievable. They can't get it back in.  So you know what they're doing. They're leaving it in our country and going to another country to get their money and get lower taxes, and they're taking thousands and thousands of jobs, Sean.

HANNITY: Let me ask you, when you talk about John Kasich being lucky and the whole issue of fracking, in a way I was thinking couldn't the whole country be lucky? Because we have more natural gas, more energy resources than the entire Middle East combined and we don't tap into it. How big of an impact, through your economic estimate and your economic plan, would it have on the economy?

TRUMP: Massive. Bigger than Saudi Arabia, bigger than anything, massive. If a state or area of the country is lucky enough to be sitting on the right soil and the right land, they should be doing it and they should make a fortune for themselves, cut taxes, do a lot of things. But absolutely they should do it. And some people don't do it. Some people don't do it. I mean, I can name one in particular that's not doing it and sitting on top of a bonanza.

HANNITY: You're talking about New York state, where I live. And upstate New York is suffering financially because of it.

TRUMP: It is sitting on a bonanza. And by the way, it's being lost, because Pennsylvania and others, believe me, are sucking it right now. So New York is losing a lot by not taking the oil and gas. They have tremendous power there. And you know how high taxes are in New York?  We're losing a lot by not taking it. And other areas, like Pennsylvania, they're taking it. And that doesn't, you know go by lines. That stuff flows and they're taking it. New York is losing a tremendous amount.

HANNITY: It was interesting to me tonight to watch how bad the media was and to watch all the other candidates tonight in a very different way come to your defense. And that included Mike Huckabee. That included Ted Cruz. What was your reaction to that?

TRUMP: I thought it was great. We have a great relationship and I really thought it was great. There was a certain camaraderie up there tonight not only with respect to me but with respect to everybody. I thought it was very beautiful to watch.

HANNITY: Last question. The media seems to have a real hard time grasping the idea that you're going to build a wall and that you're going to make Mexico pay for it. And as you were trying to give your answer tonight I wanted to hear the rest of it. And I want you to explain to our audience exactly how that would happen because the media seems to lack a comprehension about how Mexico's economy is so tightly tied to our economy and that it would be in their best interest to do so.

TRUMP: Sean, we're going to build a wall. It's going to be paid for by Mexico. We're going to create a border, a real border. We don't have a border now. And if you don't have a border, you don't have a country.  We're going to have a door for people to come in legally. But I will tell you, it's going to be a beautiful door, people are going to come in legally. But we're putting up a wall. Mexico is going to pay for it, and we're going to have a border.

HANNITY: And they pay for it why?

TRUMP: Because they make -- our trade imbalance with Mexico is $50 billion a year. We give Mexico a tremendous amount of money. I love the Mexican people. I employ tens of thousands over the years of Hispanics and people, generally. These are great people. But the leaders are too smart for our leaders. What's happening to us is a disgrace and it cannot happen any longer. So we're going to build a wall, we're going to create a border, and you're going to be very happy.

HANNITY: Last question, we're going to let you go. You've been probably the strongest critic of Governor Jeb Bush. Probably he's underperformed by every poll number out there. And for some reason he was out there attacking Marco Rubio. What do you think the strategy was behind it? You're number one in the polls. Ben Carson has been surging a little bit this week. What is your reaction to that, too?

TRUMP: Well, I think Ben is a terrific guy. And I think that frankly Marco and Jeb were going at it a little bit. And I sort of said that. And they were going at it. But Ben is standing right next to me and he is a terrific guy. He's right over here. Hey, Ben, you're a terrific guy. So that is the story.

HANNITY: Why don't you bring him over? We got a group hug on HANNITY. We'll have all the candidates together. I said this earlier, I actually said that it was the candidates that beat the moderators tonight.  And in spite of what they wanted --

TRUMP: I think so.

HANNITY: This is was a substantive debate tonight.

TRUMP: I think so. And there were some little jabs. I'll tell you, there were little jabs, but there was a great camaraderie among candidates.

HANNITY: Mr. Trump, it's always a pleasure to have you. Thank you for taking time. Great debate for you tonight. Appreciate your time.

TRUMP: Thank you, Sean. Thank you very much.

HANNITY: And when we come back, we have more HANNITY as we continue from Los Angeles right after the break.  



RUBIO: Back in 2004, one of my predecessors to the Senate by the name of Bob Graham, a Democrat, ran for president missing over 30 percent of his votes. I don't recall them calling for his resignation. Later that year in 2004, John Kerry ran for president, missing close to 60 percent or 70 percent of his vote. I don't recall "The Sun Sentinel," in fact "The Sun Sentinel" endorsed him. In 2008 Barack Obama missed 60 or 70 percent of his votes and the same newspaper endorsed him again. So this is another example of the double standard that exists in this country between the mainstream media and the conservatives.



HANNITY: I have to tell you something, between the comments of Ted Cruz tonight and the comments of Marco Rubio tonight and Chris Christie tonight and Mike Huckabee tonight, I'm looking at "The Drudge Report," the debate was an encyclopedic example of liberal media bias. Do you know what, this is going down in history as a really bad night for the media.

But with all that said, the winner was of course the Republicans.  They stayed on substance and they even got along, far more substantive than the Democratic debate.

Thanks for being with us. We'll see you back here tomorrow night, 10:00 eastern.

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