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Sunday Morning Futures

Marco Rubio details military agenda, tax plan; Inside the GOP candidates' tax reform plans

This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," November 8, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: Good morning.

The countdown is on. We are two days away until we hear what the GOP hopefuls will do about the economy.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Maria Bartiromo. Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures."

As I prepare to co-moderate Tuesday's upcoming debate in Milwaukee, I'll sit down with two of the candidates, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina with us today, to get their take on the economy, our military and taxes.

Plus, Ben Carson under fire for his West Point story now. So is it a fabrication or is the media to blame like he says?

And which GOP candidate's tax plan would work best for you and your family and the nation's economy. One of America's leading economists, Art Laffer, will join me live as we take a look at each candidate's proposal, today on "Sunday Morning Futures."

The fourth Republican presidential debate now just two days away. America waiting to hear more about the economic policies of 12 of the GOP candidates on the Fox Business Network on Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Florida Senator Marco Rubio seeing a recent surge in the polls. The latest Fox News poll has Rubio tied for third place with Ted Cruz at 11 percent. Senator Rubio just unveiling his military agenda late last week. Senator Rubio joins me right now.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, Maria.

BARTIROMO: Congratulations, up to number three. You've been really surging in the polls the last couple of debates. To what do you attribute that to?

RUBIO: Well, we just have a campaign that continues to talk about who we are and what we would do given the opportunity to be president. And I think, as I've always said, as we continue to do that and more people hear it, I think our support will continue to grow. Polls go up and down. I'm not overly focused on the polls. But I can certainly notice in the early states that we've been visiting, more interest and more support for our campaign. We're going to continue to do that. We're going to give people the kind of campaign that they're looking for.

BARTIROMO: And I think, you know, your story, son of a bartender, your mother was the hotel maid, I mean people resonate with the hard working mentality of your upbringing and you've been telling that story.

RUBIO: Well, it actually is the essence of what makes America special. Almost every other society in human history traps you in the circumstances of your birth. In America we tell people, it doesn't matter where you started out or what your parents did for a living, if you work hard and you persevere, you can get ahead and improve your life. And that's what I fear we're losing. That perhaps is the most important issue we confront economically in this country is that more and more people are starting to believe that that, that upward mobility, what we call the American dream, is not going to be possible for them. And if we lose that, we stop being a special country.

BARTIROMO: All right, let me talk about your military plan.

RUBIO: Yes.

BARTIROMO: Because you unveiled this late last week. And basically what you're saying is, you want to begin to undo that $1 trillion of indiscriminate cuts to the defense budget.

RUBIO: Right. Well, because defense spending is not the reason why we have a debt. It's not the driver of our national debt. Our national debt, especially long-term, is driven by mandatory spending programs that need to be reformed. But these reductions in defense spending are not just unsustainable, they're dangerous. They're reckless. Every time this country's ever undertaken massive reductions in defense spending, it's had to come back later and undo them and it costs a lot more money. So we're on par to have the oldest and smallest Air Force ever, the oldest Navy since the end of World War I, World War II, an Army that's about to cut another 40,000 positions.

There is a budget out there. It's called the gates budget but it was basically a bipartisan commission that looked at the defense needs of this country and said, this is what we should be spending money on. And what I argue is, we need to get back to that. We need to get back to funding our defense needs because it is the most important thing the federal government does.

BARTIROMO: And when you look at national defense as sort of what we're fighting out there, what do you think would be the biggest threat on a foreign policy or a national defense data?

RUBIO: Well, I mean we face threats major threats. One is rogue states like North Korea and Iran who either have acquired or are on the verge of acquiring a nuclear capability that could eventually reach the United States. The second is non-state actors, like ISIS. Terrorist groups who continue to spread their -- their reach. They're now very involved in Libya, that's why news about a Russian jetliner should not be surprising to us because ISIS is very active in Libya and they use it as an operational ground in the Sinai into Egypt. And the third are state actors like China and Russia, who in different ways are trying to crowd America out and our influence. In the case of China in the Asia Pacific region, in the case of Russia in Europe and now in the Middle East. All are very significant threats. We need to confront all three of them. And a strong national defense is critical to that.

BARTIROMO: But -- but how do you -- how do you confront them? I mean back in the 2012 election, I remember, you know, we had President Obama laughing at Mitt Romney when Mitt Romney said of Vladimir Putin and Russia is -- is really the threat out there. And here we have today --

RUBIO: Right.

BARTIROMO: Russia, you know, invading Ukraine, putting troops in Syria. How would a president Rubio deal with Russia.

RUBIO: Well, in the case of Russia, I think we need to reinvigorate NATO and in Europe because we need to change the cost benefit analysis for Vladimir Putin. Right now he calculates that the benefits of the Ukrainian incursion, the benefits of testing the Baltic States outweigh the costs of doing so. And many of these countries and NATO do not have territorial defense capabilities. They cannot inflict damage on Russia high enough because they haven't invested in that for years. They largely invested in becoming expeditionary forces that could join us, for example, in Afghanistan.

So we have to reinvigorate NATO. We also have to help reinvigorate countries aligned with NATO that may not be NATO members but are associated with NATO, whether it's Georgia or some of these other nations, Ukraine, for example, by giving them defensive capabilities that change the cost benefit analysis for the -- for the -- with things that Vladimir Putin is doing. He's a gangster, but he's a rational cost benefit analysis guy. He makes decisions based on geopolitical realities. And in the case of Europe, the benefits of what he's been doing in Europe far outweigh, in his mind, the costs that Russia now is bearing militarily as a result.

BARTIROMO: Early on in your candidacy, a lot of people compared the fact that you're a senator from Florida, compared to Barack Obama. Been there, done that, junior senator, not ready for primetime yet. Would you consider being a VP?

RUBIO: I don't -- I'm running for president, and that's what I'm running for. I'm -- I don't have any interest in being the vice president. That's not what I'm -- you don't run for vice president, Maria.

BARTIROMO: How do you push back on those that say, maybe at some point, but not right now for Marco Rubio?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, I don't know what -- I think the argument -- that's the argument the establishment and the Republican Party makes. You know, Marco, you need to wait in line. It's not your turn. I don't know what we're waiting for. This country can't have another eight -- four years like the last eight. The American dream is slipping away.

And I would remind people that Barack Obama didn't fail because he was a senator. He now has seven years of presidential experience and his policies are more disastrous today than when he started. He's failed because his ideas don't work. Big government, taking on and undermining free enterprise, expanding the reach of government into our economy, it's been a disaster. Record numbers of people on public assistance, record numbers of people have left the labor force, an economy that's growing at an anemic pace, wages are barely grows and certainly not in comparison with the new cost that Americans have to absorb. Global confidence in America's long-term economic outlook continues to decline, our industries are less competitive globally than they once were. These are disasters and they're a direct result of a failed ideology on behalf of Barack Obama, not the fact that he was a U.S. senator.

BARTIROMO: But -- OK, that's a fair point.

I want to ask you about your economic policy, in particular your tax plan, because your plan has the highest tax rate for the highest earners at 35 percent. It's not much different than what we see right now.

RUBIO: It's about 39.5.

BARTIROMO: 39.5 is what we have right now.

RUBIO: Right. So it's down to -- OK.

BARTIROMO: And yours is 35 percent. And -- and -- and then you've got this expanded child tax credit.

RUBIO: Right.

BARTIROMO: So explain that to us. You want to give a credit to people because they have kids?

RUBIO: No, I want to give them a credit because working families is the most important institution in our society. It is the first government -- the most important governments, the most important economic sell in our society, and families today are facing crushing costs of raising children. They're facing -- they're basically raising our future taxpayers. The cost of living for a family of six is higher than it is for a family of one or two or three and our tax code should recognize that. We help businesses in the tax code, why wouldn't we help families?

The second point on -- you may on the higher tax -- what you can't leave out, you have to look at the whole plan. The -- the -- the top rate is 35. But, for example, a lot of people that pay 35 percent are paying that on business income because they run a pass through company, a s corporation. Under our plan, that income from that business is taxed at a flat rate of 25 percent for all business income, whether you're a c corporation or an s corporation.

BARTIROMO: (INAUDIBLE). Yes.

RUBIO: We allow businesses to immediately and fully deduct any expenses, any investment they make into their own business. (INAUDIBLE) --

BARTIROMO: How do you pay for this plan? Do you need to cut -- what do you want to cut?

RUBIO: Well, as I argued before, I mean if you look at the -- when you ask about how we pay for it, the fundamental question you're asking is, what do we do with the debt? Two points. The only way to deal with the debt, can't raise taxes, you can't tax your way out of this debt and you can't solely cut your way out of this debt. You have to do two things. You have to rapidly, and in a sustained way, grow your economy dynamically, but you also have to hold the line on future spending obligations. And so the -- you have to do -- the tax plan is the growth aspect of this. We have to also do entitlement reform. We have to reform Medicare and Social Security. That is the long-term driver of our debt. We have to do both.

BARTIROMO: Senator Rubio, we'll see you on Tuesday.

RUBIO: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for joining us. Senator Rubio there.

And the Fox Business Network will be conducting the next GOP presidential debate this Tuesday, November 9, 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. I'll be there with Neil Cavuto and Gerry Baker from "The Wall Street Journal.'

All right, we want to get another leading GOP hopeful now, Dr. Ben Carson. He is firing back this morning after a new round of attacks on his life story. Fox News senior correspondent Eric Shawn now with that angle.

Good morning to you, Eric.

ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Maria, and good morning, everyone.

It was a Ben Carson we haven't really seen. Not the soft spoken, reflective pediatric neurosurgeon, but a blunt stung (ph) politician fighting back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN CARSON, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They understand that this is a witch hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN: Witch hunt or legitimate questions raised about his autobiography. Carson attacking the media for his claims he was a violent teenager who tried to stab a friend, slammed another in the head with a lock, and tried to hit his mother with a hammer. In his book "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story," he wrote, quote, "I tried to kill my friend. He thought I must be crazy. Only a crazy person would kill a friend. He was disgusted with himself, then he remembered to pray."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never hit my mother over the head. Believe me. And you didn't either, though.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX HOST, "O'REILLY FACTOR": Well, the -- the story is redemption. That's what he's trying to get across.

TRUMP: I don't know.

O'REILLY: But be that as it may, the bigger story is --

TRUMP: Did you ever hit your mother?

O'REILLY: No, of course not.

TRUMP: I don't think so.

O'REILLY: OK.

TRUMP: And you didn't write that you hit her.

O'REILLY: No.

TRUMP: There's something very strange here. Something very strange is going on.

O'REILLY: All right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN: And about that supposed boast he was once offered a scholarship at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, well Carson remains adamant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARSON: I never said I received a full scholarship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel -- do you feel that there have been --

CARSON: I never -- wait a minute. Don't -- don't lie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

CARSON: I never said that I received a full scholarship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

CARSON: Nowhere did I say that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There have been reports today, is what I'm trying to say --

CARSON: Politico, as you know, told a bold faced lie. They've been called out on that by The Washington Post and by The New York Times and I'm sure there will be several others who will call them out on that because they are actually some people with integrity in your business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN: Well, the Carson campaign so far has not produced any of Carson's friends and that pal who Carson says he tried to stab has also not yet emerged. Politico, by the way, adding a clarification, stands by its story.

Carson also said he may make some of his friends public for the media, in his words, to eat up.

Maria.

BARTIROMO: Wow. All right, thanks very much. Eric Shawn with the latest there. We'll be watching that development.

How would Carly Fiorina create jobs in this economy and how will she respond to the critics who say she needs experience in politics before becoming president. Carly Fiorina will join us next.

Follow me on Twitter @mariabartiromo, @sundayfutures, let us know what you'd like to hear from Art Laffer as he helps me navigate all the economic agendas of all of these candidates. We're looking ahead this morning to the debate on Tuesday on "Sunday Morning Futures." Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Well, the fourth GOP debate two days away on the Fox Business
Network. You just heard from Marco Rubio moments ago. Joining me right now is former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. She just filed late last week for the first in the nation primary in New Hampshire.

Carly, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

CARLY FIORINA, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning, Maria. Thank you for having me.

BARTIROMO: I want to -- Carly, I want to start on some of the news of the day. We've got the president rejecting XL pipeline. We know that. And we got the jobs numbers out on Friday, which were better than a lot of people expected. You know, all of this talk that the economy is moving in slow motion, the numbers Friday, 271,000 new jobs created in the month of October, were a lot better than expectations. How do you read it?

FIORINA: Well, the economy is moving in slow motion. And, yes, these numbers were above expectations, but the previous two months were far below expectations. And even though the employment rate continues -- the unemployment rate continues to fall, the truth is, we have record numbers of people who are not working. We have record numbers of people who have just quit looking for work. We have wages that have been stagnant for 40 years. This economy is in slow motion. We're not creating enough jobs and we have too many people out of work.

BARTIROMO: You've -- you've talked a lot about regulation and how it's really holding back businesses from creating jobs. That's one of the levers to pull, I guess, for job creation. But what is the secret sauce to getting more jobs in this economy today?

FIORINA: Well, I think we have to begin by recognizing where jobs come from. It's mostly, not all, but small and family owned and community-based businesses create two-thirds of the new jobs. And we're destroying more of them than we're creating now for the first time in U.S. history. That's why I stress simplifying the tax code from 73,000 pages to three to help small businesses. It's why we have to roll back the crushing weight of all these regulations that have been spewing out of Washington for 50 years.

Energy is another huge job creator. So when the president vetoes the Keystone XL pipeline, of course he would do that. We knew he was going to do that. It's not only worse for the environment actually than what we're doing today, but, of course, because we are suppressing energy production in this country, we are suppressing the creation of millions of jobs and the lowering of electricity costs. All of these wounds are self-inflicted. That's the bottom line.

BARTIROMO: You know, you have had some -- some great ideas, but a lot of your colleagues on the stage, in this race, have also had similar ideas. They call the tax code convoluted. They say the regulatory environment is certainly onerous. How do you stand out? I mean you look at your poll numbers, Carly, and -- and we see that -- that you fall into 3 percent, tied for sixth -- in sixth place. What do you do now to stand out, to get your ideas out there and to out -- outmaneuver your colleagues on the stage?

FIORINA: Well, first, let's just remember that on May 4th, when I launched my candidacy, I was 16 out of 16. The polling companies didn't even ask voters about my name because less than 4 percent of them had ever heard of me. Now I'm in sixth place on the main stage. I kind of like that trajectory and it's a different trajectory, a faster trajectory than any
other candidate out there, particularly given the fact that I remain the least well known candidate.

What differentiates me from others? I have a track record of doing these things. You know, the truth is, politicians have been talking about reforming the tax code for 40 years. They've been talking about rolling back the regulatory overreach for 40 years. They've been talking about reducing the size of government, limiting its scope and power. It's all talk. It isn't results.

I started as a secretary. The only way you go from a secretary to where I have come in my life is you produce results and you solve problems and you lead. And that's what we need now, less talk, more results.

BARTIROMO: And we know that the media has been trying to poke into your story by talking about a record at Hewlett-Packard. Bottom line, you got to be chairman and CEO and had to oversee tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of employees, which is a huge feat in and of itself. But let me -- let me read to you what the current CEO, Meg Whitman, said. And I know you know this of Hewlett-Packard. She says, quote, "it's very difficult for your first role in politics to be the president of the United States." So you've got your former colleague at Hewlett-Packard sort of pooh-poohing this campaign.

FIORINA: Well, that's not quite fair. There are many former colleagues at HP who are right in my corner in this campaign. It's also true that Meg Whitman has a leadership role with Chris Christie. So it's in her interest to say that because clearly she's supporting another candidate.

Ours was intended to be a citizen government. We were never intended to have a professional political class. I was brought into HP to save a company during a very difficult time. I've saved jobs. I've created jobs. I know why jobs are destroyed. And the truth is, the vast majority of politicians don't know that. They've never created a job, they've never saved a job and they don't know why they come and go. And it actually matters now to understand how the economy works in a global setting.

BARTIROMO: What do you do in terms of allocating the $600 billion budget in terms of defense spending? How you to allocate that money? Because the president is saying, look, we need to rethink this and revisit this defense allocation because it's too much.

FIORINA: Yes. Well, exactly. Isn't it interesting, Maria, the federal government has spent more money each and every year for 40 years. That's been true under Republicans and Democrats alike and yet we never have enough money to do the important things. The defense of the nation is the federal government's responsibility. The answer to this is, if we're going to spend less, and yet invest in the areas that need investing, we have to prioritize how we spend. Today we cannot do that because all the money's already spoken for. It's why we have to go to some version of zero-based budgeting.

A bill to do that sits on the House floor as we speak. Zero-based budgeting says, you know what, we have to justify every single dollar in every single agency every single year. Instead of only talking about the rate of increase over last year and giving bureaucracies permanent hold over the money that's sitting in their budgets. So let's go to zero-based budgeting. Let's pass that bill and then we can prioritize.

BARTIROMO: Carly, I know that you're on the campaign trail. You've got another two days until this next Fox debate and I will see you in Milwaukee for that debate. How does one prepare for these debates?

FIORINA: Well, first of all, I'm really looking forward to seeing you, Maria. I know you will do a superb job of moderating. You're just a fantastic reporter and always have been and you ask substantive issues based questions. So I'm looking forward to being with you and Neil.

I prepare, honestly, by making sure that I am current on the issues of the day, by making sure that I understand all the facts around the various circumstances. I'm pretty clear about my approach, what I believe, what I think. But it's important to be up to date.

We've just had, for example, the details of the Transpacific Partnership released. So I'll want to be sure that I'm up to date on that. And then once you feel prepared, once I feel prepared, you have to go into that setting and be present in the moment and understand what you're being asked and answer it to the best of your ability and go with the flow of the dynamics on that stage. It is issues-based, but let's face it, there is some degree of entertainment in all this as well and so you have to be there and not be up too much in your head in a briefing book somewhere.

BARTIROMO: I think that's a really good point. Carly, it's good to see you. Thanks so much. I'll see you in Tuesday in Milwaukee.

FIORINA: Thank you, Maria. See you soon.

BARTIROMO: Appreciate your time. Carly Fiorina there.

And voters say they want tax reform at the top of their agenda, but which candidate has the best plan for the American people on economy? A former economic advisor to President Reagan will give us his take. We'll look through all the plans as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

Without a doubt, tax reform, jobs shaping up to be one of the biggest issues of the 2016 presidential campaign. But which Republican candidate has the best plan for the American people given the current state of the economy? We want to bring in Art Laffer, he's a leading economist and founder and chairman of Laffer Associates. He's the former member of President Reagan's economic policy advisory board.

And, Art, it's always wonderful to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

ART LAFFER, FMR. MEMBER OF PRES. REAGAN'S ECONOMIC ADVISORY BOARD: Thank you, Maria.

Weren't those two interviews just amazing? I mean you got Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina, I mean they are unbelievably high quality. This candidate group is incredible.

BARTIROMO: Yes, it is a real distinguishable --

LAFFER: It's amazing.

BARTIROMO: You know, difference when you look at each candidate and their economic plan.

I want to first begin this interview with this question from one of our viewers and he's on Twitter this morning. He's -- "alwaysasoldier" is his -- is his handle on Twitter and he says --

LAFFER: OK.

BARTIROMO: "What constitutes a good tax policy?" That's my first question for you, Art.

LAFFER: The best tax policy is, you want the lowest possible tax rate on the broadest possible tax base because you want to provide the least incentives to evade, avoid or otherwise not report taxable income, and you want the least places to where people can place their income and not have to pay taxes. That's the key to economic growth and prosperity through the tax code.

BARTIROMO: Because the point is, is we want to create economic growth and leading to jobs.

Let me ask you, we -- we heard from Carly Fiorina this morning and Marco Rubio. I want to ask you about their plans, or lack of plans, on the economy and taxes in a moment. But first, let's talk Ted Cruz for a moment because I know that he reached out to you. You advised him. He's calling for 10 percent income tax for individuals and 16 percent business tax. What else is important about his tax plan that we need to understand?

LAFFER: Well, I think those are the two most important features of his tax plan. I mean the rest is it is what deductions or credits you have and there -- I mean those are really minor plays. The broad-based play is, he has two low rate broad-based flat taxes which are excellent and very pro-growth and very pro-prosperity.

You know, all taxes are bad, Maria. All of them are bad. Some are worse than others. What you want to make sure is you tax people in the least damaging fashion. We -- we tax people who speed to get them to stop speeding. We tax cigarettes to get people to stop smoking. Why do we tax people's incomes, employment and profits? Not to get them to stop earning income or paying people or hiring people. Purely and simply, because we've got to get the money and we want to get the money in the least damaging fashion. And Cruz's is exceptionally good in this regard.

BARTIROMO: But can he cut taxes without blowing up the deficit and debt?

LAFFER: Oh, sure.

BARTIROMO: I mean when you look at all the plans across the board, we're talking about a cost of between $2 trillion and $12 trillion depending on whose tax plan you look at it.

LAFFER: Well --

BARTIROMO: Can we afford to lower taxes this much?

LAFFER: Well, I don't think he's lowering taxes that much to be honest with you. I mean the credit and some of the deductions maybe hit the revenue side, but 16 percent and 10 percent are reasonable numbers to tax a broad-base. So let's say something on the order of $13 trillion. If you look at that size of a base --

BARTIROMO: Uh-huh.

LAFFER: Which is total income or total net business sales, those two bases with 16 percent and 10 percent, you should be able to live on that revenue.

BARTIROMO: Does Carly have a tax plan? She says, look, it doesn't matter if you write it down, anybody can write it down, it's really about your -- your -- your policies. And, I don't know, is that going to fly and what about Trump? Compare Carly Fiorina and Trump on their economic plans.

LAFFER: Well, Carly's plan is less specific, but she understands the taxes more than anyone. I mean she's really very, very good on taxation. She knows you got to lower the rates and broaden the base. And Donald Trump is the same way. I mean his corporate tax, his personal income tax, they're all really very, very good. And what Donald Trump told me personally is, if you've got a better idea tell me and I'll change my plan. That's exactly the way a politician should be. You know, they shouldn't have to come up with every great idea. They should be able to modify their plans when new ideas come along. And I think all these candidates are willing to do that. Rand Paul changed his plan dramatically in a very pro-growth fashion. I mean I've got to take my hat off to Rand Paul for doing that. And so did Ted Cruz.

BARTIROMO: Yes. Yes, he's got a 14.5 percent flat tax, Rand Paul.

LAFFER: It's great.

BARTIROMO:  Does Ben Carson have a plan?  He's been really vague about this.

LAFFER:  He's following the old Reagan motto, is no specificity, don't do that until you get into office because you'll have to deal with the Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means and senators and press secretaries and Treasury and all that.  

The less specific your plan, the better off you are because you paid the principals.  In this regard, Ben Carson has done a fantastic job; 10 percent sort of flat tax, it's the fairest tax, he's completely correct on that.  He says it might have to be higher, as high as 15 percent.  

But what he's saying on this, no loopholes, no deductions, no exemptions, that's the exact right way to go to create this economic growth we need.

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  

Real quick on Hillary Clinton, she wants to double capital gains taxes.

LAFFER:  She ain't no Bill Clinton, let me tell you that, as we say here in Nashville, Tennessee.  

Bill Clinton was a great president.  I voted for him twice, Maria.  And I thought he was a great president.  I thought he cut taxes dramatically.  

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO:  But not Hillary?

LAFFER:  -- created growth.  

Hillary is not Bill Clinton.  Unfortunately, it is just not her day.  She's a brilliant, wonderful person and she's very experienced but this is not her time.

BARTIROMO:  All right.  Thanks so much.  Great analysis as always.  We'll see you soon, sir.

LAFFER:  Thank you, Maria.  

(CROSSTALK)

LAFFER:  Good luck on Tuesday.

BARTIROMO:  I'll see you on Tuesday for sure.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO:  -- in Milwaukee.

Ben Carson finds himself on the defensive certainly after revelations that he made, exaggerated stories of his youth, now blaming media bias.  

Will this ultimately help or hurt the campaign?  

We'll talk about that with our panel as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." The panel is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO:  Welcome back.  

Presidential candidate Ben Carson fires back this morning at the media for what he calls a witch hunt over details about his past.  

His campaign is trying to cash in on the media barrage, sending an e-mail blast to donors yesterday.  

Under the subject line, "vicious lies," the e-mail reads in part, quote, "I will be honest; I need your help now.  I always knew this campaign would be tough.  But the media is now going off the rails.  And we need the resources to fight back 24/7."  

Bring in our panel on that note.  Ed Rollins is former principal White House advisor to President Reagan.  He has been a long-time strategist to business and political leaders.  He is a Fox News political analyst.

Judith Miller is adjunct fellow at The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. She's a Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist and a Fox News contributor.

Stephen Sigmund is the Democratic strategist and former communications director for former New Jersey governor, Jon Corzine.  

Good to have you all with us.  Let's talk about this noise in the media today.  I don't know if it's noise.

OK, first, Ben Carson:  I don't know what is important, what to believe, what not to believe.

How do you see this?

ED ROLLINS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think Ben Carson is now playing the role of a front-runner.  People look and scrutinize him carefully.  He's certainly a brilliant man, he's a brain surgeon; not necessary to be a brain surgeon to be president.  But he has to be very careful with his words.  He doesn't speak in sound bites.  He doesn't get his full thoughts out.  

And I think to a certain extent this is a terrible week, from the Pyramid's code on weed (ph) to the West Point, having dinner with Westmoreland on the seven-medal lawn (ph) or -- you know, people will go back and check all that.  And what is going to happen now is every single thing that he said is going to get scrutinized, as you do in a campaign.

BARTIROMO:  And even if what he said was true and there is really nothing wrong here, Judy, the whole, like, burst of headlines makes it a murky situation and a voter has to question, you know.

JUDITH MILLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  And it is more than that.  This is why professional politicians know how to handle these questions.  

They -- Ben Carson has written nine books.  He's given countless inspirational speeches and everything that he said and wrote in every one of them is now open to scrutiny.  

You know what, that's our job.  And Ben Carson lashing out at us for doing our job doesn't help "The Wall Street Journal" yesterday, not exactly a liberal rag, came up with three separate examples of stories that he's told that either couldn't be confirmed or directly conflicted by people whom he said he had talked to --

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO:  This is on top of the admission from him that, yes, I did take a hammer to my mother, Steve, and, yes, I did almost stab someone because I had anger issues.

STEPHEN SIGMUND, SENIOR ADVISER, GLOBAL STRATEGY GROUP:  The extraordinary thing is none of it seems to matter.  I'm glad I'm a Democratic strategist at this table and don't have to analyze the Republican primary electorate, because it seems impossible.  

He's done things over and over again that would be a disqualifier for any candidate in the past.  He said 6 million Americans shouldn't be able to run for president because of their religion, in direct contradiction of the Constitution.  

He said victims of a shooting massacre should have been tougher to have stopped it.  And now, you know, to not put a fine point on it, he lied.

BARTIROMO:  But just to push back, Hillary also lied, right?  

She lied about Benghazi.  We know that because of the e-mail situation.

(CROSSTALK)

SIGMUND:  I don't necessarily agree with you (INAUDIBLE).  But she's also been willing to take tough questions.  She sat there for eight hours on the Benghazi panel.  She's answered these questions over and over and over again.  He lashes out and whines about the press.  And they all do.  They whine about getting tough questions from --

ROLLINS:  The danger is the point you just made.  He's done very well because he's very calm, very smart and very -- a lovely man.  He's now in an anger mode and the anger mode does not sell well.  And my sense is his coalition, which is the Christian Right, will not bend maybe early in Iowa, but he won't be a viable --

BARTIROMO:  And the anger is coming out.  You can see it.

ROLLINS:  You can see it.

MILLER:  And he's not in an operating room.  

Look, how did Michael Jordan do playing baseball?  He may be a great surgeon but when you switch fields in the middle of a tough race or a tough operation, it is not good.

SIGMUND:  But what is so phenomenal is these things keep happening.  They happened with Trump, they happened with Carson.  And yet, you know, to rip off the late, great Yogi Berra, it's starting to get late early out there right?  It's only a couple of months until the first Republican primary.  And these guys are still dominating the field.

BARTIROMO:  And then there's Marco Rubio and the West Point story and his use of credit cards and whether or not he used credit cards for the campaign.

ROLLINS:  That's an old story that basically was bought out on the course of the campaign and the voters of Florida, he ran against the former governor, have heard the story, basically has covered it up, paid all the expenses, what have you.  

What he has just -- as you saw in your thing, he's a very articulate guy and a very believable guy.  And at the end of the day, that won't basically, I think, (INAUDIBLE) him.

BARTIROMO:  All right.  

Let's look at what is coming up on "MediaBuzz" and check in with Howie Kurtz.

Howie, see you at the top of the hour.  Good morning to you.

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST, "MEDIABUZZ":  Good morning, Maria.  We'll also look at Politico and CNN, this reporting on Ben Carson and whether the media went too far. But also, we've got an investigative piece about what happened after John Lennon was shot. This is 35 years ago, new eyewitnesses speaking out about what happened at the hospital, the doctor who actually tried to save his life speaking to a national audience for the first time, and Yoko Ono speaking out about what she says is some erroneous reporting about her.

BARTIROMO:  All right. We will see you in about 20 minutes, Howie. Thanks so much.

Donald Trump causing a late-night stir last night as host of "Saturday Night Live," the appearance sparking outrage among Hispanic groups who call the presidential candidate a racist.

So how will this affect Trump's campaign moving forward?

We're talking about it next with our panel on "Sunday Morning Futures." Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  We're going to have a lot of fun tonight.

LARRY DAVID, COMEDIAN:  You're a racist!

TRUMP:  Who the hell was -- oh, yeah, I knew this was going to happen. Who is that?

DAVID:  Trump's a racist!

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP:  It's Larry David. What are you doing, Larry?

DAVID:  I heard if I yelled that, they'd give me $5,000.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP:  As a businessman, I can fully respect that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARTIROMO:  There you have Donald Trump mock -- mock-heckled by comedian Larry David last night, as host of "Saturday Night Live." But for the protesters outside, it was no laughing matter. Dozens of people marched from Trump Tower to the "SNL" studios in Rockefeller Center. Latino groups nationwide, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, argue that the appearance validates what they call Trump's racist views against immigrants.

Back with our panel, Ed Rollins, Judy Miller, Stephen Sigmund.

Stephen, how do you see that?

SIGMUND:  Look, I -- I think his appearance doesn't make much of a difference. It is his brand, so he's pretty good at those things, getting around, sort of, mainstream, traditional media and getting a lot of attention for it. It didn't seem to get particularly good reviews.

You know, the fact that people are protesting outside of it, I mean, it does reinforce that he and the Republican brand has a very, very big problem with Hispanic voters and they're not likely to come back to him. But I don't think it changes the dynamics of the race in any way.

BARTIROMO:  And Trump keeps saying that he's number one with Latinos.

(LAUGHTER)

SIGMUND:  I don't know what -- I don't what that means.

(CROSSTALK)

SIGMUND:  Meaning he has -- meaning he has 1 percent and the rest of the Republican field has nothing, I guess.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO:  Right, right.

MILLER:  No, I mean, look, he showed he could mock himself, but we know that. And I think the Hollywood Reporter called it (inaudible) and lamentable. I don't know how the audience liked it. But I do think, having just come from Asia, where people are really worried about things like the economy and jobs and where China is going -- they look at us and they have -- everywhere I went, I got one question, "Donald Trump?"

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO:  The rest of the world is really questioning...

(LAUGHTER)

ROLLINS:  I stayed up late and watched it and I wish I would have watched the Alabama football game.

(LAUGHTER)

It wasn't the best performance. I don't think he lost anything by it.

BARTIROMO:  I agree, it wasn't great.

ROLLINS:  It wasn't great. And, you know, I've seen him be funny and charming and all the rest of it. It just -- it would have been a better show if they would have done their normal stuff and made fun of him, but I think -- you know, I'm sure they had big ratings and I'm sure that will be something he'll brag about the rest of the week.

BARTIROMO:  Maybe -- maybe he's pulling it in a little. I mean, he's trying not to be so outrageous. Is he changing his tone ahead of the debate next week?

ROLLINS:  I don't -- I don't think he can change his tone. I think that's who he is. And I think, to a certain extent, sooner or later, he's going to do what he does.

BARTIROMO:  What are your expectations for the debate on Tuesday?

MILLER:  I'm really worried about Jeb Bush. I mean, his team has been saying that he hasn't been preparing this time, as opposed to what he did the last time. If he doesn't really show us something this time, I don't see, given the poll numbers, given what's happening to defectors from his -- his fund-raising -- I don't see how he stays in the game.

BARTIROMO:  Right. Ed?

ROLLINS:  The problem is the first debate is going to be an all-star debate, when you've got Huckabee and Christie and two other people that have substantive -- two Iowa winners, you're going to have real substance in that debate. This debate, obviously, the two people, Bush and John Kasich, have to get in the game. If they don't get in the game, then I think this thing's going to move on.

SIGMUND:  But I think that's very hard for them. Because, I mean, I think this debate will be more of the same. And you see Jeb Bush proudly saying he's not preparing for it.

(LAUGHTER)

SIGMUND:  There's some -- there is something going on where the leading candidates, the less they prepare and the less they know, the better they seem to do after the debate. I mean, I was -- I thought, from the very first Republican debate when Donald Trump very clearly didn't know any answers to the questions and just, sort of, used his bluster to get past that, I thought that would be the end of the summer of Trump. But we're now into the fall, Trump and Carson.

BARTIROMO:  And -- and he's still leading in the polls.

SIGMUND:  Yeah.

BARTIROMO:  So how do you recommend people prepare for a debate? I mean, when you're -- when you were there getting, you know, your people, Jon Corzine, et cetera, the Dems, ready for this kind of thing, what do you tell them?

SIGMUND:  You do, actually, what Carly Fiorina talked about on your show a few minutes ago, you actually prepare.

(LAUGHTER)

You spend time going over questions; you spend time going over your policy proposals; you spend time going over what's happening in the news and what's happening in the world right now and get to know it and be smart about it. And that's just not what at least Ben Carson and Donald Trump have had to do, although I imagine you're going to call them out on it.

BARTIROMO:  Yeah, so who will shine in the debate when it comes to the economy and your money? Some of the GOP field see China as a major challenge to the economy. Which candidate has the best plan to tackle that? Our panel will weigh in next as we take a look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO:  A big week ahead for the GOP presidential contenders, the debate coming up Tuesday night on the Fox Business Network. So which candidate will shine most on the economy?

Meanwhile, China seen as one of the big threats to the economy here, by some in the Republican field.

I spoke with the CEO and chairman of Exxon Mobil this week on "Mornings with Maria," and we talked about China's impact on his business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX W. TILLERSON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, EXXON MOBIL:  This year we're seeing about 3.5 percent demand for crude oil. Next year we think that's going to decline further to about 3 percent. So seeing that Chinese economy -- and part of it is the economy maturing a bit, beginning to slow its rate of growth. So if you look at energy as, kind of, a proxy for how the economy is going, it's pretty sluggish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARTIROMO:  And that, of course, on the Fox Business Network this past week. Ed Rollins, you know, you've got energy falling and really indicative of what's happening in the industrial side of the economy, and a lot of people say manufacturing is already in recession?

ROLLINS:  Well, I think -- I think there are four people on this stage that have a chance of being president, and that's -- I don't think Carson anymore, but I certainly think Trump is now basically an odds-on to win Iowa if he stays in here. But Cruz and Rubio are the two guys that are moving. And Cruz, obviously, should know a lot about energy. He represents Texas. And Rubio, just as he did on your show a while ago, is very articulate and I think has done extremely well in all these debates. And I think, if he has another great debate, then I think he becomes one of the real serious candidates.

BARTIROMO:  So you think those three will shine, when it comes to economic issues?

ROLLINS:  I do.

BARTIROMO:  Trump, Rubio and Ted Cruz. What do you think, Judy?

MILLER:  I think all of the Republicans have to explain their tax cuts and tax proposals because, according to the Tax Foundation, this would add between $1.6 trillion and $10 trillion...

BARTIROMO:  That's right.

MILLER:  ... in deficits over the next decade. And I think they really have to be -- they have to be questioned about that. How are you going to pay for this?

BARTIROMO:  Yeah, they're talking about, over the first decade, adding to the deficit and debt, for sure...

MILLER:  Right, exactly.

BARTIROMO:  ... but then they're talking about growth picking up from there, in terms of economic growth making it...

ROLLINS:  We always have these 10-year plans and we're going to grow in 10 years.

MILLER:  Right.

ROLLINS:  I think one of the questions that needs to be very fundamental is they've all talked about, well, we're going to -- we're going to re-do the entitlements. What are you going to do about the entitlements? Let's really have a serious conversation about that because that's...

(CROSSTALK)

SIGMUND:  I think the person who's going to shine on the economy in that debate is Barack Obama, because you have...

(LAUGHTER)

SIGMUND:  ... as Judy said, you're going to have a bunch of candidates talking about economic plans that don't add up, not even close to adding up, and that don't have any plans for actually building a base for a private economy in the future, in education investment, transportation investment, for example.

The Obama administration, on the other hand, is now at 68 straight months of private-sector growth, 8.5 million new jobs added, more than double what the last two Republican administrations have had. They had a great month this last month before. So, you know, they'll all take shots at the Obama economy, but the reality is it's the economy that's growing most in the world. And you just saw it with...

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO:  But also, the reality is, Steve, is that we should be a lot farther along at this point in this cycle, in terms of a recovery. We are nine years away from the worst financial crisis in a generation.

SIGMUND:  But he also got through the worst financial crisis in a generation, and now you have strong economic grow, strong jobs growth and leading the rest of the world on it. And the way to get further along is not to -- not to explode the deficit, not to cut spending on education and transportation, which build a foundation for the future, and not, by the way, to blow up an affordable health care act that is -- you know, it has faults, but for all its faults, it's holding down health care spending.

BARTIROMO:  And it's also holding down business's willingness to hire.

ROLLINS:  We had another election last -- last week, and just to give you the statistics on how the country thinks Obama's done since he's become president, they lost another Democrat governorship last week. Democrats have lost 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats, 910 state legislative seats, 30 state legislative chambers and 12 governorships.

BARTIROMO:  Wow.

(LAUGHTER)

ROLLINS:  So I don't think the country thinks he's...

(CROSSTALK)

SIGMUND:  But I just have to respond to that as a Democrat. What happened on Tuesday was that red states got redder and blue states got bluer. Kentucky became a governorship, a Republican governorship. They vote in the presidential campaign that way. New Jersey, the assembly went even further Democrat.

BARTIROMO:  Right.

SIGMUND:  Staten Island went to a Democratic D.A., and the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania became Democratic.

ROLLINS:  In my -- in my 72 years, there's only been two Republican governors in Kentucky.

BARTIROMO:  We'll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO:  Thanks to our panel. Don't miss the Republican presidential debates on Fox Business Network this Tuesday. Sandra Smith, Trish Regan, The Wall Street Journal's Jerry Seib moderate the first debate. That's at 7 p.m. Eastern. And then I will be moderating, alongside Neil Cavuto and The Wall Street Journal's Gerry Baker, for the debate on the main stage at 9 p.m. Eastern.

I'll see you tomorrow on "Mornings with Maria," live from Milwaukee. Then the debate on Tuesday. Go to foxbusiness.com/channel-finder.

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