What will come of digital investigation into killer couple?; Marriott CEO talks acquisition of Starwood Hotels

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, of the House Intelligence Committee weighs in on latest San Bernardino developments


This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," December 13, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: Good morning. A shake-up in the GOP race for the White House. Hi, everyone. I'm Maria Bartiromo. Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures."

Ted Cruz overtakes Donald Trump in Iowa in a new Fox News poll this morning. Our panel on what it could mean for the first in the nation caucuses and beyond.

Plus, investigations continuing this morning to piece together the digital trail left by the San Bernardino terrorists. What changes could we see when it comes to fighting terror online? A member of the House Intelligence Committee joins us to inform in just moments.

And new efforts this week to bring peace to the country where ISIS has so much power, Syria. A former Middle Eastern ambassador on that as we look ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures."

FBI divers wrapping up an underwater search for a computer hard drive this morning and anything else linked to the husband and wife shooters who killed 14 people in California. An FBI spokesperson saying that the search of the lake in San Bernardino came to a close yesterday. No word yet on whether any items recovered from the lake are related to the shooting.

Investigators have said that the killers tried covering up their tracks by destroying e-mails, cell phones, and other items at their home in Redlands. The search of that lake began after a tip that the shooters may have been in the area the day of the attack. So what could come from this digital forensic investigation? Joining us right now to talk about is Utah Congressman Chris Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as a former Air Force bomber pilot.

Sir, good to have you on the program. Thanks so much for joining us.


BARTIROMO: What struck you most about the forensics investigation in terms of what the divers and the FBI have found so far?

STEWART: Well, I think there's a couple things. One is that we recognize the -- the forensic division there at Quantico, the FBI, is -- does extraordinary work. Now, they can't create something out of thin air, but a lot of times we felt like evidence had been damaged or destroyed to the point that we didn't think they'd be able to recover information and they ended up being able to do that. Now, much more difficult if you don't have access to that equipment, which is why it was so important that the divers find whatever might be there. I think we'll learn more as time goes by very clearly.

But I would also like to say this. As we go back and try to re-create what happened in this situation, I'd like to go back and re-create and try to analyze and say, have we learned lessons in a more strategic view? Has the president engaged in this fight against ISIS, this fight against Islamic terrorism, in a way that we feel is necessary to protect our country? I hope we're asking those types of questions as well.

BARTIROMO: Yes, which is why everyone's focusing on the visa part of the story and the fact that the wife, Malik, was here on this fiancé visa. And -- and what kind of further vetting needs to be done to anyone coming into the country, whether it's a fiancé visa, the refugee crisis or anything else. What changes would you like to see in that regard?

STEWART: Well, I think there's a couple. Number one is, we're going to look much more closely at these fiancé visas. It's interesting that she very clearly had radicalized before coming here to the U.S. She had posted things on her social media that had we known about, it would have raised enormous red flags for us. And I think we need to look at that, not only in the fiancé visas -- or the fiancé visas, but in all of the visa programs that we're looking at.

I think what Congress did in the last few weeks, looking at the Syrian Refugee Program; I think that's also another necessary step.


STEWART: But the reality is, is we have a huge challenge ahead of us.

BARTIROMO: I want to ask you about what has been real important to Lindsey Graham. Senator Graham has been saying that if we learn that this was an arranged marriage by terrorists, and -- and -- and they were able to get a jihadi bride to marry an American, they have totally figured out a new way to enter this country. He says that's a game changer. I want to talk about that coming up, sir. So stay with us. We've got a lot to talk about with you this morning, Congressman Stewart.


BARTIROMO: First, though, we want to learn more about the potential new clues in San Bernardino. And let's look at how the role of technology in terrorism is gaining this new attention this morning. Fox News' senior correspondent Eric Shawn on that angle this morning.

And, Eric, good morning to you.

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

As we now sadly know, the battlefield against radical Islamic terrorism is right here on our soil. Not just in the public places patrolled by police, but also in our very own homes, right there on our computers.


AARON COHEN, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT: We've got to start looking at Facebook accounts. We've got to start looking at computers. We have to be able to listen to phone calls of anyone coming from those countries in the Middle East. We do it in Israel.


SHAWN: The clues were there, but sadly they were missed. The focus to find more terrorists turns to the Internet and the challenge for authorities is piercing those encrypted websites terrorists can use to communicate secretly. Sites, they say, like Snapchat and What's App.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I do think it's still too early to make any grand pronouncements about what could have been done differently to prevent this terrorist attack from occurring. But this -- this investigation is ongoing.


SHAWN: Well, one thing they should have done differently, just take a look at social media. As Congressman Stewart just pointed out, for years Tashfeen Malik posted openly on social media that she supported jihad, but her postings were never flagged by our government.


RYAN MAURO, SECURITY ANALYST, CLARION PROJECT: I've been seeing ISIS accounts online talking about this for a long time. This isn't something that just happened yesterday. The fact that we're talking about this now with they've been talking about this for so long is really very shocking.


SHAWN: And this past week, FBI Director James Comey admitted terrorists are outpacing law enforcement's efforts to catch them when it comes to communicating on the Internet. Something Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook did apparently for years.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: They were actually radicalized before they started courting or dating each other online. And online, as late as -- as early as the end of 2013, they were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged and then married and lived together in the United States.


SHAWN: Well, not only did Tashfeen rely on social media, but reports also say her sister posted anti-American comments on Facebook, having done that on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in 2011, right next to a photo of one of those planes crashing into the World Trade Center.


BARTIROMO: Unbelievable. Eric, thanks so much. Eric Shawn with the latest there.

More now with Utah Congressman Chris Stewart.

And, Congressman, let me pick up right there. How is it possible that we're -- we're not even looking at the social media sites? I mean here we are having a conversation that -- that lawmakers want more access and -- and want to change this encrypted communication that they can't learn anything. Meanwhile, they're not even looking at Facebook. She's been chanting and posting these negative hate posts for a long time.

STEWART: Yes. Yes, you know, it's remarkable that we didn't catch that. I think it's an indicator of the challenge that we have. There's literally, you know, millions of -- of these processes we have to go through as these individuals enter our country. But it seems to me that this is just, you know, it's nearly unfathomable that she was posting these things. And at the same time, we didn't catch any of that.

You know, there's legislation before Congress now, and I actually think this is -- this is broadly supported, partisan, that would allow these IT companies, that if they become aware of some of these postings, if they become aware of terrorist activity or terrorist intent, that they would then let the officials know about that. That they would, you know, be -- we're not asking them to be the police, we're not asking them to be the FBI. But if in the course of their transactions and their business they become aware, that they would notify us, I think that's helpful.


STEWART: And, again, I think that's broadly -- broadly supported.

BARTIROMO: What about this Lindsey Graham comment, that if it was an arranged marriage by -- by ISIS or by terrorists in general, then this is a game changer? Do you agree with that? And what do we know in terms of how these two got together?

STEWART: Well, I -- I guess it would be a game changer, but it's not the only game changer. I think, frankly, the thing we've been talking about over the last few weeks, and that's with the Syrian refugees, ISIS has said very clearly that they intend to use this refugee program to infiltrate the west and to infiltrate the United States. And, in fact, not only have they declared that intention, they were successful in doing that in the Paris attacks. And -- and I just think the -- again, the Congress was effective and I -- and I think we did the thing that we thought was necessary, and that was to put a halt on that program until we can certify the people coming from this very troubled part of the world, that we actually know who they are, that we know their background, that we know their intentions, that we know their work history, their travel history. We don't know any of that right now. And I think it was a reasonable step to say, let's pause this program until we know a little bit more about who these individuals are.

I think one other thing that I'd love to talk about, and that's the encryption and the real challenge that that has. Director Comey will tell you that in the next four or five years, we may be completely dark as these organizations and these terror groups move towards encryption programs that we simply don't have the ability to penetrate.

BARTIROMO: Yes. It sounds like you agree with -- with Donald Trump's stance on -- on -- on just taking a pause and fixing the vetting process. And, by the way, it sounds like many of the candidates actually agree with him in so many words. They may not be saying it exactly the way he said it, but they're basically saying, let's take a pause here and -- and -- and figure this out and certainly investigate the vetting process.

STEWART: Well, there -- there is an important distinction. The Republican Congress led out on this, let's pause with the Syrian Refugee Program. But Mr. Trump took it one step forward and saying, let's not allow any Muslims to come into the country. And I certainly don't agree with that. I just think he's wrong on that. I don't think we can apply a religious test. I don't think we can say that someone is a Muslim, therefore they have evil intention, and we will not allow them into the can country. I -- I do believe that is a step too far.

BARTIROMO: All right, Congressman, good to have you on the program. Thanks so much for your insight this morning, sir.

STEWART: Thank you so much.

BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon.

President Obama taking stock of his ISIS strategy, meanwhile, in a meeting with his top military leaders tomorrow at the Pentagon. What is working, what isn't? We're going to talk with former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, ahead of that important meeting tomorrow.

Follow us on Twitter @mariabartiromo, @sundayfutures. Let us know what you'd like to hear from Ambassador Jordan next. He's live. Stay with us. We're looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" right now.


BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

President Obama evaluating his strategy to defeat ISIS. The commander in chief holding a rare meeting at the Pentagon with military leaders tomorrow, hoping to find ways to make the administration's anti-ISIS campaign, including air strikes in Iraq and Syria, more effective. But will it be enough to actually achieve his promised goal of destroying the radical Islamic terrorist group?

Joining us now is Ambassador Robert Jordan, the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia under President George W. Bush. He is the author of the book "Desert Diplomat: Inside Saudi Arabia Following 9/11," and a diplomat in residence at Southern Methodist University.

Ambassador, good to have you on the program. Welcome.


BARTIROMO: What are you expecting to come out of that meeting tomorrow at the Pentagon? Obviously, a rare meeting for the president to go to the Pentagon for this.

JORDAN: Well, I hope it's a time when the president does more listening than talking. He needs to listen to the generals. He needs to listen to his military advisers. And I think they're going to be telling him that you can't defeat ISIS with air power alone. You have to have some form of boots on the ground. It doesn't have to be 150,000 American troops. But it has to be sufficient to be able to hold territory that you can take away from ISIS as you employ your -- your use of force. And so I think this is something he's going to have to listen to and maybe an unwelcome bit of advice, but I think he's going to have to follow through on it. It's time to get serious.

BARTIROMO: He has been so adamant on this point. What would be an appropriate number of troops, do you believe, to have on the ground to assist or support what's already in place, and that is the air power campaign that we've got?

JORDAN: Sure. Well, I'm no expert in this area, but certainly the sources that I consult suggest that it certainly has to be more than 2,000 or 3,000, probably somewhere in the 10,000 to 12,000 range is -- is -- is what I think I'm -- I'm seeing here. So whatever it is, it has to be based on the military leaders' judgments, their assessments of troop levels, and also has to be as many Sunni contributors as we can possibly muster together. It doesn't always have to be Americans.


JORDAN: And I think this is an area where we've had a lack of support from our Arab allies in the region.

BARTIROMO: Well, unfortunately, our Arab allies are apparently upset by a number of moves that this president has made.


BARTIROMO: Assess for us the importance of removing Bashar al Assad from Syria. Clearly this is one of the main conflicts because Russia and Vladimir Putin, which pushed us away in Syria with the air strikes, or got in the way, is supporting Assad.

JORDAN: Yes. And it's an extremely important fact Assad be removed. And whether it's tomorrow or six months down the line, there has to be a plan for that to be accomplished. His presence there and his brutalization of his own people is providing the oxygen for ISIS and the other insurgent groups that are -- are trying to really tear up the entire Middle East. So we've got to take that oxygen away. We've got to find a way for some vision forward for the people of Syria in a way that can be realistic.

BARTIROMO: A number of experts have said that, in fact, ISIS has created what they're calling an oil ministry.


BARTIROMO: I mean they have such a -- a clear and -- and -- and strong oil infrastructure in place. How is it possible that nations like, for example, Saudi Arabia, can sit back and allow ISIS to have this booming business of selling oil? And who's buying it? Is it Assad buying it in Syria, among others?

JORDAN: We've had reports that Assad has been buying it in Syria. We've also had reports that there are brokers on the black market selling it into Turkey at huge discounts. So this is an area, I think, that the Saudis should have an interest in. A lot of the -- a lot of the infrastructure for -- for this illicit program can be taken care of with air power. But I -- I'm surprised that we haven't done more up to this point and I suspect that's another thing that is going to be discussed in the Pentagon.

BARTIROMO: So, in other words, the allies should be bombing the oil facilities. And we know, for the most part, where they are.

JORDAN: We know where they are. We also can track the transportation of that oil, whether it's by pipeline or truck. And I think this is another area where we're probably going to be attacking some of that infrastructure.

BARTIROMO: Right. Right.

Real -- real quick, from your standpoint, what would be the most important agreement to come out of that meeting tomorrow at the Pentagon?

JORDAN: A recognition that you can't win this war with air power alone and a plan to put at least some American and some allied boots on the ground to hold the territory that you're going to take away from ISIS.

BARTIROMO: Well, we'll see about that.

Ambassador, good to have you on the program this morning. Thanks so much.

JORDAN: Thanks.

BARTIROMO: Ambassador Jordan joining us there.

Meanwhile, traveling around the holidays? What about terrorism as it relates to travel?

Marriott set to become the largest hotel company in the world. CEO Arne Sorenson is joining us next on what it will mean for rewards members and jobs.

We're looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures," next.


BARTIROMO: Jobs have been increasing in hospitality and leisure and a big deal in the sector as well. Joining us right now to talk about all the activity in the hotel business is Arne Sorenson. He is the CEO and president of Marriott International.

Arne, it's good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

ARNE SORENSON, MARRIOTT CEO: Glad to be with you, Maria. Good morning.

BARTIROMO: We -- we did see an increase in the number of jobs created in -- in your industry in the last jobs report. Let me start there. How would you characterize the economy right now and jobs, opportunities, within the hotel business?

SORENSON: Well, it's steady, really. I think when you look at the broad sweep of the recovery from 2010. What we see is GDP growth, which is more modest than prior recoveries, it continues today at, you know, 2.5 percent-ish. Something like that. That's enough to drive occupancy growth in our industry and some supply growth in our industry, both which drive job -- job increases.


SORENSON: We think -- we think that's going to keep going.

BARTIROMO: And, of course, in the face of this, you're growing, the company is growing. You recently announced this acquisition to acquire Starwood for $12.2 billion. Let's talk about that for a minute. What -- you -- Marriott becomes the largest hotel company in the world, correct?

SORENSON: Yes, we do. I mean, obviously, we -- we are glad to be biggest, but we want to be best too, and that's more important.

BARTIROMO: How do you -- how do you do that? Tell us what the positives are for this deal? What does it mean post deal, Marriott and Starwood getting together?

SORENSON: Well, we'll be about 1.1 million open hotel rooms. We'll have a pipeline of about 350,000 rooms for signed deals which will be opening in the next few years. So between those two it will get us almost to 1.5 million rooms, 30 brands in 100 countries. We will be very strong in the luxury and upper upscale space. So with our (INAUDIBLE), Carlton Brands, we'll be adding the St. Regis and luxury collection. We'll have W (ph) in addition. We'll have some brands which really are exciting and appeal to lots and lots of travelers.

I think more important than that, though, is the size will give us the ability to continue to invest in our ecosystem. Think about the Marriott Rewards Program and the SPG program. Two of the strongest loyalty programs in the hotel business. We think we can make them stronger by aligning them together and drive better -- better benefits to our folks that -- that ties them more tightly to us.

BARTIROMO: In terms of cost savings, the talk is $200 million in cost savings a year by the time, you know, in the next couple of years, once -- once this is -- this is closing.


BARTIROMO: What does that mean in terms of job cuts and do you expect that that's going to be the kind of cost savings you can get by integrating these two companies?

SORENSON: Well, we -- we think so. The -- Starwood has been spending something like $400 million to $450 million a year in overhead. Now that's really not property level jobs, which is where the bulk of the jobs are. And when you get to hotels, I don't think they'll be significant job impacts. Maybe zero job impacts across the world. When you start to give a -- get above property and the closer you get to the executive suite inn (ph), their headquarters, for example, or in the two company's headquarters, the more you see a head to head overlap. We don't need two CEOs. We don't need two general councils. We don't need two board of directors, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And so I think we'll find the biggest cost savings disproportionately at the higher end of the overhead structure. And when we -- again, when we get down to the hotels we'll see very little impact.

BARTIROMO: There was some talk that a Chinese company wanted to acquire Starwood. We all talked about it.


BARTIROMO: That China was in the running. They were going to acquire Starwood. Did U.S. regulators come over to you and say, hey, Marriott, get in the game here? We want a domestic company to acquire Starwood, not a Chinese company?

SORENSON: Oh, I -- I smile because I wonder -- I wonder if the world ever worked that way. I -- it doesn't work that way. And, of course, we don't know who the other bidders were for Starwood. We were, of course, encouraged by them to believe that there were many and that they were very aggressive in their offers. They wanted to do that, obviously, to -- to get as attractive a deal as they could from us. And so we don't -- we don't really know to what extent the Chinese ever seriously looked at the company or what other companies did. But we were thrilled to get involved and we're thrilled to be selected at the end presumably because we had the best bid.

BARTIROMO: How's the business sector doing, business travel, right now? What you expecting for 2016?

SORENSON: Well, I think business travel is -- is going to continue to be steady. Now, I -- I think there you -- you do have anxiety in the market, obviously, which you -- which you cover every day and you see volatility in the market, you see folks focused on areas for anxiety and uncertainty. Depending on whether or not that actually impacts business, you will see business either step up or -- or potentially step down a little bit. I would -- I would say today that the anxiety today is more than it was last fall to the extent that has some influence on the way corporate customers book for next year. We can see how that plays out. But, still, when you look at corporate profits, you look at GDP growth, the balance of decisions that need to be made in that space I think will be positive. And, again, I think we'll have a sort of steady state, mid-single digit sort of revenue (ph) growth next year in 2016.

BARTIROMO: Makes a lot of sense, given the state of the world, particularly with -- with terrorism and -- and -- and uncertainties about -- about jobs.

Arne, good to have you on the program. Thanks so much.

SORENSON: Glad to be. Nice to see you.

BARTIROMO: Congrats to you, Arne Sorenson.

SORENSON: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: Well, so far, Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz have really avoided bashing one another, but a surge in the polls by the Texas senator could change that. Up next, we're going to take a look at the latest polls. A political panel gives their take as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."

We'll be right back.


SHAWN:  From America's news headquarters, I'm Eric Shawn, here are some of the other stories that are making headlines at this hour.


SHAWN (voice-over):  New tensions between Russia and Turkey this morning after a Russian destroyer today fired warning shots at a Turkish fishing ship.  Moscow claims the destroyer was trying to prevent a collision in the Aegean Sea and fired those shots only after the crew tried radio contact, visual signals and flares to warn that Turkish ship.  

Tensions of course have been spiking between the two nations last month after Turkey shot down that Russian fighter jet it claimed entered Turkish airspace near the Syrian border.

World leaders praising that agreement reached in Paris by nearly 200 countries to tackle climate change.  President Obama calling the deal the best chance to save the one planet we have.  

China also getting on board this time, Beijing blamed for blocking the last high-level climate talks back in Copenhagen in 2009.  The agreement aims to keep global warming from rising another degree Celsius for the next 85 years.

And I'll be back at noon with more news with Arthel Neville and as always the doctors as always are in.  Drs. Siegel and Samadi joins us for "Sunday Housecall" two hours from now at 12:30 Eastern.

So for now, I'm Eric Shawn.  And back to "Sunday Morning Futures" and Maria.

BARTIROMO:  Thanks, Eric.  

A big shake-up in the GOP race, just seven weeks from the caucuses.  Texas senator Ted Cruz overtaking Donald Trump for the top spot in Iowa in a new pair of polls.  

First, the latest FOX News poll has Ted Cruz with a 2-point lead over Donald Trump, 28 percent to 26 percent.  Senator Marco Rubio is in third place with 13 percent and then Ted Cruz has an even bigger lead in the "Des Moines Register" poll with a 10-point lead.  

Will his new front-runner status in the Hawkeye State lead to a war of words with Trump?  And where does it lead us.

So let's bring in our panel right now.

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.

Julie Roginsky is a former political adviser to New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg. She's also a Fox News contributor.

And Doug Holtz-Eakin is a former CBO director under President Bush.  He is the president of the American Action Forum.  

Good to have you all with us this morning.  Thank you so much for being here.  

Ed Rollins, what is your take on these new polls?  

You said this last week, Ted Cruz would be number one.  And that's what happened.

ED ROLLINS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  Cruz has the strongest organization, he has a very consistent conservative message; both Trump and Carson, people aren't sure where they are.  

It is interesting, Carson talked about he's going to lead the Republican Party, just joined the Republican Party a year ago.  So I mean, it's nice to have him and I hope he stays.  

But at the end of the day, it is not like he's been around the game for a long time.  But people know Cruz.  And the interesting thing in the FOX poll is he's leading among conservatives, he's leading among evangelicals, leading among Tea Parties.  

So that's what you need, plus the (INAUDIBLE).

I think he'll win Iowa and I think he'll win Iowa pretty much going away.

BARTIROMO:  And then what?  

ROLLINS:  Then you get momentum out of that, that may not help you in New Hampshire in the sense but it certainly will in some of the Southern states come March 1st.

BARTIROMO:  As the news flow continues to highlight terrorism and this national security fear that people have, Julie, it goes right into Ted Cruz's wheelhouse.

JULIE ROGINSKY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, you would think, except that if you look at the cross tap (ph) in some of these polls, people in South Carolina, for example, Republicans think Donald Trump is the expert to prevent terrorism from coming to our shores, which, you know, I think for those of us who know and follow Donald Trump's career, has no basis in fact.  But nevertheless in places like South Carolina, he really seems to have the advantage which, if you're a sitting senator like Ted Cruz, you're a sitting senator like Rand Paul or all the others, you may have different philosophies as to how to get there but at least you've been in the game.  

Donald Trump has not been and nevertheless he has got the advantage, which I think shows the massive disparity between reality and the perception in this year's election --


BARTIROMO:  He's talking tough.

ROGINSKY:  I guess that's what it takes.  I would think it takes a little more but others may disagree.

DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, FORMER CBO DIRECTOR:  I think the Iowa development is the Des Moines poll.  In recent years, it has proven to be the really accurate polling and that 10-point lead is really important.  It's called Joni Ernst when at times other people thought it wasn't going to happen.  So that really got my attention.

BARTIROMO:  And why is Iowa so important?  

What does Iowa tell us about the general election?  

ROLLINS:  Well, the interesting thing about Iowa and I -- (INAUDIBLE) Iowa in a long, long time and no disrespect to Iowans, which is usually the coldest winter and the hottest summer, but it is a bellwether and you get a lot of publicity.  

The difference obviously is the publicity of this campaign, that Trump has gained so far, really overshadows anything.  And Iowa used to have several weeks before that in New Hampshire.  This time, it's on four or five shows the next day, that's no big deal for Trump or anybody else.  

I think then you just go quickly on to New Hampshire and New Hampshire is a different ballpark.  So my sense would be some momentum, it's going to knock some people out and I think at the end of the day, the three or four that have been in the race will stay in the race.

HOLTZ-EAKIN:  The first three are always interesting.  Iowa and New Hampshire completely different places.  And the wild card in South Carolina this time, really, is Lindsey Graham, running for president, their own senator, with an exclusively national security message, nothing else.

If he can ding up any of the leaders, it really complicates things going into the big states.

BARTIROMO:  And that's when our Fox Business network debate -- that will be on January 14th in South Carolina.

ROLLINS:  And unfortunately he's not doing well in his own state.

HOLTZ-EAKIN:  That's true.

ROGINSKY:  And again,  you do have Donald Trump leading far and away in places like South Carolina, where somebody like Ted Cruz, you would think, would do well with his evangelical message, not doing as well as Donald Trump, who, by the way, attacked Ted Cruz for not being evangelical (INAUDIBLE) claims he's a real evangelical in the race.  

I challenge him to come up with a couple of scripture quotes but I don't think he's able to do that.  But nevertheless, you know, when he's backed into a corner, what is interesting to watch, is exactly how far he'll go.  And he's going right to -- you know, as Karl Rove once said about, going after John Kerry, going to the strongest asset you have, (INAUDIBLE) Ted Cruz.


ROLLINS:  One of the other interesting things about those three states, there is a tendency to shift quick in the end.  And the Iowa poll is very accurate.  I think it is very trending at this point in time.  

But I've watched these things switch in last 48 hours; I watched New Hampshire especially switch in last 48 hours and South Carolina really is about momentum and my sense it is about time we get to that place.  It'll be down to three or four people.

BARTIROMO:  Let me quickly show you this other poll actually, and that is a Fox News poll that asks the question, GOP voters want to know, who on that stage will be able to beat Hillary?

So who is most likely to beat Hillary Clinton?  

Trump comes up at 32 percent followed by Ted Cruz at 18 percent.  

What do you think about that?  

ROLLINS:  Well, there's a long ways to go.  And at the end of the day here, Hillary, obviously, has got a free ride, she'll have a free ride pretty much to the end.  And my sense is it depends on how strong these candidates are when they get the nomination.

BARTIROMO:  Free ride meaning.

ROLLINS:  She's not being challenged.

BARTIROMO:  She's not being challenged by Bernie Sanders.

ROLLINS:  You got to -- Sanders is a protest vote.

ROGINSKY:  Well, I don't know about that.  I mean, look, the polls are fairly tight in both Iowa and New Hampshire.  

What happens if she doesn't come up as strongly as people suspect in Iowa
and New Hampshire?

ROLLINS:  You're not betting any money.

ROGINSKY:  I'm betting zero money.  


ROGINSKY:  Then again, I remember in 2008, no, she was up by over 18 points nationally, back in 2008; anything could happen.


HOLTZ-EAKIN:  She's an awful strong candidate.  She really does create problems for herself.

ROGINSKY:  I bet money on her in '08.  So I will no longer bet money on anybody.

HOLTZ-EAKIN:  That's an interesting poll.  The more interesting one is if you ask the Democrats who are they afraid of, that's not their list.  Their list starts with Marco Rubio.

BARTIROMO:  They're afraid of Marco Rubio.

Yes.  We'll talk about the Democratic side of the race coming up.  But first, let's check in with Howie Kurtz.  He's from "MediaBuzz" at the top of the top of the hour in about 20 minutes.

Howie, good morning to you.

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST, "MEDIABUZZ":  Good morning to you, Maria.  We'll look at the media just going nuclear against Donald Trump over his Muslim comments, not just commentators on the Right as well as the Left but some journalists who are crossing the line to take on Trump in describing him as dangerous, racist and all of that.  

Plus Laura Ingraham, our special guest, she says the Democratic establishment, the Republican establishment and the media establishment have all failed and that has created a void for Trump.  And that's one of the reasons he's doing so well.

BARTIROMO:  All right.  We will be there.  We'll see you in about 20 minutes to talk about that.  

Media reaction has really been sharp and aggressive.  We'll come back to that.  More on the race for the White House and Hillary Clinton's lead over Bernie Sanders in a new Fox News poll.  We're looking ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures," our panel returns in a moment.


BARTIROMO:  Welcome back. More now from our panel on the race for the White House. A new Fox news poll we want to show you -- this is of Democrat in -- the caucus-goers, Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa, showing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a 50 percent to 36 percent lead over Senator Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley remaining a distant third.

We're with Ed Rollins, Julie Roginsky and Doug Holtz-Eakin this morning.

Interesting numbers there. I mean, we knew that Hillary was the -- was the candidate. But do you -- anything strikes you, Julie, about these numbers?

ROGINSKY:  Well, the only thing that strikes me is, the longer Donald Trump continues to suck the energy out of anybody else, it helps people like Hillary Clinton, because you can't -- she's got a full name recognition. People are not focusing so much on her shortcomings.

If you're Martin O'Malley or if you're Bernie Sanders, you're desperately trying to get some sort of media attention, as you saw Senator Sanders complaining about. And yet all we're talking about is Donald Trump, which helps Hillary Clinton.


ROGINSKY:  She can thank him directly for that -- for those numbers.

BARTIROMO:  I'll tell you, it is unbelievable that Donald Trump has been so smart in that regard. I mean, anything he says forces all of the candidates to respond to it. Anything he says dominates the news headlines. And it's all about Trump, all the time.

ROLLINS:  Look at just the president's speech last Sunday night. It had no play the next day. It didn't say much, but...


... no play whatsoever. And Donald Trump's Muslim thing dominated even the mainstream media.

ROGINSKY:  That's a great point, Ed.

ROLLINS:  But it is, and it's -- the thing I would say about this is -- and what I would be concerned -- she's running as an incumbent president for all practical purposes. And there's 41 percent of Democrats that aren't there for her at this point in time in Iowa.

Now, that may change as time goes on. But I think there's still -- still some doubt. You're the Democrat. You...

ROGINSKY:  But you also know, these are people who have to motivate in Iowa to come and caucus. This is not going and pulling a lever. These are people who are above and beyond committed. And so that's why Iowa is so strange, especially for Democrats.

Iowa actually predicts Democratic -- the Democratic outcome fairly well, much better than Republicans do for the Republican caucuses. So I would suspect, if those numbers maintain -- and thanks to Donald Trump, I think they will, she'll be in good shape.

BARTIROMO:  Yeah, what do you think, Doug?

HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Well, I think she's not going to repeat the mistake in 2007, which is don't pay enough attention in Iowa, count on the name recognition and don't have the ground game. They've been in Iowa for a long time now. They're doing a lot of work. And I think that she's going to do much better this time around.

BARTIROMO:  In the general election, how do you see it playing out?

HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Look, she is the nominee. I don't see any way around it. I don't know who the Republican nominee is, but it's not Donald Trump. And so...

BARTIROMO:  You don't think it's Donald Trump?

HOLTZ-EAKIN:  No, I don't see that happening.

BARTIROMO:  But the numbers are the numbers, Ed?

ROLLINS:  The numbers are the numbers, but the numbers are the numbers today, and polls reflect a place in time. There's a long ways to go in this campaign. And I think it's either Rubio or Cruz, who are the two -- two potentials that I see at this point in time.

No one knows what kind of candidates they're going to be. They're both strong candidates in their states. They're young. Most people don't know who they are. Republicans aren't going to -- the establishment's not going to be any more happy with Cruz than they are with Trump. But Cruz is a far more effective candidate and conservatives across the country know who he is and they like him and they're going to be energized by him.

BARTIROMO:  And he's trying to humanize himself more...


HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Those two have been very successful in the debates. They come in with a game plan, execute. They're disciplined. I think that speaks well for the kind of candidates they could become.

BARTIROMO:  Well, it looks like that Cruz in particular is trying to soften his strategy. We actually had his wife on, Heidi Cruz, on my morning show on the Fox Business Network. And she basically talked about him having -- being very principled.

So I'm just saying, he's trying to pull the curtain back on...

ROLLINS:  He's also very smart. I mean, you cannot underestimate his -- his brain power. It's just...

ROGINSKY:  But you do have the problem, and you know this better than anybody else, of plenty of people in the Republican establishment just loathing Ted Cruz. I mean, if you're John McCain, who just loathes...


... the ground that he walks on and you're on the ballot with him in Arizona in 2016, what do you do?


HOLTZ-EAKIN:  The nicest thing I've heard a Senate colleague say is he must not have played team sports as a child. I mean...


This is -- it's an issue.



ROLLINS:  My counter to that is Republicans, with John McCain and with Mitt Romney, a lot of conservatives thought they were not viable candidates. They're going to get a viable conservative, if you -- and we'll see what that does.

BARTIROMO:  Yeah, and it's just -- it's unexpected.

ROLLINS:  You can't say he's not...

BARTIROMO:  Be careful what you -- be careful what you wish for, my friend.


All right. We're going to take a short break. More from our panel coming up. The San Bernardino terrorist attacks, highlighting another security vulnerability here at home. But we'll talk about our country's controversial visa program with our panel next, and look ahead to the week ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." Back in a minute.  


BARTIROMO:  Welcome back. Growing criticism of the visa process that allowed one of the San Bernardino killers to enter the United States in the first place, critics saying that the whole process has gaping holes that have been left unplugged since 9/11, the White House now saying it may ask Congress to help fix it.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  It certainly is possible that, after this investigation has made more progress in terms of the actual case, the actual investigation into this act of terrorism, that we may ask Congress for some additional assistance in reforming the -- the program that allowed the female terrorist into the United States. But there's still more information that needs to be learned.


BARTIROMO:  On that, I want to bring back our panel, Ed Rollins, Julie Roginsky and Doug Holtz-Eakin.

What do you make of this? What kind of changes could we see?

ROLLINS:  Well, I think, first of all, this should be one of the highest priorities in the first 90, 120 days of next year's Congress. And the White House and Congress ought to sit down and say, "What can we do here? We have a problem; we need to resolve it, and what's acceptable to both sides? And let's get on with it?"

BARTIROMO:  Right. I mean, you would think, Doug, this is where the vulnerabilities are?

HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Yes, I mean, this should be -- Ed's exactly right. But if you step back, there are two big-picture miscalculations that have been made.

Number one, we assumed that ISIS was only interested in holding territory in the Middle East; it didn't have a global reach or an interest in a global reach -- big mistake.

And then, on immigration, we have always had an immigration system founded on family reunification, you know, refugee status. And that's exactly what this has revealed in vulnerabilities. And we haven't fixed it. It remains unfixed all these many years later.


ROGINSKY:  Yeah, what I think is interesting is we're focused on the visa, and we should be, but what nobody seems to be focused on as much is the fact that her husband was actually an American-born citizen.

And so as a result, how do you stop people like that? We could -- you know, I always feel like we're very reactive. We had a plane fly into the World Trade Center and suddenly everybody starts to take their shoes off. You had the shoe bomber. But nobody focuses on the underlying problem, which is we've obviously got radicalized American citizens here. They've got constitutional rights. And how do you address that and balance that with our civil liberties?

And that's something that I feel this visa example has taken the eye off the ball for having that debate. And that's what's a concern to me.

ROLLINS:  We are a nation of great freedoms, and our Constitution gives us those things. But at the same time, we're a nation that's really at risk, and I think there's going to be more and more of this activity. They make no pretense this is how they're going to basically attack us. It's not going to be another 9/11 in the foreseeable future. But there's certainly going to be more of these incidents.

BARTIROMO:  Which leads me to my next question, which is this whole Lindsey Graham idea that he said that, you know, if we do learn that this marriage was arranged by a terrorist, they have figured out a completely new way to get into the United States, by getting women to radicalize and get them to become jihadi brides and marry American citizens.

I mean, do you agree that that's a game-changer, if this is what we learn?

ROLLINS:  I definitely think it's a game-changer. And I think we need to review the whole thing. I think it's really -- it's not just -- it's not just women marrying men; it's -- there's a lot of men who come here and marry women. So I think -- I think you need to look at it really hard and fast and...

ROGINSKY:  But, again, what's interesting to me is she wasn't necessary to this enterprise. It's -- she helped, but it's not like, had she not been able to come here on this visa, this man couldn't have carried this off by himself. I mean, he may not have killed as many people, but, nevertheless, that, to me, is the issue that nobody wants to talk about.

ROLLINS:  I think -- I think we'll find out in the end, though, she was -- she was the catalyst. She...


ROGINSKY:  Yeah, maybe.

HOLTZ-EAKIN:  But if you think about game-changers, right, the 9/11 Commission said here's all the problems in our intelligence; we have these stove pipes and gaps. And we're 15 years later; we still have them.


HOLTZ-EAKIN:  So I don't know how much of a game-changer any single incident is going to be.

BARTIROMO:  Right, well, I mean, what about the idea that the friend, the guy who actually bought the two guns, said that there are sleeper cells all over L.A., and that these people are just waiting for direction on what to happen?

I mean, you know, we're trying -- the most important question, I think, at this point, is, are there sleeper cells in America where there are terrorists waiting for direction?

ROLLINS:  There are, and law enforcement people in L.A., which -- I'm from California originally -- told me we were fortunate that San Bernardino was much better prepared to deal with something like this. They have an excellent chief of police there and they've trained for this. If this Would have happened in L.A., they could never have dealt with it in the same way, the same effectiveness...

BARTIROMO:  Because of these sleeper cells?

ROLLINS:  And just because of the size and the preparedness.

ROGINSKY:  And, again, the question is, who's in these sleeper cells? Are they American citizens? In which case, it becomes a whole different debate than you've had with people coming from abroad, and we're focused too much on the -- not too much, but we're focused on the refugee issue. Are we not focused enough on people who are already here and they're entitled to be here constitutionally? That, to me, is a different issue.

BARTIROMO:  I think that's -- that's the real game-changer, if we find that we've got all of these people who are waiting for direction that are already in the country, whether they are American or foreigners or whomever.

HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Think about it, though. This is the issue of being very reactive. If you just roll the clock back a year, we're talking about how we've militarized our local police and it's a big mistake and -- and now, in this environment, people think, well, maybe not.


HOLTZ-EAKIN:  So we go back and forth on what we're trying to accomplish.

ROLLINS:  Yeah, just even right here, this city has had two extraordinary chiefs of police. Ray Kelly basically did an extraordinary job of not just fighting terrorism here but having officers in our own police department all over. He basically protected the city very -- very ably.

He became a target in the campaign. Bratton is trying to carry on but is obviously handicapped by a lousy mayor. And I think, to a certain extent, there's this premise, and, in a city where it has happened, that we're basically backing off.


ROLLINS:  And we have great cops, and we need to basically support them.

BARTIROMO:  And people calling that "the Ferguson effect," where -- where cops are afraid to do their job.

All right. We've got a big week next week. The Federal Reserve is probably going to raise interest rates. This is the last week before Congress adjourns for the holidays. We're going to talk about the one big thing to watch in the week ahead with our panel, next, on "Sunday Morning Futures."


BARTIROMO:  Well, welcome back with our panel on the week ahead. Doug, what is most important next week?

HOLTZ-EAKIN:  You have the Fed. You have Congress -- funding for the -- the next year. But the big one is Paul Ryan's promise that they're going to pass bills, tax reform, repeal-and-replace, financial reform, and vote on them in an election year, to give a clear choice on policy, not personality.

BARTIROMO:  Wow, that's good. Ed, anything you were...

ROLLINS:  The debate, obviously. The debate's -- critical debate. Does -- does -- the guys move forward, or is...


ROLLINS:  Does Cruz move forward, or does -- you know, is it the same old show?

BARTIROMO:  Important week for fund-raising, I guess?

Julie, you agree with that. I know that.

ROGINSKY:  I do. I do.

Thanks so much for joining us, everybody. Really good to see you. I'll see you tomorrow on the Fox Business Network. I'm Maria Bartiromo. "Mornings with Maria," 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Eastern on the Fox Business Network. Here's a look at where to find FBN on your cable network. Have a great Sunday, everybody.

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