Are Trump's attacks against Bill Clinton a smart play?; Debate over Jeb Bush's political health

On 'Hannity,' panel breaks down the presidential candidate's strategy


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 29, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

RICH LOWRY, GUEST HOST: Welcome to "Hannity." 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Trump refuses to back down from his attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton.

I'm Rich Lowry, in for Sean tonight.

Earlier today, Trump continued to criticize the Clintons. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, if you look at the different situations, of course, we can name many of them. I can get you a list and I'll have it sent to your office in two seconds. But there was certainly a lot of abuse of women. And you look at whether it's Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones or many of them, and that certainly will be fair game.

Certainly, if they play the woman's card with respect to me, that would be fair game. When she started about a week ago talking about, Oh, he mentioned -- and you know, the whole thing, playing up the woman's card very, very strongly. And if she's going to play that game and he's going to be out there campaigning, then he's certainly fair game. And I think just everybody agrees with me on that.

This is a person who -- you know, he's going to be out, and I like the fact that he's campaigning for her. He failed in 2008. He failed really badly.  He frankly did a very poor job at campaigning, if you want to know the truth. And perhaps he'll do well, or perhaps he'll do poorly. But if she's going to play the woman card, it's all fair game.


LOWRY: Joining us now with reaction, from The Washington Times, Charlie Hurt, and FOX news contributor Eboni Williams. Thanks, guys, for being here. Charlie...


LOWRY: ... -let me start with you because there is some pushback on this Trump offensive saying, Look, what fault is it of Hillary Clinton that her husband cheated on her? But it goes much further than that, doesn't it, because Hillary was part of the political operation that went out of its way to attempt to smear and destroy the reputations of Bill Clinton's accusers.

HURT: Yes. And to me, you know, that's the heart of this charge about sexism and stuff. You know, the Clintons, you know, are trying to accuse Donald Trump of being sexist because of the words he uses and things like that, but of course, his record shows that he has a record of hiring women and putting them in powerful positions.

And yes, he does use some coarse language, some language that shocks people, but it is nothing like what Bill Clinton did to people that worked for him, young people that worked for him that weren't much older than his daughter.

And of course, as you mentioned, Hillary Clinton was -- you know, her entire career as first lady pretty much even before that, quite frankly, was dedicated to covering for him, covering for this horrible behavior and doing everything she could to discredit the women, the very strong women who came forward despite the intense pressure not to, who came forward and said, Hey, there's something wrong with this guy. This guy did this to me.  And she -- you know, she took -- she was -- she led the charge in destroying those people and their characters.

HANNITY: Eboni, what do you think? Is this a smart play for Trump?

EBONI WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it's smart in one way. I think he's right that it's fair game, certainly. In the law, we say when you introduce something into kind of evidence, it becomes fair game.  You've opened the door for it.

So certainly, the moment Hillary Clinton tossed (ph), you know, Bill Clinton out there on the campaign trail to bolster her, she rightfully can't benefit from the added component of Bill Clinton and not reap the consequences of what he causes (ph), too. So Trump's right about that.

But it's interesting because Bill Clinton remains incredibly popular, incredibly bolstering of enthusiasm for much of the traditional Democratic base. And that's the thing that Hillary Clinton, despite her best efforts, still has not been able to tap into, that enthusiasm and that rigor.

So I don't know if it's the best choice on Trump's part to kind of wake that sleeping giant. I said let Hillary just be defective (ph), let her be boring, let her be unstimulating to her base all by herself!

LOWRY: OK, well, I don't think Hillary's going to have that much of a problem being boring on her own.


LOWRY: And in fact, Charlie, I think part of the problem with Bill Clinton campaigning for her is you see this contrast between this really extraordinary -- extraordinarily talented politician, the most natural skilled politician of his generation, and Hillary, who's just not that good at this. She's sort of a grind.

And when Bill was out there in 2008, working it hard for Hillary Clinton, none of his political skills transferred to her when she was trying very hard and ultimately unsuccessfully to beat a much more natural campaigner named Barack Obama.

HURT: Yes, and just as the extraordinary coalition and diverse coalition that Barack Obama has put together in 2008 in that sterling campaign and then kept together pretty well in 2012 -- just like none of -- that new coalition isn't going to be directly transferable to Hillary Clinton this year, nor is the extraordinary talents and gifts for politicking that President Obama had.

And as brilliant a politician as he was in 2008, you know, there were a lot of stories back then about how she -- how he really, in a lot of ways, sabotaged her campaign in 2008, and people have wondered about it.

And the single best explanation I've ever heard given for why he would have done it is that he knew that if his wife became the first female president in history that that would be such a big deal, the only thing that would be remembered about Bill Clinton would have been all of his antics in the White House and the blue dress and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

LOWRY: Do you think that's true, Eboni? Because this is a scary thought.  If Hillary Clinton becomes president, she will be on our currency one day.


LOWRY: It'll be a very big deal. And Bill Clinton will just be remembered as this transitional figure.

WILLIAMS: Yes, that's interesting. Charlie makes an interesting point.  I've heard -- I think that argument gives Bill Clinton too much credit, actually. I think that what we saw in 2008 was the Clintons both just totally missing the ball, miscalculating some of the most key points of that demographic, that broad coalition that Barack Obama tapped into. I'm talking about people of color. I'm talking about college students and young people.

They really took that demographic for granted. They had a very entitled attitude going after that and thinking that it was just going to be rightfully theirs because it had been in the past.

And people didn't respond well to that. I think they saw backlash around it. People were accusing the Clintons of kind of being racially insensitive and kind of saying Barack Obama, you (ph) kind of stay in his place. It went very badly for them. So it was a very big political misstep moreso than I think a sabotage.

LOWRY: So Charlie, let's take a look really quickly because we're talking about Clinton and Trump, and Rasmussen has a new poll that we'll get up on the screen about a prospective general election matchup between Trump and Clinton that is basically tied. And I think to most political observers, Charlie, that would be shocking but not necessarily to you.

HURT: Well, no, because, I mean, the guy has really tapped into something, and it's not just angry white people. It's a far larger, broader cross- section of voters. And I think that we might find that it could very well make up a lot of Democrats and independents. But if, indeed, he is able to get these new voters to the polls the way Barack Obama did in 2008, it could be a real deal.

And going back to the thing that Eboni said -- of course, I totally agree with what Eboni -- what you were just saying about that. That is obviously the reason that they totally whiffed it in 2008. But my point is that in - - the Bill Clinton of 1992 never would have misread that and made those grave mistakes that they made.


LOWRY: ... address that poll.


LOWRY: When you look at that poll, does that speak to Clinton's weakness, Trump's strength or both?

WILLIAMS: I think it speaks to both. I'm not shocked by it at all. I agree with Charlie. I think that on the GOP side, Trump is probably best suited to run head to head with Hillary Clinton. I think he can have some cross-aisle appeal in a way that people who would have never voted for a Republican in their life, including my own mother, will consider voting for Donald Trump because they believe that he understands the problem.

That's kind of the first step here, where we are now in today's society and political climate. They feel like he's not been a part of these historical problems, politically speaking. He's clearly a Washington outsider. So those numbers don't surprise me. And I think the left will be very, very afraid to run against Donald Trump head to head.

LOWRY: So Charlie, really quickly -- got about a minute left -- who among the other Republican candidates is the most serious threat to Donald Trump at the moment, in your estimation?

HURT: You know, obviously, Ted Cruz in Iowa, you know, could possibly create a real problem for Donald Trump because, you know, if he does manage to win Iowa -- and Iowa is always a giant asterisk in any of these things - - it could still sort of create some turbulence for Donald Trump that he hadn't experienced before. He's never been behind really before ever since he's gotten into this.

And then -- and then, you know, whoever it is that is -- you know, right now, it's Chris Christie -- whoever does really well in New Hampshire does the same thing. But -- but honest -- you know, quite frankly, after you get past New Hampshire, Donald Trump -- when you look at the state-by-state polls, he continues to look very, very good...


LOWRY: Charlie, we got to get out of here. Thanks so much to both of you.  Happy new year. See you next time.

Coming up, the 2016 candidates are preparing for the final push before the Iowa caucuses. Ed Henry will have a full report.

And later, Al Jazeera appears to be backtracking after trying to link NFL star Peyton Manning to performance-enhancing drugs. We'll have reaction with Brian Kilmeade and former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz. All that and much more as "Hannity" continues.



LOWRY: Welcome back to "Hannity." With the Iowa caucuses just 33 days away, candidates on both sides of the aisle are pounding the campaign trail. Joining me now with a full report from Washington is Ed Henry -- Ed.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you, Rich. What we really saw today was the battle for the anti-Trump establishment lane of the Republican Party intensify as Chris Christie and Jeb Bush launched sharp attacks on Senator Marco Rubio. He responded in Iowa by rolling out an important endorsement, that of a conservative rock star, the House Benghazi committee chairman Trey Gowdy.

They feel good in the Rubio camp because that is somebody who obviously conservatives will respond to. They say they've got a whole bunch of other endorsements they've already rolled out. And they've got polls in Iowa and nationally showing Rubio in third place behind Donald Trump, who you've just been talking about, and Senator Ted Cruz.

And with Rubio sort of filling up that space there in third place, that's why you see all of these other candidates today slamming him for missing votes in the Senate, Chris Christie at a campaign stop in Iowa ripping into Rubio by saying, quote, "Dude, show up to work. If you don't like it, quit," while the super-PAC supporting Jeb Bush again went after his former protege. They now have a $1.4 million TV ad buy charging Rubio was fund- raising instead of attending some important hearings and briefings on the Hill. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Days after the Paris attacks, senators came together for a top secret briefing on the terrorist threat. Marco Rubio was missing, fund-raising in California instead. Two weeks later, terrorists struck again in San Bernardino. And where was Marco? Fund-raising again in New Orleans.

Over the last three years, Rubio has missed important national security hearings and missed more total votes than any other senator. Politics first, that's the Rubio way.

Right to Rise USA is responsible for the content of this message.


HENRY: Now, we should note Chris Christie has also spent a lot of time away from New Jersey while he's been campaigning, while the Rubio camp notes the pro-Bush ad left out that as a member of the Intelligence Committee, the senator received a high-level briefing after the Paris attacks, Rubio spokesman adding, quote, "It's sad to see Jeb's joyful campaign reduced to such intellectual dishonesty. "

The sparring frees up Donald Trump, really, to focus on the general election, as you were just talking about, doubling it down on his attacks on both Hillary and Bill Clinton.

And there's a new element now, Fox's own Howard Kurtz reporting that Donald Trump as early as next week, as the new year starts, is going to start spending up to $2 million a week for several weeks on his first TV ad buy.

So think about that. Donald Trump has been dominating the Republican polls without, as you know, Rich, spending very much money at all. All of a sudden, this big TV ad buy -- that could really swamp his competitors at a critical time right before Iowa and the New Hampshire race.

LOWRY: Ed, thank you very much.

Joining us now with reaction, vice president at WPA Research Lisa Boothe and FOX news contributors Julie Roginsky and Jedediah Bila. Thanks, ladies, for being here.

Lisa, let me...


LOWRY: ... start with you because Jeb Bush has been sitting -- or at least his people, sitting on this death star of a super-PAC that's run a bunch of ads trying to boost him, which hasn't worked so far. Now they're hitting Trump. Now they're hitting Rubio. And they're going to hit some more people, I'm sure, coming very soon.

Is this desperation, or is this just smart hardball politics?

LISA BOOTHE, GOP POLLSTER: It is desperation. And if you look at the ads specifically targeting Marco Rubio, it's incredibly tone deaf. Right now, there's a desire among the Republican primary voter for an outsider. How much more inside-the-Beltway does it get than attacking a candidate about their voting attendance?

Voters are concerned -- they don't feel safe right now with the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, with the terrorist attacks in Paris. We have the lowest workforce portation (ph) rate since the 1970s. People care about jobs and the economy. They care about feeling safe. They don't care about Rubio's voting attendance.

LOWRY: Yes, Julie, I'm sort of struck by that. The ad makes it seem as though as long as senators are attending their committee hearings, America is completely safe.


LOWRY: You know, and the terrorists will never hit us. What do you think (INAUDIBLE)

JULIE ROGINSKY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, as somebody who works in the Senate, I'm very happy to hear that people actually care about what happens there, but the reality is it really doesn't matter all that much.

And look, for somebody like Chris Christie to come after Marco Rubio is the height of hypocrisy. They guy can't even file for New Jersey -- you know, he's not even a New Jersey resident anymore. He's been gone for more than half the year campaigning God knows where. And for him to hit Marco Rubio is absolutely preposterous. I'm no Rubio supporter, but -- but, you know, have a little shame.

LOWRY: The other thing about Rubio, he's actually leaving the Senate.


LOWRY: You know, it's not as though he wants to stay there, and you know...

BILA: He's one and done. Yes!

LOWRY: ... attend all his committee hearings...

BILA: He's one and done!


BILA: I agree. Look, there are probably issues you could go after Rubio on in the Republican primary on issues and on policy. Attendance to me is such a silly thing to go after. There are plenty other issues if you want to get into that lane and take over from Rubio in that conservative moderate lane. But going after his attendance is really just a silly (INAUDIBLE)

LOWRY: So Jedediah, if you squint just right...


LOWRY: ... really squint at the polls and you look at Bush, you can see how he's competitive...

BILA: Yes...


LOWRY: ... three or four out of a very distant second place.

BILA: Yes.

LOWRY: What's your read on his...

BILA: Oh, I mean...

LOWRY: ... state of his political health at the moment?

BILA: ... the desperation from Jeb Bush is -- it's alarming. Some of the worst ads that I've seen have come from either PACs supporting him or directly from him. I mean, it's just terrible, terrible stuff.

And you know, it's really funny because he was so supportive of Marco Rubio just a few years back. They were so tight. This is what people can't stand about politics. They're going to look at him, and now he's all of a sudden criticizing Marco Rubio left and right, and say, Well, hold on a second. Weren't you telling us how great this guy was just a couple years ago? What made you change your mind? Well, of course, because, politically now, this is what he has to do.

Look, if Jeb Bush wants to make any gain, he needs to rely on himself. He needs to be the kind of candidate that can step on that debate stage and inspire confidence.

Instead, he looks angry. He looks like he's not confident. He looks like the likes of Donald Trump and every other candidate on the stage takes the microphone away from him very easily and makes him look nervous, like he's not the man fit for the job.

That's his issue. And instead of picking on Marco Rubio's voting record, he should be worried about himself.

LOWRY: So Lisa, you know, another thing that strikes me about this ad -- I think Marco Rubio has the most natural predators of anyone in this field.  Trump hates him on immigration. Cruz hates him because he's potential competition for the conservative vote. And then Jeb, Christie and Kasich are competing with him in New Hampshire for the non-Trump, non-Cruz vote.  So everyone has a reason to be after Marco Rubio.

BOOTHE: Well, they do. And exactly, those are the things that they should be hitting Marco Rubio on. Hit him on immigration. Don't hit him on his voting record. I mean, John McCain missed more than half of his Senate votes when he was running for president.

And back to Jeb Bush and the desperation factor. And look at him trying to take on Donald Trump with challenging him to a one-on-one debate. It doesn't get more desperate than that. And not only is it desperate, but it is so uncharacteristic for Jeb Bush to be trying to play this Mr. Tough Guy kind of role. It's just not believable right now.

LOWRY: So Julie, Donald Trump doesn't need any of our advice. He's doing fine, OK? He's the front-runner in all the national poll. What advice would you give to the other candidates to either try to get around Trump or just beat him?

ROGINSKY: Well, I'm going to give some advice as a Democrat to some of these guys. Listen up, Republicans. If I were in Iowa, if I were Ted Cruz -- he's got to win Iowa. He's got to spend his money on get out the vote efforts to get his supporters to caucus. That is much harder to do...

LOWRY: And he appears to have really done that.

ROGINSKY: And he appears to do that. Now, for Trump, he has a lot of support, but they're not people that traditionally caucus. It's an all-day affair. It's a tough thing to do.

In New Hampshire, if I were Trump, I would go negative against Christie and I would go negative against Rubio, who allegedly got all this money that Ed Henry referred to and Howard Kurtz referred to, that he's going to spend on ads.

He's got to make sure that neither of them emerge because if Trump loses Iowa and Trump loses New Hampshire, the aura of being the winner, which is exactly what he's been running on all these years -- or all these months -- excuse me -- is going to be gone. So if I were in his shoes, I would go negative on the two of them in New Hampshire and I would make sure your supporters...


LOWRY: We have about 45 seconds left.

BILA: Yes.

LOWRY: But this seems like the -- one of the few "Trump is going to sink" theories. It hasn't been tested yet. What happens if he loses an early state or two?

BILA: I'm not sure -- you know, I -- I -- everybody looks at Iowa all the time. I'm not sure that's going to make a huge difference for him. It really depends on how the voters feel, on how much you have a split.

I mean, his major issue is going to be Ted Cruz, I think. I think conservatives are sort of watching both of them. But with Donald Trump, I ultimately think it's going to be whether or not people believe that he is a guy that they know what he's going to do when he gets into office. I think it's going to be a matter of confidence, in terms of, Right, this is what he stands for, I'm confident that when he gets this job, these are the kinds of policies he's going to enact.

If they don't feel ultimately confident in that, I think conservatives will likely shift to Cruz. Establishment voters will shift to Rubio. And we'll see where it lands.

LOWRY: Great. Thanks so much, guys. I really enjoyed it. I'm not sure Jeb Bush enjoyed what any of you had to say tonight.


LOWRY: But thanks so much for being with us.


LOWRY: Coming up -- after creating a media firestorm by attempting to link NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning to performance-enhancing drugs, Al Jazeera now appears to be backtracking. "FOX and Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade and former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz join us next.

And later -- a Muslim ACLU official says it's not her job to condemn radical Islam. We'll have reaction. All that and more as "Hannity" continues.


LOWRY: Welcome back to "Hannity." It appears Al Jazeera is backpedaling from its report essentially accusing star NFL quarterback Peyton Manning of doping back in 2011. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only allegation in the program from Charlie Sly is that growth hormone was sent repeatedly from Guyer to Ashley Manning in Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it sounds like your documentary doesn't have any evidence against Peyton Manning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not making the allegation against Peyton Manning.


LOWRY: Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has been hired by Peyton Manning and told "Hannity" in a statement today, quote, "Al Jazeera is backtracking and retreating. Their story was not credible to begin with, and it's not credible now."

Within 48 hours of the broadcast, Deborah Davies is now contradicting her own reporting.

Joining me now with reaction is author of "Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History," "Fox & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade, and former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz. Gentlemen, thanks so much for being here.

Now, Brian, what's your basic take here? Is there an allegation here, or is it just innuendo?

BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST, "FOX & FRIENDS": Well, what we know is confirmed is packages from this anti-aging institute, which Peyton Manning says he went to...

LOWRY: Anti-aging institutes always seem to be bad news.

KILMEADE: Right. I agree, but it's the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis -- that they -- they did go there. They went separately. They never went together. And the medication they did confirm was sent was sent to -- whatever it was, to Ashley Manning. That is the wife of Peyton Manning.

So they said they never accused him of it, but they did say that this medication was sent to her. They didn't tell us exactly what's in it.

What was done by Charlie Sly -- whether you love Charlie Sly, the guy who's seen in this video, or hate him, he did not want to be a whistleblower. He did not know he was being taped. So you can't -- you could say -- he could come back and say, I'm lying. OK. But he actually never wanted anyone to be outed to begin with. So someone concluded that perhaps he just doesn't want to be in the middle of this thing and he does say, Don't trust what I was saying.

They came back and said, We taped him for 12 days in seven meetings for a total of 27 hours. We find it hard to believe that he was lying the entire time.

LOWRY: OK. Well, actually, let's listen because Charlie Sly did recant on this allegation.


CHARLIE SLY, AL JAZEERA SOURCE: The statements on any recordings or communications that Al Jazeera plans to air are absolutely false and incorrect. To be clear, I am recanting any such statements, and there is no truth to any statement of mine that Al Jazeera plans to air. Under no circumstances should any of those statements, recordings or communications be aired.


LOWRY: Now, Coach, I have to say, in any dispute with Al Jazeera and Peyton Manning, I know which side I'm instinctively on.


LOWRY: What is your take about this story? Should it have aired? And it is genuinely damaging to Peyton Manning?

LOU HOLTZ, FMR. NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH: Well, with a name like Sly, that makes you very...

LOWRY: I know. You can't make this stuff up, can you?

HOLTZ: ... concerned (INAUDIBLE) But number two, I wonder how much money he was paid? Nobody gives 27 hours of their time. How much did they pay?

I've known the Manning family. They've never been a bit of scandal in their entire life. They've lived their life. And Al Jazeera -- their main objective is to tear the country down. What greater way to do it than to try to tear down an icon like Peyton Manning?

Let me say this also. Peyton Manning has never changed his appearance. I had the same neck surgery. For five months, I was in great pain. Doctor never recommended HGH to me.

And if his wife took it, I don't blame her! We get (INAUDIBLE) anti-aging.  Good Lord, don't (ph) send it to me at my age, where my birthday's cost (ph) candles (ph) more than the cake.


HOLTZ: It's just natural for that to happen, particularly when you have a husband who's Peyton Manning. That's not unusual. But the thing that scares you about the people who make these accusations, they can vote and sometimes more than once.

LOWRY: So Coach, just to put it in a nutshell, you think this is a deliberate smear of an American hero.

HOLTZ: That's my personal opinion because give me the facts, give me the proof. You cannot prove a negative. Peyton Manning can't prove when did you stop beating your wife. If there's facts there, give it. The fact that you delivered a package to her, anti-aging to a woman? No, I don't think that's going to do it for me.

Now, that's just my personal opinion. Give me the proof of what? How can you make an accusation against somebody who has done so much for so many people and for this country in general without any proof? And how much did they pay him?

LOWRY: So Brian, should we care if human growth hormone was sent to his wife? And it was notable that Peyton Manning in his very fierce denunciation and denial of this report...


LOWRY: ... didn't deny that his wife might have gotten these kind of...

KILMEADE: Basically, if it's HGH and it says (ph) a packaged (ph) prescription -- they said there's only four reasons you get HGH, a legal prescription, is growth hormone deficiency in children, treats weakness in muscles from HIV. It says a chromosomal abnormality and Turner's syndrome and children born too small might be legally allowed to get HGH.

I'm not sure what happens in the anti-aging community, but I would say this. And Coach, on top of that, it is not just about Peyton Manning. He did not come out and come just say about Peyton Manning. It's basically a number of Packers. Clay Matthews, former of USC, is also on the Packers.  He also names a bunch of baseball players along with it, and he just goes on and on and on.

The difference about this is it's no Jose Canseco moment, where he says, Aha, Mark McGwire, you did this and all these other guys are cheating.  This is a guy who doesn't even want to be in the middle of it. And it happened in Vancouver, so he's not even subject to American laws or protections.

HOLTZ: I wanted to say this. When you look at the thing from top to bottom, we've had so many athletes, whether it be Armstrong, Sammy Sosa, McGwire, deny it, and later we find out that they really lied to us. That is the problem here. But once again, show me the proof.

LOWRY: Really quickly, we've got about a minute left. What is the state of the NFL and football these days? Bigger, better than ever?

HOLTZ: I think it's bigger and better than ever. I think they're doing a better job of controlling the concussions. That's still a big concern. I think we have to do something to control the use of the helmet. To me, personally, take the face mask off the helmet and we'll have no more concussions.

KILMEADE: A lot of broken noses.

HOLTZ: The dentists will love it, but we'll get rid of the concussions.

LOWRY: Who is going to win the college national championship this year?

HOLTZ: I think it's going to come down to Oklahoma and Alabama, but once again, I've been wrong so many times, that's why I was in the third grade a little longer than normal.


LOWRY: All right, coach, thanks so much. Always a pleasure. Brian, thanks for being with us. Happy new year's guys.

HOLTZ: Thank you.

KILMEADE: Thank you.

LOWRY: Coming up, a Muslim ACLU official says she emphatically refuses to condemn radical Islam. You won't believe her reason why.

Plus Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is under fire after more violence rocked the windy city. Even reverend Al Sharpton is calling for him to step down.  Stay with us.


LOWRY: Welcome back to LOWRY. Yesterday Rana Elmir, the deputy director of the ACLU of Michigan wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" titled "Stop Asking me to Condemn Terrorists Just Because I'm Muslim. I have no reason to say sorry, and Islamophobes won't believe me anyway." At one point in her op-ed she writes "I will not be bullied into condemning terror perpetrated by psychopaths who misrepresent and distort Islam for their deranged purposes."

Joining us now with reaction is the president of Act for America, Brigitte Gabriel, and the president of America Together Foundation Mike Ghouse.  Thanks so much for being here.

Mike, let me start with you. I don't really get this point of view at all.  I was raised a Presbyterian. If there were major Presbyterian groups out there committing terrorism in the name of Presbyterianism, I would have no hesitation whatsoever to condemn them wholeheartedly and without any hesitation.

MIKE GHOUSE, AMERICA TOGETHER FOUNDATION PRESIDENT: Rana should not only condemn terrorism, she should ask everyone, you, me, and every American to condemn terrorism, and that is the right thing to do, Rich.

As a Muslim, I should -- I have triple responsibility. First, terrorism is wrong. Second, it's being labeled as Islamic, which it is not. Third, they're using the name of the religion that I am using, and that is wrong.  So I have a responsibility to condemn this to no end.

Technically, however, she is right. Why should we accuse her, why should she apologize for an act she did not commit and she did not support. But there is a thing of freedom of speech, and she has that right, and we have the right to say what we want to say. But terrorism must be condemned by one and all. I don't know why she has to let it -- she should be condemned unequivocally. I condemn it, and Muslims in America and Muslims elsewhere condemn this act to no end.

LOWRY: I'm totally with you on the point of the apology. No one should apologize for something they didn't do themselves or bear any responsibility for themselves.

Brigitte, let me get you in on this. And this is an ongoing debate whenever there's a terror attack. I think it's so important to hear Muslims condemn Islamic terrorism because, unfortunately, Islamic extremism does have significant popular and theological support within the Islamic world. So it's important for other Muslims to make the case against this kind of extremism.

BRIGITTE GABRIEL, ACT FOR AMERICA FOUNDER: It is extremely important for them to do that, to come strongly in condemnation of such barbarity in the name of their religion. We westerners need to see that in order to believe that the Muslim community really stands with us.

And we are seeing across the western world, whether Australia or Canada or France, it is the Muslim minority that is causing problems regarding terrorism in relation to terrorism. And all these countries, this is not the Buddhist minority, it's not the Jewish minority, the Christian minority. It is the Islamic minority in every single western country across the world.

So we are seeing a pattern. And it's very important for westerners to see the Muslim community within these nations come out strongly and condemn terrorism. We are not asking for them to apologize. There's a difference between apologizing for somebody and condemning their actions. The Islamic community must condemn the actions of what's being perpetrated in the name of Islam.

GHOUSE: And we do.

LOWRY: Mike, another important point here, and the reason why it's so important for us to applaud people for condemning this sort of terrorism is in a lot of the world, not necessarily in the United States or most of the west, but in the Middle East it actually takes courage, physical courage to stand up to these extremists when you're a Muslim. You are taking your life and your safety in your hands in some places when you do that.

GHOUSE: That's very true. And I think most Muslims like most any other community, Christians, Americans, Pakistanis, are afraid to speak up because a few handful have bullied them into silence, and this is time for Muslims not to be bullied and speak out and condemn terrorism in unequivocal terms. And I think once more and more Muslims join we will decimate them, let them know that they do not have any support coming from any corner. And when they get that realization they'll start folding themselves in. And I think that's one way of dealing with terrorism, Rich.

LOWRY: I love the energy. I love the energy and spirit. Brigitte, do you agree with the notion that ISIS is not Islamic?

GABRIEL: ISIS is Islamic in its purist form. It's called the Islamic State. It operates following exactly the commandments of Muhammad. ISIS is not doing anything that Muhammad himself did not do, whether it is beheading, cutting off tongues, cutting off ears, killing traitors.  Muhammad himself was a military leader. In the Islamic world he is considered the perfect man. ISIS is following the Koran to the letter.

GHOUSE: I have to disagree.

LOWRY: We're running out of time. Disagree in 20 seconds.

GHOUSE: Brigitte is completely wrong on that. She is wrong.

GABRIEL: Not true. I am correct.

GHOUSE: You are absolutely wrong on that.

LOWRY: OK, we'll have to take up this debate later, but both of you, thanks so much for being here. Really appreciate it.

Coming up next right here on LOWRY --


AL SHARPTON: I think he's gone beyond the point where he can even govern with the trust of the people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you think he should step down?

SHARPTON: I think that the people have to make that decision, but certainly from where I sit, he should.


LOWRY: The reverend Al Sharpton is now calling for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign. That and more as LOWRY continues.  


LOWRY: Welcome back to LOWRY. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been coming under heavy criticism for how he has handled police shootings in the windy city. And now Reverend Al Sharpton is calling for him to resign. Watch this.


SHARPTON: This is the height of either insensitivity, lack of intelligence, or arrogance, or a reasonable combination of all three. I don't see how he can continue governing now. I think he's gone beyond the point where he can even govern with the trust of the people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So do you think he should step down?

SHARPTON: Oh, I think that the people have to make that decision, but certainly from where I sit, he should.


LOWRY: Joining me with reaction to this and the broader issue of urban crime, trial attorney and political commentator Eric Guster and fellow at the Manhattan Institute Heather MacDonald. Guys, thanks so much for being here. Eric, let me start with you. Now, the allegation with Rahm, at least one of them, is that the city withheld this damaging video of this controversial police shooting until after a really tightly fought election. Do you think it's time for Rahm Emanuel to resign?

ERIC GUSTER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: It's probably time for him to resign. This is why. You have a leader of a city where there's clearly corruption, or clearly a misguided police force where they can hold a tape for over a year that no one knew existed. The police officer was not indicted. He was never charged until the tape was forcibly released. Then that is a problem. And it starts with the top. And that's why we need strong leaders in cities like Chicago and every other city to really make a stand.  

LOWRY: Heather, I get why people are talking about Rahm Emanuel. He's a high profile figure in a very important city. But what I don't understand is why there's not more of a national conversation and a roiling debate about something you have been writing about very powerfully recently, which is big, double digit increases in the murder rate in major cities in America, Baltimore, St. Louis, Cincinnati. The roll call goes on and on.  And it seems for some reason the left wants to deny or make excuses for this jump in homicides.

HEATHER MACDONALD, FELLOW AT MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Absolutely. Chicago, shootings are up 17 percent this year. Homicides are up 16 percent.  That's the real scandal about Chicago is that the urban death violence rate for young kids is four times higher than that of New York City. And we want to talk about police instead of talking about crime. If the resignation of Emanuel would do anything to save more black lives, I would support it. But I have a simple rule of thumb. If Al Sharpton says something should happen, I'm generally on the opposite side of it.

But I think that it's a lot easier to talk about politics than it is about healing the black family, getting fathers in the home again, to stop the bloodbath. On November 2nd a nine-year-old boy was lured into the alley of a Chicago Southside area and killed in cold blood in retaliation for his father's gang banging. That is the sort of thing the press should be focusing on.

LOWRY: And nobody really hears about it.

Eric, why don't we hear more about Baltimore now? Baltimore had an unprecedented, historic spike in the murder right where young black men are dying at an atrocious rate. It's as though those black lives don't matter.

GUSTER: I can't say that. That's not correct.

LOWRY: But the left doesn't seem to care about them.

GUSTER: The left does care about them.

LOWRY: Why don't we hear about it? Why isn't there a movement?

GUSTER: There are plenty of movements. For example, I've talked about it on this show as well, my fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha is out doing great programs. We have to get back to jobs in the communities. When you have urban blacks, when you have people who don't have jobs, then those bad things are going to grow and fester. That's where we have to get back to putting jobs back into the inner cities, back into our economy in order to grow the economy and bring the educational system back up to par for those people to make it fair across the board where you don't have to be rich to get a great education.

LOWRY: The economy hasn't gotten a worse manifestly over the last year.  It appears to be in Baltimore and other cities, police have pulled back because there is this movement that is criticizing them as systemic racists.

MACDONALD: I would say with all respect to Eric has it backwards. You can't get jobs until crime is brought down. New York saw that. We brought crime down and the economy flourished in the inner city. The economy did not get better because of a government program. We've been spending trillions of dollars from the federal coffers alone on antipoverty programs. It wasn't until policing got data driven, held accountable police commanders for crimes in their jurisdictions that crime started dropping. But this effort to demonize the police is leading to police backing off, and people are dying as a result.

LOWRY: Another thing that is very striking about these cities where we have these high profile cases and you have corrupt city officials, Chicago, Baltimore, they have been run, almost uniformly by Democrats for decades.  So doesn't the Democratic Party bear overwhelming responsibility for the state of these cities?

GUSTER: First, let me reply to something she just mentioned. It is not about demonizing police. It is about showing what bad police do. And that is what the movement is about. It is about showing and improving what the bad police are doing and bringing light to that to get those bad apples out.

When you have someone like Michael Scott, who was shot in the back, when you have people like other different cases where people have been literally executed by police, that is a problem. That is why people don't trust police. Just like in the Chicago case we just mentioned, this was not brought to light for over a year. And the city administration knew about this. This guy was shot over a dozen times, and he was not indicted. That is a problem.

LOWRY: The point about Democrats running the cities that you're upset about?

GUSTER: It's not just about Democratic Party and Republican Party. It's about quality leadership. And we have to get quality leaders in these positions.

LOWRY: Right. But, I mean, these are Democratic cities and you haven't had quality leadership in decades.

MACDONALD: And Rich, I would say it's whitewashing the Black Lives Matter movement to say that it's not demonizing the police across the board. The police are facing extraordinarily hostile, tense situations in their cities now. Every time they go to make an arrest they are cursed at, jeered out.  That is having a real effect on their morale and they're backing off.

GUSTER: That's not true.

LOWRY: We have got to leave it here.

Coming up, more "Lowry" right after the break. Stay with us.


LOWRY: Welcome back to "Lowry."

Before we go, a quick programming note. Be sure to tune in Thursday night for Fox News's "All-American New Year" coverage. The main event starts at 10:00 p.m. and is hosted by Kimberly Guilfoyle and Eric Bolling. Again, that's Thursday at 10:00. Plus, Kennedy, Jesse Watters, and Katherine Timpf kick things off starting at 9:00. Be sure to tune in.

And that's all the time we have left for this evening. Thank you for being with us. You can follow me on Twitter @RichLowry. Have a great night.

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