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Cruz: 'The Washington cartel is panicking'; Gingrich: Political outsiders represent end of an era

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 4, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome to "Hannity." Welcome to 2016. And tonight, with the Iowa caucuses only four weeks away, candidates on both sides of the aisle are pounding the campaign trail. Now, earlier today, Texas senator Ted Cruz officially kicked off his six-day bus tour in the Hawkeye State.  His campaign is calling it the, quote, "Cruzin' to Caucus" tour.

Joining us now, the man himself, 2016 Republican presidential hopeful Texas senator Ted Cruz. Senator, how's the tour going? Looks like you got a big crowd behind you right now.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Sean, good evening. It's great to be with you. Yes, this has been incredible. We're on the first day of a six-day barnstorming tour through the state of Iowa.  We're doing 28 counties in six days. We started in Boone County. Then we were in Carroll County. We're now here in Guthrie County.

And I got to tell you, the energy, the enthusiasm that we're seeing on the ground has been incredible. I mean, what we're seeing all across Iowa and really all across the country is we're seeing conservatives coming together, conservatives uniting. And that is tremendously encouraging because if conservatives unite, we win.

HANNITY: You are up by 9 points in the CBS poll in Iowa. You're tied in another poll with Donald Trump. How important is -- look at the polls nationally. Trump has led for a significant portion of this campaign. You have come up in the last month dramatically. How important is it that you get this win in Iowa?

CRUZ: Well, listen, what is important is that we continue to unify conservatives. You know, we're not spending a whole lot of time worrying about national polls. Historically, they've been very poor predictors of who the nominee is. You know, you look in prior elections, Rudy Giuliani led the national polls for a year. He won zero states.

What matters is who earns the votes on election day. And this election starts, as it always does, with the first four states, with Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. We are all in in all four states. We're all in in Iowa. We're all in in New Hampshire. We're all in in South Carolina. We're all in in Nevada.

Now, there are a bunch of candidates in this race that have to win Iowa, or their campaign over. There are other candidates that have to win New Hampshire, or their campaign is over. We don't view any of the early states as must-win for us, but we are competing hard to try to win every one of them, if possible.

And I believe we're going to do well in the first four states, and then 10 days after South Carolina's super Tuesday, the so-called SEC primary. It's states like Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas. I think super Tuesday's going to going to be an incredible day for us.

HANNITY: With the rise in polls comes the hundreds of thousands of dollars now that are against you in negative ads and the criticism from your opponents. Donald Trump -- not many evangelicals come from Cuba. One candidate suggested that if you are elected, that, in fact, it could lead to polygamy, trying to take away your conservative credentials. I'm not sure if you heard that.

But what is your reaction? And on the campaign trail, you're warning the people of Iowa, telling them, Hey, you're going to hear a lot of awful stuff about me.

CRUZ: Well, listen, just a few weeks ago, almost every candidate in the Republican field was attacking Donald Trump. Today, almost every candidate in the Republican field is attacking me. I guess that suggests something has changed in this race.

And I recognize that a lot of the candidates are getting very, very worried. The Washington cartel is panicking. And the reason is very simple. They're panicking because of the men and women in this room.  They're panicking because of the men and women across Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, Nevada and across the country.

The Washington cartel is panicking because conservatives are uniting.  In past elections, what Washington's tried to do is divide and splinter conservatives. And what we're seeing is conservatives are uniting.

Now, the next couple of months, we're going to see millions of dollars of false attack ads as the Washington cartel gets more and more terrified.  Our focus is going to be don't engage in the mudslinging. Don't engage in the games. Just focus on telling the truth with a smile, focusing on my positive, optimistic, conservative vision.

We can turn America around if we get back to the free market principles and constitutional liberties that built this country.

HANNITY: You know, there's even The New York Times -- interesting because they weren't attacking you early in the race, but as your poll numbers have gone up, specifically in Iowa, now they're saying that your tax plan is a radical plan because it relies a lot on a value-added tax or a national sales tax.

And I wanted to give you a chance to explain that because I don't think a lot of people understand it because most Americans have been indoctrinated into only understanding an income tax.

HANNITY: Well, sure. And you're right. From the New York Times's perspective, if you're a big government guy that wants power in Washington, then you better believe the Cruz flat tax is a radical plan from their perspective because my flat tax plan is very simple. For a typical family of four, first $36,000 in income, you pay nothing, zero, nada. Above $36,000, you pay a simple flat tax of 10 percent. That means every American -- we can fill out our taxes on a postcard and we can abolish the IRS.

Now, on the business side, we eliminate the corporate income tax. We eliminate the payroll tax. We eliminate the death tax, which hammers farmers and ranchers and small businesses. And we eliminate the "Obama care" tax. And we replace them with a simple 16 percent business flat tax.

That will produce incredible economic growth and jobs. It will raise wages. It will raise after-tax income for Americans of every income level.  And for folks who want to learn more about the details of the Cruz simple flat tax, you can read the full white paper, you can look at the numbers, you can see the details at -- Go, read about the tax plan, sign up, volunteer, contribute. Our focus is on empowering and energizing the grass roots.

And let me mention one other thing, Sean, about The New York Times.  You know, a number of weeks ago, a New York Times columnist wrote a column saying, Anybody but Cruz. And the columnist said, Please, you can vote for any other Republican, anyone, but Cruz terrifies us.

And listen, if you're a big government New York Times kind of guy, that's right. But my response when the New York Times ran that attack column, I simply said, Thank you for the endorsement because the American people are tired of the failed big government policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and the New York Times, and we need to bring power back to the people.

HANNITY: It is interesting to...


HANNITY: I can hear you're getting a good response. It is interesting, though, to watch the media coverage. For example, you made a pretty good joke on the campaign trail when they brought up the issue of gay marriage. And you said -- no, you said all throughout that this is something you believe should be handled in the states, but the way it was - - you know, Politico's tried to portray it is they have a secret tape, but it's exactly what you said on Jay Leno and on the Colbert show. So it wasn't any different. What was so secret about it?

CRUZ: Well, look, it's the media playing mischief and it's other campaigns who are panicking. And so they had this secretly recorded tape of me at a fund-raiser saying, as you noted, word for word what I've said publicly many, many times, which is that -- the question was asked if my top priority would be going after gay marriage. I said, My top priority is defending the Constitution.

And what was striking is that was word for word what I said on Stephen Colbert. And I observed, Look, I know that there are not that many viewers watching Colbert, but if this is some secret plan, saying it on national television is an awfully strange strategy for rolling out a secret plan.


CRUZ: When it comes to marriage, I've been proud to defend marriage.  When it comes to life, I've been proud to defend life. When it comes to religious liberty, no one has fought harder. And that's why we've seen conservatives like Steve King, like Bob Vander Plaats, like Dr. James Dobson all coming together and saying Ted is the strongest defender of life, of marriage, of religious liberty and the Constitution in the race.  That's why conservatives are uniting behind me.

HANNITY: The issue of immigration is so key this year, and both Marco Rubio and Donald Trump have gone after you. Trump said you copied his immigration plan. You had that battle in the last debate with Marco Rubio.  And your statement was, I oppose legalization today, tomorrow and forever, meaning what, that we build a fence, that we secure the border. What happens to the 11 million people that are here illegally?

CRUZ: We enforce the law. Existing law provides that if we apprehend someone here illegally, we deport them. That's what existing law is. And we have a president, Barack Obama, who refuses to follow the law.

I've spent my whole life fighting to defend the rule of law, fighting to defend the Constitution. When it comes to immigration, 2013 was really, as Reagan would say, a time for choosing. It's when a line was drawn in the sand.

On one side, you had Barack Obama and you had Chuck Schumer and you had a whole lot of establishment Republicans in Washington lining up behind a massive amnesty plan. On the other side of the line were people like Steve Sessions (sic), were people like Iowa's own Steve King. And I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King, and we led the fight to defeat the "gang of eight" amnesty plan, to preserve the rule of law and to fight to secure our borders.

And you know, it's interesting. A lot of presidential candidates suddenly have discovered illegal immigration is an issue. I'll point out, Sean -- you remember that 2013 fight. You were standing there, leading the fight. Mark Levin was leading the fight. Rush was leading the fight.

You look at the men and women standing on that debate stage in 2013, when Obama was on the verge of getting his amnesty win, most of the other men and women on that debate stage were nowhere to be found.


CRUZ: And you know, the scriptures give us a good guide for telling what people really believe. The scriptures say, You shall know them by their fruits. If someone claims to be really strong on illegal immigration, my question is, where were you in the "gang of eight"? Did you stand and fight with the American people, or were you somewhere else doing something else?

HANNITY: Last question. Politics can be ugly. The Washington Post cartoon going after your daughters was one of the ugliest things I've seen in this campaign cycle. Did you get the proper apology? And where do you stand with them?

CRUZ: Well, look, no, the Post hasn't apologized, you're right. They had a cartoonist who did a cartoon making fun of my two little girls.  Caroline is...


HANNITY: Attacking 7 and 5-year-old girls, that's disgusting.

CRUZ: Yes.

HANNITY:  That's despicable.

CRUZ: It really was. And I'll tell you, it wasn't fun over Christmas sitting down with my daughters and explaining to them that they had been drawn in a newspaper as dancing monkeys. And you know, all of us were taught when we were in kindergarten don't pick on 5-year-old little girls, and yet somehow, The Washington Post can't figure that out.

You know what it did, Sean? It revealed their true colors...

HANNITY: That's a good point.

CRUZ: ... which is they're willing even to attack children because they hate conservatives so much. I was glad The Post pulled the cartoon.  It was the right thing to do. But we ought to follow a simple rule. Leave the kids out of it. Don't pick on my kids, don't pick on Marco's kids, don't pick on Hillary's daughter or her grandchildren. Leave our kids out of it. Focus on the candidates.

HANNITY: One of the things I've always said about Barack Obama, he seems to be a good father, and his daughters seem lovely. I think that is the lowest of low.

Thanks for being with us, Senator. Have fun in Iowa. We'll catch up with you on the campaign trail. Thank you.

CRUZ: Great. Thank you, Sean. God bless.

HANNITY: And coming up -- is going after Bill Clinton fair game?  That's later tonight. But first...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism.  That's why he's calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until we can figure out what's going on.


HANNITY: Donald Trump releases his first television ad. Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich -- he's here with reaction. That's coming up next.

And later -- President Obama plans to go around Congress once again and use executive actions to restrict your 2nd Amendment rights. All of that and more tonight on "Hannity."



HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Trump has released his first television ad. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The politicians can pretend it's something else, but Donald Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism. That's why he's calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until we can figure out what's going on. He'll quickly cut the head off ISIS and take their oil. And he'll stop illegal immigration by building a wall on the southern border that Mexico will pay for.

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will make America great again!


HANNITY: All right, joining us now with reaction, the author of the best-selling novel "Duplicity," former speaker of the House, FOX News contributor, our friend Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, good to see you.

NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's good to be with you. And by the way, I thought that was a terrific interview that you just did with Ted Cruz. I mean, I don't know how he could have performed much more effectively or much better than he did. It tells you a little bit about why he's one of the real competitors in this race.

HANNITY: It really seems -- look, I'm looking at every poll that's available here. And if you look at national polls, you look at Iowa caucus polls, New Hampshire polls, it's Trump and Cruz. Do they go all the way?  Do you think, for example -- does Trump get more votes, maybe more -- he has more support than the polls show or less support? People may get a little, well, shy at the end and maybe back off at the end, or do you think these numbers are real for both of them?

GINGRICH: Well, I think the numbers are real for both of them. I think it's a very dynamic environment. I remember a point where I was 17 points ahead of Mitt Romney, for example. I remember when Hillary was, I think, 23 points ahead of Barack Obama. So these things come and go.

In a primary, people don't have a loyalty to a party to hold them to a candidate, so they can move pretty fast back and forth. And I think Howard Dean, for example, might have won Iowa in 1984 -- I mean, in 2004, if the election had been four days or five days earlier.

People can suddenly decide to start moving. But you have to say both Cruz and Trump have been doing remarkably well, Cruz coming up steadily, Trump having been dominant now for six months since he announced on June 16th.

And I keep watching all those folks who say, yes, but it's -- you know, it's all going to change. And I'm kind of curious why they think it's going to change. We've never seen, Sean, an election where 24 million people look at a debate over a year before the general election.

HANNITY: It's unbelievable.

GINGRICH: The level of interest is astonishing.

HANNITY: I can tell you from my perspective as a conservative -- I would count myself, although I'm a registered conservative, among the 60 percent of Republicans that feel betrayed by their party in Washington.  And I had a lot of conversations when I was on vacation with people, and the only conclusion I can give you is establishment Republicans -- and we know what that means -- hate Trump. They hate Cruz. You know, and their argument is, Oh, they can't win.

My argument back is if your candidate that you're backing can't beat them, what makes you think they can beat Hillary?


GINGRICH: That's right.

HANNITY: How do you explain this vitriol, this emotional hatred?

GINGRICH: Well, I mean, you put your finger on it. Look, these guys represent the end of an era. They are the first two genuine outsiders since Reagan who have the power and the ability to really put this thing together.

Then again, let me be clear to our viewers. This is not a done deal.  Nobody knows today who the nominee is going to be next spring. But you have to say that about 60 or 65 percent of the Republican voters are picking either Trump, Cruz, Carson or Fiorina.

Now, that's two out of every three Republican voters are saying, Don't tell me you have a lot of experience because I think the experience is actually a handicap, not an asset. That is astonishing.

HANNITY: The argument I keep hearing from these establishment guys -- and I talked to a lot of people over vacation -- they can't win the general election. Do you buy that notion?

GINGRICH: No. First of all, look at the polling numbers. Everybody is either beating Hillary or losing to Hillary by 2, 3, 4 points. And Hillary's just going to get worse.

I mean, just look at the e-mails that were -- and by the way, I think this is a disgusting comment on the American government today, that they would deliberately dump 1,000 e-mails on New Year's Eve. And it's an absurdity, deliberate effort, and by the way, doesn't work because the news media looks at them.

The number of cases we're now discovering where Hillary Clinton clearly used the State Department on behalf of donors or people who were hiring her husband -- all this stuff's just going to keep getting worse. I think Hillary will get beaten by the Republican nominee. And I think either Cruz or Trump brings a lot to the ticket.

But candidly, Rubio brings a lot to the ticket. Kasich brings a lot to the ticket. Chris Christie could bring a lot to the ticket. This is still -- and Jeb Bush, who I think has had the hardest year -- these are all talented people. And I think when you got to a general election and the choice is clear that any one of them could take it to Hillary.

But probably, the person with the most dynamic is Trump because he attracts ranges of people if you look at the size of his crowds.

HANNITY: You think he can win New York?

GINGRICH: I doubt it, but I think -- I just saw a study the other day that his best state is West Virginia. His second best state...


GINGRICH: ... congressional districts are upstate New York. So I think, in the primary, he probably will win New York.

HANNITY: Yes. What do you -- what advice -- here it is 28 days.  You've been through the process and you've been through a lot of elections.  Why are you laughing?


GINGRICH: Look, this is the kind of year, Sean -- you know this. You and I talk about it privately. This is the kind of year when who knows? I mean...


HANNITY: I don't even have to finish the question!


HANNITY: What advice would you give any of these candidates at this late hour heading into Iowa? Look, Iowa may not be the biggest predictor of who's going to be the nominee, but it is important in terms of establishing momentum. It matters if you win. It matters if you win New Hampshire.

GINGRICH: Look, my first advice is very simple. Don't plan to sleep very much until after this is over. Get out there on the road. I like what -- what -- and again, notice the total difference in styles. I like what Cruz is doing, which is getting on a bus, going small town to small town, going to these pizza ranches. I mean, I know, having spent a lot of time in Iowa -- because you know my wife, Callista, went to school in Iowa, at Luther College. We had lots of ties in Iowa.

I know that that's a very powerful, very effective model. And last time, Rick Santorum used it to great effect. Ted Cruz is doing exactly what a traditional candidate should do, and he's doing it very well.

On the other hand, you have the Donald, whose basic theory of life is, I think I'll Twitter a little bit in the morning, call in to "Fox & Friends," and then maybe I'll go do something on Facebook, and then I'll show up to a rally that has 25,000 people, totally different styles. And we don't know...


HANNITY: ... a little easier. He has this big plane of his with his name on it.

GINGRICH: Oh, I know.


GINGRICH: You know, we spent a lot of time on small airplanes, particularly when you go to a place like Iowa, South Carolina. And Callista looks at that Trump plane pulling in, and she says, Let me tell you, he has huge advantages...

HANNITY: That's a big advantage.

GINGRICH: ... in physical health just because, you know, he's getting on his plane with his staff. It's totally comfortable.

But you have to give him credit. This is a guy who -- and by the way, I'm writing a column this week on "The Art of the Deal" because I read it over Christmas and I was -- I was astonished how much you can learn about Trump and how much it explains his approach when you read "The Art of the Deal."

HANNITY: I've read the book. The story about Lowman (ph) rink is incredible. His -- everything with him is a negotiation, him advising be willing to walk away from a deal up to the last second, all good advice.

all right, Newt Gingrich, we'll be having you on weekly to talk about this. Thanks for being with us.

GINGRICH: Looking forward to it.

HANNITY: Coming up -- Donald Trump slams Hillary Clinton for her husband's past scandals. We'll check in with Michael Cohen from the Trump Organization and Leslie Marshal. They'll weigh in.

And then later tonight...


TRUMP: I don't like it. I don't like anything having to do with changing our 2nd Amendment. We have plenty of rules and regulations. There's plenty of things that they can do right now that are already there. They don't do them.


HANNITY: Trump slams Obama's plan to clamp down on your 2nd Amendment rights. We'll check in with Dana Loesch, Bo Dietl, Kirsten Powers.  They're all here to debate that on this busy news night in this new year.



TRUMP: She used the word "sexist."  I'm sexist. And she was using very sort of derogatory terms. I said, How the hell can she do that when she's got one of the great women abusers of all time sitting at her house, waiting for her to come home?


HANNITY: All right, that was Donald Trump continuing his attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton. Earlier today, after campaigning for his wife, Hillary, Bill Clinton was actually asked if he was fair game, and here's what he said.


QUESTION: Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) fair game. I've got to ask you (INAUDIBLE)



HANNITY: Here with reaction, from the Trump Organization, Michael Cohen, and radio talk show host, Fox News contributor Leslie Marshall.

Leslie, I think it's a simple question. I don't think it's complicated. If words of Donald Trump -- if Hillary's going to claim they're sexist, then certainly, accusations that are very severe by multiple women -- that should be fair game.

I don't think you'd disagree with that, would you?

LESLIE MARSHALL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No, I do disagree, and this is why.  Bill Clinton is not running for office. And if he were, then it is absolutely fair game. Donald Trump is running. Hillary is running.  Donald Trump can attack her for...

HANNITY: There's one problem, though.


MARSHALL: ... as well as she can attack him for his treatment of women.

HANNITY: But if she wants to be the champion of women's rights in America...

MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: It's amazing. Just amazing.

HANNITY: ... and she also was part of a cover-up and never spoke out, just like the Clinton Foundation took money from Saudi Arabia and these countries that have abysmal human rights records on women -- I think that is legitimate. Michael Cohen.

COHEN: But Sean, how could you not think she was going to say that answer? Of course it's not a problem because Bill should be off limits.  Why? Because it affects Hillary Clinton.


COHEN: The bottom line is, he is -- he is fair game. They have called Donald Trump every nasty name in the book. And as you know, Donald Trump takes it and he takes it -- when you give it to him, he gives it back to you a hundred times worse. And the same's going to happen for the Clintons.

She is what they would call in -- you know, in law, she's an enabler.  She's an accessory to the -- to after the fact. She's involved in the cover-ups that took place when the smears...


HANNITY: ... campaigns.

COHEN: ... the smear -- the besmirching of these women who fell prey to President Clinton at the time. But this is all like Tuesday tabloid information. The real issue here is, who's best to lead the country for the next four or eight years?

HANNITY: But it's bigger than that because every campaign -- this is what the Democratic playbook is. Republicans are racist. Republicans are sexist. Poor Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is the most decent guy you'll ever meet.

COHEN: Sean, I'm a Democrat.

HANNITY: In 20...

COHEN: I'm a registered Democrat. You know that.

HANNITY: I feel sorry for you.

COHEN: I don't feel that -- well, thank you.



HANNITY: In 2012 Mitt Romney was accused of a war on women for having women's resumes in a binder.

COHEN: And they tried to do the same thing to Donald Trump and we actually talked about it, and I spoke about it on many different programs.  Donald Trump is not a misogynist. When it wasn't chic to have a woman build a high-rise, a skyscraper, Donald Trump was the first. He pays women as much if not more than men in similarly situated positions.

HANNITY: In your case you get paid --

COHEN: Much less. But that's beside the point. I don't deserve it.  Let's be honest. What does this country need? We need a dealmaker. And Donald Trump is a natural dealmaker. I have been in the office and in rooms with Mr. Trump when we're negotiating deals that, in all fairness, no one could get.

HANNITY: Let me ask Leslie --

COHEN: You know what, Sean, before you jump Leslie in.

MARSHALL: Well, thank you.

COHEN: We get these deals done.

HANNITY: Let me ask Leslie this question. Let's go back to Mitt Romney because, you know what, the Democrats do play this card. Hillary Clinton did try to act like she was a victim because of words of Donald Trump. You know, will you at least agree in retrospect that, quote, "the war on women," Mitt Romney, the fact that Mitt Romney had a binder of resumes of women who he wanted to hire, that that was not sexist, that that was an unfair charge leveled against him by your party, by your fellow liberal Democrats?

MARSHALL: I think that -- hey, hey, hey. There is a woman here.

COHEN: Hi, how are you?

MARSHALL: I think that --

HANNITY: Was it unfair?

MARSHALL: Whether it is -- was Swift boat unfair to John Kerry?

HANNITY: No, it was actually accurate, because of the men that served with him.

MARSHALL: When it is an election year, there's mudslinging.

HANNITY: But I asked you a specific question.

MARSHALL: -- on the left and the right.

HANNITY: Was it fair to say this was a war on women because he has resumes of women --

MARSHALL: No, I don't -- I don't think it was unfair.

   And I also think speaking to Donald Trump and all of his hiring of women, Bill Clinton appointed the first female secretary of state. Bill Clinton appointed one of our still sitting Supreme Court judges.

HANNITY: That doesn't take away any of the assaults that he might have been involved in, does it?

MARSHALL: But he's still not running. He's still not running.

HANNITY: I guess you could argue that Bill Cosby probably helped women in their careers.

COHEN: I'm sure he did. One had a pill that knocked them out, the other had the power.

HANNITY: Scary. It really is. Those charges are very severe.

   COHEN: Yes.        

HANNITY: All right, guys, good to see you, thank you.

Coming up here tonight right here on "Hannity" --


TRUMP: I don't like it. I don't like anything having to do with changing our Second Amendment. We have plenty of rules and regulations. There's plenty of things that they can do right now that are already there. They don't do them.


HANNITY: Donald Trump slams Obama's plans to limit your Second Amendment rights. Dana Loesch, Bo Dietl, Kirsten Powers will debate the president's proposal. And then later tonight --


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Show time is over, everybody. We are not electing an entertainer in chief. Showmanship is fun, but it's not the kind of leadership that will truly change America.


HANNITY: Governor Christie, he is now taking shots at his 2016 rivals. And was he specifically calling out Donald Trump there? We'll check with Charles Hurt, Monica Crowley. They'll weigh in on that and much more as "Hannity" continues.        


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." This week President Obama will announce executive actions that he intends to use to enforce his radical anti-gun agenda. Earlier today while meeting in the Oval Office with the attorney general, the FBI director, and others, the president said this.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have just received back a report from Attorney General Lynch, Director Comey, as well as Deputy Director Brandon about some of the ideas and initiatives that they think can make a difference. And the good news is that these are not only recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch, but they're also ones that the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners, support and believe in. The recommendations that are being made by my team here are ones that are entirely consistent with the Second Amendment and people's lawful right to bear arms.


HANNITY: And later in the week, the president will hold a town hall to talk about his gun control push. Here with reaction, the host of "Dana" on "The Blaze," Dana Loesch is back with us, Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, former NYPD detective Bo Dietl. Kirsten, I'll start with you because you're on the other side of the aisle, but I consider you fairly intellectually honest.


HANNITY: You are. You are actually very honest.

POWERS: Thank you.

HANNITY: Here's the problem. When you go back we have coequal branches of government. We have separation of powers. We have a president that said 25 times he did not have the authority to do what he later did on immigration. He did it anyway. He didn't respect the rule of law. Now we can't get done legislatively what he wants to get done with guns. He's going to use executive actions. I would think that you would want him to go through congress, go through the process, respect other branches of government. True or false?

POWERS: Well, yes, except for the fact that the idea that he's going to somehow go through Congress and get anything -- that anything's going to happen on gun control is absurd.

HANNITY: But that doesn't give him the right to just write laws himself, does it?

POWERS: Let's just back up, though. The president does have the right to do executive actions in some circumstances, so let's not suggest that he never has the ability, the legal authority to do these kinds of things. I think the issue specifically with the gun issue is that you don't like what he's doing. Even if -- the idea that if somehow there's a Democratic Congress and he did this with a Democratic Congress that you would be supporting it? I don't think so, Sean.

HANNITY: What do you think, Dana?

DANA LOESCH, HOST OF "DANA" ON "THE BLAZE": Well, Sean, I find his whole stance to be entirely inconsistent. It's really hard to take seriously a president who has all this rhetoric about gun control when just this past November, this administration, the Department of Justice, and the prison bureau decided to go ahead with its early release program of thousands of felons, many of whom were violent, some of whom had also additional firearms charges convictions for this. These are repeat offenders. And this is the biggest driver of gun homicides. You have repeat offenders. You have gang violence. So it seems inconsistent to me.  I can't take it seriously.


BO DIETL, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: You're right on with that. And he's such a hypocrite in the sense of what's gone on in Chicago with the illegal guns on the street. Why doesn't he do executive orders about the shooting of our young kids, our young minorities and all these Democratic controlled -- the best gun laws in the country are in all these cities and there are all the illegal guns are out there. Make an executive order there to enhance and get those guns off the street. That's what he should be doing, because we know the safest towns like in Texas, there are towns in Texas where people can carry a gun. Crime is down to nothing. And America, first of all, I think it's 109 out of 230 countries around the world as far as gun violence goes. We're not at the top the way people really want to believe.

HANNITY: Let me ask this, Kirsten, because Josh Earnest was asked this before the New Year. And it's really simple. Anything that the president talked about, people on no-fly lists not having the right to buy gun. Can you name one recent example of a shooting where anything that the president proposed would have saved lives? Because I can't, and neither could they.

POWERS: No. I don't think we can, but that doesn't mean that we don't need to do these things. That doesn't mean --

HANNITY: But he's using that --

POWERS: Expanded background checks is something that the majority of the country overwhelmingly supports.

HANNITY: We have them.  

POWERS: So I don't think that means he shouldn't do that. And that is really fundamentally the core of what he's going to do, and it's not outside of the normal -- but let me just ask you. I'm just interested with you guys. You're all conservatives, I guess?

DIETL: No, no. I'm an independent. But perfect example --

POWERS: Hold on. Let me finish. Is there anything that needs to be done to deal with gun violence in this country? You just said there was no problem.

DIETL: You know what has to be done? Let him make an executive order to put more people on the streets in Chicago, in Baltimore, in Washington, D.C., cities where our youth is being killed out there. Let him do an executive order --


HANNITY: Hang on. Let's go one at a time.

DIETL: You're Obamacare is going to be wiped out within the next year. This is a perfect example of this president going awry.


LOESCH: We have the expanded background checks in California. We had the expanded background checks in Colorado. We had the so called expanded background checks in Oregon as well. We had all of these in these areas, and in Connecticut as well, so that's already failed.

But the biggest driver, in fact the biggest thing that you could do to change this first off is let's reform the justice system. Let's stop reducing sentences. Myers should have been in jail. His life would have been saved if we have not reduced his bail and he been out on just $1,000.

HANNITY: Listen, if I was in a situation like those poor people in San Bernardino, I would want Bo Dietl in that room that had a weapon, could have save some lives. All right, thank you all for being with us.

Coming up next tonight right here on "Hannity" --


CHRISTIE: Showtime is over, everybody. We are not electing an entertainer in chief. Showmanship is fun, but it's not the kind of leadership that will truly change America.


HANNITY: That's New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lashing out at his Republican rivals. Was he talking about Trump there? Is this a smart strategy? Charles Hurt and Monica Crowley weigh in next.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." So as the Iowa caucuses near, 2016 presidential hopefuls are ramping up their campaigns and the rhetoric. In a speech today in New Hampshire, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he went after his Republican rivals. Take a look.


CHRISTIE: As voters become more frustrated, angry voices begin to sound more reasonable. But it is not enough to express anger. We must elect someone who knows how we get things done.

Show time is over, everybody. We are not electing an entertainer in chief. Showmanship is fun, but it's not the kind of leadership that will truly change America. And bluster is not the leadership we crave. Talking a big game and either not showing up or not knowing how isn't what we desperately need today. We need someone who knows how to make decisions and how to make them work for our government and our citizens.


HANNITY: Here now with analysis from The Washington Times Charles Hurt, and Fox News contributor Monica Crowley. You know, there is something very interesting. If you look nationally, you've got the polls.  You've got Donald Trump, he's in the lead. Ted Cruz, he's in second.  Marco tends to come in third. We have got a fight in Iowa between Trump and Cruz. Looks like Cruz is winning that battle as of now. But in New Hampshire, things are opening up, Monica. Chris Christie has been living there. Does he win? Does he do well enough to continue?

MONICA CROWLEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's going to be interesting because he has certainly gained some serious traction in the state of New Hampshire where he's putting most of his eggs if not all of his eggs into that basket.

What's interesting there is he's critical of what he calls bluster, which I find ironic given that Governor Christie has built a big part of his political career on bluster.        

But in that particular quote he hit obliquely, he hit Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. And of course he would attack them because they're running ahead of him, particularly in the state of New Hampshire. What is interesting about Chris Christie is that he has now through default but also through a well-run campaign become sort of the establishment choice now that Jeb Bush has faded.

HANNITY: It seems that the establishment now, saying Jeb is not where we want him. We have to take a look at Marco Rubio.

CROWLEY: I think they're split between Marco and between Governor Christie. But Christie has to win, place, or show in New Hampshire or it's over.

HANNITY: All right, what's your take on it Charles. One thing I was asking Newt Gingrich earlier, they hate Cruz. The establishment hates Trump. Their argument is they can't win a general election. I don't buy that argument.

CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON TIMES: And it's kind of tough for the establishment types when you're top two contenders are completely unacceptable to that, you know, it's one thing to have just the frontrunner, but when the top two, that eats up a good 50 percent of the electorate right there. Chris Christie's problem is that New Hampshire is his kind of high point, I think, for him. He may end up doing very well.  He is still --

HANNITY: He's 11 in one poll. He's 12 in another poll in New Hampshire only, so he has really put all his eggs in that basket.

HURT: Yes. And after that, it gets very tough for him. When you get to South Carolina, Florida, and across much of the rest of the country, he's still battling with the margin of error at three percent or even lower in places.

HANNITY: Do either of you think that anyone can come up against Cruz and Trump? What do you think, Monica?

CROWLEY: Well, I think the final four will be Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Chris Christie. You have two tiers right now, and we will have to see how it shakes out. It might be if Donald Trump somehow implodes, if Cruz and Rubio end up neutralizing each other, there might be a place right up the middle for Chris Christie to come in.

HANNITY: What do you think, Charles?

HURT: The problem for Chris Christie is the excerpt from that speech you just played. He can't just talk about his rivals without naming them.  He's a big boy. If he wants to go after Donald Trump, he needs to go after Donald Trump. And of course as of yet nobody has been able to go after Donald Trump who didn't see their numbers sink in the polls like a rock.

HANNITY: All right, guys, we've got to break. Good to see you both.  Happy New Year.

When we come back, our "Ask Sean" segment is next. And we need your help. An important "Question of the Day" is about Iowa, straight ahead.          


HANNITY: Time for our "Question of the Day." Who do you think, we're 28 days away, is going to win the Iowa caucuses? Go to, on Twitter @SeanHannity, let us know what you think.

It's time now for our "Ask Sean" segment. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Sean, it's Nicki (ph). And I was just wondering, what do you think the biggest challenge is that Republicans face? And how do they overcome it to win the White House in 2016?


HANNITY: I think that's a great question, Nicki (ph). One of the things they have is a perception problem, and that is that so many people feel betrayed that they didn't keep promises that they made in 2010 and 2014. So the best thing they've got to do is regain people's trust, layout a positive agenda that will solve America's problems, restore America's standing in the world, and then get it done. I think that's a big problem.       

Quick programming note, be sure to tune in tomorrow night, 10:00 eastern, Republican presidential candidate frontrunner Donald Trump will be joining us again tomorrow at 10:00.        

That's all the time we have left. Thanks for being with us. See you back here tomorrow night, and happy New Year.

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