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Hannity

Ted Cruz: Voters could not care less about my birthplace

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 15, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST (voice-over): Tonight -- it was a showdown in South Carolina.

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You become the nominee, who the hell knows if you can even serve in office?

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm happy to consider naming you as VP. And so if you happen to be right, you could get the top job at the end of the day.

HANNITY: Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump clashed at last night's GOP debate. We have reaction from both the 2016 candidates.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This was a question on entitlements.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: And the reason -- and the reason -- no, you already had your chance, Marco. You blew it.

HANNITY: Then former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will weigh in on the biggest debate moments.

CARLY FIORINA, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband.

HANNITY: And Carly Fiorina did not hold back on her attacks on Hillary Clinton! She's here tonight with more.

"Hannity" starts right here, right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And welcome to "Hannity." And tonight, we're just 17 days away from the Iowa caucuses, and as we saw last night on the debate stage, this campaign is heating up. Now, Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump had many memorable moments, including this exchange. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: You know, back in September, my friend Donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way, and there was no issue there. There was nothing to this birther issue.

(LAUGHTER)

CRUZ: Now since September, the Constitution hasn't changed.

(LAUGHTER)

CRUZ: But the poll numbers have.

TRUMP: In Iowa now, as you know, Ted, in the last three polls, I'm beating you. So you know, you shouldn't misrepresent how well you're doing with the polls.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: You don't have to say that.

Here's the problem. We're running. We're running. He does great. I win.
I choose him as my vice presidential candidate, and the Democrats sue because we can't take him along for the ride. I don't like that.

So you should go out, get a declaratory judgment, let the courts decide, and...

(CROSSTALK)

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX BUSINESS: But why now? Why are you raising this issue now?

TRUMP: Because now he's doing a little bit better. No, I didn't care if...

CRUZ: I've spent my entire life defending the Constitution before the U.S.
Supreme Court, and I'll tell you, I'm not going to be taking legal advice from Donald Trump.

You very kindly just a moment ago offered me the VP slot.

(LAUGHTER)

CRUZ: I'll tell you what. If this all works out, I'm happy to consider naming you as VP. And so if you happen to be right, you could get the top job at the end of the day.

TRUMP: No. No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: All right, here now with reaction is 2016 Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz. Senator, what a night. You know, of all the debates, I thought last night was the best so far. How did you feel about it?

CRUZ: Sean, thank you. It's great to be with you.

I thought last night was terrific. I think we had some clear contrasts, some -- I think last night helped the voters continue making the decisions they're making right now, which really, the most important decision is who's best prepared to be commander-in-chief. That I think dwarfs every other question in this race.

And I think the voters are looking at the individuals on that stage and assessing who has the knowledge, who has the experience, who has the judgment, who has the clarity of vision, who has the strength of resolve to keep this country safe.

And that -- I think the reason that our campaign is surging, that we're seeing conservatives uniting behind our campaign is more and more people are coming to the conclusion that I'm best prepared to keep America safe, particularly when we began yesterday by seeing in the newspapers pictures of 10 American sailors on their knees with their hands over their head. I mean, it was horrifying.

And it is -- it encapsulates the weakness and ineptitude of the Obama- Clinton foreign policy. People are fed up with it, and they want a strong president, not someone who will be cowed by the Ayatollah Khamenei.

HANNITY: I want to go back to that. Let me give you, though, a chance to follow up on this issue of eligibility. I agree with you. I've looked at the law and looked at the constitution. I've looked at subsequent provisions within the law that actually state your exact situation, that if you have a mother that is a citizen and a father who has been here for a certain amount of time -- and it goes into all the details.

Do you think this is an obfuscation? Why do you think Mr. Trump is bringing this up?

TRUMP: Well, the legal issue is straightforward. It has been true from the very first days of our nation that the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a citizen by birth. That is why when our soldiers are serving overseas and they have children overseas, their children are natural-born citizens.

That's why John McCain, even though he was born in Panama, was eligible to run for president. It's why American missionaries, when they're spreading the gospel, when they're traveling overseas, the children of American missionaries are natural-born citizens. That's why George Romney, Mitt's dad, who ran in 1968, was eligible to run for president, even though he'd been born in Mexico to Mormon missionary parents.

And so the legal issue is clear-cut. It is straightforward. But it's not complicated why Donald is raising this. He's raising it because his poll numbers are falling. And at the end of the day, it is a distraction from the substance. It is not a consequential legal issue.

But I'll tell you what it is. It's catnip for reporters. Reporters love to focus on it.

HANNITY: Yes.

CRUZ: The good news, Sean, in my experience, the voters could not care less. They recognize these are serious times, and we don't need sideshows.
We need a serious leader. And so I'm keeping the focus on the issues that matter to the American people.

How do we bring back jobs and growth and opportunity so young people have a future? How do we defend the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, our 2nd Amendment, our 1st Amendment, our religious liberty, and how do we keep America safe? That's my focus, and I think more and more, that is the voters' focus, even if the mainstream media reporters can't figure that out.

HANNITY: Let me go back to the issue -- and you were very passionate last night in your opening talking about these 10 sailors. And you're right, it broke my heart, as well, to see them with their hands up, with their hands behind their back and their head.

How would you have handled that? And do you see the connection? Because this is the week that we begin the implementation of what is a horrible deal transferring $150 billion to the Iranian mullahs. And do you think it's connected?

CRUZ: It's absolutely connected. And this is a result -- every bad actor on earth has taken the measure of Barack Obama, and they've determined he's not a credible threat. He will not stand up for America, and he can be bowled over.

I think the next year is going to be unbelievably dangerous because every bad actor, whether Ayatollah Khamenei, whether Putin in Russia, whether China, whether North Korea, they are going to do -- the only limits on the bad conduct they do is the limits of their own strength.

I mean, it is a Hobbsian state of nature. It's like "Lord of the Flies,"
and it is going to be a dangerous year because when the American president is a laughingstock -- we've seen that once before with Jimmy Carter. And it is not good for America. It is not good for the world.

Now, here's the silver lining, Sean. That can change overnight. It's worth remembering this same nation, Iran, in 1981 released our hostages the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office. That's the difference a strong commander-in-chief makes.

And so if I were president, I do not believe Khamenei would have dared seized these ships. And if he had, number one, he wouldn't be getting $150 billion, he would be getting zero. But number two, any dictator that attempts to capture U.S. soldiers will face the full force and fury of the United States of America.

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: And we will not have any servicemen and women on their knees, if I'm elected president! That is not going to happen.

HANNITY: What should the reaction be at this point? Because I agree with you. A message, I think, needs to be sent. I think the president should have immediately -- I don't know why he made the deal in the first place, but he should have at least temporarily stopped the deal, demanded the immediate release. And then John Kerry goes out and says, Oh, thank you so much for returning our sailors. I felt embarrassed listening to this!

CRUZ: Look, it is -- unfortunately, this is an administration that does not defend America. It is painful to watch, but it's also why people are so frustrated.

Listen, following Paris and San Bernardino, the president gives this nationally televised address where he doesn't even say "radical Islamic terrorism." Instead, he goes into this impassioned attack on Islamophobia.
I mean, for Pete's sake how about focusing on keeping America safe? He says the answer is to take away our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

I think people are so frustrated! What is wrong when the president of the United States can't even see these people are our enemies, they have declared war on us, and they want to kill us? And President Obama is an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism. He gives rationalizations and justifications.

You know, John Kerry said the Islamic attack on Charlie Hebdo -- that was understandable. He rationalized it. This is looney tunes, and it's why, Sean, people are waking up in such incredible numbers.

You know, every event we do all over the country, whether Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, anywhere, just about every single event, people come up to me and say, I'm a Democrat. I voted for Barack Obama. I'm a union member. I'm with you. Every single event.

And it's just like in 1980. Reagan Democrats -- they were all FDR Democrats, and they were fed up with Jimmy Carter's weakness and groveling and appeasement to Iran and to our enemies, and they came over. The same thing is happening. It's why we're going to win, and 2016 I believe will be an election like 1980.

HANNITY: Because you now have had a lead in Iowa. You have challenged Donald Trump, where no other candidate has challenged him. We're 17 days away. How important is Iowa for you moving forward. And more importantly, looking out, if you were to become the nominee for the Republican Party, tell me some states that you think might be in play that perhaps in recent presidential election years have not been in play for Republicans.

CRUZ: Right. Well, listen, Iowa is very important, but we don't view any state as a must-win. I believe we'll do well in Iowa. I hope we'll do well and I believe we'll do well in New Hampshire. I believe we'll do well in South Carolina. But we don't view any of those early states as must- wins.

We're running a national campaign. We're all-in in Iowa, all-in in New Hampshire, all-in in South Carolina, all-in in Nevada. And then 10 days after South Carolina is super-Tuesday, the so-called SEC primary, states like Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas.

Those are conservative states. They are military veterans, gun owners.
They fear God. They love this country. And they're fed up with what Obama is doing. I think super-Tuesday is going to be an amazing day for us.

And so we're competing hard to win every one of the early states, but unlike a lot of the candidates on that stage, we don't view any of the states as a must-win. And we have put together a national campaign based on the grass roots.

Now, you asked about the general. Our base is the conservatives who've been staying home, the millions of evangelicals who've been staying home.
It's millions of young people who are fed up with seven years of Obama stagnation and the assault on their rights.

And then it is the Reagan Democrats. I think the single strongest part of our base are the working men and women, the union members, the truck drivers, the mechanics and electricians, the Ohio steel workers and the Michigan auto workers.

And so states that I think we will compete very well in, that the previous Republicans haven't, include states like Ohio, but also Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia. All of these are states where you've got working men and women who are getting hammered by the Obama economy, and they're fed up with what's going on.

And I think we -- we will see an election in 2016 -- in 1980, The New York Times said -- two weeks before the election, The New York Times had banner headline, President Carter will be reelected by double digits. The media never saw it coming.

HANNITY: It didn't happen.

CRUZ: And yet Reagan won an incredible victory because working men and women said, This is nuts and we want America back. I think the same thing is going to happen. I believe we will win by painting in bold colors, not pale pastels, and that's the coalition we're seeing.

HANNITY: And is Trump on your short list for VP if you win the nomination?

(LAUGHTER)

CRUZ: Well, look...

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: I think the world of Donald. I will say I am so grateful Donald is in this race because number one, he's energized a lot of people. He's gotten people to pay attention, which is very important because there are millions of people who have watched these debates who never would have seen it if Donald wasn't there, but who came away supporting us and hearing my positive, optimistic, conservative message.

But number two, what Donald has really done is framed the central question of this primary as who will stand up to Washington. Now, if that's the central question, the natural followup is, OK, who has stood up to Washington? Who's taken on not just Democrats, but leaders in our own party?

And if that's the central question, we win because my record is materially different than everyone else on that stage. When millions of Americans rose up against the disaster that was "Obama care," I was proud to lead that fight. None of the other candidates on that stage were anywhere to be found.

When millions of Americans rose up against President Obama's amnesty plan, the "gang of eight," I was proud to lead that fight, standing with the Americans. Nobody on that stage, including people who talk about immigration as candidates -- nobody on that stage was anywhere to be found standing with the American people.

And I think voters...

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: ... the scriptures say -- yes -- You shall know them by their fruits. I think that's what the voters understand.

HANNITY: OK. We've got to take a break, and we'll have more with Senator Ted Cruz after the break.

Then later on tonight, Donald Trump on his strong debate performance.
Plus, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is here to weigh in on the Republican showdown in South Carolina.

And then later tonight...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Carly Fiorina unleashed an attack on Hillary Clinton last night.
She'll join us and we'll talk about that more straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage, focused around money and the media. And I guess I can frame it another way. Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I'm just saying.

TRUMP: So conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan, including William F. Buckley and others, just so you understand.

New York is a great place. It's got great people. It's got loving people, wonderful people. When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York.

And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers.

And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: All right, that was another fiery exchange between Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump at last night's GOP debate in South Carolina.

Back with us, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz.

You know, Senator, this is interesting from my perspective because Andrew Cuomo, the governor, once said if you're pro-life, if you're pro-2nd Amendment, we don't want you in New York.

And I made a big deal about it. And I had all these governors, including the Texas governor at the time, Rick Perry, inviting me to become a Texas resident, Rick Scott in Florida inviting me to be a Floridian, and the North Carolina governor. There are different values.

Do you know that -- and I want to ask you about this because The New York Daily News was not kind to you today. It said, "Drop dead, Ted," which, by the way, is a typical New York headline. And -- but if you live in New York versus where you live in Texas, you pay 14 percent more in income tax between state and city tax, almost 14 percent more.

CRUZ: Yes. Yes.

HANNITY: I mean -- and it is an 8 to 1 differentiation in terms of registration, Democrat to Republican. What did you think of that exchange?
I don't think you're going to be getting a lot of New York liberals voting for you.

CRUZ: Well, that's probably a fair assessment. Listen, everyone knows what New York values are. As you've noted, we've tried to woo you to come down to Texas because the New York politicians are doing everything they can to chase you out of there.

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: Of course, we all honor and revere the first responders, the police officers and firemen who rushed into the twin towers. I have been standing and fighting for the cops and law enforcement and the incredible heroes every day of the campaign. And Donald knows that.

He also knows that the origin of why I said that was that he did a long interview with Tim Russert, where he explained where he found his political views and values, and he said they all came from New York.

So he told Tim Russert he was very, very pro-choice, he supported partial- birth abortion, he was open to gay marriage. And all of that, he said -- he said, You've got to understand, I'm from New York. Those aren't Iowa values. And this is Donald speaking. He said, That's what New Yorkers believe, and that's why I believe it.

HANNITY: Let me ask you...

CRUZ: So Donald used that as an explanation for his own views. And you know what? He's right. Those aren't Iowa values. They're not South Carolina values. They're not even New Hampshire values.

And if you look at the media elite, if you look at the elite in New York, who try to set the stage -- and New York Daily News is a great example, where -- you know, they ran another front page blasting me because I was lifting up the victims of violence in prayer, and they find prayer offensive. And that's what people understand when you talk about that.

You know, I'm reminded of the old Pace (ph) Pitani (ph) commercial, where they're sitting around, looking at the Pitani sauce, and they say, Where was this made? New York City? Get a rope! (ph)

(LAUGHTER)

CRUZ: People understand elite, out-of-touch media opinion and...

HANNITY: Well, that would be Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles.

CRUZ: Oh, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: A lot of places, right? Let me ask you this, Senator, because there's a real serious side. And I thought last night's debate was enlightening. It was informative. It was substantive. It had everything that I wanted, and I thought there were great exchanges on all sides.

But there's a really serious part of this debate, which is I believe America is in decline. When you have 94.5 million Americans out of the labor force, 50 million in poverty, 46 million on food stamps, you have a doubling of the debt in eight years, median income down, housing sales down.

It is scary to me that we've got to turn this around. That to me is about those people that are suffering needlessly, and of course, defending the country against ISIS and radical Islamists. Explain in the last minute that we have here how you can do that if you get elected.

CRUZ: Right. Look, people are hurting and they're scared. Obama's State of the Union was more a state of denial, claiming the economy is doing great.

Working men and women are getting left behind, but we know how to fix this.
We get back to the common sense principles that built America. We pass a simple flat tax, we repeal "Obama care," the economy will take off, there will be jobs and small businesses growing everywhere!

And I'll tell you who I listen to and who gives me encouragement. You know, I started the week -- the debate wasn't the coolest part of this week. I started this week going duck hunting with Phil Robertson and the whole "Duck Dynasty" clan.

(LAUGHTER)

CRUZ: I got to tell you, it was amazing fun.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: ... been down there.

CRUZ: Yes. Phil is an amazing shot. That man knows how to handle a shotgun. And Phil ended up endorsing me, which was incredibly cool. We put together this video with me in camo and face paint. And my girls, Caroline and Catherine (ph), thought it was the funniest thing in the world to see Daddy in face paint with Phil Robertson.

But you know what? That represents the working men and women, the backbone of this country. Those are who we're fighting for! And if we get back to those values, those values in that duck blind in Louisiana, that's how we turn the country around. And I'm optimistic because people are waking up in incredible numbers and understand that that's what we're going to do.

HANNITY: All right, Senator Cruz. It was, I think, the best debate last night, very informative. Thank you for being with us. We always appreciate your time.

CRUZ: Thank you, Sean. God bless.

HANNITY: And coming up, you'll hear from Donald Trump about his strong debate performance last night. But first, former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich is here with reaction to last night's showdown in South Carolina.

And then later tonight...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Ouch! Carly Fiorina slamming Hillary Clinton on the debate stage. She'll be here later with more as "Hannity" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." So one of the most talked about moments from last night's debate was when Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz went back and forth over the issues of New York values. Now, during their heated exchange, Cruz referenced the sitdown interview that Trump did with Tim Russert back in 1999. Here's what Cruz was talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Would President Trump ban partial-birth abortion?

TRUMP: Well, look, I'm very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion.
I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But you still -- I just believe in choice.

And again, it may be a little bit of a New York background because there is some different attitude in different parts of the country. And you know, I was raised in New York and grew up and work and everything else in New York City. But I am strongly for choice, and yet I hate the concept of abortion.

RUSSERT: But you would not ban it.

TRUMP: No.

RUSSERT: Or ban partial-birth abortion.

TRUMP: I would -- I would -- I am -- I am pro-choice in every respect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: All right, here with reaction, the author of the new book, the best-seller, "Duplicity," FOX News contributor, former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich.

It's fascinating how this has taken off. Andrew Cuomo, the governor -- he wants an apology. Hillary wants an apology. Comrade de Blasio wants an apology.

I live in New York. I pay 14 cents more of every dollar I make between state and city taxes, and the governor said if I'm right to life and you're pro-2nd Amendment and you believe in traditional marriage, there's no place for you in New York. So I guess that means I have to leave.

What's your take on all this?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Well, just quit paying your taxes.

(LAUGHTER)

HANNITY: Wait a minute. I do that, and you're going to be sending me a cake with a file. I don't think that's going to work!

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: Well, look. First of all, I think that -- it was an interesting exchange. I think that Trump did about as brilliant a job as you could of coming back with 9/11 and all of the patriotic emotions that all of us feel about New York City in that context. It was a devastating response.

But I think that Cruz has to make a decision. If you take that and you take one other section of that same interview, Trump has said enough stuff that, if pursued, would cause him some trouble in a Republican primary.
But by itself, a throwaway line about New York values doesn't get you anywhere because most people don't really know what that means.

And remember, Rudy Giuliani, who was the mayor of New York, was for a long stretch far and away the most popular Republican presidential candidate in 2008. So you know, just as a throwaway line, it doesn't work.

There is something there. It's perfectly fair to say to Trump, So where are you today on partial-birth abortion, and a number of other issues that he -- back in his New York days, he sort of was -- he was a standard New Yorker, and that means he was well to the left of the Republican primary base.

HANNITY: I take him at his value (ph). I actually thought he gave a very good explanation in an earlier debate when he said, Hey, I knew somebody was going to have an abortion, they had the kid and it's a beautiful child.
I changed my mind.

I take him at his word. We're talking about, what, 17 years ago. It's a long time. And he wasn't obviously political at the time. He's thought through his values. I take him at his word, I believe him.

GINGRICH: Well, and that's the case he's got to make. To go back -- first of all, I don't know -- given Cruz's age -- I think he's 44 still. If you went back the same number of years for Cruz, you know, I think he would be in high school. So, you know -- so it's a game you can play.

But what I was struck with last night is really simple. And it doesn't fit how, you know, the politicians keep score. Donald Trump came into that debate as a front runner. Donald Trump left that debate as the front runner. Therefore, if you say to me, who won the debate? Donald Trump.
Now, I don't care what points are scored. Cruz is a brilliant debater, much better debater than Trump. Rubio at times was brilliant, particularly when he ran through 11 attacks on Cruz in like a minute. It was an amazing performance. But if the game is not how well do you perform on stage. If the game is how well do you perform in the minds of the people who are watching, it's pretty clear from all of the social media that Trump is just very formidable.

HANNITY: I agree with your analysis to an ex extent. I think this has now become a three-person race. And I think it's Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. And that's it. I don't see anybody else breaking through. It doesn't mean it's impossible. I don't have a crystal ball. But as of right now today,
17 days out of Iowa, I see a three-man race.

GINGRICH: Well, I think nationally, the polls say that. But look at it this way. I don't think Rubio is in third place in Iowa. And I don't think either Cruz or Rubio are in second place in New Hampshire. I mean, you get -- you come to a moment in time when an event occurs. And the Iowa event is going to be I think basically -- unless something dramatic changes, it's going to be between Trump and Cruz, period. And everybody else is going to be for them. Then you're going to pivot and you're going to see what happens next a few days later in New Hampshire. As of today, Trump has a very large margin, but that can change overnight. I mean, you and I have both seen circumstances where, boy, it turns around immediately.

HANNITY: How do you analyze Hillary? Hillary now -- I have law enforcement sources --

GINGRICH: Hillary is gone.

HANNITY: Tell me more.

GINGRICH: Well, I'm just saying, Hillary is gone.

HANNITY: You don't think she gets the nomination?

GINGRICH: I don't think -- in fact, I think the party will start to panic.
John Kasich caught it perfectly last night when he said, look, if this ends up being Bernie Sanders, we carry 50 states. Now, I think that's a bit rich. I think more like 47. But you start thinking about it. This guy could be the George McGovern of our generation, a guy who is so far to the left, and nobody notices it right now because he's running around with Democrats.

HANNITY: That's a good point. He's running around singing to the choir.

GINGRICH: You know, I mean, he's running after college students saying, "free student loans, and, by the way, you might as well smoke pot while you're getting them, baby." And they'll go, oh, God, we love Sanders. You know, one morning -- if -- and I think here's the danger. And I was thinking about asking somebody to run these numbers, because I don't have them in my head. Callista pointed out to me the other day that you run out of dates to file, and all of a sudden somebody comes in the race too late, they can't get on enough ballots.

HANNITY: I have raised the same question. But I'm told by others that, well, they'll change the rules. But I always thought you had to go through the legislature.

GINGRICH: You can't change the rules. That's boloney.

HANNITY: I agree with you.

GINGRICH: These are established by law. In Georgia, for example, the party which -- if you are a delegate and you get elected in Georgia as a delegate, you are legally bound to that candidate for two rounds.

HANNITY: Yes.

GINGRICH: Now, if Hillary collapses, and the "Washington Post" did a devastating piece that shows she's actually going down faster in 2016 than she was in 2008. Now, if she collapses, the Democrats are going to look up one morning and suddenly realize the person most likely to be their nominee is Bernie Sanders, who is a really nice, 73-year-old --

HANNITY: Curmudgeon.

GINGRICH: Nut cake.

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: Who believes in a fantasy world that is so weird it makes Obama look normal.

HANNITY: You're on your game tonight. All right, Mr. Speaker. Good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

GINGRICH: Take care.

HANNITY: When we come back, Donald Trump had a couple big moments in last night's debate, a big debate. We'll get reaction from the GOP frontrunner next. And then later tonight --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLY FIORINA, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: All right. Carly Fiorina made headlines with that blistering attack on Hillary Clinton. She'll be here with reaction and more tonight on HANNITY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She did say there was anger.
And I can say oh, I'm not angry. I'm very angry, because our country is being run horribly. And I will gladly accept the mantle of anger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: A strong moment last night from Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. Now, moments after he made those remarks, Mr. Trump joined me for a post-debate interview from the spin room in South Carolina. In case you weren't up late to watch it, here are some of the highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: A couple of good moments that you had with Ted Cruz, great exchanges. I thought this was the best debate so far of the six you guys have had. This is you and Ted Cruz going over the issue of New York values. I want to ask you a question out of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage, focused around money and the media. And I guess I can frame it another way. Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I'm just saying.

TRUMP: So conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan, including William F. Buckley and others, just so you understand.

New York is a great place. It's got great people. It's got loving people, wonderful people. When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York.

And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan and everybody in the world watched, and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers, and I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: I don't know if you remember this, but in an interview years ago, I pointed out to you that, Mr. Trump, I said, if you move your headquarters down to Florida, you wouldn't pay nearly 10 percent state tax. You wouldn't pay a nearly four percent city tax. And you had an interesting answer. You wanted to stay in New York. Explain that.

TRUMP: Well, I love New York. And I love the people of New York. And I have done well in New York. I've built a great business and I'm all over the world now. But it's based in New York. And I go to Florida, and I go to all over. I have companies all over. But New York is a great place.

HANNITY: And it is extremely liberal. We both live here. We both know.

TRUMP: Well, look, but we have great people in New York. And I thought Ted's response was very insulting to, you know, a tremendous -- you know, many, many millions of people. I actually thought it was very insulting to Maria, who, by the way, did a great job tonight, as you know, with Neil.
They did a fantastic job. They did a fantastic job as moderators. But I thought his response to Maria was very insulting to her.

HANNITY: Do you think that you could win a state in a general election like New York or New Jersey?

TRUMP: Yes.

HANNITY: Or Pennsylvania?

TRUMP: Yes.

HANNITY: Explain how.

TRUMP: All three, all three. I think I will win states nobody else can win as a Republican.

HANNITY: How?

TRUMP: I think I'll win New York. Because they like me. They know me.
They think I do a good job. Upstate, New York, I think you probably saw.
They did a poll upstate New York and I'm killing everybody. I mean, there is nobody even close.

HANNITY: Let me play the exchange over the issue of natural-born citizen similarly you had with Ted Cruz. I'm not surprised that you two kind of went at it a little bit tonight because we're 18 days -- now 17 days out of Iowa, and you guys have gone back and forth in the polls a little bit in the last three weeks. Let's play that exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: My friend Donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way. And there was no issue there. There was nothing to this birther issue. Now since September, the constitution hasn't changed.

(LAUGHTER)

CRUZ: But the poll numbers have.

TRUMP: Here's the problem. We're running. We're running. He does great.
I win. I choose him as my vice presidential candidate, and the Democrats sue because we can't take him along for the ride. I don't like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: It was a funny exchange. But I want to ask you, why are you so convinced that the Democrats would sue on this? In my mind, it's settled law. But more importantly, why do you think --

TRUMP: You're wrong, you're wrong. It's not settled law. Many lawyers have said it's not settled. There has been no ruling for the Supreme Court. You're not right. First time in 20 years I've known you that you're wrong. It's not settled law.

(LAUGHTER)

HANNITY: And you know what --

TRUMP: You can't have a person --

HANNITY: I put up on the screen the other night that it actually gives a very specifics about -- I don't want to get into the debate with you. But I understand. You think the Democrats -- you're convinced they might sue.

TRUMP: Sean, Sean, let me explain something. If there was a one percent chance, he can't do it. He's got to go to court, get a declaratory judgment. But there is more than that. You have a number of lawyers that came out the other day. They said because he wasn't born on the land, he cannot run for president. So if -- I'm not saying -- I'm not going to bring a lawsuit. And don't forget, this all started when the "Washington Post" asked me a question.

HANNITY: I understand. That's where it came from.

TRUMP: "The Washington Post" asked me 20 questions, one of them was this question. The fact is, that -- look, Laurence Tribe, a great constitutional lawyer, said he's got a problem. There are many other people who say the Democrats are going to bring a lawsuit. You can't have a candidate that's running, running, running, and then they find out he can't run.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: And coming up next tonight right here on HANNITY.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIORINA: And unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Carly Fiorina unloading on Hillary Clinton at last night's GOP debate. The 2016 Republican presidential contender is here next, as we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIORINA: I'm not a political insider. I haven't spent my lifetime running for office. The truth is I've been blessed by a lot of opportunities do a lot of things in my life. And unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Ouch, Carly Fiorina last night. She joins us now. You got a lot of -- you're laughing. I'm not going to lie. I'm politically incorrect.
I laughed when you said it. It seems like a marriage of convenience to me but I don't like to judge other peoples' marriages.

FIORINA: Look, the point I was making is that Hillary Clinton has been on the inside of this game her whole life and done whatever she had to do, said whatever she had to say to gain and hang on to power. And then you have somebody like Donald Trump who used that system to his advantage. It is a system, it's a game that works well for the people who know how to play the game. But it's not working for the American people.

And it goes to trustworthiness. CGI, the Clinton Global Initiative is now a gigantic Ponzi scheme to buy and sell influence and access to government.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are standing at the top of it. And actually Hillary Clinton has escaped prosecution more times than El Chapo. I think Sean Penn ought to interview her, honestly.

HANNITY: Look, you had this meteoric rise, and you have fallen off somewhat. That is not deniable. So walk me through your take on how you get the nomination at this point, because the numbers are the numbers.

FIORINA: Yes. Sean, first of all, yes, numbers are numbers. Just remember this. I know you have got this all figured out. You and Newt Gingrich have figured out exactly how it's going to go. Remember this, remember Kentucky.

HANNITY: I actually don't think so. I think I have some of it figured out.

FIORINA: The day before the election, OK, the day before the election, the day before, the polls were 17 points off. So, let's just acknowledge that polls are polls and not a single vote has been cast. I started out this race 17 out of 16. Nobody had heard my name. Less than four percent of voters had ever heard of me. I am now, by your poll, sixth in the nation.
I haven't spent a dime on television yet.

HANNITY: Listen, I don't want you to misunderstand.

FIORINA: No, no, no. My point is, Sean, I'm trying to answer your question. I'm going to exceed expectations in Iowa just like I've exceeded expectations all along. I'm going to exceed expectations in New Hampshire just like I've exceeded expectations all along.

And one more thing. Unlike a lot of the guys on that main stage, I have a robust ground game in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in the early states. I have leadership teams in 25 states. I have paid staff in 13 states. We will be on the ballot in 50 states, and a bunch of the guys on that main stage cannot say that. So we're in this for the long haul. And as I have said to you many times this is a long process of elimination before it comes a process of selection. The first vote has not been cast. So let's wait and see what happens when voters --

HANNITY: I want to be very clear. I think you have exceeded everybody's expectations and you deserve a lot of credit for that. You've also added a lot to the process.

FIORINA: Thank you for everything you just said, Sean. I really appreciate it. And I really appreciate every opportunity you have given me to speak through you to the American people, I truly do. And in addition to everything else you just said, I'm qualified to be president of the United States. In fact I would argue I'm the most qualified candidate running, and I am also the candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton. And she will be their nominee, I believe.

HANNITY: All right, Carly, thank you. I'm not sure. I keep hearing
rumors about this possible FBI report that may recommend an indictment.

FIORINA: Well, let's see. Let's see.

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

FIORINA: Thank you.

HANNITY: And coming up, we need your help. Our "Question of the Day" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: Time for our "Question of the Day." So who do you think won last night's big Republican debate? Just go to Facebook.com/SeanHannity, @SeanHannity on Twitter, let us know what you think.

That is all the time we have left this evening. As always, thank you for joining us. Have a great weekend, have a great night. We'll see you back here on Monday.

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