Newt Gingrich says feud with Ted Cruz 'shrinks' Donald Trump

On 'Hannity,' former House speaker discusses the countdown to the Iowa caucuses


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 19, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, the countdown to Iowa is on, and the rivalry between Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz is heating up.

DONALD TRUMP, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Talk about temperament, Ted has got a rough temperament.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think the American people care about a bunch of politicians behaving like petulant children.

HANNITY: Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is here tonight with reaction.

TRUMP: I'll be much stronger in protecting the evangelicals.

CRUZ: They want us to be ashamed of our faith.

HANNITY: Then Donald Trump and Ted Cruz battle for the support of Christian voters. David Brody and Pastor Robert Jeffress weigh in.

TRUMP: President Obama, an African-American, has done a terrible job for African-Americans.

HANNITY: And Trump rips President Obama and promises to do better for black Americans.

TRUMP: Donald Trump will do a great job for African-Americans.

HANNITY: Frank Luntz and Juan Williams will react.

"Hannity" starts right here, right now.


HANNITY: And welcome to "Hannity." And tonight, Donald Trump receives a huge endorsement from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. We'll have more on that coming up.

But first, we're just 13 days away from the Iowa caucuses. According to the latest Real Clear Politics average out of the Hawkeye State, Donald Trump is coming in at 27.8 percent of the vote, Senator Ted Cruz at 26.7 percent.

But Trump and Cruz are not just battling it out in the polls. The two GOP presidential candidates have continued their recent war of words. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's got bank loans from Goldman Sachs. He's got bank loans from CitiBank, and then -- and then he acts like Robin Hood. You know, say whatever you want, but doesn't work that way.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I think in terms of a commander-in-chief, we ought to have someone who isn't springing out of bed to tweet in a frantic response to the latest polls.

TRUMP: He is a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.

CRUZ: He explained that his views were that he was very pro-choice. He supported partial-birth abortion. He was open to gay marriage. And his explanation for all of that, he said, I'm a New Yorker. I'm from Manhattan. Those are the views of New York. Those are what New York values are. They're not Iowa values, but that's New York values.

TRUMP: You know, everybody hates Ted. It's a very tough thing. They all hate him, I mean, for a lot of reasons, but they all hate him.

CRUZ: Donald, the last couple of days has been a little rattled.


CRUZ: His poll numbers went down, and he got a little upset.

TRUMP: And don't forget Iowa hasn't picked that winner for 16 years. If they pick somebody other than me, they're going to pick another loser, OK?

Ted has got a rough temperament. I don't know. You can't start -- you know, you can't call people liars on the Senate floor.

CRUZ: I have no interest in engaging in an insult fight. I don't think the American people care about a bunch of politicians behaving like petulant children!


HANNITY: Joining us now with analysis the, author of The New York Times best-seller "Duplicity," former speaker of the House, FOX News contributor Newt Gingrich.

You know, I know -- I know -- I know you all these years. I know that smile. We're 13 days out of Iowa, a lot of people are really ticked off on either side. This is fairly predictable, isn't it?

NEWT GINGRICH, R, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. And it's fairly stupid, I think.

HANNITY: I agree with you.

GINGRICH: Here you've got the front-runner nationally by a big margin who yesterday got an amazing introduction from Jerry Falwell, Jr., at Liberty University. I mean, that introduction is glowing as anything I've ever seen and should have an impact on wide range of Christians across the country.

Today, he's getting Sarah Palin's endorsement, and today, the very popular governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, who is the longest-serving governor in the history of United States, came out and said, you know, vote for anybody but Ted Cruz.

Now, that's enough good stuff happening for Trump. He ought to just let go of this thing and get back up to being the guy who worries about making America great. Beating up Ted Cruz doesn't make America great, and I think it actually shrinks Donald Trump.

GINGRICH: So you actually agree. That's the same analysis Rush had and Mark Levin had, and you think it actually hurts him.

GINGRICH: I think it just makes him look smaller and pettier. And frankly, the things he does have become a schtick. And I thought Sunday morning, when he had a very soft voice and a very rational way, and he talked about how Ted's just, you know, nasty -- he said it almost sadly. Now he goes out in front of audiences, he ain't saying it the same way. People get tired of this stuff.

You know, and the danger for both Cruz and Trump is, as happened many times in Iowa, a third candidate can come along and say, At least I'm not those two, and suddenly rise in the polls overnight.

Look at Santorum in 2012. Go back and look at what happened with Edwards in 2004. I mean, you can have somebody in Iowa literally in 48 or 72 hours become the person I'm not turned off by. And that's, I think, a real -- I think that's a bigger danger for Trump than it is for Cruz.

HANNITY: All right, who has to win Iowa? Who -- is it more important for Cruz to win Iowa or more important for Trump to win Iowa? You see how close those polls are -- caucusing a lot different than a primary. People have to be there for hours, listen to speeches, a very different dynamic than what's going to happen in New Hampshire.

Do you think either of these candidates need that win?

GINGRICH: I think that Cruz needs Iowa very badly because Cruz is probably not going to do very well in New Hampshire. And you know, he's a brilliant debater and he's a brilliant guy, but he needs to -- he's now invested a lot in Iowa, and I think he needs Iowa more than Trump does.

Trump has such an enormous lead nationally that as long as he's in the top two in Iowa, he, for all practical purposes, is winning. If he goes to New Hampshire and gets anything like his current lead, he will be on a roll going into South Carolina and Nevada.

So I think for the field, everybody but Trump had better hope that he stumbles somewhere because if he is either first or second in Iowa and wins New Hampshire, he's a very formidable candidate.

HANNITY: I tweeted out both last night and today that I am a proud supporter of the insurgency candidacies of both Trump and Cruz because I think it's -- there's no more time for half measures. I think America is in big trouble on the world's stage. I think the economy is really, really in a difficult position. I don't think it's time for, you know, tinkering around the edges. And I think both of them are bold enough and tough enough that they can transform the country back into the greatness that it once had.

Am I wrong on that?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think there are a number of great candidates who are running, and some of them are having a real effective run. Kasich I think is now probably second in New Hampshire, which is a big jump for him.

I will tell you, in terms of the needs for change, Callista and I went yesterday to see "13 Hours," and you can't see that movie and not walk out thinking, Boy, we have really got to change Washington and change the attitudes in Washington because it is so stunning to see Americans who were left out there by themselves, without support, without help, without what we would expect America to do for folks who are willing to risk their lives for us.

HANNITY: Let me ask you about electability in a general election, be it against Hillary or Bernie or maybe Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Who knows how this is going to end up. I suspect Hillary is in far more legal trouble than maybe she knows.

Electability -- in a general election, Trump or Cruz, who's more electable?

GINGRICH: Oh, I don't know. I mean, I -- look, I don't want to get into that because that...


GINGRICH: Then you get into who am I endorsing. What I will say to you is I think that there is...

HANNITY: But that's why I'm asking you is because you I want to push you out of your comfort zone and get the analysis I really want.


GINGRICH: Nice try, Sean. Look. I believe any of the plausible Republican nominees can win the general election. I believe that to have a socialist who basically advocates free college education while you're doing dope, so you can spend 23 years finally getting a degree, is not going to work in a general election.

I believe having somebody who is devastatingly exposed by the e-mail scandal, by secrets, by the entire corruption of the Clinton Foundation -- I think she's going to have a hard time. And I think you made a good point, which is whether it's Biden or it's Elizabeth Warren or my favorite, Jerry Brown, I think somebody had better...


GINGRICH: You know, some -- or Michael Bloomberg, I mean, somebody had better start thinking seriously. They could end up in a situation where -- where Bernie is the Democratic nominee, and I think he would be the George McGovern of our generation. He might carry three or four states...

HANNITY: All right...

GINGRICH: ... but it would be catastrophic.

HANNITY: Let me play two ads for you -- last question. It's a super-PAC ad by Ted Cruz's -- by -- supporting Ted Cruz, and a Donald Trump radio ad that is read by his daughter, Ivanka, and tell me what you think of these two ads.


TRUMP: Now, one of the reasons that I like Ted Cruz so much is that he's not controversial.


TRUMP: But the truth is, he shouldn't be controversial because what he's doing is right. He took a stand recently, and it was a brave stand and had he had a little backing, he might not have ended ObamaCare, but would’ve gotten a big chunk out of it. And I just watched him. I watched what he was saying and I listened very carefully, and I don't know understand the controversy. It's common sense. It's good government. It's so many good things.



IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: Hello. I'm Ivanka Trump, When I was a young girl, my father, Donald Trump, always told me that I could do anything that I set my mind to if I coupled vision with determination and hard work. He meant it.

I consider myself fortunate to have learned from the best both as an entrepreneur, and most importantly, a parent. My father is a man who's deeply grounded in tradition. He raised my siblings and me to work hard and strive for excellence in all that we do. He taught us that to inspire and gain respect in life and in business, you have to earn it.


HANNITY: All right, I know you couldn't see the first one, but it was Donald Trump voicing over these comments with Ted Cruz in big crowds, et cetera, and that was Ivanka, obviously. Your thoughts on these two.

GINGRICH: Well, look, I -- you know me well and you know I'm totally biased about daughters. My daughter, Jackie (ph), did a great commercial for me. Both my daughters have campaigned with me. I think Ivanka is very effective in that ad.

I also like the fact that it's not cluttered. I thought -- just from what I could hear, that the Cruz super-PAC ad was way too cluttered, whereas I think she's very clear. She talks in a way that everybody is going to understand.

Again, obviously, they discount a little bit because daughters love their fathers.


GINGRICH: But I think it's a pretty effective ad. And I think it further puts Trump -- along with Jerry Falwell's comments, yesterday puts him in a position where an awful lot of people who have doubts could say, you know, I'm going to take a gamble on this guy.

HANNITY: All right, Mr. Speaker, always a pleasure. Thank you for giving us your endorsement of a candidate, which is no candidate yet.


HANNITY: And coming...

GINGRICH: You'll keep trying.

HANNITY: That's my job. I mean, I try every night.

And when we come back, a lot more tonight on this busy news night on "Hannity."


TRUMP: Christianity is under siege, David, as you understand very well from covering it so well. And we have to do something. We have to band together and...

CRUZ: They want us to be ashamed of our faith.


CRUZ: It scares them. And we need to just speak the truth with a smile.


HANNITY: Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump both competing hard for the evangelical vote. So which candidate is resonating best with Christians? That debate coming up next.

Plus, analysis of the huge endorsement that Donald Trump just received tonight in Iowa from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, as we continue.



HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." The feud between Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz is growing, and now both candidates are battling to win the support of Christian voters, the evangelical vote.

In an interview with CBN News, Trump called for Christians to come together. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you look at Syria, where they're chopping heads off, specifically of Christians, and others, but specifically, and Christianity is under siege, David as you understand very well from covering it for so well. And we have to do something. We have to band together and we have to become stronger as Christians.


HANNITY: Now, Trump took a shot at Senator Ted Cruz by saying he'd be a better candidate for evangelicals. Watch this.


TRUMP: I would say that I will be a far better leader. I'll be much stronger on borders. I'll be much stronger in protecting the evangelicals.
I'll be much stronger, much, much stronger in protecting our country. And I think I'll be a much better person for evangelicals, but also for everybody else.


HANNITY: Now, Senator Cruz takes issue with that, and he has made his faith a key issue on the campaign trail. Take a look.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I became a Christian when I was 8 years old at a church youth camp. And it is an integral part of who I am. And I will tell you -- have you noticed Washington and the media, they want us to be ashamed of our faith.


CRUZ: It scares them. And we need to just speak the truth with a smile.


HANNITY: Here now with reaction, FOX News contributor Dr. Robert Jeffress and chief political correspondent for CBN News David Brody.

David, you did the interview with Donald Trump. You've also interviewed Ted Cruz, as well, right?

DAVID BRODY, CBN NEWS: I've interviewed them both, Sean. Absolutely.

HANNITY: And so -- look, they're all vying, especially for Iowa. You know, a lot of people don't understand this, 33,000 votes could win the entire Iowa caucuses here. So there's a lot at stake. The evangelical vote gave both Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum victories in Iowa in the past.

Who do you think's winning and -- or as I suspect, is this vote split?

BRODY: Well, I think it definitely is split. Having said that, look, this is Ted Cruz's race to lose. It's Iowa, evangelical, and he has to come in first.

And let's be honest here, Sean. If Donald Trump -- first of all, if Donald Trump wins Iowa, it's huge, as he would say. But even if he comes in second, that is a huge victory for Donald Trump, considering the last time I checked, everybody thought he'd be out of the race six months ago.

So look, if he goes two in Iowa and one in New Hampshire, that's a great play for Donald Trump. Look, the bottom line here in all of this, Sean, is that Donald Trump is playing to the sick and tired evangelical voter, and there are plenty of them. They're frustrated with the Republican establishment. They feel like they're political pawns in their game. And they're done with it, and they think Trump speaks to all of that.

HANNITY: What do you think, Dr. Jeffress, on this issue? Because I know people like yourself -- we had Jerry Falwell on last night. He didn't fully endorse Donald Trump but had a lot of great things to say about him and how he uses his faith in action in ways that people don't know about, where Ted Cruz is a more traditional evangelical, I would argue. Is that a fair assessment?

PASTOR ROBERT JEFFRESS, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: I think it is, Sean. Look, evangelicals, especially in Iowa, are conflicted between Trump and Cruz because each candidate represents qualities evangelicals are looking for. They're drawn to Trump because they sense he's strong, especially on national security and the economy. They like the fact that he's a political outsider.

But they're also drawn to Cruz because of his strong personal faith and his consistent record on conservatism. Ultimately, beating Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is the Holy Grail for evangelicals, and whichever candidate demonstrates the ability to do that best, I think, will win the lion's share of the evangelical vote.

HANNITY: Do you think -- David, I'll ask you this question. Do you think-- going back to the last election in 2012, Mitt Romney was LDS, Latter Day Saints. Do you think some evangelicals stayed home because of that?

BRODY: Yes. I don't think there's any question about that. Having said that, you know, it's all about the energy. It's not just about evangelicals staying home. Obviously, there are the numbers there. But it's also about getting involved in the communities and getting the word of mouth.

And you know, Donald Trump right now has that word of mouth, if you will. He has the "it" factor. I don't think there's any question about it. Ted Cruz is trying to gain the "it" factor.

Let's remember, Sean, Donald Trump comes in with the advantage from the get-go when he started this campaign back in June. That is that he already had a narrative. That narrative is he is a successful guy.

HANNITY: Dr. Jeffress, do you agree with this, that if David is right, maybe some people had had a problem with LDS, which I think is unfair to Governor Romney -- would they have a problem with either Trump or Cruz in a general election?

JEFFRESS: They may have. But look, what Cruz is saying is he's going to energize those disaffected evangelicals who stayed at home. The Trump officials are telling me that in Iowa, when they have a rally, they ask, how many of you have caucused before? They say 20 percent say they've never caucused before.

The Trump people are saying they're going to inject new people into the system, which would be a great win for Donald Trump.

HANNITY: All right, guys, thank you. And both of you could support either one. Is that what I'm hearing?

BRODY: Well, I'm a journalist. I'm not supporting anybody!

HANNITY: Oh, come -- you better support somebody other than Hillary...


HANNITY: ... or else you're of the his show forever. No I'm kidding. All right. Thank you both.

Coming up, reaction to the big endorsement Donald Trump just received this evening from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

And then later tonight...


TRUMP: President Obama, an African-American, has done a terrible job for African-Americans. Donald Trump will do a great job for African-Americans.


HANNITY: Donald Trump vowing to be a champion for African-Americans. Juan Williams, Frank Luntz will join us with reaction.

And also tonight...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's always some surprises that come out of Iowa. There always are. And I still believe there will be on February the 1, which, by the way, is the first time anybody in America actually votes.


HANNITY: All right, with just days to go to the Iowa caucuses, we'll discuss which Republican candidate would be more likely to come from behind. In other words, can somebody in the bottom tier rise up?

That and more on this busy news night.


HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." Now, for days, 2016 GOP front- runner Donald Trump has been hinting about a big announcement taking place at his campaign event in Ames, Iowa. Earlier tonight, well, Trump picked up a big endorsement from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Take a look.


SARAH PALIN, R-ALASKA, FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: He is from the private sector, not a politician. Can I get a hallelujah?

CROWD: Hallelujah!

PALIN: Where in the private sector, you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main theme, the main thing. And he knows the main thing of a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily.


PALIN: Are you ready for a commander-in-chief who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS ass?


PALIN: Ready for someone who will secure our borders to secure our jobs and to secure our homes, ready to make America great again? Are you ready to stump for Trump? I'm here to support the next president of the United States, Donald Trump!



HANNITY: All right, here with reaction, FOX News contributors Tucker Carlson, Kirsten Powers and Rich Lowry.

All right, does the Palin endorsement make a big difference?

RICH LOWRY, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: It's a good get for him. She has a lot of credibility with grass roots conservatives, and will add, as if this were possible, more interest and energy on the trail for Trump, at least in the short term.

And Sean, we all thought this race would end up as a war between grass roots conservatives and the establishment. Instead, it's breaking down as a fight against traditional conservatism as represented by Ted Cruz and populism as represented by Donald Trump.

HANNITY: I think that is probably the best analysis that I've heard because that's really what it is. And there's a little unknown factor.

What do you think, Kirsten? What are your thoughts? Big difference, big play? You've been a -- you've actually been complimentary to Governor Palin, where other Democrats have not over the years. You've been supportive and against the attacks against her.

KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Well, and she's obviously a huge star among not just conservatives, but I think in particular, you know, the type of conservative that Donald Trump is trying to target, but also the same type of people I think that Ted Cruz would like to have.

And I think this is -- typically, endorsements don't move a lot of votes, but it certainly -- it helps Donald Trump in that, like Rich said, it brings a lot -- even more excitement and more attention from somebody who has a lot of credibility with base voters.

But also because she was -- used to do be a supporter of Ted Cruz. And she's somebody who Ted Cruz has said -- as the Trump campaign decided to do point out in their press release announcing this, he has said, you know, I wouldn't be in the Senate were it not for Sarah Palin, and she knows how to pick winners.

And so this stings a little bit because his main rival is Ted Cruz at this point.

HANNITY: And what do you think -- also, Tucker, Donald Trump nearly got endorsement, as close to an endorsement as you possibly can, from Jerry Falwell, Jr., yesterday when he was speaking at Liberty in convocation.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I mean, in effect, he did. You know, Falwell didn't say that. I'm not sure he'd want to say that as someone who runs a college. But yes, I mean, basically, it looked like an endorsement to me.

As for Palin, I can't -- my instinct is this might be better for Palin than it is for Trump in that it reminds people she's still around and suggests there are those who care what she thinks.

I got to say, I've been really impressed by the Trump campaign all along by how innovative it is. I don't know if this is the moment where he jumps the shark or his candidacy becomes inevitable, but if I were Trump, I'd be worried about seeming to pander because the essence of Trump's appeal is he doesn't pander. He doesn't take orders from anyone, doesn't take campaign donations. He's not anyone's puppet.

And the moment he seems false or seems like he's, you know, pretending to be someone he is not in order to win their votes, then the whole rationale for his campaign kind of crumbles, I think.

LOWRY: Well, it certainly shows a real seriousness on Trump's part about winning Iowa, which is just so important now. Whichever of those guys who seem to be the top two are the top two and seem like they will be two weeks from now in Iowa, either Trump or Cruz you have to say is the favorite for the nomination. So it's a big, epic throwdown there.

And Sarah Palin -- you know, this is an impactful endorsement, but in the past, her most influential endorsements have been when she has endorsed a grass roots conservative against a RINO. In this case, she's endorsing Donald Trump against a true blue Reagan conservative in the form of Ted Cruz.

HANNITY: All right, let me go to this question. The British Parliament was debating whether Donald Trump should be banned from Great Britain. Let me play this. And does this help Donald Trump or hurt him? Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What lies at the heart of his belief that Muslims should be banned is that he thinks they're all dangerous. That's not buffoonery, that is absolutely repugnant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His words are not comical. His words are not funny. His words are poisonous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The great danger by attacking this one man is that we can fix on him a halo of victimhood. We give him the role of martyrdom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know we've had some examples of when people have been excluded from this country. I've heard of a number of cases where people have been excluded for incitement and for hatred. I've never heard of one for stupidity, and I'm not sure that we should be starting now.


HANNITY: All right, we got to correct the record first. Trump was talking about a temporary ban until we can possibly vet refugees, for example, from Syria because we know that ISIS will infiltrate that community. So we got to keep the record straight his words -- and I'm cracking up. I think this helps him.

LOWRY: Yes, I'm trying to figure out the politics here. A bunch of British twits...



LOWRY: Does that hurt or help?

HANNITY: I think it helps him!

LOWRY: And also, look, thank God for the First Amendment. These are representatives of the oldest parliament on earth debating whether someone should be banned from their country because they said some things people don't like. Talk about despicable and outrageous.

HANNITY: Kirsten?

POWERS: Yes, well, I think it's definitely...

HANNITY: I actually agree with a temporary ban for this reason. James Clapper, James Comey, Obama's envoy to defeat ISIS General John Allen, the assistant FBI director have all warned us ISIS will infiltrate the refugee population. Until that is settled, I think there should be a moratorium.

POWERS: We can argue that on another night. But I think for this Trump is definitely helped by it because his appeal to so people is he the anti-PC candidate, he’s the one who says the hard things. And this just proves his point is you say things and people want to ban you from coming into their country.

And I was listening to the debate last night and you had, you know, some people coming out and pointing out the obvious which is where do you draw the line? You know, and is it only people who say things that offend you or things that offend other people? And that's why free speech is so important and this actually is fundamentally a free speech issue. You don't have to agree with Donald Trump, but Donald Trump has a right to say what he has to say and not have bureaucrats and politicians trying to censor him.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Does anybody see the irony?

HANNITY: I've laughing with you.

CARLSON: Because Great Britain let's in an endless stream of lunatics who seek to overturn western civilization, right? Does anybody see that Great Britain is itself irrational for his immigration policy? The most impressive country in the world for centuries has been destroyed. It's a depressing welfare state, dangerous and chaotic largely because of immigration policy. It's like a hilarious actually irony.

HANNITY: Congress did debate the 85 separate sharia courts that are currently in Great Britain.

CARLSON: Exactly.

HANNITY: Why did they allow that to happen?

RICH LOWRY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: They can't even expel terrorists from their own country and they are talking about banning Donald Trump.

HANNITY: Anjem Choudary, that lunatic radical Islamist that I debate is from there. Guys, good to see you all. Thank you for your insight.

And coming up next tonight right here on Hannity.


DONALD TRUMP, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have an African-American president, and the black youth, the African-American youth has essentially almost never done worse.


HANNITY: Donald Trump blasting President Obama for failing black America, and he promises to do a better job. We will check in with pollster Frank Luntz, also Juan Williams here with reaction.

And then also tonight --


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president, he has shown this weakness and his inability to be able to project American strength. And we won't have that problem when I'm in the Oval Office in January 20th of 2017.


HANNITY: All right, which under the radar GOP presidential candidate would have the best chance to shake up the race and move to the top tier? Is that possible? That and more tonight on HANNITY.


HANNITY: Welcome back to HANNITY. So this past weekend 2016 GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump attacked President Obama's record regarding African-Americans. Watch this.


TRUMP: We have an African-American president, and the black youth, the African-American youth has essentially almost never done worse. You look at the unemployment in the 50s. You look at African-American people that are 30 and 35 and 40 in the height of their strength and lives, and they are doing horribly.

President Obama, an African-American, has done a terrible job for African- Americans. Donald Trump will do a great job for African-Americans. I will bring back jobs to this country from China and many other places, and I will let people work and make a great living. I will be great for African- Americans.


HANNITY: And that's not all. Pollster Frank Luntz while talking about Donald Trump he told "The Politico," quote, "If he were the Republican nominee he would get the highest percentages of black votes since Ronald Reagan in 1980. Frank Luntz joins us to explain more, also FOX News political analyst Juan Williams. You know, Tavis Smiley was on this program. We were just talking about it, and he told me that, hey, Obama has been horrible for the black community.

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Tavis Smiley's book is fantastic, and I urge readers whether or not they agree with him politically --

HANNITY: Viewers.

LUNTZ: Viewers, I urge viewers to purchase the book and then you can read it.

What's interesting about Donald Trump is that he does get people to take a look at him who ordinarily would not ever look with a Republican. I think he can get up to 20 percent of the African-American vote not because where of where he stands but who he is, his persona.

HANNITY: Maybe his persona, New York, tough, but also he is going to build a wall. That means less competition for jobs. And who has been hurt most by Obama's policy? Inner city America.  

LUNTZ: And that's why working class voters, people just below the mean in this country are taking a look at him that would never look at a Republican before.

HANNITY: Can he take Pennsylvania? Can he take Michigan?

LUNTZ: I think -- no. I don't believe so. But I believe you look at Ohio. You look at Florida. You look at Colorado. You take those three states and North Carolina, you win the election. I think Pennsylvania has always been a bridge too far. Republicans have talked about that and Michigan, and they've never --

HANNITY: But they still have elected -- Michigan has elected and Wisconsin has elected Republican governors, and Pennsylvania has elected Republican senators.

LUNTZ: But not presidential candidates. So much money gets wasted there.

HANNITY: I don't think we really competed for Pennsylvania in the last cycle the way we should have. What do you think, Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE HILL": Let's come back to Trump. I think that's the central issue here. If we are talking about Trump and black voters, I just don't see it. I remember Trump put out a tweet. He said black people were the ones who were killing white people, way wrong on the statistics obviously.

HANNITY: He was talking about back-on-black crime.

WILLIAMS: He was also a guy, remember, who was going to have a meeting with the black ministers. And guess what? He can't even hold a press conference after because everything comes apart. Trump, it seems to me --

HANNITY: That's not what happened.

WILLIAMS: So let's look at the numbers. If Frank Luntz were -- let's look at the numbers. Quinnipiac in December had 88 percent of African-Americans and Trump does that the care about people like me. Latinos, obviously, 80 percent negative on Trump.

HANNITY: The same numbers for Hillary. Hillary is connecting with nobody.

HANNITY: That is not true. You think 80 percent of blacks think Hillary --

HANNITY: Yes. And I also think that 60 percent of Americans think she is a liar and dishonest.

LUNTZ: But Juan, what you have to look at is whether they would consider. I think you would agree that Trump opens up voters that otherwise would not consider voting for Republicans, that there are people who his trade message, his immigration message.

But Sean, and I'm going to get both of you angry. There is also a group that would lean away from Trump. Trump has challenges among women, particularly younger women, and he has challenges within the Latino community. So you gain some, you lose some.


WILLIAMS: Sean's retort is going to be that Trump can do a lot with his populist appeal to white working class blue collar voters. That kind of appeal, you can imagine, is going to have a negative reverb ration, Frank, among black and Latino voters.

HANNITY: I disagree.

LUNTZ: Not if the African-American voters feel that the system is working against them, which they do, if they feel that the elites don't listen to them, which they do, and Trump is a fighter. And they are looking for someone to stand up to say what they mean and mean what they say.

WILLIAMS: If you make a racial appeal, if it becomes that I'm driving to get out of proportion of white voters who may not have come from Romney, may not have come out for McCain. That's what Trump is doing.

HANNITY: But I think you are missing a very key point here. There's 95 million Americans out of the labor force, 50 million in poverty, 46 million on food stamps. And what he's saying is competition will be reduced. I'm going to build a wall. Illegal immigration will be greatly reduced if not completely eliminated. And he is also saying I'm going to entice corporations to bring the $1 trillion or $2 trillion overseas back, and to stay in America and build their plants in America.

WILLIAMS: And what happens when he says I am not going to raise taxes on the rich. I am not going to raise the minimum wage.

HANNITY: That's not what he has said at all. Wall Street and hedge fund operators hate him.

WILLIAMS: I'm not in favor --

HANNITY: You are not listening to the same guy.

LUNTZ: -- helping with education for my children. You think how is that going to play out?

HANNITY: The hedge fund managers hate him. Wall Street hates him.

LUNTZ: Let's give the numbers. The best a Republican has among the African-American vote was 14 percent in 1980. Romney got in the single digits. If Trump even takes it to that 14 percent, that changes Ohio. That changes Florida. These are significant numbers, significant votes. That's what I'm looking at.

HANNITY: And Hillary will not draw the high numbers of black Americans to the polls the way Obama did. I don't think she has any connection with any particular constituency where they are that motivated and think, oh, thank God Hillary is running. If anything they don't like the Republican.

WILLIAMS: You should check with Bernie Sanders, because, guess what, after Iowa and New Hampshire, which is now very close there is no question, the black vote is Hillary Clinton's.

HANNITY: And whey will come out in the same numbers as they did for Obama?

WILLIAMS: I think right now, especially Trump or Cruz, you are going to fire up the black vote.

HANNITY: You're dreaming. These were historic elections, the first black American president. You are not going to see those numbers.

WILLIAMS: I'm just telling you, this is what I'm talking about with the appeal to white working class. It will fire up the black vote.

LUNTZ: But the African-American vote did not turn out in off year elections. They did not turn out when Barack Obama was not on the top of the ticket. These are the numbers. We have to be honest with the American people. We have to show the strength and weaknesses of all these candidates. Trump is going to appeal to people that have never voted Republican before.

HANNITY: I've got to leave it there. Good to see you both.

LUNTZ: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

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


JEB BUSH, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm looking forward to campaigning actively over the next few weeks in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina where we have the best ground game in all three of these places. I'm in it to stay and I feel really good about where we are.


HANNITY: Is there any 2016 Republican candidate who maybe hasn't been polling so well in recent weeks, do they have a chance of making a comeback? We will check in with Pat Caddell and Mercedes Schlapp when we come back.


HANNITY: Welcome back to HANNITY. So we are less than two weeks away from Iowa caucuses, and many of the lower polling 2016 GOP presidential candidates, well, they still sound very certain of victory on the campaign trail. Is that true? Take a look.


BUSH: I'm looking forward to campaigning actively over the next few weeks in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina where we have the best ground game in all three of these places. I'm in it to stay, and I feel really good about where we are.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People didn't think I was going to get. In they didn't think I would make the debates. They didn't think I would make the money. And look at what has happened. So we're like the little engine that can.

RAND PAUL, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can't let polls become the self- reinforcing perception that someone can't win. We can win.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president, he has shown this weakness, and his inability to be able to project American strength, and we won't have that problem when I'm in the Oval Office on January 20 of 2017.  

MIKE HUCKABEE, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's always some surprises to come out of Iowa, there always are, and I still believe there will be on February 1st.

RICK SANTORUM, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're picking up people every day in Iowa. I'm going to be out there.

BEN CARSON, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The decision in terms of what happens to America lies with us. And that is why I ask for your support.

CARLY FIORINA, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to exceed expectations in Iowa just like I've exceeded expectations all along.


HANNITY: Here with reaction, Democratic pollster, FOX News contributor Pat Caddell, and Republican strategist Mercedes Schlapp. Mercedes, I can't tell you. I've been in radio since the late 80s, how many times candidates just before the elections say, but the crowds are huge. The polls are so wrong, and then the polls don't turn out so bad. And then you have a case like Kentucky where the polls were dead wrong in the race for governor.


HANNITY: What are your thoughts? Do any of these guys break through?

SCHLAPP: You know, I think that there is a chance for one of the candidates maybe to break through in what would be considered the establishment lane. I think conservatives are very energized and therefore their focus is with Trump and Cruz at this time. But, Sean, there is that opening with the establishment lane. Why? Because you have Marco Rubio, he's gained momentum. You have a lot of these big folks donors who support him. And he's going through with these three, two, one strategy, which is come third in Iowa, come second in New Hampshire, first in South Carolina.

So then what happens is that for these other candidates, they're saying, well, he hasn't solidified that vote, right, Sean? So then it does leave an opening to, let's say, a Bush, for example, where he's very well organized. Just received the endorsement, for example, from Lindsey Graham in South Carolina. He polled just right now third place. So again, he is gaining what we thought his campaign being on life support, he could be maybe that resurrected candidate.

HANNITY: What about John Kasich? He had a poll that came out today in New Hampshire. He was in second with, what, 20 percent of vote, Pat. That was a surprise to a lot of people. Is it an outlier? Is it real momentum?

PAT CADDELL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No. He'd been showing real momentum only in New Hampshire. But you've got three candidates, Rubio, who was running second in New Hampshire, Kasich and Chris Christie all moving there.

The fight, as you said earlier when you introduced the show, this is insane what Cruz and Trump are doing to each other. This is not an election about ideology. It is an election about insurgency. I'll tell you, attacks don't work. Messaging does. If you think back to 2004 in Iowa, the Democratic caucus where Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt got into just a crazy, you know, knockdown, drag out, and John Kerry stood through. That is the danger not in Iowa, I think, but in New Hampshire.

HANNITY: What do you think, Mercedes?

SCHLAPP: I think that is a fair analysis. I think -- but at the same time, I have to say this feels like a very different race. We do have the fact that the angry voter. And Trump said effectively, he's carrying that mantle of the angry voter. And I think that that is actually working. I think that there is this sense that they don't want politics as usual.
And, Sean, we've seen this ongoing state through -- visiting with grassroots activists. Not only are they angry. They're ready -- they're upset at the establishment and they're ready to say, look, we want to try something completely new, something out, someone outside of Washington.
And this is a Trump phenomenon.

HANNITY: We've got to go. Pat, real quick.

CADDELL: I couldn't agree with you more. I think that's true. But Trump has got to get back on that message. Cruz has got to find -- somebody has got to get a way to do that. When I watched last night on your show, I was stunned at those stories. That is what people need to hear about Trump.
And he needs to get back to explaining why he's angry.

HANNITY: All right, I'm one of those angry people. I feel betrayed. I feel like Washington is failing out of us -- 95.5 million Americans out of the labor force, 50 million in poverty, 46 million on food stamps, and our position abroad, our allies can't trust us and our enemies don't fear us.

Coming up, our "Question of the Day." We need your help, straight ahead.


HANNITY: Welcome back to HANNITY. Time for our "Question of the Day." So which Republican do you think will be the best candidate for evangelicals, especially in Iowa? Go to Facebook.com/SeanHannity, @SeanHannity on Twitter, let us know what you think.

That's all the time we have left this evening. As always, thank you for being with us. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.

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