Cruz: South Carolinians want a conservative president; Rubio: SC voters to play vital role in ending 'Obama agenda'

Florida senator speaks out on 'Hannity' after a South Carolina campaign rally


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

SEAN HANNITY, "HOST":  And welcome to "Hannity" in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, where we are doing two town halls tonight, one with Senator Ted Cruz, another with Senator Marco Rubio and a few special guests. "Hannity" starts right here, right now.


HANNITY:  Senator, good to see you.


HANNITY:  Tomorrow's a big day.

CRUZ:  Yes.

HANNITY:  You won Iowa by a...


HANNITY:  ... by a -- by a historic margin.  You spent less than most candidates and came in third in New Hampshire.

CRUZ:  Yes.

HANNITY:  And there's a poll out this morning that shows you're within 5 points of taking South Carolina.


HANNITY:  From your perspective, tell us about the state of the race.

CRUZ:  Well, listen, I think people of South Carolina, they want a conservative as our next president.


CRUZ:  And you know, Iowa was interesting.  As you recall, the week before Iowa, every pundit, every pollster said we couldn't win.  I remember watching your show Sunday night.

HANNITY:  By the way, he's not talking about me.

CRUZ:  I'm not talking about you.  But Sean had six experts on, and they went down two panels and they said, Who's going to win, and it was Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.

HANNITY:  You're right.

CRUZ:  And now, you had the wisdom not to chime in on that, but everyone else did.

HANNITY:  Thank you for saving me from this crowd!


CRUZ:  The next day, when the results came in, it was extraordinary what we saw in Iowa.  We saw, number one, record-shattering turnout.  But number two, not only did we win by a big margin, but we won conservatives.  We won evangelicals.  We won Reagan Democrats and we won young people.  It was that old Reagan coalition.  We ended up getting more votes than any Republican in the history of the Iowa caucus!


HANNITY:  By far.  Yes, by far.  You know, before you came out, Senator, I was talking to this crowd, and I hope I speak for you, but I'm worried more than I've ever been in my adult life that we're losing the American dream.

CRUZ:  Yes.

HANNITY:  We have nearly -- 95 million Americans out of the labor force.  
It's not been that high since the 1970s, 50 million Americans in poverty, millions more than when Obama took the presidency, 46 million Americans on food stamps.

I think people of South Carolina -- I know you hear a lot about the horse race and you see negative ads.  Don't -- just -- you can clap if you want.  Do you care about those Americans more than these ads and you want to get these Americans back to work and...


HANNITY:  So that's -- how do we do that, and how quickly can it happen?  
What is the prescription to...

CRUZ:  Well, look, the stakes are the same.  Sean, you and I are both parents.  We love our kids.  And we're scared -- you know, I mean, you've gotten to meet my girls, Caroline and Catherine.  They're 7 and 5.  Thank God they look like their mother.


CRUZ:  But you know, I wake up every day scared for what kind of world those girls are inheriting.


CRUZ:  If we keep doing what we're doing, we are risking losing the greatest country in the world.  We're seeing our constitutional rights stripped away.  We're seeing economic opportunity stripped away.  Sixty- five percent of Americans believe that our kids will have a worse life than we did.

HANNITY:  That's scary.  That's never happened before, by the way.

CRUZ:  In the history of this country, it may be the most un-American idea you can imagine.  And what gets me out of bed every morning, what makes me leap out of bed every morning is what all of us are doing is we are fighting to get back to the principles that built America, the free market principles and the constitutional liberties!


HANNITY:  I told the audience beforehand that this is not another cable channel.  They're free to clap whenever they want, OK?


HANNITY:  How do we get there?  I think that we've got to have a plan.

CRUZ:  Yes.

HANNITY:  You have a plan...

CRUZ:  Very detailed.

HANNITY:  ... to get Americans out of poverty and...

CRUZ:  Yes.

HANNITY:  ... back in the labor force.  Tell us how we get there and how fast.

CRUZ:  Well, look, cause and effect matter.  You know, and I'll say it is easy to say, "Make America great again."  That's easy to say.  You can even put it on a baseball cap.


CRUZ:  But the question is, do you understand what it was that made America great in the first place?


CRUZ:  And what made this country great is, number one, we began with the understanding, the revolutionary understanding, this our rights don't come from government.  Instead, the Declaration put it "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and they are endowed by their creator...


HANNITY:  We have some -- all true.

CRUZ:  That notion, that understanding that our unalienable rights, the right the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- they don't come from government, they don't come from a king or queen, they certainly don't come from President Obama -- that was a revolutionary idea.

And our constitutional liberties, free speech, religious liberty, the 2nd Amendment -- those are fundamental rights, and with Justice Scalia's passing, every one of those is in jeopardy right now!

HANNITY:  Let me -- let me ask this.  I think this is really important.  
We've done -- we -- President Obama, when he leaves office, will double the debt or accumulate more debt than every president before him combined.  
Talk about the plan...

CRUZ:  Yes.

HANNITY:  ... that is going to get us in a better position back to those principles.

CRUZ:  So the only thing strong enough to turn around the debt is economic growth.  Economic growth is my number one priority, my number one priority as senator.  It'll be my number one priority as president because economic growth is foundational to everything else.

Without growth, we can't solve any of these problems, whether it's unemployment, the debt, rebuilding the military, restoring and strengthening Social Security and Medicare.  And the keys to growth -- if you look back, if you understand how America became who we are today, the keys to growth are tax reform and regulatory reform.

Every time government does what it's doing now, hammers small businesses, we get what we got now, which is misery and stagnation and malaise.  Small businesses are the heart of the economy.  And so...


HANNITY:  Right.  You're right.

CRUZ:  And so the two key pillars of my economic plan are regulatory reform and tax reform.  Regulatory reform, the most important regulatory reform, we are going to repeal every single word of "Obama care."


HANNITY:  Good.  I think they agree with you.

CRUZ:  And then tax reform real quick, Sean -- tax reform, we are going to pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS!


HANNITY:  How important -- because I agree with you about "Obama care."  I agree -- I've always liked the flat tax.  I think it's a great idea.  I also like the fair tax, in fairness.

CRUZ:  Yes, yes.

HANNITY:  I want to ask you...

CRUZ:  And I'm a big fair tax fan, as well.

HANNITY:  How many years would it take for America to be energy- independent?  I know this is a big part of your platform.  Wouldn't that create jobs and...

CRUZ:  Millions of high-paying jobs.  When it comes to energy, we ought to pursue all of the above.  We ought to pursue oil and gas and coal and nuclear and wind and solar and ethanol and biofuels, everything.


CRUZ:  But Washington shouldn't be picking winners and losers.


HANNITY:  Now, you did take a very courageous position on the issue of ethanol in Iowa, and some people thought it was going to hurt you.  It didn't.

CRUZ:  Well, I'll tell you, Sean, it was extraordinary.  I mean, I was the only candidate that went there and campaigned foursquare against the ethanol mandate.  And I got to tell you...


HANNITY:  Five years, done.

CRUZ:  Everyone said that was political suicide.  I mean, that's like campaigning in South Carolina on a mandate that South Carolinians all have to wear New York Yankees jerseys.


CRUZ:  I'm not doing that, by the way.  That is not my position!  Although I'm told it is Trump's position.


CRUZ:  But look, everyone said this is suicide.  And in fact, my two leading opponents, Trump and Marco Rubio, both attacked me and promised more corporate welfare, more cronyism.

In fact, one of them, Donald, said not only would he continue it, he would expand the ethanol mandate to have even more cronyism.  And then the sitting governor of Iowa, a Republican, openly came out against me, said to the people of Iowa, Vote for anybody but Cruz.  The other guys, they'll keep the cronyism going.  This guy actually believes this stuff, and he will end the picking winners and losers.



HANNITY:  We have a lot to get to.  We're going to talk about immigration.  
We've got to talk about how to defeat ISIS.

CRUZ:  Yes.

HANNITY:  We have a lot on the agenda tonight.

We have a few special guests, though.  And you just got moments before we came out on the stage here a big endorsement, somebody well-known in the great state of South Carolina, former governor of the state.  We'll invite him out.  Governor Mark Sanford is here.


HANNITY:  There he is.  All right, my only question is simple.  I think you have a few fans here.  You just came out and endorsed Senator Cruz.  Tell us why.

REP. MARK SANFORD, R-SOUTH CAROLINA:  Real simple.  The things you were just talking about a moment ago, which is that the Constitution matters.  And too much of what we've seen in this race -- I watched a special last night on CNN.  I shouldn't mention that.





SANFORD:  But anyway, it just struck me that it's gotten out of bounds when you have folks criticizing this for what he said on spending, when you have folks saying it doesn't matter what -- you know, what the Constitution says, it matters what I think.


SANFORD:  The beauty of the Constitution is it matters not what one of us thinks, it matters what the Constitution prescribes.


SANFORD:  And it's my strong belief, Sean, that if you won't say it in Iowa, you'll not say it in Washington.  And so what struck me about Ted is the fact that he had come out against those ethanol subsidies.  I fought against spending my entire time in politics, and all too few people will. You look at this room full of folks.  These are fighters right here.  We need another fighter in Washington in the Oval Office on that very front.


SANFORD:  So that'd be the short version.  I could give you much more.

HANNITY:  Yes, you can.  Governor Mark Sanford, thank you.


HANNITY:  All right.  I feel like we should do a game show because we have our next surprise guest.  You've heard of the popular TV show "Duck Dynasty"?


HANNITY:  Let's give a warm South Carolina welcome, straight from West Monroe, Louisiana, the patriarch of the Robertson family, Phil Robertson!


PHIL ROBERTSON, "DUCK DYNASTY":  "Hannity," some little chick back there said, Mr. Robertson, we need to go to hair and makeup.


ROBERTSON:  I said, Hannity does that kind of stuff, not me.  Get out of my face!


HANNITY:  Oh!  Tell us -- I'll let you move in little closer for a TV shot here, but tell us -- you have come out strongly for Ted Cruz.  You even put him in camo, which made a lot of news.  Tell us why (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTSON:  Sometimes it's better to be a little harder to see than at other times.


ROBERTSON:  I'm for Cruz because you see this in my hand?


ROBERTSON:  South Carolina!  Bibles and guns brought us here.


ROBERTSON:  And it will be bibles and guns that keeps us here, and this man believes in both!


HANNITY:  Phil Robertson, thank you, sir.

All right, we've got one more surprise for you, and then I got to take a break.  Y'all listen to the radio?  How many radio listeners we have here, a lot?  You can clap.  People at home can't see.  All right.


HANNITY:  Here's a guy that's on before me.  You might have heard of him.  
His name is Rush Limbaugh.


HANNITY:  OK.  His brother is a New York Times best-selling author and columnist.  A warm South Carolina (sic) for Mr. David Limbaugh.


HANNITY:  I'm asking you the same -- you have come out, you've endorsed the senator.  Tell us.

DAVID LIMBAUGH, AUTHOR AND COLUMNIST:  I was prescient.  I did this quite a while ago.  America is at a crossroads.  We face multiple existential threats.  It is no exaggeration.  We're on the brink of collapse.  We have maybe one last chance to save America, my five kids, the future, so they can live in liberty and prosperity, like our parents did and like we have.

We have one solution for this, one remedy, and that is to restore America's founding principles, the timeless constitutional principles.


LIMBAUGH:  There is some good other candidates running, but there's only one authentic, strong, constitutionalist Reagan conservative across the board, the closest thing we've had since -- to Ronald Reagan in my lifetime, the most brilliant guy I've ever met in this arena -- and there's another thing about him.

Not only is he -- is he an authentic believer in America's constitutional principles and founding principles, he has demonstrated that he will do what he has always promised to do.  When he gets in office, he fulfills his promises.  This is our last best chance.  We have to take it.


HANNITY:  All right, Mr. David Limbaugh.

We got to take a break.  We'll come back.  We're live, a town hall in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.  It's "Hannity."  Stay with us.




HANNITY:  And welcome back the "Hannity."  We are in South Carolina, in beautiful Charleston.  Welcome.  Thank you all for coming.


HANNITY:  And we are with Senator Ted Cruz.  We have a few audience members that want to ask you a question in a minute.

This is an insurgency year.

CRUZ:  Yes.

HANNITY:  And one of the big issues on the minds of everybody -- we've got ISIS chopping off people's heads.

CRUZ:  Yes, yes.

HANNITY:  And we've got illegal immigration out of control, big issues in the campaign.  Tell us how do you deal with such complicated issues, and how fast can that be accomplished?

CRUZ:  Well, listen, both issues are intertwined.  You know, you talk about illegal immigration.  Border security is national security.  We've had seven years of a president that refuses to secure the border, and sadly, what we've seen is that Washington doesn't want to do this.  Democrats don't want to do this because they support illegal immigration.


CRUZ:  You know, there's a new politically term for illegal immigrants.

HANNITY:  And that is?

CRUZ:  Undocumented Democrats.



HANNITY:  I almost felt like the liberal media.  I fell right into the trap.  Go ahead.

CRUZ:  But the problem is also there are far too many establishment Republicans that support amnesty, as well, that don't want to secure the borders because they view it all as cheap labor.

You know, I've got on our Web site, TedCruz.org, a very detailed immigration plan, 11 pages.  I drafted it with Jeff Sessions and Steve King, and we will secure the border.  We're going to build a wall.  By the way, I've got someone in mind to build it.



CRUZ:  We're going to triple the border patrol.  We're going to increase fourfold the fixed wing and rotary wing unit.  We're going to put in place a biometric exit-entry system on visas.  We're going to put in place a strong e-verify system to get a job.  We're going to end sanctuary cities by cutting off taxpayer money to all of them!


HANNITY:  Let me -- when the national director of intelligence, James Clapper, and our FBI director, James Comey, and General John Allen, the envoy to defeat ISIS all say that ISIS will infiltrate the refugee population, that's -- isn't that scary? Then why would we take in one person?

CRUZ:  It is lunacy.  And starting in January 2017, we are not going to be admitting refugees that may be infiltrated from ISIS.  It doesn't make any sense.


HANNITY:  Yes.  OK.  Now, we're going to go -- we have some people in the audience that want to ask questions.  By the way, I forgot to tell everybody David Limbaugh is my attorney.  I introduced him earlier tonight. Full disclosure.  I don't -- I'm sure the media would jump on that.

Why don't we come on up, whoever our first person is and we'll introduce you.  Come on up.  How are you doing?  What's your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bradford Franklin.

HANNITY:  There you go.  Right in -- you're perfect.  Bradford, say hi to Senator Cruz.

CRUZ:  Hey, Bradford.


HANNITY:  Step in.  There you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Cruz, I'm a young man myself, and the national debt is spiraling out of control.  You've recently talked about your plan to overhaul the military...

CRUZ:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... and increase its strength.

CRUZ:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How can we be sure to increase our military strength but make sure that the national debt doesn't continue to spiral out of control?

CRUZ:  Bradford, it is a great question.  And you know, we've faced these challenges before.  If you look at the last time the country had a badly degraded military, the last time we had a weak Democratic president, it was 1980.  It was Jimmy Carter.  And what did Reagan do?  Reagan came in in 1981.  He started with tax reform and regulatory reform.

I was talking with Sean a few minutes ago about repealing "Obama care" and passing a simple flat tax.  Well, when Reagan passed tax reform and regulatory reform, the American economy took off.  Jobs exploded.  Trillions of dollars flowed in to the federal government.  Reagan used those trillions of dollars to rebuild the military, and that in turn bankrupted the Soviet Union and won the cold war.


HANNITY:  That answer your question?

CRUZ:  So I intend to do the exact same thing with radical Islamic terrorism, which is we are going to -- if we repeal "Obama care," pass a flat tax and abolish the IRS, we will see jobs exploding.  We'll see small businesses growing.  We'll see wages going up.  We'll see young people coming out of school having three, four, five job offers.  And at the same time...


CRUZ:  ... we will have a military -- I rolled out here in South Carolina earlier this week the most comprehensive, aggressive plan to rebuild the military, rebuild out Army, our Navy, our Air Force, our Marines to be able to...


CRUZ:  ... utterly destroy ISIS.


HANNITY:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.  Give him a big hand.  Thank you.

All right, we got to take a break, and we're going to come back, and a very special person in Senator Cruz's life will join us.  We're in Charleston, South Carolina.  It's "Hannity."  Thank you for being with us.  And we will continue.



HANNITY:  And welcome back to beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.  It's "Hannity."  We're on the road.


HANNITY:  And a very fun, lively crowd.  Let's give a warm South Carolina welcome to Ted Cruz's better half.  Heidi Cruz is on stage with us.



HANNITY:  You know, this is just the history of South Carolina politics. It is a blood sport down here.  It's got to be hard for you to -- I've been watching -- every time watching a TV show here, every single commercial, ad after ad after ad is pretty harsh.  Is it hard?

CRUZ:  Well, Sean, thank you for asking that important question.  Politics can be a tough sport, but you know, when Ted does not take attacks personally, when it doesn't bother Ted because he knows what he's doing, he's principled, and he knows that he's telling the truth, it really rolls off the wife when the candidate's not too stressed.

HANNITY:  Yes.  You know, we're talking earlier...


HANNITY:  ... when you look at the national debt, you think of ISIS, you look at the Iranian deal, which drives me insane, you look at all the people out of work, in poverty, on food stamps, all the things we've been discussing, and then you've got a 7-year-old and 5-year-old little daughter, I mean, isn't really elections about them and that we want to leave America better than we inherited it?

CRUZ:  Absolutely.  The reason that Ted decided to run in 2016 is because he knows that what Washington is doing is not working, that the system's broken, that Washington's ignoring the American people, and that has huge implications for the future generations.  The reason that we are in this race is for our two daughters -- Caroline is 7, Catherine 5 -- but it's also for all the other kids...


HANNITY:  I wanted to interview them.  I think -- you know.

CRUZ:  They would love to.  One of them would love to be interviewed.


HANNITY:  I think we'd get smarter answers than what the president's now doing, but that's my own humble opinion.


CRUZ:  You'll definitely get it straight from the heart.



HANNITY:  Senator, look, we only have a couple of minutes left, and then I know you're going to address the crowd even further...

CRUZ:  By the way, I'll tell you quickly, Sean...


CRUZ:  ... you know, Caroline, when she was 3 or 4, was actually very impressed with the Sean Hannity show.


CRUZ:  Which is, if you remember during the whole Occupy Wall Street nonsense, and the protesters were there, and they were, if you'll recall, defecating on the public streets.

HANNITY:  I remember.

CRUZ:  And we had a discussion on your show and I made a comment on the show -- I said, Listen, even our 4-year-old understands not to poop in public.


CRUZ:  And when I came home, Caroline said, Daddy said poop on television!


CRUZ:  She thought it was the coolest thing she'd ever seen!

HANNITY:  You know, I want to ask you one thing.  You look at one poll that really stands out in my mind, that 60 percent of Republicans feel betrayed by Washington Republicans.


HANNITY:  Right?  I've said it many times.  I'm one of them.  In the final30 seconds we have, tell the audience both on TV and here in Charleston how that's not going to happen if you're elected.

CRUZ:  Look, we've been burned too many times before.  Over and over again, we win elections, the people go to Washington, and they don't do what they say.  And what I think what the people of South Carolina are looking for is a proven conservative.

You know, with Justice Scalia's passing, I think the people of South Carolina are asking, Who do I know beyond a shadow of a doubt will appoint principled constitutionalists that'll protect the Bill of Rights, free speech, religious liberty, the 2nd Amendment for our kids and grandkids?


HANNITY:  Thank you so much.  Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Ted Cruz and his wife, Heidi.

We'll take a quick break.  From Charleston, it's "Hannity" on the road.


HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity" as we come to you live in Charleston, South Carolina.  And -- wow.

You know, Senator Marco Rubio is with us.  How you all doing, Charleston?  
You all right?

You know, I've asked you a couple of times if, you know, this gets tiring you're doing four, five, six, seven cities a day interviews and between meetings in between that.  I -- I'm beginning to understand this is kind of fun.


This is what drives you.  Because these are folks that came out of work early maybe or on the way to worker just had a long day and they're able to be a part of this event.  They're fired up about America's future.  They know that they are going to play an important role starting tomorrow in changing a way from the Obama agenda and getting this country back on the right tracks.

HANNITY:  Let me ask one question.  How many of you feel on a scale of 1 to
10 and you can applaud if it's -- I'm going to ask you if it's 10 that you're worried about your country, the economy, the state of the world?  Are you all worried about that, right?

Senator, everywhere I go, so many people are concerned.  You got 95 million Americans out of the labor force, 50 million in poverty, 46 million on food stamps, you've got the doubling of the debt, you've got median income down.  
Those are scary numbers.

RUBIO:  They are and that's why people know something is going wrong here.  
I mean we've had ups and down before in or history but this feels different.  This is an effort by Barack Obama to change America.  He wants to make it more like the rest of the world.  And I say that too often.  They criticize me.  I repeat myself but it's the truth.

This is what's happening here.  We've had presidents before that have been bad but nothing like this.


RUBIO:  This is a real effort to make America more like another country.  
We want to be America again.

HANNITY:  You know, I did not disagree with your comment that -- I've never disagreed.  I actually believe this is by design.  This is, you know, back in 2007 and 2008 I as a conservative tried to warn the country that I thought this man was more radical than people knew and so I do believe it's by design.  Some of your fellow candidates disagreed with you about it.

RUBIO:  Well, it is by design.  ObamaCare was not an accident.  Dodd-frank was not an accident.  To deal with Iran was not an accident.  Apologizing for America is not an accident.  Gutting our military is not an accident.  These unconstitutional executive orders were not by accident.

He knows -- they exactly everything that's it's all part of a process.  They want to make America more like another country.  We're not going to let that happen.  That's why 2016 is so important.

HANNITY:  So, with all of these Americans and I really, you know, every time they throw out 95 million, 50 million, 46 million we forget these are our friends, our neighbors, our family, fellow Americans really suffering really struggling.  How do we get those people back to work and out of poverty and off of food stamps?  How do you get there?

RUBIO:  Well, first you do what they're doing in South Carolina, you embrace free enterprise.  You make America the easiest and best place in the world to start a business and grow a business because that's what creates jobs.  Not government.

And second, and second if you help people you people help themselves acquire the skills they need.  Look, if you're on food stamps, if you're on public assistance, you should either be working or going to school.  So you can find a good paying job and not have to rely on the government anymore.

And by the way, this is something I'd say all the time.  We need more vocational training in America.  We need to teach more of our kids to be welders, pine fitters, plumbers, airplane mechanics, car technicians.  These are good paying jobs.  We stop teaching people how to work with their hands, we have to change that.

HANNITY:  I -- it was a big part of my life.  I spent ten years in the construction business.  I agree whole heartily.  One of the things I think most people are concerned about, you know, I see a lot of little kids here.

RUBIO:  Yeah.

HANNITY:  This president will accumulate more debt than every other president before him combined.  How do you pay down $20 trillion in debt and also when you have $125 trillion in unfunded liabilities?

RUBIO:  Well, if you look at the driver of it, it's the way social security and medicare structured for my generation.  And my mom is on medicare and social security.  So I -- obviously I'm against anything that's bad for her, any changes that would be bad for her.

HANNITY:  I'm older than you, I'm hoping you won't take my social security money away.


But the thing is, we don't want to take it away from anybody.  We can leave it the way it is or even improve it for people that are on and now or about to retire.

But it's going to have to work a little differently for me than it does for my parents and my grandparents and I work for them.  And what I mean for that is, instead of retiring at 67 maybe I have to retire at 68.  That's not unreasonable to ask of me, 25 years away from retirement in exchange for bringing our debt under control, leaving it undisturbed for the people on it now and saving it future generation.

HANNITY:  Would you means test and raise the eligibility age?  Is that something .

RUBIO:  Yeah.  So .

HANNITY:  . for younger people.

RUBIO:  Yeah.  For people that are people 25 years, like me.  You know, my kids are 50 years away from retirement.

HANNITY:  They're not people, 54 like me, right?

RUBIO:  No, you'll be fine, Sean.

HANNITY:  By the way, I look a lot younger, don't you think?

RUBIO:  Right.


RUBIO:  No.  I think if you -- you're, you know, the cut-off is probably 10 years away from retirement or less and then everyone retired now.  Why?  Because I have 25 years to plan for that.  My mom is 85.  I can't -- she can't go back to work.

So you can't change it for the people that are on and now or about to retire.  And these changes are not unreasonable.  To say to someone that if you've made a lot of money in your life, your social security check is not going to grow as fast as someone who made a little less.  That's not an unreasonable change.  We don't have a choice.  These programs will not exist if we don't do something.

And so I think we leave it exactly the way it is for people that are on it now or about to retire.  We make modest reforms for future generations.  We save the programs.  We'd bring our debt under control and we can avoid this debt crisis that's coming.

HANNITY:  All right, we are live.  It's "Hannity".  We're in South Carolina.  We're in beautiful Charleston.  We'll continue.  When we come back, we'll talk about ISIS, immigration and much more as we continue on "Hannity".


HANNITY:  And welcome back to "Hannity".  As we come to you live.  We're in Charleston, South Carolina.  You're all having a good time?

What a great crowd.  Senator, everybody in this city and town and country is worried about ISIS.  It is modern evil in our time.

You know, it's sad to see cities like Ramadi and Fallujah and Mosul and Tikrit in the hands of ISIS.  George W. Bush warned about it.  How do we defeat this evil in our time?

RUBIO:  Well, first, we have to recognize that they're not going to go away on their own.  This is an apocalyptic group.

I mean, they have a -- they believe that their calling is to trigger an Armageddon an apocalypse, because they want to see this "12th Imam, The Mahdi" return and they believe -- I'm not saying that's what's going to happen, but that's what they believe.

People that believe this kind of stuff don't turn into stockbrokers.  They have to be defeated.  And that will require American leadership.

Now, I think they primarily need to be confronted on a ground by Sunni Arabs themselves.  A ground force made up of Saudis and Jordanians and Egyptians and Iraqis and Syrians but we're going to have to increase the air strikes.

What we're doing now is not enough.  Now, as pleased to see that we've finally went after them in that city in Libya where they've created their new headquarters.  They have a radio station.

Why is ISIS still on the air with a radio station?  I mean, these things, we need to take this seriously.  They are not as the president called them, a bunch of people on the back of a pickup truck.

HANNITY:  They are not the JV team either.

RUBIO:  They're not the JV team.


RUBIO:  It is the most well-funded Syria's radical Islamic Jihadist group in history and they must be confronted and defeated.

HANNITY:  Do we have to accept mentally, emotionally and be committed as a country that this could be a lifelong struggle as this caliphate advancement is real?

RUBIO:  Well, first of all, they've said they're willing to invest hundreds of years on this endeavor.

But let's not -- let's be clear what they want.  They want every single person in this room to either live under their black flag of ISIS or die.

HANNITY:  Or die.

RUBIO:  And this not -- this is a group that sells little girls off as brides, that burns people alive in cages.  They are very dangerous group.  And by the way, this is a group of people that love death more than we love life.  That's how dangerous they are.

HANNITY:  Explain to me if you can the president's rationale as it relates to -- he's insisting on at least 10,000 Syrian refugees, our national director of intelligence, our FBI director, our special envoy appointed to defeat ISIS have well warned that ISIS will infiltrate the refugee population.

Why would we gamble with the lives of the people in Charleston and the people of the country?

RUBIO:  Because it is part of his ideology and it doesn't make any sense to me.

We've always been a country that accepted refugees.  This is not about a religious test.  It's very simple.  The world has changed.  Our policies have to change to adapt to a new world.

And here's the problem with the Syrian refugee situation.  You allow 10,000 people in, 9,999 of them turned out to be fine and one of them is an ISIS killer, you got a problem.

That's why we have to be 100 percent sure and you cannot be 100 percent sure from people from coming from this part of the world.

HANNITY:  One of your opponents was angry that we wouldn't hack into the San Bernardino, one of the San Bernardino terrorist's phones.

RUBIO:  iPhone, right.

HANNITY:  I think Apple made a mistake.  I think you put the security of the fellow Americans that might be information about terrorist cells in that phone.  What are your thoughts about that?

RUBIO:  Well, ISIS, I mean, Apple is under a court order right now and they're going to appeal it but if they lose it, they have to follow the law.

It's a complicated issue because encryption also protects people and once you break it then that back door exists and criminals can get a hold to that.

HANNITY:  But there's no ambiguity.  These were terrorists.

RUBIO:  Absolutely.  But, the argument Apple is making is if you create a back door to encryption, then somebody else could find it and use it against you.

This is a very novel issue, it's a new issue.  But here's the bottom line, Apple is not above the law.

If the court has ordered them to comply, they have to comply.

DOBBS:  Well said.  Immigration, I think -- peace and prosperity historically drive elections.  But I would argue in this election season peace, prosperity, immigration, secure borders, migrants, immigrants are driving this election and that has been a big issue on the campaign and there's a lot of back and forth between you and the other candidates on it.

Where are you now, because we know where you were in 2008.  You've explained to me many times, that was not your plan that you wanted.  You thought you tried to make a deal, it didn't work out.  What would you do if you're president?

RUBIO:  Yeah.  I want us to deal with this issue.

Look, my parents are immigrants.  My grandparents are immigrants.  So no one can say I'm anti-immigrant.  It's ridiculous.

But we're a sovereign country.  Sovereign countries have a right to pick who comes here, when they come here and how they come here.  And we're the most generous country in the world on immigration.

So, the American people say in 1986, they legalized 3 million people.  They never did the security and turned into 11 or 12 million people.  We're not doing anything until our border is secure.  That mean, they verify entry exist tracking system to prevent visa overstays.  We are going to finish the 700 miles of wall and fencing and we're going to hire 20,000 new border agents instead of 20,000 new IRS agents and sanctuary cities will lose their federal money.

HANNITY:  All right.  We're in Charleston, we're South Carolina.  It's "Hannity".  When we come back, well, let's just say a special guest and friend of Senator Rubio will join us here on stage as we continue.


HANNITY:  And welcome back to beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.

Are you all having a good time?  It is.

We're with Senator Marco Rubio.  And a probably the biggest endorsement in the state is the governor of the great state of South Carolina, Governor Haley.

It's great to see you again, Governor Haley.  How are you?

NIKKI HALEY, R-S.C., GOVERNOR:  Thank you so much.  Welcome to South Carolina.

HANNITY:  It's a simple question but it's also a profound one.  I know everyone saw your endorsement.  You gave it to Senator Rubio.  Why?

HALEY:  You know, I'll tell you, after what we went through in 2015, I didn't think I would have more of a responsibility than I felt with this endorsement.  Because first and foremost, I'm a mom and I wanted to make sure that we had a country that was safe.  I'm the proud wife of a military combat veteran.  And I wanted to make sure we had a president that really understood what our military needs and how to have the backs of active duty and veterans.

And I'm a governor that knows that the hardest part of my job is the federal government each in every day.  And I wanted somebody that got that.  But I wanted passion.  I wanted a fighter.  I wanted someone with integrity.  And I wanted somebody with humility that knows they have to serve every person in the country.  Not just one of a political party.

HANNITY:  Let me just get an audience reaction.  Was this endorsement important to you?

HALEY:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.

HANNITY:  All right.  Now, I've got to ask every candidate questions that you know they don't want asked.  And I've been through -- I've been with you bunch.

So does that mean that Nikki Haley is -- if you'd win the nomination is on your short list to be vice president?

RUBIO:  Wow.  I think, she would be the person that tells you she has her plate full.  But here's my opinion, no matter who's the nominee is they're going to have her on that list.  She's one of the most talented people in American politics and one of our brightest lights in the conservative movement.

HANNITY:  Governor, the next logical question.  If asked to serve in that capacity, you have to consider it.

HALEY:  Sean, my plate really is full.  I mean, I have a daughter going off to college next year.  I've got a son .

HANNITY:  You notice she's ducking and dodging this question.

HALEY:  No.  I have a son in middle school.  I mean, I have more things I want to finish in South Carolina.

You know, I have no doubt that there's lots of talent out there but I love the people of South Carolina.  I really, really do.

HANNITY:  All right.  Fair enough.

What do you expect?  You know, it seemed that the poll numbers had solidified in the last 72 hours.  They've kind of -- been all over the place.  I saw one internal poll from Georgia that had you down by three and in second place just before I came out here which was interesting.

Where do you see this race going?  What are we going to see tomorrow night that maybe we expect or don't expect?

HALEY:  I'm not a political pundit.  So I'm not going to try.

HANNITY:  But you know your state.

HALEY:  But I will tell you that I do know my state.  And I do know that they're strong, responsible people with a lot of strength and grace.  The country saw that.  They will all get out and vote tomorrow.  They will all vote for the same things that I care about and that all of us care about in South Carolina.  And I think they're all going to vote for Marco Rubio for president.

HANNITY:  What an endorsement.  Senator Tim Scott is over here too.  Are you coming up, Senator?

HALEY:  Come on Tim.

HANNITY:  Come on up.

How are you, Senator?

SEN. TIM SCOTT, R-S.C.:  Very well, very well.

HANNITY:  Let me ask you the same questions that I asked Governor Haley.  
Why Marco?

SCOTT:  It's pretty simple.

HANNITY:  By the way, he has an 80 percent approval rating in the state.

SCOTT:  Thanks to you.  Thanks to you.  It was a hard choice at the beginning.  I did 12 forums one at a time.  I was looking for one candidate that would be head and shoulders above the rest or I would not have endorsed.

Three categories, number one, who would be commander in chief on the first day?  My brother who is colonel in the Air Force, very important to me that the commander in chief could take my brother's life and make a very important decision.  The person the most experienced on Foreign Affairs is Marco Rubio.  Intelligence Committee, Foreign Affairs, he understands the Middle East in a way that no other candidate has been able to articulate.

Number two, having grown up in a single parent household, understanding poverty in an intimate way.  Who can revive the economy not for the 1 percent but for middle income America.  Marco's lived that story.

HANNITY:  Let me -- we have less than a minute.  About 30 seconds.  And I just want to give it to you, Senator.

RUBIO:  Yeah.

HANNITY:  Tomorrow is the big day.  Your final push.  You can -- there's a camera there.  You can talk to the people whichever it's more comfortable.

RUBIO:  Yeah.  I mean not just here in South Carolina but around the country.  But tomorrow here in South Carolina, you have an important choice to make.  And we've got good people running.  But I want you to know that I'm running because I passionately believe that while we face real challenges, America's future is going to be greater than our history but only if we get this election right.

If we lose to the Democrats, we're going to pay a terrible price and we're going to be the first American that leaves their kids worse off than themselves.

If you nominate me to be president, I will be -- I am as concerned as anyone running for president.  But I am a conservative that can unite our party and I can grow it and we will win and we will turn America around.  And the 21 century is going to be the greatest era in the history of the United States.

HANNITY:  Senator Rubio, thank you.  Governor, good to see you.  Thank you.

HALEY:  Thank you.

HANNITY:  Thank you Senator.  Thank all of you in Charleston.  That's all the time we have left this evening.

Thank you for watching.We'll see you from Nevada on Monday.

Have a great weekend.

HALEY:  Thank you guys.


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