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Kelly File

Jeb: Obama continues to divide US by avoiding Scalia funeral; Kasich: Spirit of America is about connecting with others

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

MEGYN KELLY, FOX HOST:  Breaking tonight.  We are now less than ten hours away from the next big test in campaign 2016, as voters head to the polls in South Carolina in a race that could cement Donald Trump's role as the front-runner or confirm the establishment's MVP.  

Welcome to "The Kelly File," everyone.  I'm Megyn Kelly.  At this hour, the candidates are making their final pitches to the people of South Carolina.  We have live pictures coming back now from a Ted Cruz rally in Greenville, South Carolina.  It just started moments ago.  He has a tough fight on his hands, with the latest polling showing businessman Donald Trump the clear favorite in this race.  According to the Real Clear Politics average, Mr. Trump leads the PAC at 32 percent.  Fourteen points ahead of his next closest competitor and it appears there is little to stand in his way.  He has been dogged this week about questions regarding his opposition to the Iraq war.  Mr. Trump has used the issue to point to his good judgment, saying he opposed that war from the start.  But a new, uncovered interview appears to contradict his claim.  Listen.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I'm the one that said, don't go into Iraq and I said that, don't go into Iraq, 2003, 2004, and before then.  

HOWARD STERN, RADIO SHOW HOST:  Are you for invading Iraq?

TRUMP:  Yes, I guess so.  You know, I wish the first time it was done correctly.  That was long before the war began, and by the time the war began, I was, you know, I was saying, and I'm on record as saying that we shouldn't go in --   

STERN:  But you're not on record at all opposing the war before it began.  There's simply no evidence of that sir.  

TRUMP:  Well, there is evidence and I'll find evidence because I was against the war.  By the time the war started, I was against and in 2003 you have evidence that I was against and I've been against it for years.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY:  And now we have gotten our hands on audio taken just one day after the 2003 invasion in which he spoke to Fox News' own Neil Cavuto and did not seem exactly anti-war.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Well, I think Wall Street's waiting to see what happens, but even before the fact there, obviously taking a little bit for granted, and it looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint and I think this is really nothing compared to what you will going to see after the war is over.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY:  So far, there's no evidence that this controversy, Trump's fight with the Pope or anything else that has come up this week is changing the significant lead held by Donald Trump.  And yet optimism abounds within both the Cruz and Rubio campaigns, we're told.  We have a big show for you tonight, complete with four of the Republican presidential candidates, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both here to take questions from our Frank Luntz focus group.  

In moments, we'll also be joined by Jeb Bush, plus John Kasich is here, as well.  But we begin tonight with Chris Stirewalt, our Fox News digital politics editor.  Rich Lowry, National Review editor and a Fox News contributor.  And Roger Stone, a former Trump political advisor.  Great to see you all.  

So we're visiting the O'Reilly studio, which is why we get to have you on the set.  It's great to see you in New York.  

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR:  It's good to be here.  

KELLY:  Let's talk about what you expect to happen tomorrow.  You know, based on what you're seeing.    

STIREWALT:  Giant Trumpness.  This should be the best Trump yet.  I think in a lot of ways, it's an open primary state, so his coalition of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans can come together in South Carolina.  It should be good for him.  And it should cement his status going into the Southern primaries -- in the beginning in March.

KELLY:  Uh-hm.

STIREWALT:  This should be a great night for Donald Trump tomorrow.  

KELLY:  What do you think, Roger?

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP POLITICAL ADVISOR:  I think Trump wins.  I'm not sure what the margin is.  I do think that Marco Rubio is on the move.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Ted Cruz be third.  

KELLY:  Really?  

STONE:  Yes.

KELLY:  What would that do for his candidacy?

STONE:  Well, I think it's problematic going into the rest of the Southern states.  I mean, South Carolina is the doorway into the rest of the south.  We put it there in 1980.  Really to help Ronald Reagan and it worked.  And if he can't score there, it's very tough for him going into the Southern states.  

KELLY:  You think so, if Rubio comes out in second, let's put it that way.

STONE:  Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY:  If he comes in the second position --  

STONE:  Right.  Yes.

KELLY:  You say he's got the establishment crowned?

STONE:  Well, and I think at that point Bush collapses and Rubio becomes the establishment candidate.  

KELLY:  Is that true?  Do you agree?  

STIREWALT:  If Marco Rubio has a second place finish, we'll start to see there is a magic moment that's going to happen in this Republican nominating process, where it will become a referendum on Donald Trump.  It's becoming a referendum on Donald Trump.  I mean, at some point that will take place.  The sooner that it becomes a two-man race and the sooner that second man is Marco Rubio, the sooner that takes place.  Look, I think Jeb Bush and John Kasich and other candidates are aware of their problem, and their problem is voters in South Carolina know that a vote for Jeb Bush is a vote for Donald Trump, because you're prolonging the process that allows Trump to take advantage of a divided field.  

KELLY:  But Rich Lowry, let me ask you.  Because is it correct to assume that let's say, if Ben Carson drops out, if even Ted Cruz were to get  out of this race, that their supporters would necessarily go to Marco Rubio over Donald Trump?

RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW EDITOR:  Some of them would, not all of them obviously, and especially Cruz, there may be more overlap with Trump than there is with Rubio.  But I agree with everything that's been said, and especially if Trump has a big margin tomorrow night, if it's double digits, if it's somewhere in the mid-30s, the head of steam is going to be incredible.  He's going to go in Nevada with major momentum.  And the one poll we have lately out of Nevada has him at 45 percent already.  So, presumably he's going to win Nevada.  And then he's going to go into Super Tuesday having demonstrated in the strength in the south by winning South Carolina, after winning the last three states, after beating Ted Cruz in the south with Marco Rubio never having won a state in this scenario --  

KELLY:  Yes. Simply had to win.

LOWRY:  And he's going to win eight, nine, ten contests.  

KELLY:  I don't know much about politics but simply you have to win.  You can't spin your third place, fifth place, and possibly worst place.   

LOWRY:  Yes.  Check it out with Stirewalt before you're certain about that.  But I think you can't finish third constantly and win the nomination.  

KELLY:  This is why we pay you guys to tell us these things.  But what about Trump's negatives?  Because even in South Carolina, they're saying 40 percent of the people say they would never vote for him.  And obviously, there's a whole faction of the Republican Party that doesn't want Trump.  He's nobody's second choice.  He's tons of people first choice, right?  So, how does that play?  Because at some point people will going to have to start to realize, he's probably going to be the nominee.  

STIREWALT:  So, we've talked about the phenomenon of what I call the Donald Trump's leveraged buyout of the Republican Party in which he has 33 percent to 40 percent of the voting shares.  But the rest of the board can't get behind any single choice.  So, he is able to take advantage.  His whole strategy, everything about Donald Trump, depends on the prolonging the time until the rest of the party says, well, Marco Rubio is not our dream date.  We didn't all want him.  

KELLY:  Dream date Marco.

STIREWALT:  Right.  We always wanted somebody else.  Exactly.  But we'll take him because he's the best guy to go up against Trump and we think against Hillary.  

KELLY:  Divide and conquer.  And he's been doing very well.  Now, speaking of war strategies, he got in a bit of a confrontation with a questioner at the CNN town hall last night who was not happy about Trump's claims during the last debate that Bush lied, President Bush lied about WMDs to get us into the war in Iraq.  Here's the question and exchange.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ORAN SMITH, PRESIDENT, PALMETTO FAMILY COUNCIL:  When you said that George W. Bush, which was our last Republican president, that he lied to get us in the war in Iraq, that stung me very deeply.  I don't believe that.  I'm just wondering, given some time passing, perhaps you've rethought that, would you be willing to rethink that?

TRUMP:  Well, a lot of people agree with what I've said.  And I'm not talking about lying, I'm not talking about not lying, nobody really knows why we went into Iraq.  

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR:  What you said was, they lied, you said, there were weapons of mass destruction, and there were none and they knew there were none, there were no weapons of mass destruction.  

TRUMP:  Well, a lot of people think that.  There were a lot of people that look -- bottom-line, there were no weapons of mass destruction.  

SMITH:  Do you think the president of the United States, George W. Bush, lied --  

TRUMP:  Well, look, I'm not going to get your vote but that's OK -- let me tell you something --   

SMITH:  I'm just giving you another shot at it.  

TRUMP:  I'll tell you it very simply.  It may have been the worst decision going into Iraq, may have been the worst decision anybody has made, any president has made in the history of this country, that's how bad it is.  OK?  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY:  Rich Lowry, what do you make of that?  Because clearly at the debate he said, they lied, that he lied, and then last night he said, well, a lot of people think that, I don't know.  

LOWRY:  Yes.  He's clearly trying to soften it a little bit.  Look, a lot of Republicans feel like that voter who asked that question.  Now, what trump said about the Iraq war is not going to matter to his core supporters -- his core supporters who clearly operate by the Fifth Avenue rule, which is Trump can do anything and they're still with him as long as he's disrupting the system.  But the question is, whether he's building a ceiling for himself and it's going to be hard for him.  Will there be enough resistance in the party to keep him from getting above 50 percent.  

KELLY:  What do you make of that last point, Roger?  

STONE:  I think it's meaningless.  The first one is the best -- the better position for a general election.  And second, whether it was incompetence or whether it was treasonous, it was an enormous mistake.  

KELLY:  But that's a big deal.  That is an important distinction.  

STONE:  Doesn't seem to be the Republican voters.  

KELLY:  Treason, the T word.  Now you really --  

STONE:  Look, I'm not -- as you know, I am not a Bush fan, but I don't think that either charging Bush on 9/11 or charging him on the war has hurt Trump's candidacy in his lies.  Many Republicans agree with him.  

KELLY:  Great to see you all.  Thank you.

STIREWALT:  You bet.  

KELLY:  Also today in Washington, a public display of remembrance and appreciation for a legal titan.  Look at this, long lines of mourners that stretched for blocks and blocks, as well as his beloved family all turned out to honor Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.  His casket carried into the great hall of the U.S. Supreme Court to lie in repose, on the very platform in which President Abraham Lincoln's coffin rested.  His fellow justices there to pay their respects along with an honor guard of his former clerks and his loved ones.  Also in attendance today, the President and the First Lady, and it was Justice Scalia's own son, himself a Roman Catholic priest, who offered a prayer for his father.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL SCALIA, SON OF ANTONIN SCALIA:  God of faithfulness, in your wisdom you have called your servant Antonin out of this world.  Release him from the bonds of sin and welcome him into your presence so that he may enjoy eternal life and peace and be raised up in glory with all your saints.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY:  Joining us now, presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.  Governor, good to see you.  

I recognize that the President and First Lady were there, but we've been talking all week about how it will be unprecedented that he will not attend the funeral tomorrow.  Never in history has a sitting U.S. President not attended the funeral of a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  And the question for you is whether you believe he's shirking his duty as our head of state in not going?

JEB BUSH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think he is.  He's also the most divisive president we've had in modern history and this is yet another example.  People will look to this and say, he didn't go because he didn't respect the incredible judicial mind of one of the great jurists of all time.  And it's a shame.  The President needs to be a healer rather than a divider.  And every step along the way, this president is gifted as he is, has used his skills to divide the country and we're living in a dangerous times and needed someone who tries to create a unity of purpose.  This is sadly another example of why he's not an effective president.  

KELLY:  Let's talk politics for a minute.  Because now you just heard our panel, maybe you didn't, but they suggested that voters in South Carolina now --  

BUSH:  Oh, I did.  I heard them.  

KELLY:  OK.  So, they were suggesting -- he's talking about Stirewalt.  He's still here.  He has a shameful look on his face.  But he was suggesting that voters in South Carolina are understanding that a vote for you or vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.  

BUSH:  That's ridiculous.  That is absolutely ridiculous.  And it does a disservice to the people that are working hard and my campaign and does a disservice to the voters of South Carolina.  They should pick who they think should be the person that could beat Hillary Clinton and can lead as president of the United States.  In my case is, that I have a proven record unlike other candidates that I can be commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and president of the United States on day one.  We're living in dangerous times.  We need someone who has a steady hand and detailed plans to fix the mess in Washington.  

KELLY:  Uh-hm.

BUSH:  So, with all due respect to the pundits hanging out in New York, I think I'll let the voters of South Carolina decide.  

KELLY:  There is a report in Politico tonight that several Jeb Bush campaign workers are shopping their resumes, believing that you will not continue on after South Carolina.  Is that true?

BUSH:  With all due respect to Politico, let's let the voters decide this.  I don't read Politico, I think it's trash.  

KELLY:  As we sit here on the eve of South Carolina, the voting starting to begin in 10 hours or so.  What is your final message to the voters there?

BUSH:  Well, that we can grow our economy at four percent rather than two percent.  That we can restore the military cuts to keep us strong.  That we need a commander-in-chief and president of the United States that will restore America's leadership in the world to keep us safe and that we need someone who will change the culture as I did in Tallahassee to bring about a balanced budget amendment and change the culture so that we can rise up again as a nation.  And people are deeply pessimistic about the future.  They're latching on to the big horse on the stage in the case of the Republican nomination.  But that guy isn't going to solve their problems, I can.  

KELLY:  Governor Jeb Bush, thanks for being here.  

BUSH:  Thanks, Megyn.  

KELLY:  All the best.  

Also tonight, a judge has decided to look at the issue of whether Senator Cruz is eligible to be president of the United States.  And we'll show you why he took that on in just a moment.  

Plus, Governor John Kasich joins us with the inside story of one of the most powerful moments we've seen this year on the campaign trail.  

Plus, we put together a focus group of South Carolina Republican primary voters to get their final thoughts before they vote in just a few hours.  And then we surprise them with Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz who gave them each a rose.  No, it's not that kind of show.  But we will show you what did happened when the questions started flying like this one to Senator Rubio.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Among all the negative ads with the candidates, the one that affected me the most is the one that continues to say that you have not shown up for votes but I have not heard you explain or defend that whatsoever.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY:  One new developments in the saga over Senator Ted Cruz's eligibility to be president, as a judge sets an official court date to hear Senator Cruz's side of the story.  This after the complaint was already dismissed by lower body.  

Trace Gallagher live in our West Coast Newsroom with the story -- Trace.  

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Megyn, the initial lawsuit filed by Lawrence Joyce, an Illinois pharmacist and attorney, claims that Ted Cruz is not a natural born citizen, is not eligible to run for president, and should have his name taken off the Illinois primary ballot.  Ted Cruz's lawyer filed a motion to dismiss, and now the Cook County Circuit Court will hear the matter on March 1st.  

Even though Mr. Joyce is a Ben Carson supporter, he says this isn't about pushing his candidate, it's about saving the Republican Party.  Joyce says, he's terrified that Cruz will win the nomination, be disqualified and the Republican Party will choose an inadequate replacement candidate.  Joyce believes Donald Trump should file his own lawsuit, because Trump has the money and power to pursue it, and because Trump is the one who first brought it up.  Listen.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE JOYCE, ILLINOIS VOTER:  I made it publicly clear that even though I'm a Carson supporter, he could take my case if he wanted to, because the legal issues are the same for all the candidates.  And I never heard a peep out of him.  So, I'm beginning to wonder if Donald Trump is even sincere in the first place.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER:  Ted Cruz says, quote, "I have never breathed a breath of air on this planet when I was not a U.S. citizen.  It was the act of being born that made me a citizen."  And Lawrence Joyce agrees that yes, he is a citizen but argues that because he was born in Canada, he's a U.S. citizen by statute, not a natural born citizen as the constitution declares.  The issue has never been ruled on by the Supreme Court, and is the subject of disagreement by some of the country's most respected constitutional scholars, although we should note the vast majority believe Ted Cruz is eligible to run -- Megyn.  

KELLY:  Yes.  And the board of elections has already so held this is an attempt to reverse that decision.  Trace, good to see you.

Well, an extraordinary moment on the South Carolina campaign trail yesterday.  Governor John Kasich was speaking to voters when a young man stood up and what happened next has appeared on virtually every broadcast in the nation.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I drove up today from the University of Georgia, and, sorry for you all -- and I did it because I wanted to let you know and let everyone else here know why I'm supporting you and why that support is unwavering.  And I don't want to get too emotional.  But it's pretty serious but has happy ending.  Like over a year ago, a man who is like my second dad, he killed himself.  And then a few months later, my parents got a divorce, and then a few months later, my dad lost his job.  And I was in a really dark place for a long time.  I was pretty depressed.  But I found hope and I found it in the lord and in my friends, and now I've found it in my presidential candidate that I support.  And I really appreciate one of those hugs you've been talking about.  

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY:  Joining me now, a Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich.  

Governor, it's great to see you.  What a moment that was and to your credit, when you whispered in that young man's ear, you did not lift up the microphone, you had a private moment with him where you shared whatever it is, you shared.  And then you went back to speak to the crowd and talk about what you've learned on the campaign trail when it comes to renewal and human connection.  Tell us now.  

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, you might remember, Megyn, when we did this interview, when I was in New Hampshire I was telling you about these special, private moments that people have felt comfortable coming to, of all things, a political town hall, and talking about things that people really feel deeply about.  I have some guests here tonight.  I'm not going to give you any of the background, but they came to see me, because they have a very serious problem in their family.  And, you know, I think they're seeing most of the candidates, but I've had a little private meeting with them.  And it's just there's something that has struck me about the needs of a people out there who feel disconnected.  And what I've been saying is, we all need to slow down a little bit, put ourselves in each other's shoes and begin to live a life bigger than ourselves,
Megyn.  

Because, you know, look, we want to elect a president.  But when you grew up and I grew up, we didn't have anybody coming in on a white charger trying to solve all our problems.  A lot of times, we roll up our sleeves, pour ourselves up by our bootstraps and connect with other human beings, because deep inside of us is sort of a notion that we do want to be connected to other people.  

KELLY:  Uh-hm.

KASICH:  We do want to be able to lift one another.  That's the spirit of America.  That's what we're all about here in the United States of America from the very beginning.  Connectivity, living a life bigger than ourselves and doing it without having to wait for the government to fix our problems.  And the government can help us, Megyn.  Of course, the government has its responsibility, but if we really want to restore the fire to the American spirit, we've got to do it right where we live.  And I know you know that.  

KELLY:  That quiet dignity, that love, that connection is a lovely sentiment and heartfelt.  When you look at the American electorate right now, doesn't it feel like it's going a different way?

KASICH:  Megyn, they're very concerned.  Look, they're concerned that they're in their 50s and they're going to lose their job, either because the economy is bad or somebody from some other country is going to come in and steal their job by dumping something in this country that we can't compete against.  They're worried about their kids being in a position where, you know, they're not going to have the kind of life that we got from our parents.  But they're looking for hope, they're looking to believe that the story doesn't have to end in a negative.  And I don't believe that it does, Megyn.  I mean, look, we've been through a lot worse times in America than what we're going through now.  

And with a little leadership and some good, conservative principles to reignite the economy and to make sure we leave no one behind, I find people very hopeful.  Look, I've done more town halls than virtually everybody put together and I think I've got a pretty good sense of what people want and they want to believe, and they want hope, they want to change and they want to believe that they themselves can help change the world.  I believe it.  

KELLY:  Governor Kasich, we are here now on the eve of the South Carolina primary.  The polls put you in fifth or sixth place.  What's the path ahead for you?

KASICH:  We're going to go all over the country, Megyn.  Look, when I finished strong in New Hampshire, people said that all the supporters that I would get in South Carolina could fit in a Volkswagen.  Well, I mean, we've done better than that.  We're going to be able to at least put them in a van.  You know?  

KELLY:  The family tractor.

KASICH:  Yes.  We're going to Vermont, Massachusetts, Virginia on Monday, Mississippi, Louisiana, and we'll compete in Super Tuesday.  We'll be in Michigan, Ohio.  We're going to go all across the country, and, you know, we're going to do better than people expect here, but we never expected to win here.  And it's not critical that we do, but we certainly want the people of South Carolina to give us some support.  

KELLY:  You know, not long ago, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC took some hits for getting up and hugging Clinton and Sanders at the end of a debate.  I think it's safe to say that most of the anchors in this building and most of the people watching this show would like to give you a hug right now just like that young man.  Thank you for being here.  

It was just a nice moment, wasn't it?  It's just nice to see him connect with that suffering young man who had gotten to a better place, listening to an optimistic message and helping to turn his life around.  

In any event, before the voting is done tomorrow, they expect to break records in South Carolina, and we will speak with the state GOP chair tonight about what that means and about what they're seeing in terms of absentee votes coming in already.  What counties they're coming from.  

Plus, Marco Rubio goes one on one with the South Carolina voters, next.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You're my number one right now with Trump at close second.  What can you say or (INAUDIBLE) about you or immigration right now?  What can you do real quickly to clarify immigration to make me vote for you?   

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY: Breaking Tonight, we are less than 10 hours out now from the first votes cast in South Carolina's GOP primary. The "Kelly File" put together a focus group of Palmetto State Republicans to get their final thoughts, then we surprised them by bringing in two of the frontrunners, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Ted Cruz.

We recorded the group's reactions in real time, and in moments, those reactions will be displayed on your screen. It will look like this. The red line represents the feelings of the conservatives in the audience. The green line is the moderates. When the lines go up, it means they like what they're hearing, when they go down, not so much. Pollster Frank Luntz ran the deal and we begin with Senator Rubio. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is with great pleasure I introduce the senator from Florida, Marco Rubio.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn the dial (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Word or phrase to describe Marco Rubio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Awesome statesman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Conservative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Presidential.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Establishment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Handsome.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diplomatic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got to ask you, are you married?

(LAUGHTER)

Are you happily married?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, that's a pretty good response. Is there anything briefly that you feel that the voters of South Carolina and America haven't heard from you yet that you would want them to know as they make up their minds?

MARCO RUBIO, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm not sure you haven't heard it yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab your dials (ph).

(OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And let's -- let's rate Marco Rubio.

RUBIO: I'm not sure you haven't heard it yet but I want to reiterate why it is that I decided to enter public service and run for the presidency, and that is that I believe that my generation will either leave our children the freest and most prosperous Americans that have ever lived or we're going to be the first Americans to leave our kids worse off than ourselves and that's what motivates me to do this. That's the reason why I feel so passionate about this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marco?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got three people here who are first time voters. What is your question for him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question. One of the greatest passions of mine is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere, no matter .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . this state, North Carolina, all over the world. Tell me your stance on religious liberty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to do the other two. Your question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're in my top -- or you're my number one right now with Trump that close second. How -- what can you say or my withdrawals about you or immigration right now. What can you do real quickly to clarify immigration to make me vote for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're also a first time voter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mine is about immigration. You say that you don't want to deport the -- like it's impossible to deport the -- to -- or the -- all the illegal immigrants here, but why don't you at least try? Because I mean, they did break the law by coming here illegally and they are taking the American jobs, so why don't you just at least try to deport them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My recommendation is to go for the undecided guy.

(LAUGHTER)

RUBIO: Why -- he said that I'm number one, but well, I can go out on the religious liberty. It's not just the liberty to believe whatever you want. It's the ability to live out your faith in every aspect of your life. It's the free exercise, meaning, you know, government should never force you to violate your conscience.

(APPLAUSE)

I think the two questions were about immigration, and let me just say, number one, I don't believe we can round up and deport 12 million people. I don't think you would support what it would take to do that one when started happening.

(APPLAUSE)

I do believe that people will have to be deported. The law has to be enforced, and I think we should begin with people that are dangerous and pose a threat. That should be happening now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now.

RUBIO: And -- and I think, that should be happening now. I mean, people that pose a threat to public safety should be the first ones we prioritize, and that should be happening now irrespective of anything else, and about immigration, I would just say, it's very clear we're not moving to anything on immigration until the American people see that illegal immigration is under control. And not just pass a law. That's what we learned in 2013.

Passing a law alone is not enough. They want to actually see the wall built. They want to actually see we'd hire the additional border agents. They want to actually see e-verify in place and they want to see an entry-exit tracking system in place, and it's working because after 1986 when Reagan did it, they never did the enforcement part. And people are saying, we're not going to allow this happen, again, and that's the -- that's exactly why I don't think we can do anything else until that happens first.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before anybody else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the bold act (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I want to know why you have supported the Gang of
Eight Bill then?

RUBIO: Yeah. So, back then in 2013, the Senate was moving forward on immigration reform. And so, what I wanted to do is make it as conservative as possible in a Senate controlled by Harry Reid, sending it over to the House because you can't just pass a bill from the Senate and send to the president and the hopes that the conservative House would make it even better.

And if you go back at the time and see my statements, it was very clear. I said it over and over again. This bill is not strong enough. It won't pass this way. The House is going to have to make it stronger, and that's the only way we're going to have a chance to do it. So that's what I endeavored to do is to make it as strong as possible. That isn't the way we're going to do it when I'm president.

When I'm president, I can do it our way, not the way they wanted to do it, and that was never going to be the final law, but I wanted to make it as conservative as is (ph) -- and so I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to have an impact on an issue that's still haunts us. We're still facing this issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The single -- the -- among all the negative ads with the candidates, the one that has affected me the most is the one that continues to say that you have not shown up for votes, but I have not heard you explain or defend that whatsoever.

RUBIO: Why I have almost a 90 percent vote record in my entire time, the five years in the Senate. When just I started running for president, I started missing some votes. For example, votes that past 97 to nothing or votes on a district judge that everyone support or votes that haven't been consequential. When there's been a vote where I can make a difference around a major public policy matter, like funding planned or defunding Planned Parenthood I make those votes.

Last week, I took off the campaign and went back to vote on North Korea sanctions. But when you run for president, I can't be in two places at once, and ultimately, I'm running for president. It's because while senators are going to help shape the agenda. Only a president can set the agenda. These bills that we're voting on, Obama is going to veto them. We need a new president, and that's why, I spend time on the campaign trail. I'm not running for re-election for the Senate. I'm either going to be a private citizen or the next president of the United States. I feel that passionately that we need to improve in that office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your reaction in his answer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love the answer because I know that you've got to work with what you've got to deal with and I want to see you do more when you get to the Senate and .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  . I saw you leave Columbia the other day to go back and vote in North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your reaction to his answer?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's honest and sincere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing that I love is that you noticed he said, "I'm not running for re-election for Senate. I'll either be a private citizen." So, it's not like he's falling back on a job he has. That's why I believe him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. You can teach up Clark (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marco, I've got a question for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love Jeb Bush .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . but I do not want Donald Trump. Should I consider voting for you on Saturday?

RUBIO: Well, I honestly believe I'm the only one left in this race that can do two things, and we have to do them both. One is we have to unite this movement. We're going to have -- we'll have a spirited primary, but if we're still fighting with each other in September and October, we're going to lose, and if we lose, that means that Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton are president.

And number two, we have to grow this movement. Now, in the past, you know what they've told us we need to do grow this movement. We have to water down our principles, be less conservative. I don't believe that for one second. I believe that we need to take our principles to people that don't
vote for us now and I'm going to. I am going to take the things I believe in conservatism to people that are living the way that I grew up, to people that live paycheck to paycheck, to students that have loans, to families raising their children, to first generation Americans, and I'm going to say, "I lived the way you're living now. I grew up the way you're living now, and I'm a conservative and you should be too. It's right for you. It was right for me and that's what right for America."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reaction?

(APPLAUSE)

Absolutely.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm with that (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: And straight ahead, Senator Ted Cruz does the same, going face to face with the South Carolina primary voters that will decide his fate tomorrow. We'll show you how he did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED CRUZ, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Give a word or phrase to describe .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right. Senator Cruz, you will change my mind .

CRUZ: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . and you'll have my vote if you can answer this question. How, step by step, do you plan on removing ObamaCare?

CRUZ: All right. Andy (ph), it's a great question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY: Will Senator Ted Cruz was next up in the lion's den. Watch what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Ted Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me a word or phrase to describe Ted Cruz.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Constitutionalist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Conservative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conservative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Constitutionalist. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Savvy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Impressive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Logical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not all good. Mostly good.

(LAUGHTER)

Senator, what have you not -- and if you all can grab your dials. This is going to be a discussion.

CRUZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if you not had the chance to tell them that would help them make up their minds? How many of you are undecided today? Raise your hands. This is your chance to reach out to about a third of the group. What would you tell them that might convince them that you're the right candidate and everyone grab your dials and let's start reacting.

CRUZ: Well, listen, I think the stakes have never been higher than they are right now. I think one of the great things of the people of South Carolina, is you all been looking very seriously at these candidates. You know, this Saturday, when we had the last debate, earlier that day Justice Scalia passed away. And I think it really underscored just how high the stakes are in this election. And what I believe the men and women of South Carolina are looking for is they're asking who can I trust?

You know, the Supreme Court right now is hanging in the balance and our basic constitutional rights, our second amendment, our free speech, our religious liberty, every one of them, we're one liberal justice away from that being -- being taken away from us, and what we've seen over and over, again, the Democrats, when they have the white house, they always put left wing activists on the courts. The problem is, Republicans, more than half the time, we mess it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you guys agree with that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, then why should they trust you?

CRUZ: Because I've spent my whole life fighting to defend the Constitution. I spent my whole life fighting to defend the bill of rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What question would you like to ask Senator Cruz?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to ask him if things don't work out for the presidential election, I think you would be a fabulous Supreme Court justice.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are great.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you accept that when you're nominated?

CRUZ: Listen. Thank you, I appreciate this. You got -- you know, look, what I'll tell you, having principled Supreme Court justices is immensely important, but I think our country is in crisis right now. You know, I would like to be in a position to appoint two, three, four, five principled Supreme Court justices. But we also need a president who will -- who will fight to repeal ObamaCare. We need a president who will fight to pass a flat tax. We need a president who's .

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need a Supreme Court that's going to hold that up. It needs to be .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: . who did it legislatively .

CRUZ: I promise you are preaching to the choir so much. I mean, listen, I've spent almost my entire life practicing in front of the Court. But on foreign policy, we need a president that stands with Israel, that defeats radical Islamic terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm a veteran myself.

CRUZ: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband is a retiree of the United States Army. What are you going to do to help our Armed Forces .

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: . particularly our veterans?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

CRUZ: Huge -- hugely important question. We've got to rebuild the military. The weakening of the military under Obama has been absolutely unconscionable. Earlier this week, in South Carolina, I rolled out a comprehensive plan to rebuild the military. To start with Obama has proposed reducing our army down to 450,000 soldiers, that's too weak to get the job done. We're going to rebuild to 525,000 and stand. We're going to take .

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the back quote (ph) of the Supreme Court decision that was made this past summer .

CRUZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . how do you see that continuing to affect our religious liberties in the negative way that it already seems to have been doing?

CRUZ: Listen, you're absolutely right. The gay marriage decision, it was utterly lawless, it was illegitimate, it was contrary to the Constitution, and as far as I'm concerned, it will not stand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Senator Cruz, you will change your mind .

CRUZ: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . and you'll have my vote if you can answer this question. I have a lot of friends in the medical field .

CRUZ: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . and we can all agree that ObamaCare is a cancer, and it is a cancer that needs to be cut out but it needs to be cut out the right way.

CRUZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you cut it out the wrong way, it's going to absolutely kill the country and kill our health care system.

CRUZ: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How, step by step, do you plan on removing ObamaCare?

CRUZ: Andy (ph), it's a great question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CRUZ: I think we got to start by repealing every word of it. But once we do that, we're not done. Everyone agrees we need health care reform. I think health care reform ought to expand competition, ought to empower patients and ought to keep government from getting between us and our doctors. We need to let people purchase health insurance across state lines. We need to expand health savings accounts. We need to make health insurance portable, so it goes with you from job to job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he win your vote?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He von the vote.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's great (ph), excellent.

(APPLAUSE)

One last question, we're going in the back center, you're up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people I know are scared of you. I had a friend next to me who just -- I know -- thought it was rather ridiculous, but she did say, she thought if you wanted to be theocracy. How are you going to convince moderates .

CRUZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: .and independents that you're not going to, you know, turn the country into a theocracy or anything, you know, so right winged that they get crazy about it?

CRUZ: Well, listen, one of the things the media does is they try to paint anyone who is actually a Bible-believing Christian as a nut.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you guys agree with that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CRUZ: And so, it's wrong. Listen, I am a Born Again Christian, it's who I am. It's integral to who I am, and I'm not going to hide my faith. I'm not going to be ashamed of Jesus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.

CRUZ: But -- but, you know, I'm .

(APPLAUSE)

. at the same time, I'm not running to be pastor in chief. My dad is a pastor. But it's not the job of a president or candidate or a president to be the pastor. It is the job of the president to be the leader for everyone, and I think the answer you can give your friends more than anything is that I am a constitutionalist, and the bill of right protects everyone, religious liberty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

CRUZ: It protects Christians. It protects Jews. It protects Muslims. It protects Hindus. It protects atheists. I mean, this is a nation where we have a right to follow our conscience, our religious faith to seek out God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you guys agrees with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Ted Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

KELLY: Up next, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party on why he is predicting something historic in tomorrow's vote. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY: Well, our South Carolina Focus Group also spoke about the election and one voter was not happy that Donald Trump is threatening to sue Ted Cruz over his eligibility to run for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can take it. He's a - he whines as much as Jeb Bush does when he -- when it's -- when it turned against him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're his words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they're his words.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't matter but let him come out .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, 30 years ago, Trump (ph) .

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . and prove now that he's changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not a politician. He's not a politician

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me -- oh, excuse me, he's a real politician.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reagan was a politician.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He knows how to fight power .

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are about to drive .

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not. No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a politician.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Although .

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: South Carolinians are fun. Matt Moore is chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. Matt, you say this is -- this race has not been too harsh down there. That's a par (ph) for the course in South Carolina.

MATT MOORE, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: What a great country, Megyn. I think tomorrow we'll see record turnout on our side. About 650,000 people here in South Carolina. About double New Hampshire and Iowa combined.

KELLY: What was it last time?

MOORE: This is a big important for me .

KELLY: What was it four years ago in the GOP primary?

MOORE: It was 600 -- and 603,000 people voted in South Carolina last time. I think -- we've seen gigantic (ph) so from media metrics or Facebook accounts just through the route (ph) people are interested in this primary in South Carolina.

KELLY: All right. Absentee ballots.  You're getting a lot of them?

MOORE: Yeah. We saw an absentee ballot record on Monday of this week, five days before the primary. About 25,000 returned at that point. That's more than last time. And we'll have about -- I think about 40,000 returned once it's all said and done. Tomorrow .

KELLY: Is that military?

MOORE: . I can't (ph). That includes military and overseas ballots, as well. It's right, Megyn.

KELLY: Can you glean anything from that?

MOORE: People are excited. They want to turn the page on seven years of bad policies.

KELLY: What I mean about who they're voting .

MOORE: When you put a Republican into the White House .

KELLY: . for?

MOORE: Well, I think it's hard to say. A lot of absentee ballots returned and -- in Horry County or around the Coast, some in the upstate, some in Charleston, the low country. It's a big mix, depending on what candidate you think might do well tomorrow.

KELLY: So, you can't tell anything along ideological lines like you're getting a ton in moderate counties or you're getting in really conservative counties.

MOORE: Not really. The upstate maybe in random (ph) -- maybe that helps Ted Cruz on the Coast, maybe -- maybe Donald Trump, maybe down in Charleston. It's hard to tell. It's a big mix -- a big melting pot down in Charleston. But certainly, it's one thing to watch tomorrow night.

KELLY: Are you going to predict a winner?

MOORE: Well, Donald Trump has been leading the past 20 out of 21 polls I believe here in South Carolina. I it would be a big surprise tomorrow night if Donald Trump does not win. The race here seems to be for second and being in the top tier of candidates that goes on next week to Nevada and to the Southern States on March 1st.

KELLY: Who's got the best ground game?

MOORE: I've seen great things from the Bush campaign, from the Cruz campaign, from Rubio campaign. They've all been on the ground and neighborhood. Some of them more targeted approach, some with a more shotgun approach to -- to that kind of thing. I've seen wonderful social media efforts. So, this is the first time we've really seen a robust social media effort in the primary here in South Carolina. So, a lot of good -- a lot of good signs for the fall for us.

KELLY: Yes. How critical is the ground game though? Is that -- is that going to make or break somebody?

MOORE: Well, it's such a big primary. It's hard to say. I think it can add about two or three points, maybe four or five points maximum to a person's number. I'm not sure it will matter tomorrow night but .

KELLY: Yeah.

MOORE: . it certainly .

KELLY: Getting the lead.

MOORE:  . for first place was -- but .

KELLY: Yeah.

MOORE: . definitely for second and third place, it will have an impact.

KELLY: Matt, thank you. We'll be watching.

MOORE:  Thanks, Megyn. Take care.

KELLY: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY: So, tune in tomorrow night for the GOP South Carolina Primary and the Democratic Nevada caucus results. Brett Baier and yours truly will be on the air from 6:00 to 10:00 as the numbers come in. Who will win South Carolina? What about Nevada? Join us tomorrow.

END

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