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Special Report

Panel places bets in the 'Candidate Casino'

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can't blow the movement. We have to make sure we get a big mandate. We have to go out. Tomorrow, we have to go out and vote.

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The week before Iowa, every pundit on TV, every pollster on TV, said there's no way we could win. The one thing they forgot was the voters.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And that's going to be the consequences if Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton wins. If they win, all the policies Barack Obama has put in place which have damaged our country become permanent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Safe and sound from the campaign trail today, back here in Myrtle Beach as we take a look at the real clear politics average of polls heading into tomorrow's first in the South Primary. Donald Trump still with a big lead here, 13 and almost 13 and a half over Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and there you see the rest of the field.

Let's bring in our panel from Washington. Charlie Hurt, Political Columnist for The Washington Times. Chuck Lane, Opinion Writer for The Washington Post and Syndicated Columnist Charles Krauthammer. These are the three Charles panel. I like to call it the Chuck Wagon. We're coming up with new names. But, gentlemen, thanks for being here.

Set the table for us, Charles Krauthammer, about -- you look at the polls, you see what's happening on the ground. How South Carolina sets up tomorrow?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I think the odds are that Trump is going to win, probably big. That's expected. I think the real key is going to be, what is the distance between the third -- the one who comes in third and the bottom three if there is a big spread, in other words, if you get Trump, Cruz, Rubio in that order.

And then, the bottom three are in single digits. That, I think, would be a seminal event because if the races are three-way race and it really is a toss-up, who at the top three would get it? If it remains a six-man race, a five-man race, that means that Trump will ramp all the way to the nomination because he will dominate if the so-called establishment vote splits. So, that's the real issue.

Will South Carolina we know the way we expect that we get in New Hampshire but which New Hampshire did not?

BAIER: You know, I want to, Chuck Lane, listen to this back and forth with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz with a new line of attack by Cruz on Israel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: To make lasting peace there, probably the toughest deal of all but I'm going to give it a shot. Let me be sort of a neutral guy. Let's see what -- I'm going to give it a shot. It would be so great. I would be so proud if could I do that.

CRUZ: As president, America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel, if am president, because I am not neutral between terrorists who are blowing up and murdering women and children and the people of Israel who are trying to defend their nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: OK, Chuck?

CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST: Well, there's a lot of support for Israel among evangelicals, evangelicals are a key bloc for which these two men, Trump and Cruz, are really competing hard in South Carolina. So, Ted Cruz pounced on that little word neutral.

And by the way, even the idea of neutrality or even handedness is not what you'd expect from Donald Trump who's always sort of, you know, positioning himself as Mr. Belligerent, the guy who will take on our enemies and stand up to this and stand up to that. It was an off-key note and moment for him and Cruz completely pounced on it.

Of course, you know, whether he's get -- really got what it takes to outpace Trump at this point or not, I don't know. But I think what he's really trying to do is avoid coming in third as Charles suggested and to do that. Again, he's got to keep a lot of evangelicals on his side.

BAIER: And Charles, I talked to a lot of voters today. Some of them in that peace, there were a few who said they would never vote for Trump but there's a lot of support here on the ground for Donald Trump when you talk to people around the state.

CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON TIMES: Yeah. And I think one of the big problems for Donald Trump is that he has done very well in the expectations game in terms of the polls.

And so, you know, if he does win by a double-digit margin in South Carolina, that's a tremendous victory. But, he probably is not going to get the credit in the media that he would like. We remember in Iowa, he came in second place. Marco Rubio was very much viewed as the winner there, at least between the two of them.

The other thing that I'm kind of interested in watching, though, is the battle between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. You know, history is littered with candidates, double candidates who, you know, get into a fight under the leader and turn it into a murder-suicide. And, you know, Rubio and Cruz have to be very careful about that because they're going hotly negative.

BAIER: OK. It's Friday. We go to a place on Friday called the Candidate Casino. And this is special time because we just started this looking back at Candidate Casino's past, for this particular panel, take a listen.

LANE: Again, my first time. And I'm going to place an initial 25 chips on Jeb. I've 30 bucks (ph) on Scott Walker for probably obvious reasons and 15 on Marco Rubio, and the rest spread out among the field.

KRAUTHAMMER: We got the top three, Bush, Rubio, Walker, and we have the three outliers, Cruz, Trump, Kasich.

LANE: Well, I have $30 on Donald Trump. This is new for me. I had been skeptic but I finally caved to the reality.

KRAUTHAMMER: Trump on top, 35. Cruz is number two, obviously Rubio. And my long shot is Christie. And then, to console myself, it's wine, women and song again.

BAIER: Well, we didn't have the Charlie Hurt tape but you can see the evolution, Charles Krauthammer from the beginning to now.

(CROSSTALK)

KRAUTHAMMER: The evolution is that I've doubled the wine, women and song. I'm now up to 10 months on that. I've got Trump, Cruz, Rubio in that order. Rather close together. A lot is going to hinge on tomorrow. Again, if the field is winnowed, then I think it's a toss-up of the three of them. If it's not, then Trump remains the prohibitive favorite.

BAIER: Charles Lane?

LANE: Jeez, Bret, you know, and they say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But in Candidate Casino, they bring up your past and they throw it in your face.

Look, I'm saying $35 on Trump, because as I said in that clip, I capitulated. My second is Rubio, a $30 on the theory that that's a bet on his being able to finally end up one-on-one with Trump and kind of gathering all the anybody but Trump forces, then I got Cruz.

And I'm sticking $10 on John Kasich because I think he is the one guy you really can't eliminate in South Carolina even if he finishes in the bottom three because he's still intent on playing Ohio and Michigan.

BAIER: We're going to get the tape, Charlie Hurt. So, talk slowly here. But, who are your bets?

HURT: Well, just to be clear, I paid somebody to burn all of mine. But -- so right now, I have Trump, 75, and in between Rubio and Cruz, I give Rubio 15 and Cruz 10 only because I think the establishment is -- ultimately will get behind Marco Rubio big time. And, that is a powerful thing and it gives him some edge.

BAIER: The three Cs, Charles, Charles, Charles, or Charlie, Chuck and Charles, thank you very much.

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