Trump: I'm the most conservative on many issues; Kasich: My campaign has great crowds, endorsements in SC

GOP frontrunner talks transition from New York businessman to Republican candidate, weighs in on SCOTUS vacancy on 'Hannity'


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 18, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." And tonight, we're coming to you from South Carolina, where the state's Republican primary is only two days away.  And we have brand-new Fox News poll numbers out of the Palmetto State.

Donald Trump is leading the field by double digits, with 32 percent, Texas senator Ted Cruz in second with 19 percent, Senator Marco Rubio in third place with 15 percent. And they're followed by Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and John Kasich.

And in a brand-new Fox News national poll, Trump is out in front, 36 percent, Cruz in second 19 percent. Marco Rubio comes in third at 15 percent. Then it's Carson, Bush and Kasich.

Now, earlier today, we caught up with the GOP front-runner, Donald, Trump on the campaign trail right here in South Carolina. Take a look.


HANNITY: Mr. Trump, poll numbers Fox came out today, you're at 32 percent, consistent with all the other polls that have been out there. Are you feeling confident going into Saturday?

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I do. I mean, we're going to see what happens. I'll tell you what, South Carolina is an incredible place. I've been here many, many times. I have many friends here long before the political stuff. And I feel very good. I mean, we feel very confident. I'm making four, five speeches today and tomorrow.

HANNITY: And you have the biggest crowds.

TRUMP: I have the biggest crowds.

HANNITY: It was interesting because you kind of a little bit underperformed in Iowa, way overperformed in New Hampshire. The poll numbers here look very similar to New Hampshire. Are you expecting similar results?

TRUMP: Well, I think I really performed well in Iowa, you know, in terms of going in. They went in -- this caucus thing is crazy. They went in and they all said they're voting for Trump, and then people would do numbers on them inside. And there was a very crooked deal going on there. I'll tell you what. That whole Iowa thing was terrible with Ted Cruz, what he did with Ben Carson, et cetera.

But I think we really did well in Iowa, picked up a lot of delegates, came in a very strong second. But we did really well in New Hampshire. New Hampshire was so incredible to us. We won in a landslide and we won with every a single group. And this feels very much like New Hampshire.

HANNITY: All right I want to get back to the horse race in a minute. Let me go to the main attack line that is being used against you.


HANNITY: You're not a conservative.

TRUMP: OK. Well, I am a conservative.

HANNITY: Explain.

TRUMP: If you look at me and if you look at any kind of a record you want to look at, I'm by far the strongest on military. I'm by far the strongest of any candidate on 2nd Amendment. I'm by far the strongest on getting rid of Common Core and bringing the education to a local, so that local people can educate their kids, which is 10 times better.

You look at where we stand, worldwide education -- it's a horror show.  We're number 30 in the world.

HANNITY: We spend the most money.

TRUMP: So we get rid of -- absolutely. We get rid of Common Core 100 percent. I'm the strongest on "Obama care." I've been talking to you about "Obama care" from the day they proposed it. I said, You got to get rid of it, it's going to be a -- and I know because I have thousands of employees. And over the years, I've had tens of thousands of employees.  So I understand more about health care than anybody. We have to get rid of "Obama care." We're going to repeal it and replace it.

I mean, I'm the most conservative -- oh, by the way, on trade, there's nobody more conservative than me. I will make great trade deals.

HANNITY: Let me go to the heart...

TRUMP: We have the world's worst trade deals, by the way, just so you know.

HANNITY: I agree, and it would hurt -- it would certainly help economic growth. I guess for some people -- they say, OK, well, Donald Trump was a New York businessman and he was a liberal then. Explain how you became a conservative. Maybe that would help some people understand.

TRUMP: Right. Well, first of all, as a businessman, it wasn't like you were liberal. You were sort of like nothing. You didn't talk about these things. You didn't talk about pro-choice. You didn't talk about you are in favor or not in favor of abortion. You didn't -- I mean, it wasn't like -- you know, you're building buildings and you're dealing with contractors and you're dealing with tough people and...


TRUMP: ... dealing with politicians. But you weren't in -- you weren't in the world of politics, and you never were asked.

I mean, they talk about pro-choice, which I am not. You know, I've totally evolved on that whole thing. But it was something you never talked about.  You didn't talk about borders. You didn't talk about all of these things.

Now, on many of these subjects or most of these subjects, I think -- you know, you mentioned the word conservative. I like to say I'm a conservative with common sense or I'm a common sense conservative. And it's a term nobody's ever heard of because I just came up with it about two days ago because some of these things that these people come up with are crazy.

But I'm the most conservative when it comes to military, when it comes to the border, when it comes to security. That's why every poll you people do, I come out number one by -- not -- not by, like, 2 points. I come out number one where I'm in the 60s and 70 percentages. And when it comes to security, when it comes to illegal immigration, all of these things, I think I'm the most conservative person there is.

HANNITY: So then why the attacks about, Well, he used to be? Is it -- is it just because...

TRUMP: Well, they say that, but...

HANNITY: ... that's the only line of attack...


TRUMP: ... Ronald Reagan, OK? So I'm pro-life.


TRUMP: And you know that. I've been -- I've been on your show...

HANNITY: You told the story in the first debate.

TRUMP: I did. And I told the story. I don't know if I have to tell the story again now, but I mean, I've seen things. And I'm pro-life. And people know I'm pro-life. But Ronald Reagan, you know, was pro-choice, and Ronald Reagan passed an abortion law in California that was one of the worst in the country. I mean, it was a terrible thing. And he became president, became a great president. But he was actually a somewhat liberal Democrat and he ended up being a somewhat conservative conservative.


HANNITY: ... Reagan.

TRUMP: Well, he wasn't very conservative, but he was...


TRUMP: More importantly, he ended up being a great president.

HANNITY: Do you -- so you're going to build a wall. That's conservative.  Can you balance a budget? Do you believe it's possible?

TRUMP: Oh, absolutely.

HANNITY: You know, $20 trillion in debt.

TRUMP: Very quickly. I even like your penny plan. You know, I'm a very sophisticated guy. I went to the best business school in the world and all of that stuff. I like your penny plan. I mean -- and you can do more than a penny.

HANNITY: People may not know. The penny plan is -- and it's not mine -- Connie Mack. I got to give him credit. Cut a penny out of every dollar every year for six years, you balance the budget. You would add...

TRUMP: If you have the right people leading your agencies and leading your different groups, you could do that.


HANNITY: Waste, fraud and abuse.

TRUMP: Or you could do it quicker. You know, some of these politicians think you can't balance the budget. Some of them think it's going to take 25 years. You've had them on your show, where they say, We think over a 25-year period, we can get the budget -- and you know that's not going to happen.

HANNITY: We always get the promise that we're going to get lower spending and higher taxes. You get the taxes, you don't get the spending. You get amnesty, you never get the wall. So you...

TRUMP: Sean, I've seen politicians on your show that you are for and they're getting ready to go to Washington for the first time. And they're going to get rid of "Obama care," they're going to do this and that, all these things that you have to do. They're going to balance the budget...

HANNITY: Doesn't happen.

TRUMP: A year later, you have them on your show, they haven't done anything.


TRUMP: They talk.

HANNITY: Listen, I'm not even sure that they'll hold the line, the position that they've taken on Justice Scalia's replacement.

TRUMP: Can I tell you what I saw yesterday? So the first, there's like -- the Republicans -- don't forget Obama's a horrible negotiator, worst deal I've seen on Iran. He's a terrible negotiator, except when it comes to the Republicans. And I saw it yesterday, Sean.

So Scalia, great guy, dies, right? And the republicans say, We don't want -- - and they're all very brave, and, We have the right, and, We have the Senate, and, We're not going to give you any vote, OK, everything that they're supposed to be saying, they're been.

Then yesterday, I heard there may be some weakening on the Republican...

HANNITY: I saw the knees buckling. I saw the same thing.

TRUMP: I saw it for the first time.


TRUMP: In other words, a day goes by, all of a sudden -- I'm telling you, these people need a strong leader.


TRUMP: These people are weak.

HANNITY: So let's talk about spending...

TRUMP: Don't be surprised if...


HANNITY: ... important to you. You want to eliminate baseline budgeting.  Cut...

TRUMP: Absolutely. Yes.

HANNITY: ... waste, fraud and abuse.

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: How important is lowering taxes for economic growth?

TRUMP: Very important. I have my policy, and I have the biggest tax cut there is of all of them. We have a tax cut for the middle class. We have a tax cut for business. Our business, our middle class -- we're paying the highest taxes in the world, Sean. We are paying in this country the highest taxes in the world. So I have big tax cuts for the middle class.  You know, we've forgotten about -- the country has forgotten about the middle class.

HANNITY: It's shrinking.

TRUMP: No, no, they built our country, OK?

HANNITY: They're suffering.

TRUMP: And they're paying too much tax. We're cutting taxes for the middle class. We're cutting taxes for business. We're cutting tax so we can bring our $2.5 trillion into the country.


HANNITY: Repatriated money, trillions of...

TRUMP: Corporate inversion. I mean, you look what's going on with corporations, where Pfizer is leaving this country. How about where a Chinese company is buying the Chicago Stock Exchange, OK?

HANNITY: Well, you what happened with the Carrier workers.

TRUMP: Carrier is leaving. They're going to Mexico.

HANNITY: Into Mexico.

TRUMP: And I know how to stop that.

HANNITY: So you'll repatriate that, give them an incentive to bring that money back, build manufacturing centers, factories here.

TRUMP: Absolutely. We want that $2.5 trillion here. You know, the interesting thing is the Democrats want it to happen and the Republicans want it to happen, but we have no leader, so they can't -- I could sit them in a room there, and within two minutes, you'd have that deal worked out.

But we have no leader. We have a president that doesn't lead. Everybody wants the money to come back, even the Democrats. But we have no leader to sit them in a room and say, Come on, let's get it done. You need a quick signing.

HANNITY: I've asked you at least three, four times about your replacement for "Obama care." And for some reason, the press never picks up on your answer.

TRUMP: Well, I talk health care savings. You know, you look at health care...

HANNITY: Health care savings accounts.

TRUMP: You look at -- you look at getting rid of the lines. I've been talking to you about that a lot. You have to get rid of the lines.

HANNITY: In other words, buying across state lines.

TRUMP: Absolutely! There's no competition. And you know why? Because all of the politicians that you have on your show all the time are paid off by the insurance companies. That's all. It's very simple -- meaning campaign contributions. As much as you like them, they get campaign contributions...

HANNITY: No, I don't like them. I don't give money to any of them.

TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) your show. No, no, no. I know.

HANNITY: They don't get any money.

TRUMP: But they were on your show.


TRUMP: And the truth is they get tremendous campaign contributions from the insurance companies. They're making a fortune. Obama got taken care of by the insurance companies. "Obama care" is a windfall for many insurance companies.

HANNITY: Well, it's also forcing young people to buy plans they don't need...

TRUMP: Oh, it's sad.

HANNITY: ... and with a health care savings accounts, you can get a high deductible, catastrophic care, and you pay four times less.

TRUMP: It's great. But you have to get rid of the lines so you have competition also.

HANNITY: And can take it portability job to job.

TRUMP: Portability is very important.

HANNITY: All right, what about -- you said education. You would take the entire Department of Education and take the money that we're spending federally on education and give that money to cities and states?

TRUMP: Give it to the states. Absolutely. And to have -- look -- and they can do it with real love and with heart. You got to bring education - - if we were doing well on education, I'd say, Fine. We're ranked number 30 in the world. You have China, Denmark, Sweden, Norway -- these countries are all the best countries, right?


TRUMP: We're ranked number -- we pay per pupil so many times more than number two. Number two doesn't even exist. We pay so much more per pupil.  Department of Education is a disaster. We have to bring -- get rid of Common Core, bring education local.

HANNITY: I asked you earlier in the week who you would like to replace or the type of justice you're looking for on the Supreme Court. A lot of people said, Well, you cited your sister, who took a very controversial...

TRUMP: I cited my sister jokingly because I had a conflict, obviously. I said, Oh, I think my sister. And I did it with a big laugh on my face and I'm having fun. I have a great sister, who, by the way, is totally brilliant and a wonderful woman. But I have a conflict. So I said, Oh, I'll put my sister. That's the way I did it. I didn't...


TRUMP: My sister wouldn't want it. My sister wouldn't do it.

HANNITY: Your two favorite justices on the court now?

TRUMP: Well, Scalia was one. And I'll tell you something. I think a man who's so underrated and he's so solid is Justice Thomas.

HANNITY: I agree with you.

TRUMP: He doesn't get enough credit. He's been a rock just about more than any of them.

HANNITY: Did you ever read his book "My Grandfather's Son"?

TRUMP: I've seen the book. I have not read the book.

HANNITY: Really good book.

TRUMP: I'll look at it.

HANNITY: All right, you talk about...

TRUMP: Do you agree with that?

HANNITY: Yes. I think...

TRUMP: He doesn't -- he doesn't get enough credit.

HANNITY: Very different personality than Scalia. Scalia jokes, has a lot of...

TRUMP: Like the opposite.

HANNITY: ... comments...

TRUMP: Like the opposite.

HANNITY: ... you know, biting dissents and opinions...

TRUMP: But he's been a rock.

HANNITY: But very solid originalist. So you're looking for an originalist.

TRUMP: Yes, I am.


HANNITY: And coming up, part two of our interview with 2016 GOP front- runner Donald Trump.

Then later tonight...


TRUMP: If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows, is ISIS's ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president!


HANNITY: Donald Trump responds to the pope saying that he's not a Christian. Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr., and Pastor Robert Jeffress are here tonight with reaction.

Plus, we'll check in with Ohio governor John Kasich.

And a quick programming note. You want to make sure to tune in tomorrow night, 10:00 Eastern. We hit the campaign trail with Senator Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, the biggest interviews on the biggest stage only here on the campaign trail on 'Hannity."



HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." And here's part two of our interview from earlier today with 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Trump.


HANNITY: Let me go to the issue of comments you made last night. We're talking about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

TRUMP: Right. Toughest deal to make of any kind of deal that I've ever seen is Israel/Palestine.

HANNITY: Because it's such a mess.

TRUMP: Tough issue. The Palestinians and the Israelis don't exactly -- they're not exactly meshing.


TRUMP: And you know, one of the reasons that I said it last night -- the toughest single deal to make is getting them together. And I've been told by some Israelis that no matter who it is, you'll never do it. I'm going to give it a shot, but I will say it is probably of all the deals, right...

HANNITY: You did mention these kids that are funded by Hamas and Hezbollah.

TRUMP: They grow up hating.

HANNITY: They've grown up to hate Israel.

TRUMP: That's why it's so tough, they grew up hating. They grow up -- things were told to me that are incredible and I won't even say...


HANNITY: How important, though, is our alliance? They're our number one ally in the region, and that alliance has been, well, fractured in a big way.

TRUMP: Israel is so important. What Obama has done to Israel is a disgrace. How they even talk to us is hard to believe. But Israel -- and how they talk to Obama -- you know, I have friends, they support Obama. I said, How do you do it? It's almost like they do it out of habit.

They agree he's been terrible. You look at what he's done to Israel with just this Iran deal, which is such a terrible deal. He has been the worst thing that's ever happened to Israel. Now, a lot of my friends that are Jewish do not support him any longer, but I still have some that do. I say, How can you do it...

HANNITY: He's been horrible to Israel.

TRUMP: You know what? I think it's habit. They do it out of habit.

HANNITY: What do you think of Prime Minister Netanyahu?

TRUMP: I think he's good. I like him.

HANNITY: Strong.

TRUMP: He's always been -- he's strong. He's always been good to me. He asked me to do a commercial for him. I was his only celebrity that he asked to do a commercial, Would you do a commercial, when he ran for office. But I think he's very good. I think he's been treated very, very badly by Obama.

HANNITY: Let me get you to expand -- you always talk about trade, free trade. You say you're free trade, or fair trade.

TRUMP: Look, I want to be smart trade. It's good to be smart.

HANNITY: But not protectionist.

TRUMP: No, not protectionist. But you have to use that as a -- as a...

HANNITY: Leverage.

TRUMP: Of course.

HANNITY: In negotiations.

TRUMP: We don't use anything. Hey, look, we let China dump their stuff on us, but if you try and do business in China, you can't. I mean, it's impossible. You can't get your stuff in. It's very hard.


TRUMP: You can't get your stuff in. And you have to pay tax. So it's got to be equal. It's not equal. And we're losing $500 billion this year...

HANNITY: In a trade deficit with China.

TRUMP: We have a trade deficit with China. We're $500 billion -- I'm going to negotiate. Believe me, we're not going to...

HANNITY: You want U.S. cars sold in China.

TRUMP: I want -- yes. And I want them made here and sold in China.

HANNITY: Exactly.

TRUMP: Like Boeing. Boeing goes and takes an order, now they have to build airplane factories in China. And be careful, South Carolina and other places, and Seattle, by the way...

HANNITY: They're going to lose factories and manufacturers...


TRUMP: Eventually, in five years, they'll start doing their monetary manipulation again, Sean. Nobody has ever manipulated a currency -- they're, like, chess grand masters, OK?


TRUMP: Nobody's ever done it like China. And I told the folks last night, right here, I said, Be careful of your Boeing plant because you think it's good now, but in three years, when the ones are built, the big ones in China, and the currency manipulation takes place, South Carolina is going to have a problem.

HANNITY: Think how bad the economy is when you talk about banks now charging you to keep your money.

TRUMP: Yes, that's right. It's opposite. It's opposite.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. You actually said something that really intrigued me. There's still 28 pages of the 9/11 commission report...

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: ... that have never been revealed.

TRUMP: Right. And they should reveal it.

HANNITY: I got the impression that you knew something maybe we don't know about the Saudis...

TRUMP: I think you'll find out when that's opened -- I think you're going to find out Saudi Arabia had a lot to do with ripping down of the World Trade Center.

HANNITY: Would you open that if you became president?

TRUMP: I would open it, yes.

HANNITY: You would.


HANNITY: ... the American people...

TRUMP: What I'm saying -- and look, we attacked Iraq. But Iraq didn't knock down the World Trade Center. When you open up those pages, you're going to find out who did it.

HANNITY: That's pretty interesting. I played a tape for you on my radio show the other day. Bill Clinton gave a speech. He'd been offered bin Laden, knew bin Laden was a threat...

TRUMP: Should have taken him out.

HANNITY: Should have taken him out.

TRUMP: Should have taken him out.

HANNITY: And also, even though you were against the war -- and you and I had some debates at the time. You were against the war from the beginning.

TRUMP: Totally against the war. And you would know that because you and I have been doing this for a long time.

HANNITY: We just disagree.

TRUMP: And you and I used to fight about it.

HANNITY: We used to fight about it.

TRUMP: Now you probably say Trump was sort of, like, right. Not sort of right.

HANNITY: Well, the thing is, once we go to war, what I'm afraid of is -- we lose 58,000 people in Vietnam, we lose 5,000 people in Iraq, and then Obama politicizes it or they politicize Vietnam, and why did we send American sons and daughters to fight, bleed and die, and then we only give Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit over to ISIS? That's insanity!

TRUMP: We shouldn't have gone into Iraq because we destabilized the Middle East. OK, once we're in...

HANNITY: You win.

TRUMP: ... the way we got out was horrible. You win. You're right. But the way we got out was horrible, where he announces a date, and now the enemy pulls back, and they say, Why should we fight? You know, despite what you hear, they don't want to die. They say, Why should we fight? We get out, and the mess starts. But we should have left troops. I didn't want to go in, but we should have left troops there.

HANNITY: And keep -- and sustain the victories we have.

TRUMP: We should have done something.

HANNITY: And I do agree with you about keeping the oil and giving the money to the military.

TRUMP: I've been saying it for four years.

HANNITY: Why are we paying the cost?

TRUMP: Now ISIS is so rich, and also paying the cost for all of these armies that we're supporting. I mean, Saudi Arabia, so rich, making a billion dollars a day before the oil went down, so now they're making half, right?

HANNITY: I was glad to hear you say the other day there were only three people that were waterboarded totally. One was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who gave the information about the courier that led to bin Laden...

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: ... unknown story, it seems, by a lot of people. And I always use the analogy, if you saw your child getting kidnapped by three people and you tackled one of the three and two people got away with your child, what wouldn't you do to get the information? You said you would go further. Explain.

TRUMP: This came up with Ted Cruz. They asked him a question about waterboarding, you know, Is it good, is it fine, is it OK? And he was very weak on his answer. It was a bad, bad answer. And I could see he didn't - - he wanted to stay away from it. He didn't like it. I mean, I understand that. He didn't like it.

Then they said, What would you do? I said, I'd approve it immediately and I'd make it worse. OK?

HANNITY: In other words, whatever it took to get information.

TRUMP: Whatever it took. Excuse me. And I prefaced it by saying in the Middle East, they're chopping off heads. I haven't seen that since medieval times. I read when I was a young guy in history class, I would read about medieval times, they chopped off heads. Now James Foley, these wonderful people -- I know his parents. They're incredible people.  They're chopping off heads.



HANNITY: It's evil in our time.

TRUMP: And here we are, they're chopping off heads. And we want information about them and we can't waterboard, OK? We can't waterboard.  No. So when they came to me -- by the way, it was very interesting. They came to me. They asked me the same question. I said, I'd approve it immediately, but it's got to be worse. And I got a standing ovation. I didn't know what I was going to get. You know, I didn't exactly poll it.  I don't poll things.

HANNITY: You don't have pollsters at all.

TRUMP: No, I do what's right.

HANNITY: What's your reaction to Obama saying Donald Trump won't be president, I don't believe he'll be president?

TRUMP: Well, I was complimented. He's been the worst president in the history of our country. I was complimented. And I actually said it's lucky he didn't -- that I didn't run four years ago because, unfortunately, Romney didn't take us to the promised land. It didn't work out for Romney.  But I said, You're lucky I didn't run four years ago because you wouldn't be a two-term president. And I really mean that. I think I would have -- you remember when I was thinking about running and...

HANNITY: I do remember.

TRUMP: ... I was number one in all the polls and everything. But I was very busy. I had many, many jobs going up all over the world, and I had my children that were sort of young and learning. And well, now they're in great shape, Ivanka, Don, Eric, and I have great executives. So doesn't matter.

HANNITY: Conservatives were concerned in the debate about -- you said about Planned Parenthood, They do good things for women. I just don't like the abortion side. Here's my question.

TRUMP: That's what I said. It's true.

HANNITY: Should American taxpayers, though, pay $500 billion to that organization?

TRUMP: No, I said defund. I didn't say pay. I said I have a lot of respect for some of the things they do, the cervical cancer on women. They do many, many good things. I know many women...


HANNITY: ... no taxpayer money.

TRUMP: No, not while they do abortions. I made that clear. I made that clear, I think, at the debate.

HANNITY: All right, last question. Things are getting heated. It always happens historically in South Carolina. You threatened a lawsuit with Cruz. Where does that stand?

TRUMP: Well, we'll see. I mean, I have a couple of them in theory. Was he born -- he was born in Canada. He lived there for four years. He was a citizen of Canada until 15 months ago.

HANNITY: You're not going to file that lawsuit, will you?

TRUMP: I'll have to get your approval, OK?


HANNITY: Mr. Trump, good to see you.

TRUMP: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: Thank you. Appreciate it.

TRUMP: Thanks, Sean.

HANNITY: Thanks so much.


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


TRUMP: For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful.  I'm proud to be a Christian, and as president, I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now with our current president!


HANNITY: Donald Trump is holding nothing back after the pope suggests that he's not a Christian.

And then later, the countdown to the Republican South Carolina primary is on. Ohio governor John Kasich -- he will be here to weigh in on the 2016 race.

That and more as "Hannity" continues tonight from South Carolina.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." So it was a fight that nobody saw come in coming. Earlier today, Pope Francis, while flying back to the Vatican from Mexico, was asked 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Trump.  He said, quote, "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not a Christian. This is not in the gospel."

Now, Donald Trump -- he quickly fired back during a rally in South Carolina and he said this.


TRUMP: For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful.  I'm proud to be a Christian. And as president, I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now with our current president.

If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows, is ISIS's ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president!


HANNITY: And joining us now with reaction, someone who has endorsed Donald Trump, the president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and the author of the new book, "Not All Roads Lead to Heaven," FOX News contributor Pastor Robert Jeffress, and Grand Rapids-area Catholic priest Father Robert Sirico. Guys good to see you all. Thank you for being with us.

Father, you know, I was raised as a Catholic. I got to admit, I find these comments disgraceful. You know, judge not lest you be judged. I read that in the Bible. I remember, you know, Jesus saying to a prostitute, Ye who is without sin cast the first stone." And we all know the story of the prodigal son.

Who's the pope to say that Donald Trump's not a Christian?

FATHER ROBERT SIRICO, PRESIDENT, ACTON INSTITUTE: Well, Donald Trump thinks he's the only one who gets to pontificate. I mean, you're sitting next to a man there who's written a book "Not Everybody Goes to Heaven." I guess this does away with the image of the pope not being able to judge, right? Who am I to judge?

Let's admit the fact that, first of all, the pope didn't use Donald Trump's name. I think it is lamentable that the pope...


HANNITY: That's not fair. He was asked specifically about Donald Trump.  That was a question, and he said he's not a Christian. That is a judgment.  Didn't the bible specifically say, Judge not lest ye be judged?

SIRICO: Listen, the last thing that Jesus says to that prostitute is, Go and sin no more. That's a judgment. He said that she sins. Let's -- ask Dr. Falwell...

HANNITY: The pope is not Jesus, though.

SIRICO: ... if we can't make judgments. He's the vicar of Christ. The point is that Donald Trump...


HANNITY: ... make discernments about good and evil, but don't make judgments. Only God judges, right? Only God can discern whether we're good or evil.

SIRICO: Only God can give us the ultimate judgment. The point is that -- that Trump thinks that he can be bombastic in every encounter with any leader in the world.

HANNITY: Why are you making this about Trump?

SIRICO: By the way --

HANNITY: Do you know -- can you read his heart, father? Do you know if he's a Christian? Do you know if I'm a Christian? Do I know if you're a Christian? Wait a minute. There are many priests that --

SIRICO: Who am I to judge?

HANNITY: -- against young children. Was that evil? Is that being a Christian?

SIRICO: Of course, it was evil. But, Sean, this is a very low blow.

HANNITY: The church kept a lot of those priests working.

SIRICO: Is that what we're here to talk about, Sean? You want to get into that? Because if you do, let's get into it right now.

HANNITY: Well, let's get into it. The church actually moved some of the pedophiles. They didn't get arrested, didn't go to court. I'm a Catholic.  I went to a seminary and I found that disgraceful.

SIRICO: Let me ask you this. By whose standards do we judge pedophilia to be the abomination that it is? We judge them by the church's standards.  So the church, if it did what --

HANNITY: The church covered it up.

SIRICO: Those people are to be condemned. But now we're judging them, right?

HANNITY: Let's bring Jerry Falwell Jr. Jerry Falwell Jr., let me ask you, I read the bible, and I think I'm one of the Christians that needs forgiveness, OK? That's my belief in Christianity. But it does say judge not lest you be judged. How can a Pope or anybody decide if somebody's a Christian in their heart? You described a Donald Trump that a lot of people don't know and introduced him at Liberty University. I'll never forget that speech.

JERRY FALWELL JR., LIBERTY UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: Yes. Yes. I've gotten to know Mr. Trump very well over the last few years and I've seen his acts of generosity to strangers. I've seen how well he treats his employees.  I've seen how close his relationship and how loving it is with his children. And I've had personal conversations with him just in the last few weeks about his faith and I have no doubts that he is a man of faith, that he's a Christian.

But that's not why I'm supporting him for president. I'm supporting him for president because we're at a critical juncture in our history. Our security is at stake. Our economy is about to collapse. And I believe he is the best equipped and the most qualified person to lead this country to greatness again. And I've made that clear over and over.

And I think the Pope is confusing people by talking about whether or not this candidate is a Christian or that candidate's a Christian. That's not the point. Jimmy Carter was a great Christian by a terrible president.  And so I think we've got to focus on who is most qualified. If your child is sick, you want a doctor. You don't want a doctor who shares your faith necessarily.

HANNITY: That's a good point. Dr. Jeffress --

FALWELL: I think the --

HANNITY: Dr. Jeffress, let me ask this question. I'll put up on the screen, you know, I know there are certain areas in the Vatican where people and the public can go, but the Vatican, too, has big walls around it. And I can put it up on the screen and people can look at it. And a "Washington Times" article from September of 2015 detailed the very difficult process of becoming a Vatican resident or citizen. You know, we have big problems in this country -- drug dealers. I've been down to the Mexico border 12 times. I've seen drug warehouses floor to ceiling, drugs that are being brought into this country. We have crimes committed by illegal immigrants. I know some people want a job. It's not everybody, but some. And to me, the fact that somebody wants to protect the legality of immigration does not -- does not represent their Christianity in any way.

DR. ROBERT JEFFRESS, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, DALLAS: That's exactly right.  Look, the Pope needs to ask for Donald Trump's forgiveness for saying such an outlandish thing. Look, I want to remind our viewers that it was exactly a year ago this week that ISIS chopped off the heads of 21 Coptic Christians on that Libyan beach and then looked into the camera and said, we're coming to Rome next. The Pope above all people ought to understand that God has given government the role of protecting its citizens and upholding the laws.

And Sean, I do have to hand it to the Pope, he performed a miracle today.  He has done what nobody in history has been able to do. He has turned Donald Trump into a martyr. And I believe because of that, Trump's poll numbers are going to continue to go up because as much as people respect the Pope, they don't want the Pope inserting himself in the American election, and they sure don't want to be taking advice from the Pope on American security.

And by the way, to the father's comment about my book, "Not All Roads Lead to Heaven," I'm simply repeating what Jesus said. He said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father but by me."

HANNITY: Thank you all. Very unfortunate as a Catholic I find this.

And coming up, Ohio Governor John Kasich joins us to explain his strategy ahead of this weekend's South Carolina Republican primary.

And then later tonight --



CROWD: Hillary! Hillary!


HANNITY: Another Hillary Clinton coughing fit. Now her health is being questioned after his latest attack, that and more tonight on "Hannity" as we continue from South Carolina.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." The countdown to the Republican primary is just two days away. Joining us now from the palmetto state right here in South Carolina to explain his strategy for securing the Republican nomination, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Governor John Kasich. Governor, good to see you.  


HANNITY: All right, so your poll numbers have come up. You're getting close to double digits. Is this, in your mind, another New Hampshire comeback, late-minute surge?

KASICH: You know, I don't exactly know how it's going to work here because everybody's scrambling to the finish line. But today I was able to get the Charleston Post Courier, which is a great newspaper, and earlier in the week I got The State, which is another great newspaper, two of the largest in the state, Sean, and that was really great.

We feel we're getting very good crowds. And, you know, it's been wonderful down here. Look, most people thought I wouldn't get more than one or two percent. I can promise now we're going to do better than what people thought we were going to do. And then we're off. On Saturday I'll be in Vermont. And then I'm going to Massachusetts. And then I'll be in Virginia. Then I'm going to be in Mississippi. Then I'm going to be in Louisiana. We're going all over the place. And it's kind of what we're doing now. It's all over the country.

HANNITY: So after your strong finish in New Hampshire, your plan is you're in this through Super Tuesday, the SEC primary, and beyond? No doubt about it?

KASICH: Sure. And Sean, look, USA Today poll came out yesterday showing me beating Hillary by more than any other Republican candidate. It had me up by 11 points. And one of the polls that came out today had me tied for third place. And as you know just a couple weeks ago, I'm not sure I got to one percent. So it's happening. And I thought --

HANNITY: I was beginning to wonder what was going on there with some of them.

KASICH: Yes. It was funny, we were laughing last night. Sean, I got to tell you, we were laughing because we had a town hall in New Hampshire. At one point we had six people. And when it came to New Hampshire, or came to South Carolina after New Hampshire, we had 50 RSVPs and we ended up with 600. I mean, it's crazy.

HANNITY: Yes, big difference. You know, what do you think it is? You told me a while back you didn't think people knew you, which is kind of hard for me to believe. Maybe I follow politics too closely, but I watched you when you were House budget committee chair. I watched you turn a deficit into a surplus. I watched your years as governor, your election and turning the state around there. And you don't think people really know your story yet.

KASICH: No. They still don't, but they're learning it, Sean. And I know you knew it because you followed it and questioned me closely about all of it, particularly in Washington and, of course, extensively since I've been a governor. But a Midwest governor, you know, I'm not in the Washington media market. I'm not in the New York media market. I'm in the Midwest.  And you know, I think that's going to play out for us because at some point we're going to get to Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania. It's going to be really cool.

So, no, I think people didn't know the story. And there's two things going on. I think any successful campaign is able to connect with people with a head, and I think any successful candidate has to be able to connect with the heart. And I think it's happening here and I'm grateful for it. We'll see how it goes, you know. I'm doing my best.

HANNITY: You know, it's interesting, even in the last debate, in one early debate I saw you being a little more confrontational than I thought was your normal style. You seem to be staying out of that. And South Carolina is notorious for having pretty mean campaigns. Is that your plan for the rest of the campaign?

KASICH: Yes, I mean, look, I have people spending millions of dollars. I think we're in the 35-40 zone of what candidates are spending. And my hard dollar, my own campaign, I think we're spending less than $1 million but we're climbing, Sean. It's amazing.

Look, I want to stay positive, and we've had nine debates. I've been happy with virtually all of them. And I'm getting better at it. I think these debates are the dumbest way to pick a president. Frankly, let me sit down with you for a half an hour.


KASICH: No, and look, have you examine me, Sean, ask me any hard question you want and let many answer them, and that's a better way than who has a clever 30-second sound bite. This is a dumb way to pick a president.

HANNITY: I don't disagree. Actually the one-hour interviews, in your case the day you announced, I think it's more substantive. But I'll tell you what, we'll do another one with you maybe in front of a live audience.  We're planning that with --

KASICH: That would be great.

HANNITY: -- you and some of the other candidates. All right?

KASICH: I love it, man.

HANNITY: John Kasich, good to see you, governor. Thank you.

KASICH: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: Appreciate it.

And coming up next tonight right here on "Hannity."



HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's been part of my mission.


HANNITY: Another Hillary coughing fit. Questions raised now about Hillary's health after the latest fit. Eboni Williams, Mercedes Schlapp, and Dr. Marc Siegel from the FOX News Medical A-Team are here with reaction as we continue tonight here from South Carolina.


HANNITY: Now, earlier this week during a speech in Harlem Hillary Clinton accused the Republicans of being racist. And about midway through her remarks she was interrupted by yet another coughing fit. This one lasted over two minutes. Watch this.


CLINTON: We're running a legal clinic at the University of Arkansas to represent inmates.


CLINTON: Excuse me.


CLINTON: Too much to say.


CLINTON: More people through Legal Services Corporation is about making people's lives better.


HANNITY: Joining us now with reaction, Republican strategist Mercedes Schlapp, and from the from the Fox News Medical A-Team Dr. Marc Siegel, and Fox News contributor Eboni Williams. Dr. Siegel, look, I speak for a living. We all can have a moment like that. But this is the third or fourth time and it goes on a long time. Is there a medical condition here?

DR. MARC SIEGEL, FOX NEWS MEDICAL A-TEAM: Sean, I have never examined Hillary. But this just brings to mind what I've been saying for a long time, which is we need to see her full medical records like we saw John McCain's in 2008, over 1,000 pages. She has a history of serious blood clots, one on the outside of the brain. She's on long term blood thinners.  Now we have these coughing spells, and they're recurring. Usually if you have an upper respiratory infection, it goes away. So why is she having repeated coughing spells? What's the underlying issue? Has she had an x- ray? Has she had a CAT scan? What do these things show? We need to know these things. The public has the right to know the health of the candidate.

HANNITY: Mercedes, let's go to the issue of Hillary Clinton's campaign now imploding. She is going into Nevada, and things are not looking well for her. In three national polls now Bernie Sanders is in a tie. Is this campaign in jeopardy of repeating what happened in 2008?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think right now the Clinton campaign is in a bit of a panic mode. Obviously they are over-pandering to the Latino community in Nevada which we know is 17 percent of the eligible votes there in that state. And guess what, Bernie Sanders, and I spoke to a Sanders campaign advisor who told me that they are making inroads in the minority community and making an extra pitch there in a place in Nevada where Latinos and African-Americans have disproportionately been affected by the economic recession in that area. So for Hillary Clinton, Nevada is critical to really start trying to build up her momentum again. Other than that, if she loses Nevada, or if it's so close, she's going to have to reset in South Carolina and see if she's able to really gel and really build that minority vote in those states.

HANNITY: Eboni, what do you think? You see the race card has been played this week, and then she's barking like a dog and then she's having a coughing fits. National polls are showing that this race is in a statistical dead heat. How much trouble is she in?

EBONI WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: She's in big trouble, Sean. I wholeheartedly agree with Mercedes. This is a narrative that Hillary Clinton and her camp just didn't anticipate. This has got to feel like deja vu 2008 for them, because once again here is an alternative candidate that nobody gave any real thought or mind to who is becoming not just formidable, Sean, but a real contender in this thing.

And Mercedes is right. One third of the voting popular of Nevada is minority, of color, and certainly that's the group that Hillary Clinton claims to have some firewall or whatever around it. it's just not looking that way.

And I want to bring up the generational gap, because there is a really nice piece in "The L.A. Times" that talks about how young Latinos and young black voters are skewing towards Bernie. Maybe the older guard is still going with the Clinton. So that is something she's got to continue with big time.

HANNITY: All right, guys, thank you all for being with us. Appreciate your insights. And coming up, we need your help, a very, very important "Question of the Day" straight ahead.


HANNITY: Time for our "Question of the Day." So who do you think will win Saturday's Republican primary in South Carolina? You can even tell us who you think will when the Nevada caucuses. Go to Facebook.com/SeanHannity, @SeanHannity on Twitter, let us know what you think.

Quick programming note, tomorrow night, tune in 10:00 p.m. eastern, we're going to be in South Carolina. We'll meet up with Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio on the campaign trail ahead of Saturday's Republican primary with their big crowds. It's the biggest interviews, the biggest stage right here on "Hannity."

That's all the time we have left this evening. Thanks for being with us.  We'll see you back here from South Carolina tomorrow night.

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