Fox News Republican debate fallout

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 4, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The biggest story in all of politics is what's happening to the Republican Party, and I'm getting zero credit for it. And I should get all, because they're not coming in for little Marco, that I can tell you.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can't win if we're divided against each other. We can't win if we have to spend six months convincing our own to vote for our frontrunner, to vote for our nominee.

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we remain divided, Donald Trump wins. And the more we unite Republicans the more we're going to beat Donald.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All I'm suggesting is it looks increasingly, if I win Ohio, as though we will have a convention that will come together to pick I would think the adult in the room.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: OK. That's all today after last night's debate, of course, right here on FOX. Let's bring in our panel: Jason Riley, columnist with The Wall Street Journal; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Jason, fallout?

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, that I think Ted Cruz had a very good night. I think he landed some body blows. I think bringing up the contributions that Donald Trump had made to Democrats over the decades was very, very effective. I think he was trying to explain to Republican voters that they are on the cusp of nominating someone who lacks really any sort of principles let along Republican principles or conservative principles.

BAIER: You are not alone in that. This is Rush Limbaugh today post- debate.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think Ted Cruz was running rings around everybody in terms of awareness of the issues, knowledge of the issues, mastering whatever it was that was discussed. In terms of the old way that we used to consider qualifications for the presidency, the old way in which we used to analyze competence, Ted Cruz hit a grand slam homerun last night. But that's not how we make judgments on these things today.


BAIER: To his point, there is a new wave, and Donald Trump has figured out how to ride the wave of anger about Washington effectively, right, A.B.?

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: Oh, yes. The establishment never understood the anger that he was connecting to and really kind of energizing, telling people you have really gotten the short end of the stick and telling them over and over, different groups, different places in different ways.

The thing about when he has a bad debate, his supporters never care and they're never swayed. We've seen in 15 contests there are late deciders. So far they've mostly broken to Rubio. What you've seen with Cruz and Rubio, and then Kasich sort of over on the side who it thought also had a good night, is they refused to attack each other. So they're doing -- they're attacking Donald Trump trying to persuade late breakers and late deciders against Donald Trump. But they know none of them have a path on their own. They have to hang together. So even though they're not talking about it and they're not talking to each other, it is implicit that the only way to stop him as at the convention together.

BAIER: I tried to point that out in that question early on to Kasich about how Romney essentially was laying out the blueprint. Kasich wins Ohio, Rubio wins Florida, Ted Cruz wins where he can win, and then you fight it out at the convention. Kasich obviously trying to play the adult in the room and that's how he is pitching that post-debate.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think he did a good job of that, but it is a rather easy job, and it's not the most courageous, because, after all, he stands outside while Rubio and Cruz are hitting very hard at Trump to expose his weaknesses and to try to bring him down. If that doesn't happen, Governor Kasich has absolutely no chance at all. So he is allowing the others to do the dirty work.

But it is clear that the strategy has changed. Until Super Tuesday, it would have been we need one guy to emerge one-on-one with Trump. It is now mathematically too late. So now they all understand that the only way to do it is everyone stays in the race, the anti-Trump forces. They each have to garner all the votes they can. Ohio has to go to Kasich. Rubio has to win in Florida. And then you deny Trump a majority. He gets a plurality, and then you work it out as to who is going to be the nominee. I would suggest two of them, perhaps Rubio and Cruz, go to Weehawken, New Jersey, and work it out the old fashioned way.


BAIER: Go ahead.

RILEY: I was just going to say it is also the way that Rubio and Cruz have had to go after Trump, particularly Rubio. And you sense the un- comfortableness there. This is a guy who would much rather be discussing policy instead of the innuendos and so forth. But the way Trump has changed what is acceptable public discourse in this country is really troubling. You listen to some of what he says and you want to take a shower, Bret, when he's done. And I think that's very unfortunate.

BAIER: There was a clean-up today, a clarification by Donald Trump after this particular question, it happened to be my question, last night.


BAIER: Experts have said when you ask the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorist families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding, the military will refuse because they've been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders. So what would you do as commander in chief if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?

TRUMP: They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse me. If we want to go stronger, I would go stronger too, because, frankly, that's the way I feel.


TRUMP: Today, a statement came out saying "I feel very, very strongly about the need to attack and kill those terrorists who attack and kill our people. I know people who died on 9/11. I will never forget those events. I will use every legal power that I have to stop these terrorist enemies. I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties, and I will not order our military or other official to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matter.
I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans, and I will meet those responsibilities." A.B.?

STODDARD: Well, there was another reversal today on H-1B visas. So it was quite a busy day of clean-up. This is the argument the anti-Trump forces make, that he will not only do the things in his business practice that's he says he would never do and American workers should not to have put up with and that he's not serious enough on policy, but that he'll change his positions. You played two CNN clips, October 6th of 2015 and October 20, two weeks apart, two different policies on Afghanistan. And that's the argument they're driving, that he has no core principles.

It is not flexibility and evolution in changing your mind as you learn more about a subject, but that he'll just switch on a dime. And today he was chastened, obviously, about the need to as a potential commander in chief respect and obey the law especially when it comes to military orders. This is the core of the argument, that he will change his mind and the minute he's the nominee, they fear he will become Hillary Clinton with different hair.

KRAUTHAMMER: It may not be a winning argument. Flip-flop, contradict yourself, that an old charge. I think it could ironically help him because the reason for the anti-Trump force is this guy is out of control. He is extreme. He'll order illegal acts to our military, et cetera. Can't have him in office. I think the retreats he is making on all the fronts perhaps will hurt him on those on consistency, but it could help with people who are ordinary, run-of-the-mill Republican who don't want a man out of control in the White House. And it says in the end he is flexible even on immigration and he'll be OK.

BAIER: All right, it is Friday, and that means we head down to a place called Candidate Casino. And you have $100 in chips. Who is going to get the nomination? Jason.

RILEY: I am giving $70 to Donald Trump. He has got a significant lead.
It is not insurmountable but it is large. I am going to give $15 each to Rubio and Cruz. I think mathematically they're still in it, but it's a very tough road that they have ahead of them.


STODDARD: I gave $80 to Trump like I did last week. And I don't want know if Charles is going to raise his draw here, but I'm really going bold on this. And last week I think I had $15 on Rubio. I'm going $5 with each guy and $5 on other because we just don't know. But other has as good a chance as the three.

BAIER: OK, Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think you guys are right on.

BAIER: Drumroll.

KRAUTHAMMER: Trump, $80. Cruz, $10. Rubio, $5.

BAIER: Can we talk about the evolution here?

KRAUTHAMMER: When the facts change, my opinions change. The important explanation is the Prozac because my despondency is such right now that wine, women, and song is not going to do it.

STODDARD: When was whiskey?

KRAUTHAMMER: I have to go to anti-depressants. But the good news is I can write the prescription myself.


BAIER: Finally, I want to go down the row here, this news in our show. We had confirmation that Secretary Clinton, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is going to join our Democratic town hall in Detroit.
She has agreed on participate alongside Senator Sanders. We'll have studio audience there in Detroit. I will be moderating that 6:00 to 7:00 Monday.
It will repeat at 11:00 eastern time. Jason, what about that?

RILEY: About her appearing, well, I think it is a smart thing to do. I think she is trying to appeal to I think some these voters that watch FOX News. I think that is part of her strategy, getting into some of these things, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and so forth, the industrial Midwest, voters that she didn't do well enough with in 2008, so I think she thinks she has an audience.

BAIER: Maybe this has to do with Michigan?

STODDARD: I think she's seen internal polling that says there are ant- trade Bernie supporters who could be Trump supporters in the fall if she's not the nominee, and she decided to join the bandwagon.

BAIER: We're glad to have her.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, she is a weak candidate but her strong point is debates, town halls. She has beaten him on those measures a lot in the last few months. So I give him an open field.

Content and Programming Copyright 2016 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2016 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.