Obama criticized for response to Brussels attacks; Cain explains Trump's high 'fear factor'

'Defeating Jihad' author Dr. Sebastian Gorka weighs in on 'The Kelly File'


This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," March 23, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SANDRA SMITH, GUEST HOST:  Breaking tonight.  Belgium on high alert.  And Americans across Europe are being warned their very safety may be at risk, as we learn ISIS may be deploying hundreds of fighters across the continent in a, quote, "Wave of Bloodshed."

Welcome to "The Kelly File."  I'm Sandra Smith in for Megyn Kelly tonight.  All this comes as the search continues for at least one of the men believed to be behind yesterday's series of terror attacks in Brussels.  It's been more than 36 hours since terrorists first attacked the Brussels airport, and a busy subway system.  And at this hour, a number of Americans still remain unaccounted for.  Authorities are working hard to determine if they could be among the 31 innocent people killed or the 270 left injured.  

Meanwhile, police are desperate to locate the man you see here in the light colored jacket, who was spotted alongside two of the airport bombers.  It's believed he took off before the bombs exploded near the U.S. airline counters.  Because of the bomb's proximity to American airliners, some are now questioning if America herself was an intended target.  Listen.  


REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-CALIF., HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  I think it's possible that it was -- that it was a proxy.  You know, keep in mind, a lot more is going to become available in the coming days, but the locations to me clearly were where Americans would be.  


SMITH:  Shepard Smith joins us live on the ground from Brussels, Belgium.  Good evening to you, Shepard.  What's the latest there?

SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Good evening.  I must say that with no disrespect to the Senator or anyone else, that speculation is unwarranted.  The aisles where the bombers blew up their bombs were used by different airlines at different times on different days.  And authorities say, they are certain that these bombers chose those particular locations because that's where the lines were longest.  You take the bomb to where the lines were longest, that causes the most injury and clearly that was their goal.  

But the headline here today certainly is that the bomber himself, the man who made the bombs, believed to have made the ones in Paris and here in Brussels is now dead.  His name is Najim Laachraoui.  They found his DNA on all of the suicide vests that were used in the Paris attacks back in November.  And they found him blown up inside the airport there at that terminal where the two suicide bombers carried out their mission.  So, the bomber, the man who made the bombs, and one of two brothers dead there in the airport.  The other of two brothers killed in the subway when he exploded his suitcase.  

As you mentioned, the one man still at large is a man for whom we have no identity, we don't know his name, where he's from, what sort of participation he might have had and all of this and where he might have gone.  Witnesses initially said that he may have run out during the bombings, but now authorities lead us to believe that they are of the opinion that he left prior to the explosions, whether he chickened out as it's been said, or just left and changed his mind, whether he realized his bomb wouldn't detonate.  Those are matters for its future news conferences.  For now, we just know he is at large.  And further, authorities are insistent that they believe some other unknowns also played a part in some way in these bombings.  

They have not given us any descriptions or reason that they have that to believe.  But they tell us that they're looking for unknown people and that raids are being carried out across the city even as we speak.  So, those are the headlines here.  I would say that there are a number of investigations that are ongoing inside the neighborhood where they found that bomb making factory.  And the taxi cab driver who led authorities to that house is being hailed as a hero here locally.  He saw the pictures on screen, said that looks like the guys I took to the airport.  Led authorities to that home and that's where they found 33 pounds of that explosive that was used in all of these bombings.  Keep in mind, one pound of explosives is all they needed for the suicide vests in Paris.  This was 33 left behind in that home.  Had someone gotten their hands on that, we can have a much bigger tragedy indeed -- Sandra.

SMITH:  Shepard, what do you know about this neighborhood, Molenbeek, from where we're learning so many are becoming radicalized?

SHEPARD SMITH:  The two brothers, Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui were both raised there, they grew up there, they lived there for decades.  It's a neighborhood described to me as separate from the rest of the city.  Different language spoken there.  Different police officers there.  They didn't cooperate well with the national authorities.  And unemployment rate around 33 percent.  A young person's unemployment rate in the mid 40 percentage -- percentile.  And varied suggestions for almost everyone involved, it's very hard to get ahead there.  

So you have that sort of an environment where people are looking for a way out and then in come the jihadist from Syria saying, we have a way out for you, we have a plan for your life.  We have something good for you.  We have a place where you can belong.  In the longer short of it, like a cult would, they become brainwashed.  It happened throughout that community.  
Now the task is to get the federal police, the local police and the community organizers together to try to change that culture -- Sandra.  

SMITH:  All right.  All right.  Shepard Smith live for us in Brussels, Belgium tonight.  Thank you, Shepard.

Also tonight, the White House is on defense as President Obama faces criticism for choosing to continue his overseas trip.  And even attended a baseball game in Cuba.  The former CIA director suggesting this was a sign that the President doesn't view the attacks as all that important.  


MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:  This is going to sound pretty harsh, but I think it's true.  That wasn't a mistake, that wasn't weakness.  That was policy.  His going to the ballpark, and his spending less than a minute commenting on the attack.  I actually believe in his heart of hearts, the President's policy is, that is not that big a deal.  There are other things that are more important and that is what he was messaging.  


SMITH:  But President Obama says, that is not the case.  


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  I've got a lot of things on my plate.  But my top priority is to defeat ISIL, and to eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that's been taking place around the world.  


SMITH:  Dr. Sebastian Gorka is the major General Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corp University and author of "Defeating Jihad."  Good evening to you, sir.  

DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, AUTHOR, "DEFEATING JIHAD":  Good evening.  Great to be on your show.  Thank you.  

SMITH:  So is this criticism of President Obama not coming home following these attacks, is it warranted?

GORKA:  Well, you just quoted a career Air Force general, head of the Central Intelligence Agency, and I tend to agree with General Hayden.  The statements made by the President smack of the Marie Antoinette-ish attitude, let the people eat cake.  Terrorism seems to be a distraction from his life of being a celebrity.  He wants to be hanging out with communist dictators and going to ball games.  ISIS is simply not treated as a threat by this president or at least he doesn't give the impression that he really cares about our allies and the Americans that were wounded.  
Let's think about one thing here --  

SMITH:  So, the White House response to that, Dr. Gorka though, President Obama's response to that is he said, we let the terrorists win if we all stay home and don't go about our daily business and he said today, that ISIS is his number one -- that is his top priority.  Why is there a disconnect in what we feel versus what we see?

GORKA:  Well, these are just empty words.  He said we have to unite to defeat the terrorists, but how?  How are we going to defeat the terrorists while he's watching a ball game and giving interviews to ESPN?  The fact is, that we have to do something concrete.  And also, it is the duty of the commander-in-chief to rally the people, to send a message that we will fight and we will destroy this evil scourge that is global jihadism.  It's not enough to say, we're on top of it.  Remember, the day before San Bernardino, the second largest attack on U.S. soil after September the 11th, both the President and Secretary Kerry said, ISIL is contained and we are winning this war.  This is not how you win wars.  

SMITH:  So what would an appropriate response from the White House be to this?

GORKA:  Coming back home as soon as possible, making a statement from the Rose Garden or from the Oval Office to the American people about how we will not stand for this, who the enemy is, that they're really evil and that we will destroy them and to do something tangible for the Belgians, for the people that need our help right now.  To send a message.  And most important of all, if you want to have the long game, if you read my book defeating jihad, this war will be won by our Muslim allies in the region, and we have to help the Egyptians and Jordanians much more than we are doing today.  

SMITH:  So Dr. Gorka, the Associated Press reporting today that ISIS has trained and deployed hundreds of their fighters to Europe to carry out these terrorist attacks.  We saw the State Department today warn U.S.
travelers, if you go there, to be vigilant, to be careful where you actually attend like ball games.  Where is this going?

GORKA:  You don't have to hypothesize.  Just look at the fact, my wife and I published a paper of the, on the domestic ISIS threat.  In the last 18 months, we have killed or we have arrested more than 95 people in America linked to ISIS.  So the jihad is already here.  
It's not just in Brussels, it's not just in Paris or in the Middle East, it is here.  They have the capabilities and they have an estimated 6,000 westerners who have been recruited by ISIS, who have western passports, including American passports who can travel freely.  We must take this threat much more seriously.  

SMITH:  And House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul saying today that there are open investigations, ISIS investigations in all 50 of the U.S. states.  So we thank you for joining us tonight, Dr. Gorka.  

GORKA:  Thank you.  My pleasure.  

SMITH:  All right.  Well, as you heard, U.S. investigators are looking into whether the terrorists in Brussels were trying to kill as many Americans as possible in those attacks.  

Chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge has the latest information.  Catherine.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, CHIEF INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT:  Sandra, based on the evidence so far in his classified briefings, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told reporters today he believes the terrorists in Brussels were targeting Americans.  The bombs at the airport went off near the check-in desk for American Delta and United.  And the subway bomb an hour later is detonated near the U.S.  Embassy stop.  And when you -- a both sets of data, the congressman said, it doesn't seem to be a coincidence.  


REP. KEVIN NUNES, R-CALIF., HOUSE INTEL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  If in fact it becomes true that American Airlines and United and Delta, that the explosive device went off there, when you couple that with that the metro stop near the embassy was also targeted, those will be two locations where a lot of Americans can be killed.  


HERRIDGE:  Also today, the State Department issuing a warning to Americans traveling in Europe.  The terrorist groups are planning more attacks, possibly targeting sporting events, tourists sites, restaurants and transit systems, adding the threat is real and may be imminent.  


MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON:  The travel alert reflects our assessment that given current information, we believe that Daesh, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe.  


HERRIDGE:  The Associated Press is reporting tonight based on European Intelligence sources that ISIS has dispatched 400 fighters to Europe.  U.S. government officials aren't commenting on the number, but said between France, Germany, and Belgium, more than 600 of their citizens have traveled to Syria and returned home -- Sandra.

SMITH:  All right.  Catherine, thank you.  

Well, the attack in Brussels already reshaping the 2016 presidential race, as candidates speak out on issues like the surveillance of U.S. Muslim communities.  And waterboarding.  

Veterans Pete Hegseth and Carl Higbie are next on that.  

Plus, a new FOX poll just out as the GOP finds itself no clearer on who will be its 2016 nominee.  Dana Perino and Herman Cain are here on what we can expect on the road ahead.  

And one group of Catholic nuns is fighting against ObamaCare for the right to not aid in any employees getting contraception.  One of the sisters inside the Supreme Court today is with us tonight in a "Kelly File" exclusive.  


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The faith of the little sisters is the faith of every American.  




BILL BRATTON, NYPD COMMISSIONER:  We focus on individuals who are committing or about to commit a crime.  We don't focus on a whole community.  We don't focus on a whole religion.  And if he's that shortsighted, I can understand why the American public will repudiate his efforts to lead this country, because he is undervaluing the values upon which we base our security and our safety and our democracy.  


SMITH:  That was NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton earlier today reacting to Ted Cruz's suggestion that law enforcement should be patrolling Muslim neighborhoods in the U.S. to prevent terror.  But with reports suggesting the Islamic State has trained and sent at least 400 attackers to Europe and with the State Department issuing a travel alert for Americans traveling to and around Europe, Cruz is not backing down.  

Trace Gallagher is live in our West Coast Newsroom.  Good evening, Trace.  

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Sandra.  During his comments on the attacks in Brussels, Ted Cruz listed a number of counterterror measures, including quoting here, "We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."  Critics blasted the statement saying it amounts to a police state against Muslims.  President Obama noted that Cruz's own father fled exactly that kind of draconian policing in Cuba.  And Hillary Clinton said this.  Listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  So when Republican candidates like Ted Cruz call for treating American Muslims like criminals, and for racially profiling predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, it's wrong.  It's counterproductive.  It's dangerous.  


GALLAGHER:  Clinton went on to say, everyone should feel together in the fight against terrorism.  Ted Cruz responded.  Watch.  


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  With all respect, people are fed up with the political correctness of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  


GALLAGHER:  And Donald Trump is siding with Cruz saying he supports patrolling Muslim neighborhoods.  In fact, a President Trump would take more expensive action.  

Listen to him.


DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The waterboarding would be fine, and if they could expand the laws I would do a lot more than waterboarding.  
You have to get the information from these people.  I am in the camp where you have to get the information and you have to get it rapidly.  


GALLAGHER:  But even John Yoo, the former DOJ lawyer who wrote the memos that approved waterboarding during the George W. Bush administration says, what Trump is suggesting is illegal.  And he thinks Trump is exaggerating -- Sandra.  

SMITH:  All right.  Trace, thank you.  

Joining me now to react to all of that, Pete Hegseth, a Fox News contributor and an Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran and Carl Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and veteran for Trump.  Good evening to both of you.

CARL HIGBIE, FORMER NAVY SEAL:  Thank you for having us.


SMITH:  All right.  So first -- and Carl, I'll start with you.  Where do you stand on water boarding?

HIGBIE:  Look, I don't think it's that bad.  We get waterboarded as part of our training.  It's miserable, it's not fun but guess what, it's not that bad.  And if we had waterboarded this guy that they caught in Brussels, we might have had the information to stop this attack.  So, I think it should be brought back out.  

SMITH:  It's miserable but it's not that bad.  But you Carl, I have to stick with you for a second, you actually say that waterboarding could have prevented these attacks in Brussels.  

HIGBIE:  Well, I can tell you not waterboarding didn't get us the information.  So why not give it a shot.  

SMITH:  All right.  Where do you stand, Pete Hegseth?

HEGSETH:  Well, I actually don't have much of a problem with waterboarding if it's going to get us the intelligence we need in real-time.  I think we follow ourselves to apologize for what America represents.  When our enemies are beheading our journalists and our people.  The problem is the rhetoric and incoherence of what Donald Trump talks about.  One minute, he's for troops on the ground, the next minute he isn't.  

He says he wants to torture but his advisers say no, no, that's not what he means.  He's not grounded in a real understanding of what his rhetoric means.  And therefore, he overcomplicates the situation.  Where I think for the most part, Carl and I agree.  We would unleash war fighters, let them go and find this enemy and kill them.  But his rhetoric is unhelpful in a way that he talks about.  

HIGBIE:  I think he's been pretty clear on that.  

SMITH:  What do you make of that though?  Pete is making the argument Carl that it's more of the delivery of the message.  

HIGBIE:  Well, I think he's been very clear.  He wants to bomb the crap out of ISIS and I think he wants to take back waterboarding and if the laws permit him, he wants to do much more worst, which I fully stand behind, I think he is right.  

SMITH:  All right.  So Donald Trump and Ted Cruz appear to agree on at least one thing.  Donald Trump said late yesterday that he agreed with Ted Cruz's proposal to target Muslim neighborhoods, calling it a good idea.  Have we found common ground, Carl?

HIGBIE:  Well, I think we have.  And this is the beginning of Donald Trump bringing the Republican Party together.  I think the message is all getting on board.  And I think what's happening is a lot of people are coming around.  But he's not targeting Muslim neighborhoods, he just wants to maintain the same level of police force in those Muslim neighborhoods as everywhere else because there's a lot of neighborhoods like Dearborn, Michigan where police don't go because they're afraid.  

SMITH:  Pete, based on your experience, would this work, Muslim surveillance?

HEGSETH:  Well, it did work with the NYPD before de Blasio got rid of it.  I mean, you're talking about engagement, surveillance, intelligence.  It's smart.  It's common sense.  To go with the threat is hey, I know that 100 percent of Muslims are not terrorists but 100 percent of Islamic terrorists have been Muslims and emanating from certain mosques and certain communities.  We should be smart about how we allocate resources and it applies to Europe.  They've got entire of no-go zones, parts of cities where bombers are provided havens.  If those police forces aren't able to target because of political correctness, it's just a preview of what America could become.  So when Donald Trump and Ted Cruz talk about this, they're ripping back the curtain, the false choice that so many of our politicians give us, that we're forsaking our values if we target the enemy.  That's just wrong.  And we're at war right now and we should recognize that.  

HIGBIE:  And Pete, you hit the nail on the head there.  You even look at any country in the world where Muslims are the minority, they're screaming for minority rights.  But anywhere where Muslims are majority, there are no minority rights.  So why are we letting them defeat us at our own game?  

SMITH:  All right.  So based on both your experience in the military, which is significant, I wanted to just take your take broadly, are we having the right conversation in this country about how to combat this?

HIGBIE:  Well, I think the way to combat this is, we're going to have to go over and take the fight to them.  The problem is, our president with his limp wristed foreign policy has failed to define this enemy.  We know where their territory is.  Let's start destroying it.  

SMITH:  Carl, you've been very vocal of your support for Donald Trump and you say that many of your peers in the military support him, as well.  Pete Hegseth, who has the best plan that you have seen laid out by the presidential candidates to defeat ISIS?

HEGSETH:  Well, the guy who I felt like had the best plan was Marco Rubio, he's not in the race anymore.  I think Ted Cruz has a very strong coherent understanding of the enemy that we face and understanding the military, how we need to rebuild it.  And he understand how to articulate in the ways that name the enemy, target the enemy.  But aren't sort of wildly vacillating between extremes and throwing out bombastic statements like Trump does about torture, about Muslims, about so many things.  The tinner
(ph) on the edge of, you know, what we should be saying, when we need to engage allies in so many different parts of this battle, I think Ted Cruz has a really good sense of what it would mean to be commander-in-chief.  But the debate needs to happen and both candidates are at least having it.  

SMITH:  All right.  Thank you to you both.  

HIGBIE:  Thank you.  

SMITH:  All right.  Well, another ugly turn on the campaign trail.  This time involving the wives of the men, one and two in the GOP presidential race.  

Guy Benson, Adriana Cohen are next with that.  

Plus, Catholic nuns are fighting against the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate, in what some are calling the biggest religious freedom fight since hobby lobby.  We have one of the key players in a KELLY FILE exclusive.  


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is about freedom.  This is not about us imposing any kind of restrictions on our employees.  This is not about us denying them anything.  This is about insisting that the government not impose its pressure on us to violate our faith.  



SMITH:  Breaking tonight.  Senator Ted Cruz's wife is firing back over an ugly new campaign trail fight ensnaring the wives of the men at the top of the polls for GOP nomination.  It started with a controversial new ad featuring a nude Melania Trump.  Mr. Trump blamed Senator Cruz for it despite the fact that it did not come from the Texas Senator's campaign.  The GOP front-runner tweeting, "Lying Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a GQ shoot in his ad.  Be careful, lying Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife."  

Trace Gallagher the latest on this.  Trace.  

GALLAGHER:  Sandra, the picture of a nude Melania Trump was featured in a Facebook ad targeted to Mormons and produced by Make American Awesome, an anti-Trump's Super Pac that has known no connection to the Cruz campaign.  Ted Cruz tweeted, quoting, "Pic of your wife not from us.  Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you're more of a coward than I thought.  #classless."  Trump doesn't believe Cruz and responded by saying, quote, "That's why we call him lying Ted."  

And now that Trump is threatening to spill the beans on Heidi Cruz, there's rapid speculation about what "the beans" might be.  Former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone who is still a Trump confidant has accused the Cruzs of having a troubled marriage and has pointed to a 2005 heavily redacted Austin police report where an officer found Heidi Cruz next to an expressway and decided she might be a danger to herself.  Ted Cruz advisers have explained the incident, acknowledging that a decade ago, Heidi Cruz experienced a brief battle with depression, but got through it with prayer and the love and support of her family.  Today, Heidi Cruz deflected
questions about the Trump threat.  Listen.   


HEIDI CRUZ, SEN. TED CRUZ'S WIFE:  As I said, you probably know by now that most of the things that Donald Trump says have no basis in reality.
So, we are not worried in the least, we're focusing on our campaign and we are going to continue to do that.


GALLAGHER:  Heidi Cruz is a senior executive at Goldman Sachs who is on leave to help her husband's campaign. The nude picture of Trump's then- girlfriend Melania Trump was taken for British GQ back in 2000. Sandra.

SMITH:  All right, Trace, thank you. Joining us now, Guy Benson is a Fox News contributor and co-author of "End of Discussion," and Adriana Cohen is a Boston Herald columnist and radio show host.

Adriana, is it ever appropriate on the campaign trail to go after a family member, first question? Aside from whether or not Ted Cruz had anything to do with it, is family fair game?

ADRIANA COHEN, BOSTON HERALD COLUMNIST:  Well, you know, I certainly don't like to see anybody's family gets dragged through the mud. But, you know, if you go after Donald Trump and you attack his wife, he has every right to defend himself and he has a right to punch back.

SMITH:  OK. Wait, hold on, hold on. Based on that statement, I have to get this in here. Because the super PAC operator, which is run by a woman, Liz Mair, a republican strategist, and she has issued a statement on this and she has said, "I know you're really upset about that ad, Donald Trump. But it was make America awesome, not Ted Cruz's." She's denying any of Ted Cruz's involvement. In fact, she thanks Donald Trump for getting the ad so much attention. Your response?

COHEN:  Well, you know, I think she just public -- took a lot of heat from Ted Cruz, because now what Mitt Romney's former campaign person, Liz Mair did is she effectively dragged Heidi Cruz in the mud. Now Donald Trump, you know, is going to push back on Ted Cruz's wife, because he was provoked by this individual, Liz Mair.

And so, she's probably hit to trouble, she's probably got a phone call from Ted Cruz's people saying why did you do this? Now you've dragged my wife into this race. And so, she's trying to, you know, provide some cover for Ted Cruz.

But, look, we don't know if Ted Cruz knew about this ad coming or not. I mean, we could take him out of his, people are certainly welcome to do that.


SMITH:  OK. So, let me go with that point. Let me go with that point to Guy.

COHEN:  But he's benefited in Utah. I mean, this ad launched to throw the delegates, the caucus to Ted Cruz in Utah. So, I mean, he's certainly benefited from it.

SMITH:  OK. So, Guy, Adriana's pointing out something that some people are pointing out, and that just because he's not connected with the super PAC, that he could still be behind the message.

GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  There's zero evidence of that. And I think that this particular episode may be a fresh low in the campaign that has been characterized by boorishness and pettiness because of Donald Trump's presence in it.

And what's it's done in this instance it has showcased Donald Trump's signature ignorance, where he is blaming inaccurately Ted Cruz for an ad, that by the way, I won't defend at all, that was not connected to Cruz. It was connected to this outside super PAC that has been trolling Donald Trump for months.

It also has underscored Donald Trump's low rent temperament, where he takes his misplaced rage and directs it at another candidate's spouse through a threat. It's just classless and stupid which is unsurprisingly that given...


SMITH:  OK. Hold on.

COHEN:  But when somebody goes after your wife, what is he supposed to do, just take it? Any man would defend his wife.

BENSON:  No, no, I'm not saying that at all.

COHEN:  What is he supposed to do? What would you like him to do?

BENSON:  Well, how about -- how about...


SMITH:  Go ahead, Guy.

BENSON:  What I would like him to do is to respond by defending his wife and to criticize the people who launched the attack, not to say, oh, I'm going to assume this was launched by someone else wrongly...


SMITH:  But should Ted Cruz have come out and condemned the use of his wife in that ad?

COHEN:  Yes.

BENSON:  Yes. I believe -- I believe that Cruz should. I'm not defending the ad at all. I think Melania Trump should be left out of this. I think Heidi Cruz should be left out of it. But Donald Trump's knee jerk reflexive reaction was to blame the wrong person and threaten his wife.

SMITH:  OK. And just to be clear, we've got to leave it there. But to be clear, I'll remind everybody when Ted Cruz's daughters were targeted by a cartoonist, every what -- every GOP candidate came to his defense and said that kids are not fair game in this process.

BENSON:  Agree.

SMITH:  We're going to leave it there.

COHEN:  That's right.

SMITH:  Thank you to you both.

COHEN:  And you know what if Ted Cruz -- Ted Cruz should have denounced that ad right up front.


SMITH:  Thank you. Thank you.

COHEN:  And he didn't.

SMITH:  All right. Breaking tonight, the little Sisters of the Poor have been fighting ObamaCare for years. And today, they had their day in the highest court in the land. We have one of the sisters at the center of this fight here tonight in a Kelly File exclusive.

Plus, more than 30 2016 primary contests are behind us, and the fight for the nomination continues. Dana Perino and Herman Cain are here with some surprising new findings from the latest Fox News poll out tonight.


SMITH:  Breaking tonight. New Fox News polling indicating a tightening 2016 republican field. Businessman Donald Trump maintaining his lead, but Senator Ted Cruz is inside the margin of error, just three points behind the GOP front-runner.

With Mr. Cruz and Trump splitting last night's Utah and Arizona contests respectively. More and more experts see the race for the delegates going all the way to the final June primary contest or beyond.

Joining me now, co-host of The Five and former White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush, Dana Perino. Great to have you here.


SMITH:  Thanks for being here tonight. All right. So, where are we in this race? This polling, I mean, it just keeps getting more interesting.

PERINO:  I think so. You know, for a long time the electoral math has been the same, pretty much since about the 2000 race. You could look at it and pretty bunch predict where things were going to go.

SMITH:  Not this time.

PERINO:  I think that this year the map is basically up ended. There are something that if you're democrat you're looking at the map saying we are in really good share. But I think that this poll, one for Ted Cruz he doubled his approval. So did John Kasich. Trump actually gained five.

So, the republicans, as they have shed some of the candidates, the other ones are consolidating. So that tightening race is interesting. But I would say both front-runners, Trump and Clinton, have some good news, right.
They're winning at the ballot box. They're doing very well. She's basically putting away Bernie Sanders.

Trump has a little bit further to go if he wants to try to get to that 1237 number. But they're also winning with another number. She at 64 percent, he had 65 percent for being untrustworthy. And I find that kind of remarkable that those are the two frontrunners.


SMITH:  How does that happen?

PERINO:  Well, I think part of it is that they have universal name I.D., right? And so, opinions have settled in about them. And people have strong opinions. This is not an election where people feel just sort of OK. They're either for or against. And they feel strongly and they're emotional about it.

SMITH:  Yes. Because we let them with -- when asked if you would be scared if a candidate was elected president, 49 percent Trump, 33 percent Clinton. I'll remind you, those are the frontrunners. So, it just -- it's not a lot of making sense this time around.

PERINO:  Well, I think that's partly is also reflective of the fact that a lot of people in America are saying, you know, we are just distrustful of politicians. Not that they think that Donald Trump is a politician, but they are distrustful of Washington as an institution. They are demoralized about government.

The other thing about the poll tonight, is that it's track with others. And that while there's a little ways to go, six and a half months between now and the general election, in the head-to-head polls, Kasich and Cruz would beat Clinton, Donald Trump right now sitting 11 points behind Clinton.

SMITH:  So, that's the idea of electability. So, why doesn't that help Kasich more when people see that he has a better chance, according to this poll, of beating Hillary Clinton?

PERINO:  It's a conundrum. But if you look at Donald Trump he has been able to win in every region where there has been election contest so far. So, he's won in the southwest, he's won in the southeast, he won in the upper Midwest. He won in New Hampshire. He won in the -- well, came in second in Iowa.

So, I think that in some ways the states are not actually reflecting the national news. But that's the way the primary works.

SMITH:  Do you see any change coming as far as leadership in the GOP race or does Donald Trump continue to lead?

PERINO:  Well, right now if everybody needs a little bit of breather. We don't have another primary contest until April 5th, and that will be in Wisconsin. That's a big one because one of the things that Trump supporters would say is that he might be able to finally bring some of those rust belt states into the GOP column.

We're talking Michigan, Wisconsin, maybe down into Ohio. There are people on the other side who say Dana, what are you talking about? Because if you look at the head-to-head with Hillary Clinton, he's down 9, 10, 11 points.

I do think that there is enough time that there is enough time that no matter what, here's the good news if you like politics and you like cable news.

SMITH:  Please, please.

PERINO:  This race, no matter who it is, is going to be very tight and very close all the way until November.

SMITH:  Put your seatbelt on. All right. Dana Perino, thank you.

PERINO:  Thank you.

SMITH:  Good to have you.

As you just heard, businessman Donald Trump polled the highest percentage of voters who would be, quote, "scared with his presence in the White House" at 49 percent, with democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton next in line at 33 percent.

Leaving some -- to ask some serious questions about 2016's two front- runners. Joining me now, Fox News contributor and former republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain. He's the author of "The Right Problems." All right. Well, do you see any problem here, Herman?

HERMAN CAIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Not really. First of all, remember that polls represent a trend. And I agree with Dana, we have a long way to go. And the thing about the fact that these polls don't necessarily reflect the mood of the Trump supporters, many of them aren't participating in the polls.

Here's what I believe are the two reasons why Donald Trump has that highest fear factor that you pointed out. First, remember a lot of people in the media, they spoon-feed the public with just negative perceptions of a particular candidate, whether that's Donald Trump or whether that's Hillary Clinton. A lot of it for Hillary Clinton is true, but they also spoon-feed a lot of negative impressions of Donald Trump.

Secondly, the democrats do a good job of dividing people by pandering to different groups, because the republicans started out with 17 candidates and now it's been wheedle down to three, most of the time what Donald Trump really stands for that would help everybody doesn't come through.

So, I believe that over the next several weeks, more and more of his message that will help everybody will come through, and as a result, I believe that the fear factor will go down.

SMITH:  OK. Well, that being said, in this latest polling, scared was a common word that was used to describe Trump. By those that were polled. But he continues to lead this race, Herman, and...

CAIN:  Yes.

SMITH:  You and I have spoken before. We had you on Outnumbered and you sound like you support him. I haven't heard you come out and publicly announce that you're supporting him, but it sounds like you do. Do you see the opportunity or the chance that you'll see the party rally around him?
Where are we with that?

CAIN:  My position is I try to set the record straight, and because Donald Trump has been in the lead for most of this whole primary election, there have been more opportunities for people to take potshots at him. So, I find myself trying to set the record straight, whoever it is.

So as a result, it appears as if I'm more supportive of Donald Trump. I want people to know the truth. Now, here's where I believe we are in this race. I believe that the people will decide if the establishment let the people decide. I don't buy into the rhetoric that this is going to be a contested convention coming up for the republicans, and I don't buy into the rhetoric that Donald Trump can't get the 1237.

SMITH:  Right.

CAIN:  He is 60 percent there. Cruz is 38 percent there. Kasich is way behind. But I think what's happening that the polls don't pick up is that as he goes from presidential primary to presidential primary, he is exceeding what is expected. So, I believe that there's a good probability that he might clinch the 1,237 by the time the convention rolls around.

SMITH:  All right. Well, and as Dana just detailed, Wisconsin will be another big test coming up...

CAIN:  Yes.

SMITH:  ... for the candidates. All right. Herman Cain, thank you for joining us tonight.

CAIN:  You're welcome, Sandra. Thank you.


SMITH:  Good to have to you.

Breaking tonight, what are some calling one of Christianity's greatest religious liberty fights in our country today. It's playing out right now in front of the Supreme Court. The sister inside the fight against Obamacare joins us exclusively next.


SMITH:  Breaking tonight. In a Kelly File what some are calling the biggest fight for religious liberty waged against Obamacare to date. Catholic group, the Little Sisters of the Poor having their oral arguments heard today by the Supreme Court.

They claim Obamacare forces them to sign off on contraception against their faith. One of those sisters is here with us tonight. Sister Constance Veit, also here Mark Rienzi, he is an attorney representing the Little Sisters of the Poor and he's part of the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, plus, John Garvey is here, president of the Catholic University of America.
Welcome to all of you tonight.



SMITH:  Sister Constance, I would love to start with you first. First, thank you for all of your service. You've been caring for the elderly and the poor for 28 years now.

VEIT:  Yes.

SMITH:  You took your argument to the Supreme Court today. How did it go?

VEIT:  We felt it was a wonderful day. We felt that it went as well as we could hope for. And we are just very, very hopeful and, you know, feel very positive about the whole experience of the day.

SMITH:  What -- what essentially was the court's response to your argument today?

VEIT:  You know, I'm not any -- I'm no legal expert but we did feel that the court heard our point that the government is trying to hijack our health care plan, to insert the services that are in violation of our faith. So, that's really what I took away from it was that they were hearing that argument.

SMITH:  So, Mark, could you fill in the blanks there? Sister Constance sounds pleased with the response from the court today. What was it? Did the government change their tune at all?

MARK RIENZI, LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR ATTORNEY:  Yes, absolutely. It was both the response from the court and the response from the government. For years, the government has argued that this coverage is separate from the sister's plan. It's independent. They have nothing to do with it.

Well, today, they came into court and they basically dropped that argument pretty quickly and they made clear that their interest is in making this coverage come with the sisters' plan. They insisted that the only one plan, the sister's plan and that they want to use it.

That led to several of the justices saying essentially that you're hijacking the sisters' plan including Justice Kennedy. So, it was really a great day for the sisters, the government gave up the argument that it has clung to for a few years and that the truth really came out, which is the government is trying to use the sisters plan in a way that's totally unnecessary, because of course the government can get people contraceptives without nuns.

SMITH:  John , was today a small victory for the Catholic church?

GARVEY:  Well, we'll see who wins in the end but today was a -- it was a very good argument and we were pleased at the attention the court gave to our concerns.

SMITH:  Sister Constance, you have to bring us back for a second and when ObamaCare was first enacted and brought into law, what was the response of the Little Sisters of the Poor? I mean, this is a very -- at the same time a very emotional argument that you are making.

VEIT:  Well, you know, when ObamaCare first came into effect, I don't think that we had a response but it was when the HHS mandate was announced which I believe was a couple of years later, so we really -- it came out to our radar in 2012, and we were just very concerned, anxious about the impact on our ministry because the fines that we face add up to about $70 million a year.

SMITH:  Wow.

VEIT:  Across our 27 U.S. home. So, it's pretty frightening.


SMITH:  What has that have done to your organization -- I'm sorry, sister, but what would that -- that's a lot of money. What would that have done?

VEIT:  Well, it's just an impossible amount of money. Something we can't really even fathom. So, you know, we knew that we had to take some action to prevent facing those fines.

SMITH:  All right. And, Mark, can you sum this up for us? Where is this fight going? How do you see it ending up?

RIENZI:  Well, I see it ending up with the government eventually having to come to its senses probably because the court tells them to. But at the end of the day the idea that the government is going to fine the sisters $70 million, and essentially take money away from their care for the elderly, poor over this is really a pretty crazy and pretty bad idea.

SMITH:  Right.

RIENZI:  Ultimately, the government fought to have its health care exchanges where it can get people insurance coverage and they can just use their exchanges for anybody who wants this coverage. There's no need to say it has to happen on the backs of the nuns. So, we think it's going to end in a good way and we think it's going to end, hopefully this June in a good way.

SMITH:  All right. John, Mark, and Sister Constance, thank you to all three of you. And Sister Constance, continue your fight, we'll be watching it.

VEIT:  Thank you very much. Good night.

RIENZI:  Thank you, Sandra.

SMITH:  All right. We'll be right back.


SMITH:  And in the wake of the terror attacks in Belgium don't miss a new episode of "War Stories Fighting ISIS" this Friday at 10 p.m. hosted by Colonel Oliver North and former Navy SEAL, Leif Babin.

Thanks for watching. I'm Sandra Smith. This is "The Kelly File."

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