GOP rivals clash as countdown to Iowa heats up

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 1, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives. As I noted, Heidi and I, we have two little girls. I'm very glad we don't have 17.


CRUZ: When I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in and voila.



BRET BAIER, ‘SPECIAL REPORT’ HOST: Ted Cruz with an interesting pushback against the war on women that is alleged against Republicans. He is making a run in Iowa and he is doing it, getting a lot of faith based support. This is the Iowa caucus, the Quinnipiac poll just out this week. And there you see Trump again on top but essentially tied with Ted Cruz. You look internally in this poll, and this is support consider themselves born again evangelical Christians, 27 percent for Cruz. And there you see Carson second and Trump in third.
We're back with the panel. We are, Charles, 62 days from the first voting.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: And that Carson, that graphic you showed is almost a major reversal among evangelicals between the position of Cruz and Carson. It is clear that Carson has slid dramatically and that it has largely gone to Cruz. Is he is the inheritor. I don't see any reason why the Carson slide will not continue, and what we're getting now is the fight within Cruz and Rubio over essentially who is going to be -- who is going to urine the title fight against the leader, which is Trump.

They are starting to fight a little early among themselves, but they obviously see the winner of this undercard, Cruz versus Rubio, as the guy who will get to go into the finals. Rubio, I think, has benefited over the last few months from the decline of Bush support. A lot of it has gone to him. And also the fact that the mainstream -- I don't like to use establishment, but the more mainstream Republicans who have given up on Bush are seeing Rubio as the one who is the most likely to win against Hillary.

BAIER: This battle, A.B., between Rubio and Cruz on national security is significant. It started out with the NSA, Rubio attacking Cruz on a vote about the National Security Agency. And then you had this "Bloomberg" article, "Senator Rubio emphatically supported Hillary Clinton, says Cruz, in toppling Gadhafi in Libya. I think that made no sense," Cruz told "Bloomberg." On Syria, he said against Rubio and Clinton, "In my view we have no dog in the fight of the Syrian civil war, he said, arguing that Rubio and Clinton are repeating the very same mistakes they made in Libya. They have demonstrated they have learned nothing." Interesting tying Rubio with Clinton.

A.B. STODDARD: Yes. And so the gloves are off. This is a window of time where they worry that the voters are going to defocus off of the race and on to Christmas. And there is -- you know volatility with Carson's numbers slipping, Cruz's rise, Rubio's rise, and you see Christie attacking Trump, Christie attacking the senators Cruz and Rubio. You see Rubio and Cruz in this fight, not only on national security where Rubio is going to paint him as a Rand Paul dove because he said we have no stake in this fight in Syria. Basically we would be fine with Gadhafi, and the same in Egypt, that, you know, the push by people like Clinton led us to the Muslim Brotherhood. So that is something that Rubio going to take advantage of.

The other thing is Ted Cruz is going to be under enormous pressure on immigration. Rubio has been leading that. He cannot come up with an answer, and this is now on tape, and it's been on the Hugh Hewitt Shows, he can't come up with an answer what is amnesty. Essentially his position is very similar to the other people in the race including Rubio. And so this will be a huge thing in the next couple weeks.

STEVE HAYES: Cruz would like to position himself between Rubio on the one hand and Rand Paul on the other hand. But I think, particularly in this "Bloomberg" article, he makes an argument lumping Rubio in with Clinton and Obama that I think is a stretch, a lot of people are going to think is a stretch.

And at one point Cruz said, well, you know, Rubio is basically in favor of the kind of military adventurism that we have seen so much of from the Obama administration. I don't think that's the main conservative critique of the Obama administration. The main critique is we haven't projected American power. We certainly haven't used it. I'd say Libya, maybe Syria are exceptions to that, but that's a risky argument for Cruz to make. He's going to have to make it in a more nuanced way going forward.

BAIER: And 62 days. That's it for the panel.

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