Is there value in attacking Donald Trump?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 5, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is easy to talk about national security. There are candidates running who say things like they are going to carpet bomb ISIS or how they are going to make the sands glow in the Middle East. That's all great and good, but talk is cheap. You can't carpet bomb ISIS if you don't have an air force to do it with. You can't make the sands glow in the dark if you don't have bombs. You can't attack the terrorists if you don't know where they are.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand other candidates are getting very, very concerned because they are seeing conservatives uniting behind our campaign. And so the ferocity of the attacks has increased and it is going to continue to increase every day from now until the Iowa caucuses.

CARLY FIORINA, R, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is an extremely divisive candidate. That is why he cannot win. That is why he cannot be our nominee. But honestly, Donald Trump reminds me of the Kim Kardashian of politics. They are both famous for being famous, and the media plays along.


BRET BAIER, HOST: Well, sharper elbows, perhaps, today on the trail. This as Donald Trump continues some amazing crowds as far as size. He will tell you about them. But you can just look at them. In Massachusetts, last night, the crowd was astonishing, really, for that area. They hadn't seen anything like that as far as turnout in a long, long time. And will he see the benefit there? Well, as the camera pulls out, you can kind of get a grasp of the crowd.

In Iowa, the polls show, the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Cruz up by 3.6. That's the average of recent polls there. In New Hampshire, the Real Clear average has Trump still with a big lead in New Hampshire, obviously Massachusetts right next door, part of that deal. We're back with the panel. George?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, things can change awfully fast. Two months ago essentially, the first of November the leader in Iowa was Carson at 29. He is now fourth at nine. So these leads are some that are made of ice and will melt.

What interested me today is was Rubio attacking Christie. I think he sees something in his rear view mirror. I had a long time with Mr. Christie yesterday, and he says this will be a rapid winnowing after New Hampshire and South Carolina at the latest at which point he expected it to be a four person race. On the one side Cruz and Trump, on the other side Christie and Rubio, at which point Mr. Christie feels he is going to be in good shape because he has changed by 50 points his unfavorable to favorable in New Hampshire. He thinks he can do that elsewhere. He also thinks his former head of the Republican Governors Association he has a lot of friends in the seven governors who were elected in 2014 when he was chairman of the RGA and the 17 who were reelected. He thinks that can supply a ground game.

BAIER: What's interesting is that they're all attacking each other but not attacking Trump.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: No, because there is no value in attacking Trump. You want to get a big fat counterattack? Why? As a matter of fact they are all trying to channel the Trumpian anger.

BAIER: Which Rubio has changed his tone.

LIASSON: Marco Rubio more than anybody else has a new tone. It's angrier, it's harsher, much darker. He is trying to I think do a mind-meld with all those people who are choosing Trump and Cruz. That's a very nice scenario from Chris Christie, but Rubio also has a big task. He has to win somewhere. Is Nevada the first place he can win? I mean, he has a South Carolina based team but Ted Cruz is very strong there, too. So if the establishment is going to coalesce around him he has got to show him something.

WILL: He particularly has to win in Florida.

LIASSON: I was saying he has to win somewhere before then.

BAIER: We had the talk about the ground game. It's tough to gauge, but right now it seems Cruz has the advantage in the ground game, not only in Iowa but down south as well in the SEC states.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I think that's why Rubio is trying to blunt his advantage. It's interesting. Trump, I think, is getting a bit of a free ride in the sense that number two and number three, meaning Cruz and Rubio, are going after each other. As Mara indicates, there is nobody really other than Jeb attacking Trump. But Jeb is not exactly at the top right now. He is not having much of an effect. Trump is ignoring him essentially. He goes after the Clintons.

So Trump is kind of skating above this while all the others are fighting among each other to see who is going to be his challenger. In the meantime, they're all weakening each other and Trump isn't being hit. I mean, it shows the success of his deterrent policy, hitting everybody so hard early on over the fall, over the summer months, nobody wants to go after him. But as a result, I think -- I don't see any reason why his numbers should fall in the next couple of months.

BAIER: Next debated nine days from now in Charleston, the FBN debate will be interesting. Quickly, the Democratic side the Real Clear Politics average in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders retaking 4.3 lead over Hillary Clinton in the average of recent polls. So you say there is a chance, Mara. What do you think?

LIASSON: Well, it's pretty close. That's a closer race in New Hampshire than it was. At one point Sanders had a much bigger lead there. I think if Hillary wins Iowa that is going to give her a boost. I think it is tough, and Bill Clinton has already laid out the expectations game by reminding everyone that now neighboring candidate has ever lost New Hampshire except when we had Dean and Kerry because they were both neighboring candidates, you know, from Vermont and Massachusetts. So he is kind of setting the expectations low that maybe, you know, Vermont, next door neighbor, can win New Hampshire. But I do agree, it's hard to see where Bernie goes after that. The south is a big, big firewall for her.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned to see how one presidential candidate is trying to motivate voters in Iowa.

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