Polls show Trump nomination increasingly likely; Clinton accuses GOP of 'coded racial language'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 17, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." And tonight, the Republican showdown in South Carolina is just three days away, and brand-new poll numbers show that Donald Trump is surging. We have the new Monmouth University poll right out of the Palmetto State. It shows Trump on top with 35 percent, Ted Cruz in second with 19 percent, and Marco Rubio is in third place at 17 percent. Then John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson follow.

We have a new CNN/ORC South Carolina poll. Trump is up by double digits, 38 percent, Cruz in second with 22 percent. Rubio's third in that poll, 14 percent, followed by Bush, Carson and Kasich.

Also, a new Quinnipiac national poll. Now, this has Trump with a big lead at 39 percent, Rubio in second with 19 percent, Ted Cruz in third at 18 percent. We also have an outlier national poll that was just released tonight. According to NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Cruz leads in that poll 28 percent and Trump in second with 26 percent.

Joining us with reaction, Fox News contributors, the editor-in-chief of Lifezette.com, Laura Ingraham, Fox News senior correspondent Geraldo Rivera.

Laura, you and I have been far more open in terms of insurgent candidates than I think a lot of other conservatives out there. If you look at those poll numbers, national, South Carolina, Nevada, I would say it's a pretty good bet at this point that Donald Trump can win this whole thing, which I think would shake up the entire Republican Party.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think the establishment of the GOP and all of the discontented folks from the conservative media establishment -- they have to start moving through their stages of grief, Sean.


INGRAHAM: They have to move to now -- they were at anger, disappointment, and now they have to go to acceptance and even...

HANNITY: They're in denial still.


INGRAHAM: ... willingness to compromise.

HANNITY: Aren't they still in the denial stage, though?

INGRAHAM: Yes. Well, I think -- aren't you getting the sense that this is just like the last gasp for some of these people? So Lindsey Graham was out there today saying that Donald Trump is unfit for office. This is coming from the Bush supporters, who have been supposedly claiming that they want to have a substantive argument about all these issues. Yet every time Trump gets up in the polls, it's just personal attacks on Donald Trump.

And look, he can dish it out, you know, so he can take it. I have no doubt about that.

But you can't just keep saying, Well, he's unfit for office. Apparently, 38 percent of the public doesn't think that's the case, and 38 percent of Republicans, independents, maybe some disaffected Democrats. So at some point, are the establishment folks going to come to this realization that maybe it's the policies...

HANNITY: All right, here's the question...

INGRAHAM: ... they've been pushing forward that are unpopular?

HANNITY: Every time I interview Donald Trump, I go through issue after issue after issue...


HANNITY: ... right down the list. And I ask him, What are you going to do on health care? He likes health care savings accounts. He told me yesterday he likes the penny plan to balance the budget. We know what he's going to do with the wall. We know he'd take the oil with ISIS.

What do you say? Because they keep trying to say he's not a conservative.  But it's not working. Is it because of his answers or is it because -- why?

INGRAHAM: Well, I mean, I think the answer to that is, OK, we had supposed conservatives who said they were going to have a humble foreign policy, and it was anything but. We had conservatives that ran up the deficit and the debt. We had conservatives that left open borders. And we had conservatives that presided over trade policy that allowed China to build the second biggest growing military force in the world. So if all of that was conservative, then I think we have to move the goalposts on what exactly the conservative movement means.

So you know, Trump on his Web site has a lot more specifics I think that he's probably all that comfortable with reciting in interviews. And I want him to be more specific all the time. So I agree with that -- you know, that criticism. I think it's a fine one.

But all these people are saying, Well, he's not criticism -- conservative.  Well, tell me who in Congress, other than maybe Jeff Sessions and on some fiscal issues certainly Paul Ryan. But there are not a lot of conservatives in the U.S. Senate right now, and so that's how I'd answer it.

HANNITY: What do you make of the establishment reaction? You know, for example, just before New Hampshire, one of the top Republican leaders in the state said, I don't see it, I don't hear it, I don't believe it's real.

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I don't disagree with anything that Laura or you has said so far. I would just say that there is no real relevance to specificity anymore.

I'll give you a little anecdote. I just come out of South Carolina, just got home last night. When I arrived in Charleston on Saturday, I had a black driver, a black cab driver who took me downtown. I said, Who are you voting for? He said, I'm going to vote for Donald Trump. And I said, Why?  He said, I'm sick of these people. I'm sick of these people and their lies. I'm sick of the people and their fake promises.

Nikki Haley, the governor, popular governor endorsing Marco Rubio today -- irrelevant! Relevant maybe between Rubio and Cruz, but absolutely will not...


RIVERA: ... Donald Trump at all.

HANNITY: ... Nikki Haley and Trey Gowdy.

RIVERA: And it doesn't matter!

HANNITY: But I agree with you. It doesn't matter.

RIVERA: It doesn't matter the people who are supporting Donald Trump, right now in that 30-plus almost getting close to 40 percent of the Republican electorate now -- they aren't into this issue or that issue.  There is a sentiment, a feeling, a vibe that they're getting from Donald Trump that, finally, they're gong to have someone to shake things up.  They're so sick of the status quo. It really is about...


HANNITY: Tired of political correctness. Another big factor, right?

RIVERA: That also. That also. And look at the debate, when he almost lost it vis-a-vis Jeb Bush.

HANNITY: That's like you and me debating.

RIVERA: It is like us, but...


RIVERA: We're in a different business. So you would think that, My God, look at the lack of prudence, look at the lack of decorum. But the thing is people love that and they love when President Obama said Donald Trump doesn't have the right stuff. That was like the icing on the cake. Trump in a route on Saturday.



INGRAHAM: One of the things -- one of the things that really struck me was that rally last night, when he had the political judgment, which I certainly wouldn't have had, to pull those two guys up on stage that helped quell the protesters and he allowed them to speak. Now, how many people who have been managed by consultants and managed by...


INGRAHAM: ... their donors would think, Let's bring them up. They're two regular guys. You don't know what they're going to say. They could have said anything. He says, Why don't you say a few words? Now, that actually showed me something very unusual about him.

He's willing to trust the people's judgment, really trust the people, so that Iraq war vet gets up, and when he said, We have no one speaking for us, you're the only one -- now, I don't know if that's fair to Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. But it's a feeling that people get that because he's not part of the regular, you know, class in Washington, with -- surrounded by all the donors, that he actually can represent, as a billionaire no less, the regular...

HANNITY: You know...

INGRAHAM: ... aspirations of the working people.

HANNITY: ... if these polls in South Carolina hold up, well, let's just look at the next state, which is a caucus state, which is Nevada, Trump's 45. Rubio's second at 19.

INGRAHAM: He'll crush there.

HANNITY: I mean, it would seem that...

INGRAHAM: He's going to crush there.

HANNITY: That would mean he would run three states in a row, assuming these polls are correct, and they're big leads. Does that then create inevitability, Geraldo?

RIVERA: I think Trump, and I've been saying since July, that Trump will be the nominee. One observation and one person I have not mentioned is Governor Jeb Bush. There is a kind of almost pathos to me to watch Jeb bring his mom onto the campaign trail, bring George W. Bush onto the campaign trial.

HANNITY: Well, I was with him on Monday. I have some insight into -- it seemed to me he was having fun with his brother.


RIVERA: But my point is, he is absolutely not resonating. He is a person that I thought early on would be the strongest Republican candidate. This guy can't get a free lunch anymore.

HANNITY: And Laura, this goes to the heart of the Republican Party and the disappointment -- you're a conservative that's disappointed. I'm a conservative that has been disappointed. They wouldn't use the power of the purse on "Obama care." They wouldn't defund executive amnesty.

Now I think this is a really big moment for the Republicans in general.  Either they will regain some faith among those that feel betrayed, and -- or they'll capitulate again on the issue of Scalia and Obama's appointment.

INGRAHAM: Oh, yes.

HANNITY: To me, it's 50-50. I don't know whether to trust them or not.

INGRAHAM: I think that's a good instinct, Sean. If the Republicans on Capitol Hill cave to Obama's choice for the court, then I think it's all out revolution in the Republican Party.

RIVERA: I disagree.


INGRAHAM: And let me finish, Geraldo.

RIVERA: I mean, do you really want to have a fight about abortion now, between now and the election? Do you really want a women's -- war on women and all that stuff back? Let Obama be forced to pick a centrist Republican for the high court.

HANNITY: He'll never do it.

INGRAHAM: That's not going to happen.

RIVERA: I think he'll do it rather than avoid a fight.

INGRAHAM: I don't think it's going to happen. Let me -- let me just -- let me just...

RIVERA: If Hillary's the president, you know who you're going to get in the (INAUDIBLE)

HANNITY: All right, Laura -- let Laura finish. Go ahead.

INGRAHAM: Let me just (INAUDIBLE) So I think if the Republicans confirm an Obama pick, who we know is going to be a judicial activist -- there's no doubt about that -- then it'll be all-out war. And at some point, Sean, I think it's incumbent upon some of these other Republicans to say, Look, we didn't get everything we wanted in this presidential contest, but we have to unite the party. And maybe, if it's Trump or Cruz, they're going to have to unite with Trump or Cruz. They're going to have to unite behind one of these two candidates...

HANNITY: Hey, Laura, I have a prediction.

INGRAHAM: ... and realize that they tried and it didn't work.

HANNITY: They've urged conservatives to suck it up with McCain and with Bob Dole.


HANNITY: How many of these guys are going to pick up their toys and go home? That's my prediction, too.

Now, I want to go to Geraldo on one issue here. It's been 80 years since there has been an appointment and confirmation of a Supreme Court justice in an election year. You're a democrat, small "D," a Republican, but...


RIVERA: ... Kennedy was in the (INAUDIBLE)

HANNITY: But here's what I want to ask you. Why not let the American people decide, considering the balance -- the entire balance of the court is in play here?

RIVERA: I totally agree.

HANNITY: Why not let them decide through the election?

RIVERA: I disagree. There's nothing in the Constitution about waiting, but this is why I urge President Barack Obama -- he now has a historic opportunity to reach out and recognize...

HANNITY: When has he ever...

RIVERA: Let me just finish. It was...

INGRAHAM: Oh, please.

RIVERA: ... with Sotomayor was elevated to the court, when Kagan was elevated to the court because they were replacing Democratic liberals. Now he's replacing a Republican conservative.

HANNITY: Here's my question to you...

RIVERA: Why not -- this is the opportunity for Obama to say...

HANNITY: Bill Clinton...

RIVERA: ... Here is my compromise, I picked a candidate who is pro-life, who's this or that...

INGRAHAM: When has he ever done that?


HANNITY: Has he ever had a Sister Souljah moment, the era of big government is over, the end of welfare is...


HANNITY: When has he ever deviated from his radical statism? When?

RIVERA: I think that he's done it...


RIVERA: ... by avoidance of confrontation.


RIVERA: I'm sad that he hasn't been...

INGRAHAM: Oh, come on!

RIVERA: ... more of an activist...

HANNITY: Oh, boy!

RIVERA: ... particularly in racial issues.

HANNITY: You see what I got to deal with, Laura?


HANNITY: You see what I put up with?

INGRAHAM: Well, I wish I was in the studio. I could -- you know, I could -- I could...

HANNITY: You'll take care of him.

RIVERA: ... talk some sense into Geraldo. Absolutely.

RIVERA: You'd be the rose between the thorns.

HANNITY: That's true. All right, thank you both.

Coming up next tonight on this busy news night here on "Hannity"...


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald, I would encourage you, if want to file a lawsuit challenging this ad, claiming it is defamation, file the lawsuit.


HANNITY: All right, the war of words between Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump is heating up. Now, Trump sent Cruz's campaign a "cease and desist" letter over a political ad. Our panel will weigh in next.

And also, later tonight...


HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many Republicans talk in coded racial language about takers and losers. They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe.


HANNITY: All right, Hillary's at it again. She's taking a page out of this worn-out liberal playbook. We see it every election cycle, calling Republicans racist. That and more tonight on "Hannity."



HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." Now, the nasty feud between Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz is now reaching a boiling point ahead of South Carolina's primary on Saturday. Earlier this week, Donald Trump threatened to take legal action against the Texas senator because of his political attacks, and yesterday, Trump's team sent the Cruz campaign a "cease and desist" letter over this political ad. Take a look at this.


CRUZ: I'm Ted Cruz, and I approved this message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life, marriage, religious liberty, the 2nd Amendment -- we're just one Supreme Court justice away from losing them all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would president Trump ban partial-birth abortion?

TRUMP: I'm very pro-choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you would not ban it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or ban partial-birth abortion.

TRUMP: No. I would -- I am -- I am pro-choice in every respect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot trust Donald Trump with these serious decisions.


HANNITY: And earlier today, Senator Ted Cruz escalated the war of words, challenging Trump to bring on a lawsuit over that ad. Watch this.


CRUZ: You know, I have to say, to Mr. Trump, you have been threatening frivolous lawsuits for your entire adult life. Even in the annals of frivolous lawsuits, this takes the cake. So Donald, I would encourage you, if you want to file a lawsuit challenging this ad, claiming it is defamation, file the lawsuit.


HANNITY: Here with reaction, from The Washington Times, Charles Hurt, FOX News legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr., FOX News contributor Jedediah Bila.

It's getting nasty. Now, South Carolina has a history of being probably the nastiest part of any campaign. Happens every election cycle. This is not unusual. It bothers some people, but they pay more attention.

JEDEDIAH BILA, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: There's also -- people are getting desperate because Trump is in the lead, and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz don't know what to do because it seems as though every time Trump says something that media analysts and everyone else sit down and say, Oh, this is going to be it for him, he gets another bump in the polls.


BILA: So I think there's a desperation. I see it particularly on the part of Ted Cruz because Ted Cruz thought when you talk about evangelical voter and you talk about South Carolina, I think he thought this was going to be his victory lap, and how he's looking and saying this guy, who had some -- many liberal positions in the past for some reason has been able to convince a large segment of the population that he's a reliable conservative.

HANNITY: What did you think of -- I mentioned it, but we didn't about it in the first segment. What did you think of the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll nationally that had Cruz up by 2? Outlier?

BILA: Yes, outlier. I don't think that's going to be the case, if I had to make a prediction. Look, no one wants to acknowledge the fact that Donald Trump may be unstoppable. I like a lot of what he has to say. I do have some concerns.

HANNITY: You prefer Cruz?

BILA: But I think -- personally, I have some concerns about Ted Cruz. I don't like his delivery. I question some of his authenticity. I don't have a dog in this fight, to be completely honest with you today.

HANNITY: Peter, you've been fair to everybody.


HANNITY: You really have been.

JOHNSON: Absolutely, yes.

HANNITY: And you've worked with Donald Trump.


JOHNSON: I represented him several years ago, yes.

HANNITY: When you look at the polls that we aired earlier and then you have this other poll, do you think that maybe something is happening or beginning to happen?

JOHNSON: In terms of Ted Cruz coming on?


JOHNSON: No, I don't see the shift at all anecdotally and in terms of any of the other polls. I don't think that's accurate at this point, although it might be. It's a snapshot in time.

But you see what Donald Trump is capable of doing even to Ted Cruz, a renowned Supreme Court litigator, one of the world's debate champions.  He's unhinged now, Ted Cruz. And as part of that response, Ted Cruz said that he wanted to depose, ask questions under oath, himself of Donald Trump in such a lawsuit!


HANNITY: I don't think I heard the word liar between Trump, Cruz and Rubio -- I don't think I've heard the word liar as much as this week here.

JOHNSON: But trump is sitting back on the plane and he's laughing. He says, Oh, this is terrific no. So Senator Cruz wants to depose me. So I threatened the lawsuit, and Ted Cruz is arguing it like it's a Supreme Court case, and he wants to depose Donald Trump!

HANNITY: You don't think that's effective?

JOHNSON: (INAUDIBLE) chance to depose Donald Trump...

HANNITY: In the debates.

JOHNSON: -in these debates.


JOHNSON: Has he failed or succeeded there?

HANNITY: Let me go to Charles. Charles, I want to play -- Obama now has weighed in on Donald Trump, and here's what he said, and then we'll play Trump's response.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president. And the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people, and I think they recognize that being president is a serious job. It's not hosting a talk show or a reality show. It's not promotion. It's not marketing. It's hard.

TRUMP: This man has done such a bad job. He has set us back so far. And for him to say that actually is a great compliment, if you want to know the truth.

One of the major networks called and they wanted a response. And I said, You're lucky I didn't run last time when Romney ran because you would have been a one-term president.


HANNITY: What do you think of the exchange, Charles Hurt?

CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, you know, those comments from President Obama I think sum up perfectly Donald Trump's entire campaign.  Whatever you think of Donald Trump, if you have the lowest opinion of Donald Trump and you think he is insane, he's vulgar, he's dangerous, whatever you think of him, the reason he is so popular today, the reason he's taken this race by storm is because people have so little faith left in politicians like Barack Obama.

Barack Obama, President Obama has so destroyed the reputation of the presidency and of politicians in general that, you know, that people are just running into the arms of Donald Trump because they prefer him so much to what we have presently!

HANNITY: And as I was listening to the president, Jedediah, I'm thinking, Oh, OK, you had this vast wealth of experience as a community organizer and a senator, a state senator that voted present so often.

BILA: Right. Not only that, but he was all marketing. He was all branding. He was the campaigner-in-chief. I mean, this was a guy who became president by doing what Donald Trump is doing well right now, getting out into the crowd, connecting with people, yes, getting the youth vote, getting people excited about him. So he should know better than anybody that charisma has its role because...


HANNITY: Do you think he would be a good president?

BILA: Donald Trump?


BILA: Look, I think he has great leadership abilities. I think that's clear. I think he has great business experience. I'm a little concerned about his stand on the issues. I think I sit here today and wonder what he would actually do if he were to be the president of the United States.

HANNITY: Because of his past versus his...

BILA: Because of the past. I mean, look, I said the same thing about Mitt Romney. Everybody out there who's yelling about Donald Trump and defended Mitt Romney should think about that, as well. So I think it remains to be seen.

HANNITY: Peter, do you think if he's the president, do you think he would surround himself with good people?

JOHNSON: I think he'd surround himself with good people. He does now. He knows, as Reagan did, and understands that you need to surround yourself with great people and sometimes people that are a lot smarter than you are.  Leadership is very important.

But I think the American people are evaluating all these candidates. and they're looking at them hard in this crucible of fire that they're all going through. They're making mistakes. Trump has made mistakes. He's made some successful moves, as well.

We have to see how he evolves as a candidate and how he evolves on the issues and how he evolves in terms of an understanding of government. He's going to have to understand government going forward. It's fine to understand business and finance...

HANNITY: Very different...


HANNITY: ... a CEO and say, Do this, this, this and this.

JOHNSON: ... absolutely essential to understand government in order to be successful.

HANNITY: That's where a vice presidential pick, I think, would be very important...

JOHNSON: Critical.

HANNITY: ... if he ever got the nomination.

JOHNSON: Critical.

HANNITY: Critical. Agreed. All right, guys, good to see you all.

And coming up, more on the countdown to South Carolina. Which political ads are resonating well with you, the voters, which ones are falling flat.

And also tonight...


CLINTON: Many Republicans talk in coded racial language about takers and losers. They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe.


HANNITY: Well, at least she stopped barking. Hillary now stooping to a new low, suggesting racism is the reason that Republicans don't want the president to nominate the next Supreme Court justice. We have a panel.  They'll weigh in.

Also, the corporation Apple is in hot water. Why? Because they refuse to help the FBI unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists. Is Apple doing the right thing? I don't think so.

That and more tonight on "Hannity."


HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." So the Republican presidential race is heating up, and that means the candidates are releasing new political ads.

Joining us now to help break them all down, from The National Review, FOX News contributor Rich Lowry, and pollster Lee Carter. All right, let's start with Trump. He's in the lead, fair enough, and he's got an ad that focuses in on immigration. the question we're asking these guys -- is it effective?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jas Shaw (ph) was a 17-year-old football star who was gunned down just outside his home. His killer, an illegal immigrant gang member who just got out of prison. Jas's dad, Jamil (ph), is supporting Donald Trump for president because he knows he will end illegal immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump is the only one saying, You're going to be dealt with. We're going to enforce that. We're going to enforce that. That's a beautiful thing. I believe Donald Trump wants to make us great again and he loves America.


HANNITY: Scale of 1 to 10, how effective is that ad?


RICH LOWRY, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: It's very effective. It's a highly emotive topic. It goes to the Trump's advantages on both immigration and strength.  This is the kind of ad -- the kind of topic, usually you're using it to attack someone else, saying, you know, candidate Smith or Jones didn't take care of this. Instead, Trump is saying, We got this problem, and I'm going to take care of it, and uses someone with a lot of credibility...

HANNITY: How would you score...


LOWRY: ... to deliver that message. 9.

HANNITY: 9. I'm 9.5. A very effective ad...

CARTER: So effective.

HANNITY: ... plays to his strength, and immigration is a huge issue in this campaign.

CARTER: That's a personal endorsement from somebody you wouldn't expect to usually see supporting Trump.

HANNITY: By the way, to get a 10 out of me is nearly impossible.


HANNITY: That's about the best you got. All right, Rubio, "Morning in America," hits Obama and Clinton on the state of the nation. Watch this ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's morning again in America. Today, more men and women are out of work than ever before in our nation's history, people paying more in taxes than they will for food, housing and clothing combined, nearly $20 trillion in national debt for the next generation.  It's morning again in America. And under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, our country is more vulnerable, divided and diminished than ever before. Why would we ever want four more years again of that?


HANNITY: All right, I'm going to start with Rich this time. Grade?

LOWRY: I'd say about a 6. It's very important to hit...

HANNITY: Oh! I don't want you as my professor.

LOWRY: ... Clinton and Obama...

HANNITY: That's harsh.

LOWRY: I gave a 9 for the Trump ad. I think Rubio ads are a little more effective when he's going straight to camera. I don't quite get the juxtaposition...

HANNITY: That's a good point.

LOWRY: ... saying it's morning in American, and then saying all these terrible things are happening. But it ends strong.

CARTER: I give it a 5. I think it is just a weak, typical political ad.  And the thing that we have to remember right now is he's running against Republicans, and he's got to differentiate himself. What's this say about Marco Rubio, that he can retry Ronald Reagan's line, that he's going to run -- you know...


LOWRY: And you thought I was a tough grader, Sean.

HANNITY: You're a tough grader, too. I would grade this in a general election differently than in a primary...

CARTER: Exactly right.

HANNITY: I'd give it a 9, 9.5 in a general...

CARTER: Exactly.

HANNITY: ... because it's not -- I still give it an 8 because I think it's powerful to remind people that things are really tough. We need a dramatic change in the country. That to me is important. But I think Rubio straight to camera is probably the best observation.

All right, let's move on, Ted Cruz attacking Donald Trump in this ad.  Let's roll tape.


TRUMP: I'm very capable of changing to anything I want to change to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would President Trump ban partial-birth abortion?

TRUMP: Well, I am pro-choice in every respect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you would not ban it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Planned Parenthood?

TRUMP: Planned Parenthood serves a good function.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Hillary Clinton?

TRUMP: I think she does a good job and I like her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: South Carolina cannot trust Donald Trump.

TRUMP: I'm very capable of changing to anything I want to change to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't give him that chance.



LEE CARTER, POLLSTER: I give this one a five, as well. I think that Cruz has run some really, really effective attack ads. One of them he has Donald Trump as sort of a play toy and a child playing with it, very, very effective. I tested this one. With Trump supporters, they love him despite this. People already know this.

HANNITY: They don't care.

CARTER: It's a tired argument. It's not a new argument.

HANNITY: I want your grade and then I've got an observation based on what you're saying. What do you think?

RICH LOWRY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I give it about a six or seven. I do think it's effective to use Trump's words against him. But these particular lines are pretty familiar except for the last one where it says "I can change to anything you want," which for conservatives primarily voters would set off some alarms.

HANNITY: It seems to me this is the bottom line for Trump in general.  Either you believe that he has evolved as somebody that was a New York businessman that had liberal positions, that has evolved into a conservative. You believe his narrative or don't, or maybe you're in the middle and you have questions about. That seems to be the question in the primary. Do you believe that he is true? Because I have asked them, penny plan, health care savings accounts. He's given me all the right answers, immigration, all of these, balancing the budget in record time, all those important questions. But for many, it is do you believe him? That's what it comes -- it's that the simple question. And looking at the polls, people believe him.

CARTER: People believe him. In fact, when I'm out there talking to voters, they're saying this is the most authentic candidate out there.  He's going to say what he means, means what he says, and they love him.  They might have believed that he changed positions, but they still trust him unlike any other politician that they're hearing from. And it's unbelievable because even with an ad like this, you would think that people would start to question exactly what you are saying, but they're not.

HANNITY: All right, last word, Rich.

LOWRY: I think if you're going to dent Donald Trump, you have to do it by taking away some of the --

HANNITY: You're --

LOWRY: We are trying. We're doing our best. But some people who can make and run some ads need to hit him on his populism and say, look, you manufactured stuff in China. He's run people out of their homes.

HANNITY: You know what he said to me years ago, before he ever got into the race, he geos I would love to buy my stuff from America but I can't because they do it so much cheaper over there. He actually made a good case. Look at the carrier air conditioner. Did you see those plant people learning that -- sending it to Mexico? That resonates. Illegal immigrants competing for American jobs. America, 95 million Americans out of work.  This is resonating. So many people in poverty on food stamps out of work, suffering. You know what?

LOWRY: I think the party should learn from that message. I would much rather have a conservative vessel for it, but --

HANNITY: Understood. You're allowed to have you own opinions here.

CARTER: Very much in the jet stream.

LOWRY: Until Trump is president. Then we'll see.


HANNITY: Good luck. Good luck getting an invitation to the White House Christmas party.


LOWRY: I'll sneak in with you, Sean.

HANNITY: Coming up next tonight here on HANNITY --


CLINTON: Many Republicans talk in coded racial language about takers and losers. They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe.


HANNITY: Hillary, she is not barking, now suggesting racism is the reason Republicans do not want President Obama to nominate someone to fill Antonin Scalia's Supreme Court seat. We'll debate that.

And then later tonight, the court is now ordered Apple, the corporation, you know, the people that make your phone, to help the FBI unlock the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists. Apple is refusing. Bo Dietl, Ralph Peters will weigh in, straight ahead.


HANNITY: All right, Last night shortly after spending the day kissing up to the reverend Al Sharpton in New York, Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Harlem. And during her remarks the Democratic hopeful shamelessly played the race card and flat out suggested that Republicans were racist. Watch this.


CLINTON: The Republicans say they'll reject anyone President Obama nominates no matter how qualified. Some are even saying he doesn't have the right to nominate anyone, as if somehow he's not the real president.

That's in keeping what we have heard all along, isn't it? Many Republicans talk in coded racial language about takers and losers. They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe.  This kind of hatred and bigotry has no place in our politics or our country.



HANNITY: Here with reaction, chairman of the Tea Party Forward, we have Niger Innis back with us, also Democratic strategist Brian Benjamin. Big shocker, Niger. Every election Republicans are racist. Republicans want to throw granny over the cliff. Republicans hate old people. Republicans, let's see, want women and children to suffer. They want to poison the air and water and kill people. Oh, and they, by the way, are involved in a war on women. Here we go again, same playbook every election cycle.

NIGER INNIS, TEA PARTY FORWARD: You know, Sean, Benjamin, I think we should have a moment of silence because Hillary's pantsuit is on fire because she feels the burn. And that's what this is.

HANNITY: Maybe this is what she was talking about yesterday barking away, right?

INNIS: Exactly. I think that was a dog from a fire truck or a firehouse, because she feels the burn. She's gotten crushed in New Hampshire. She had to win a coin flip in Iowa. Her minority firewall, he so-called minority firewall in my state of Nevada, is falling apart right before her eyes.

HANNITY: By the way, they say there's not enough minorities in Nevada, but yet it makes --

INNIS: That's an outright lie.

HANNITY: That is -- you know, saying it's too white like New Hampshire.

INNIS: That's absurd. When you combine Latinos, blacks, and Asian- Americans which is pretty sizable here in this state, you're talking close to 50 percent of the population, certainly within the Democratic Party. So that's pure nonsense. And that is a reflection of her panic mode.

And what happens when a liberal Democrat goes into panic mode? They go to the old tried and true black community. And what do they use? Not success. Not seven years of a booming economy in the black community.  Income equality is worse than ever. It's not because race relations are doing famously well within the country under this Democratic country.

HANNITY: No, no. Disproportionately Black America suffered.

INNIS: It is not. What do they use? Racism.

HANNITY: Let's go to Brian. This is played every year. No surprise. I always warn my audience it's coming. Let's look at Hillary. She lives in a pretty white neighborhood up in -- kind of like New Hampshire and Nevada she is claiming in Westchester.


HANNITY: She has a brother-in-law, Roger Clinton, who is on tape using the n-word repeatedly. She worked with and I don't think ever she publicly chastised Robert the former Klansman Byrd. He used the n-word in an interview with Tony Snow a few years back. She had a husband who signed a law protecting the confederate symbol in Arkansas. You know that, right?  Not exactly the great champion of civil rights, voting rights as she claims, is she?

BENJAMIN: Well, she is. But what I think she is confused about is that a party that is so strong on strict constructionism sort of all of a sudden throwing that to the wind when Justice Scalia passes. First of all, I think the Republican --

HANNITY: Where in the constitution -- show me -- wait, wait.

BENJAMIN: Should not let the man pass in peace at least for a couple of days --

HANNITY: That goes for President Obama, too.

BENJAMIN: No, it doesn't. He was responding, he responded to --

HANNITY: He still politicized it that day.


HANNITY: Where in the constitution does it say --

BENJAMIN: That the president should be able to fulfill his duty?

HANNITY: And what is the Senate's role in this?

BENJAMIN: Advise and consent.

HANNITY: That's correct, advise and consent.

BENJAMIN: Of course, right.

HANNITY: We haven't had this happen in 80 years where we've confirmed a Supreme Court justice in an election year. How about this? I thought you were a man of the people, right?

BENJAMIN: I am. You are a strict reconstructionist, right?

HANNITY: I'm an originalist. I believe in Scalia and Thomas are my favorite. By the way, if Clarence Thomas the way the Democrats like Ted Kennedy treated him is racist, too, right?

BENJAMIN: Wait, wait, wait.

HANNITY: That was a high-tech lynching, wasn't it?

BENJAMIN: Anita -- no. No, no. Let's stay focused on the president.

HANNITY: I'm staying focused on the president and I'm just saying to you there hasn't been a case in 80 years. Why not make this election, Mr. man of the people, and let the people decide?

BENJAMIN: Because the people have decided. The people have elected President Obama and he has the right to act as president.

HANNITY: And the people elected a Republican Senate and they advise and consent. So they won't consent. Niger, last word.

INNIS: I love it. Benjamin, defending the honor of Justice Scalia.

BENJAMIN: I'm defending civility, and obviously the Republican Party doesn't believe in that anymore.

INNIS: Granted, the folk reelected Barack Obama in 2012, but in a more recent election in 2014 they elected a Republican Senate to stop Obama and stop the leftward drift in our country. That's what they need to do.

HANNITY: I will say, the race card is so old by the Democrats. And black America is not --

INNIS: It ain't going to work this time.

HANNITY: -- better off under Barack Obama's policy. They have been disproportionately negatively impacted.

BENJAMIN: That's not true.

HANNITY: More people on food stamps, poverty, and out of the labor force under Obama.

INNIS: You heard it first.


HANNITY: Can't get a summer job. The worst ever.

All right, coming up, Apple is now refusing to help out the FBI and unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists despite a court order demanding they do so. Is Apple, you know, your phone provider, are they putting your security at risk? We'll check in with Bo Dietl and Colonel Ralph Peters straight ahead.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." So, yesterday, a federal court ordered Apple to assist the FBI in hacking the iPhone that was used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. Apple is refusing to comply. The company's CEO, Tim Cook is appealing the decision. He released a statement which reads in part, quote, "The U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone." Here with reaction, FOX NEWS strategic analyst Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, and former NYPD detective Bo Dietl. Bo, if I gave you an iPhone and said can you figure out how to backdoor this, why do I believe that you would be able to find a way?

BO DIETL, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Look, there are things called cloning phones. You put apps on them. The Apple 5 is a lot easier than the new Apple 6. They put in all this new technology.

HANNITY: It's interesting that know all this, Bo.

DIETL: Let's face on thing. This is national security. This is not the first time this is going to come up. Apple has to understand, I'd tell you what, if I was the FBI I would go to Apple, Mr. Cook-atation, and say, Mr. Cook, here is what we would to do.

HANNITY: "Cook-atacious"?

DIETL: Here is the phone. You do what you've got to do. Give us the information off the phone. We'll let you do it this way. We don't know how you did it. We don't care how you did it. This is national security.  Here is my subpoena from a federal judge. I need the information on that phone.

HANNITY: Colonel Peters, there is no ambiguity here. It's 100 percent we know this is a terrorist. This isn't about privacy for anybody here. It's about protecting potentially other Americans, for example, were there other cell members that are still out and about throughout the United States?  That means they are a potential threat to every citizen. To me it's basic, commonsense. The fact that they fight this makes no sense to me.

LT. COL. RALPH PETERS: You're right, and Tim Cook is a complete fool.  This is not about privacy rights of law abiding Americans. This is about Apple selling a lot of iPhones to really, really bad people around the world. And Tim Cook doesn't want Apple to have a reputation of, well, we might give a key to the feds here.

Sean, there is nothing in the constitution or Bill of Rights that says that terrorists or crooks or pedophiles have a right to encrypted communication.  Even Ben Franklin, our most tech savvy founding father, didn't put that in there. And so this is all about selling phones. And it's a -- as you pointed out, it's a clear cut case. The federal magistrate issued the order.

HANNITY: I have an iPhone here. Really? How about all of us that are customers of Apple, I have an iPhone, an iPad. My kids have iPhones. They have Apple computers and everything else. Really, he's not going to work to protect all of us and do everything in his level best in this case? The fact that he's even fighting it in court to me, Bo, is irresponsible.

DIETL: But I respect people's privacy also.

HANNITY: Of course we do.

DIETL: Here's the idea. If you built this thing, then you know how to breach it. With a subpoena from a federal judge, from a court, why can't Apple concur and go along with that subpoena? Get the information off the phone. We're not talking about having everyone have the capability. I shouldn't have the capabilities where I can breach into people's phones.  But this is national security. And when it comes out to be national security, I think that is the paramount issue here at face right now.

HANNITY: Last word, lieutenant colonel.

PETERS: Tim Cook would rather sell phones to terrorists than protect the American people. I'm not buying any more Apple products. And I will also tell you this, Sean, that this is absolutely shameful. The federal government did everything right, got the court order, and Tim Cook is acting like Hillary Clinton, above the law, better than the rest of us.

HANNITY: Really well said. So if I gave you my phone right now, you could break into it, couldn't you?

DIETL: Well, all I can say is they have these apps that I can clone and take your phone. That's one thing. But then again, what they were doing is they were encrypting interesting. And I am for people to be able to encrypt.

HANNITY: I believe in privacy.

DIETL: With the CIA.

HANNITY: How about our kids? Don't I have the right to know what my kids are doing on the phone?

DIETL: If you're paying for the phone, it's your phone.

HANNITY: That is what I tell them. I'm paying for it. It's not your phone. Daddy's phone.

DIETL: Right. When they start paying for it, they have their own rights.

PETERS: Even then, I'm dad, Bo. Dad gets to do what he wants.


HANNITY: Thank you.

Coming up, we need your help, an important "Question of the Day" straight ahead.


HANNITY: Time for our "Question of the Day." So do you think Apple should unlock the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhones? Yes. We buy your products.  This is about keeping America safe. There's no ambiguity here. We know these are the people. What if they have information about other terrorists or other cells that want to commit crimes or kill people here in America?  Anyway, we want to hear from you. Go to Facebook.com/SeanHannity, @SeanHannity on Twitter, let us know what you think.

Quick programming note, be sure to tune in tomorrow night, 10:00 eastern, we'll be broadcasting from South Carolina ahead of the GOP primary in that state. We'll be joined by the leader in the polls in that state, Donald Trump. That is all the time we have left this evening. As always, thank you for being with us. We hope you have a great night.

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