Republican infighting heats up ahead of 2016 race

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 30, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DOUG MCKELWAY: And we're back with the panel now. While you were gone we just heard another barb from Donald Trump calling Bill Kristol, quote, "a real loser."

Let's take a look at the national polls right now. The Real Clear Politics average has Trump up 17 points at this point. But the fascinating polls really are the state ones. The Iowa average RCP poll has Cruz up 2.8 percent. And New Hampshire is turning into a real dogfight. Trump up 13.7 percent there, but look at the horserace just underneath that, tightly packed group of New Hampshire, Rubio, Cruz, Christie, all just behind Trump with Bush and Kasich not far behind. And we are seeing real infighting there, Charles.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It implies that if you had some consolidation you take out Cruz, but consolidation among the others, then you would really have a head-to-head. And you reported a little earlier, you have had the internecine fighting between the non-Trump-ites. You've got Christie attacking Rubio strangely for nonattendance in the Senate, number one, they have all derided the Senate as a completely useless body, so why would it matter if he showed up for the vote or not.
And, second, I think that Christie is actually renounced his residency in New Jersey since he has already moved into New Hampshire. So he is hardly one to accuse another of abandoning his duties, whatever he was elected to do. It's very odd. I don't think that really works. But it shows how all of them are scrambling to come in second or perhaps even to pull out a miracle victory in New Hampshire to end up as the one in the finals.

MCKELWAY: You mentioned Jeb attacking him for missed votes, Rubio's missed votes in the Senate. A Rubio spokesman firing back hard today with this comment, quote, "No other candidate for president has received more classified intelligence briefings or better understands the threats facing our nation today than Marco. It's sad to see Jeb's joyful campaign reduced to such intellectual dishonesty.

And Rubio got another endorsement today from a real GOP superstar. Let's listen up.


REP. TREY GOWDY, R, SOUTH CAROLINA: I found my candidate. It's Marco Rubio. I hope that you will give him a chance to convince you that he should be your candidate, too. Help me welcome Marco Rubio.

MCKELWAY: Charlie, does that make a difference, do endorsements make a difference in this day and age?

CHARLES HURT, POLITICAL COLUMNIST: Sure, endorsements are important. I don't know that getting a member of Congress to endorse your campaign at this point does much good.
And I agree with what Charles is saying, this idea that they are going to attack Marco Rubio for missing votes in a body that they are all ridiculing is sort of insane. And especially because one of the big hits against him among real strong conservatives is the votes that he has taken with regards to immigration.

I think one of the real big problems right now is that, you know, the number two guy, and the number one guy in Iowa and the number two guy nationally, Ted Cruz, is not as unpalatable as Donald Trump, but he is still very unpalatable for a lot of establishment Republicans. And because of that unique dynamic, it's just very hard for -- you are looking for a third tier person to step up and become that challenger.

MCKELWAY: That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to find out who is putting words into the mouths of Democratic presidential candidates.

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