Trump fires back at critics as Super Tuesday nears; Cruz urges unity to beat Trump

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 29, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." And tonight, we are coming to you from Valdosta State University in beautiful Georgia, where 2016 Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump will be joining us in just a minute.

Now, we have a big audience and it's made up of Trump supporters, members of Georgia and the Georgia Republican groups, students from the university.  Now, that's all ahead of tomorrow's super-Tuesday showdown. We have a brand-new CNN/ORC national poll. It shows Mr. Trump is now dominating the rest of the GOP field. He has 49 percent of the vote. Senator Marco Rubio's in second. He has 16 percent, Senator Ted Cruz in close third at 15 percent.

We have a lot to get to. So let's welcome to the stage the presidential front-runner for 2016 in the GOP, Donald Trump.




HANNITY: All right, Mr. Trump. If you shake every hand...

TRUMP: Hi, everybody! Hi, everybody!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump, can I take a selfie with you?

TRUMP: You got it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome. Welcome.

TRUMP: Thank you. Wow, what a nice group. Come on.


HANNITY: You got the selfie, too?

TRUMP: How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice to see you, sir.

TRUMP: Hello, Sean.

HANNITY: Good to see you, Mr. Trump. Welcome Donald Trump.


TRUMP: Wow. Nice group.

HANNITY: Forty-nine percent!

TRUMP: That's big. That's a big number.

HANNITY: Did you watch...

TRUMP: That made me very happy. I just heard that for the first time (INAUDIBLE)

HANNITY: You know what's funny? I was watching some of the coverage of the other primaries, and I see these pundits. Some of them are so dumb.  And they actually say, Well, if his person leaves or that person leaves, you take all of those numbers, every one of them, and give it to them, and Donald Trump may lose.

TRUMP: I've heard it many times, and in fact, from some of the folks on Fox, I must say.

HANNITY: Oh, boy.

TRUMP: That's all right. When it was 40, I know they said, Well, that means 60 percent of the people -- and I said, Well, you know, I'm going to get a lot of them as they leave. But they don't say that. No word -- 49 percent. That's pretty good, right?


TRUMP: With people still in the race. So we're very happy with that.

HANNITY: If you look at the polls, only state that you are really behind in tomorrow going in is Texas.

TRUMP: Yes, little bit.

HANNITY: So what does that mean?

TRUMP: I think we have a good chance in Texas. Look, you know, we're ahead in every state. You know, it was very interesting, if you look at South Carolina, we were supposed to lose that, and we won in a landslide.  We were supposed to lose Nevada, and we won in a landslide. And New Hampshire was so great right from the beginning. And I don't know. I mean, I think we're going to do well, but we'll see what happens.

HANNITY: It was a pretty brutal weekend. I mean, if you believe some of your opponents -- let's see, you're a member of the mob and...

TRUMP: That was a new one.

HANNITY: What's that?

TRUMP: My sister said, Really?


HANNITY: She didn't know that? That you've hired illegal immigrants, you've cheated on your taxes. I mean, it seems like it's gotten very nasty at this point.

HANNITY: Yes, it is, nasty. Well, Rubio's a nasty guy. He's a nasty -- I always call him -- you know, I call him a lightweight. He's a nasty guy.  And if you listen to him -- isn't he a nasty person?


HANNITY: You know, he said, He's 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 -- I'm 6-3, but you know, he said, He's 6-foot-2, and he said, But he's got small hands.


TRUMP: I said -- my hands aren't -- are they small?


TRUMP: I never heard of that one.


TRUMP: But no, he's very nasty, and I think he's very desperate. And Cruz -- you know, look, I know he's a friend of yours, but he doesn't exactly -- he's not exactly truthful, and I think that's why I'm so well with evangelicals. They like the truth. He has a hard time telling the truth.

So the combination of -- and I used to think that Cruz was nasty, he was Untruthful and nasty. But he's more untruthful. The other one is nasty.  Cruz is smarter of the two. He's the smarter of the two. And it'll be very interesting to see what happens.

HANNITY: But you know, there is a chance tomorrow night we will know after all the results are tallied that the only two people that will have won states, and you will have won the majority of them, are you and Ted Cruz.


HANNITY: But what does that say about the other candidates, if they can't win a state...

TRUMP: It means it's tough for them.


HANNITY: It means it's tough or impossible?

TRUMP: She got it right, just bye-bye. I think it's -- no, nothing...


TRUMP: Nothing's impossible.


TRUMP: Bye-bye.


TRUMP: It means it's tough. But we'll see what happens.

HANNITY: I know this race at this at this point is always hard. With all -- as hard as you have been on some of the other others candidates, if you win this nomination and you're going up against Hillary Clinton, how tough -- you -- I'm sure these people want to know how tough would you be in a one-on-one matchup with her?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, I find it hard to believe she's going to be allowed to run. What she has done is so criminal that I just don't understand.


TRUMP: But you see Bernie is fading. I mean, he took a big, big beating in South Carolina. You know, it's interesting about South Carolina. So our party is getting bigger. And I'm just talking to the people in the party. They're so -- you know, they're very confused because they don't know me at all. You know, the top people, senators, and all these people, a lot of them don't know me. A lot of them do because, as you know, I've been in politics for a long time. But...

HANNITY: Seven months.

TRUMP: No, no, but I don't mean that. I mean behind the scenes (INAUDIBLE) I used to be establishment. You know, I'd write big checks all the time, right? I was establishment. When I did this, I was sort of very anti-establishment.

And a very big thing is I'm not taking money, so I'm not taking -- you know, I'm a self-funder. I'm doing my own funding...


TRUMP: ... which means I don't need a lot of these people, which is a problem for them because I do my own, and I'm not -- like, I don't need the lobbyists. I don't need a big, big portion of people that make their living off politics.

I'm going to -- I'm working for you in the true sense. We're going to make great deals for our country...


TRUMP: You know, it's sort of interesting. So many companies and all, they have everybody under control. They have everybody taken care of one way or the other, through political contributions, and probably worse, but I would never say that, of course, but through political campaign contributions.

And the lobbyists and the special interests and all, they control everything. With me, there are no lobbyists. There are no special interests. I'm going to do what's right. If we have to -- right?


TRUMP: Sean, if we have to bid out -- if we have to bid out pharmaceuticals, we're bidding them out. We're going to save billions and billions and billions of dollars.


TRUMP: Right now, we have no bidding on drugs. You know, we're the largest drug purchaser in the world by far. We don't bid. We don't competitively bid. We would save billions. Now, the reason we don't bid, very simple, because the drug companies have all the senators and all the - - everybody's paid off.

HANNITY: I know a guy that runs a medical center and it's a practice that people join in Wichita, Kansas. They buy -- they literally buy drugs in mass directly from the pharmaceuticals at discounted rates, and they pay next to nothing.

TRUMP: And the government pays much more.

HANNITY: And the government pays 10 times more. Crazy, right?

TRUMP: It's very sad.

HANNITY: Let me talk about...

TRUMP: Honestly, it's very sad.

HANNITY: The establishment seems panicked. You all watching the establishment here? I just -- I just clipped these headlines. "Divisions within GOP over Trump's candidacy growing." "It's time for an anti-Trump Manhattan project." Karl Rove, "Time's running out to stop Trump." "Can Donald Trump be stopped?" " GOP leaders -- you must do everything in your power to stop Trump."

And then there's stories out there, Mr. Trump, and I'm sure you've heard them, where millionaires and billionaires are talking about pooling their money, and if Rubio doesn't win in super-Tuesday and in Florida, they'll throw another candidate at you, maybe Mitt Romney.


HANNITY: What is your...

TRUMP: They've tried that before. Hey, look...

HANNITY: But the...

TRUMP: ... Mitt Romney's a nice guy, but he tried and he failed and he should have won that race. And he went away for a month and a half, the last six weeks, and you know it because you told me you could -- and you're a friendly person, OK? You're perfect for Mitt Romney. He should have been on your show every night.

You told me four years ago you could not get him to do your show. He just wouldn't be available.

HANNITY: It was worse than that. The night of the third debate, I think I used every expletive that's ever been used in the history of mankind screaming at his campaign -- How could you let him go out there and debate that way?


HANNITY: He totally let down his guard, lost the election that night. And I knew it.

TRUMP: And the second debate wasn't good, but the third debate was a total disaster.

HANNITY: Well, I wanted -- but what bothers me about this, it sounds like some people, they see your success, you're leading in the polls going into tomorrow, that they're going to pout, they're going to pick up their toys and they might even support Hillary! That angers me as a conservative who is saying, Wait a minute. We've been asked to support Bob Dole and John McCain. They weren't conservative.

TRUMP: All right, so you and I both know sports very well, Sean. I know the boxing world very well and I've hired -- I've had so many boxers and so many matches.

When they go in -- a champion goes into an unfriendly territory because he's going to get a bigger purse if he goes to some other guy's hometown and you're going to get an unfriendly -- you know, you're going to get unfriendly judges. And you know the expression? Got to knock him out. If you knock him out, there's nobody can judge against you.

If I get enough delegates, we don't have to worry about conventions or anything else. Now...


TRUMP: Now, what was interesting -- because I am not a fan of Karl Rove.  I think he's terrible. And no matter what I do, if I win New Hampshire by a landslide, I win Nevada by a landslide -- we killed everybody, as you know, including we won the evangelicals, everything, in South Carolina. It was so incredible.

And I'm watching this guy. It's almost like -- in fact, I jokingly called -- I called up a friend of yours at Fox. I said, Gee, I've been watching Fox. Do you think I won? I won by a landslide.

OK, but Karl Rove...


HANNITY: You weren't watching my show.

TRUMP: No, no. I know. Your show is great. But I called up Karl Rove the other night, you know, just a friend. And I'm watching Karl Rove. And he says, Donald Trump needs 300 points. And I said, That sounds reasonable. Then a friend said it's impossible to get 300 points.

So here's what's going to happen. If I get 240 or 250 or 260, which everybody would be thrilled at, he'll say, Donald Trump had a bad night because somebody said it's impossible to get 300.

So look, you got some bad people in Fox. You got some great people, too, but you got some bad people. And you're going to have...


HANNITY: Wait a minute. In all fairness...


HANNITY: Have you watched MSNBC? They suck.


TRUMP: But they do treat me well. And I have to tell you, I have great respect for Fox.

HANNITY: I know you do.

TRUMP: And you and O'Reilly...


TRUMP: ... a little bit rough, and Greta, and so many others.

HANNITY: Neil Cavuto, "Fox & Friends"...

TRUMP: Steve Doocy, "Fox & Friends," the whole -- Brian...


HANNITY: Let me ask you this question...

TRUMP: No, no. I will tell you. You have a couple of people that shouldn't be on -- Stephen Hayes should not be on the shows. He shouldn't be on, he's so biased. Karl Rove -- still thinks Romney won. You remember after the election?


TRUMP: Romney won. Romney won. They had to pull him off the air. The election ended about four hours ago.


TRUMP: I'm telling you, Romney won. He shouldn't be on the air!

HANNITY: Let me go back to Hillary for a second because Hillary Clinton said -- this is a quote -- "Donald Trump saying America's not great again.  We don't have to make America great. America is already great." Tell that to the 95 million Americans out of the labor force, the 50 million in poverty and the 46 million on food stamps. Aren't our fellow Americans suffering? I think they're suffering.

TRUMP: So she came out with a very strong (INAUDIBLE) because you know, our whole theme -- and you got a lot of hats out there that say it, "Make America great again." That's actually a positive thing, not a negative thing. That's a positive. To me, I -- you know, some people say it's negative. It's totally positive. And it's more positive now than when I first came up with it, frankly, because I've traveled all over. I mean, I was today in -- I'm going to Georgia here. I'm going to -- I'm going all over the place.

HANNITY: Alabama yesterday.

TRUMP: I was in Alabama. We had 35,000 people in Alabama. It was the most incredible crowd. It was the biggest crowd of the season -- for anybody.


TRUMP: Far bigger than any of the Bernie crowds. I mean, frankly, we can get 60,000 and 70,000 if we want to take a stadium. I don't even know if it's necessary.

But we went to Arkansas, where I think we're going to do great. It's a little bit of a closer one, to be honest, but I think we're going to do great in Arkansas.

Every place we go, we have something special. And I will tell you, I am so impressed with the people of this country. We have unbelievable people.  Like these people. But we have -- no matter where we go, whether we go to Dallas -- I went to Dallas. Mark Cuban gave us the arena. It was so nice, where the Mavericks play -- 21,000 people. Filled it up in three days, packed. And I'm telling you, it was like a lovefest.

A friend of mine, Sean, said, How do you do that? How do you speak in front of all those people without notes or anything? I said, There is so much love in the room -- it's true -- that it's actually easy to do.

HANNITY: We'll take a break. We'll come back. More with 2016 Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump as "Hannity" continues from Georgia.  Stay with us.




HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity" as we continue with 2016 Republican presidential front-runner -- Donald Trump is with us. We're at Valdosta State University. You all having a good time?


HANNITY: I had an argument years ago with Vicente Fox when he was president of Mexico. And I said, What about all the illegals that are leaving your country and coming into ours? He would not acknowledge the term illegal immigrant. We had a big argument on TV, on this show.


HANNITY: And he called you a Nazi. Joe Biden apologized for you saying we've got to protect the country from drugs and crime.

What is your reaction to both of them?

TRUMP: Well, I watched. He also threw out the F-bomb. If you would have done it or if I would have done it, it would have been the end of your job.  It would have been -- I don't know. I won't lose my job at least, but I would have been -- I would have gone through a big problem. You understand that.

He threw out that word. It was so disgusting. And you know, if you look at what he was really doing, he was indignant that somebody would actually tell him -- first of all, he's not even the president anymore -- but that somebody would tell Mexico that, you know, You're going to have to start coming along, because they -- and I get along with the Mexicans. I get along great with everybody and everything having to do with Mexico.

But they have been -- they have ripped off our country so badly, and China and Japan and India and Vietnam and any other country that you want to talk about.

We're going to make such great deals. We're going to change those deals.  We're going to rip those deals up and we're going to have real trade deals done by Carl Icahn and the smartest people in business.


HANNITY: I've been down to the border for the FOX News Channel.

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: And I've been all the way from the Rio Grande to San Diego. I was in a drug warehouse bigger than this room, floor to ceiling drugs. I was in an office building in San Diego. A tunnel had been dug from Mexico.

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: I was there when gang members were arrested. Believe it or not, I was on horseback, all-terrain vehicle, helicopters...

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: ... and boats.

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: I've been down there 10 times. It is so dangerous, 600,000 crimes in Texas alone! Why don't people ever tell that side of the story?

TRUMP: Well, look, we're going to have a border. It's going to be a real border, and we're going to build a wall and it's going to be a serious wall. And it's going to be...


TRUMP: ... a serious wall. Just remember that. And you remember I said it. And remember this also. Mexico, Sean, is going to pay for the wall.

You know, these politicians come up and they say, You don't really mean Mexico's going to pay. I'm a business guy. I've done unbelievable deals.  You know, they talk about this deal, that deal. I've done hundreds of deals that are so good. Nobody ever wants to talk about the great deals.  I've done unbelievable -- in fact, I filed my financials...


TRUMP: ... with the FE -- nobody believes how good they are, the federal elections. And you know, I'm very proud of it. And you can have -- we will have Mexico pay for that wall. And you know what? If I'm wrong about this, you can all come back. We'll have another meeting, and I'll apologize to you, OK?


TRUMP: Mexico -- it's going to be a serious wall. It's going to be a real wall. It's not going to be a wall that they just climb up, and you know, you see what they do, over.

HANNITY: The New York Times is claiming today that they had an off-the- record conversation with you in January. Off the record, by the way, now they're leaking it.

TRUMP: Yes, of course.

HANNITY: Typical media.

TRUMP: No, no. The most dishonest media group. And it's also failing. I call it the failing New York Times. It is doing so badly, it's dying. But I did, they had a -- we had a board meeting. It was off the record. All of a sudden, they leak it. It's all the over the place.

HANNITY: They said, Oh, you're -- that you're -- it's negotiable on the law.

TRUMP: Everything. By the way, it is negotiable. Things are negotiable.  I'll be honest with you. You know, I'll make the wall two feet shorter or something.


TRUMP: I mean, everything's negotiable.

HANNITY: But it's not negotiable about building it.

TRUMP: I actually said -- I -- no, building it? Not negotiable.

HANNITY: It's not negotiable about -- would it be negotiable about the 11 million, maybe let some people stay if they register in a period of time?

TRUMP: I would say this. Look, I've always said we have some good people over here, and they're going to go out, but we will work out some system that's fair. But we either have a country or we don't. We need a border.  We need a wall. We need a wall.

You know, I won New Hampshire, and they have a tremendous heroin problem.  And I promised the people of New Hampshire we're going to stop that heroin from coming in. It's a very hard thing to kick. And they have tremendous -- we're going to work on the people that have the habit already, and we're going to try and get them better. We got to try and get them better. They have tremendous...

HANNITY: It's bad.

TRUMP: Of all the places, New Hampshire. It's, like, the first question I get all the time, the heroin problem. Comes right over the southern border. Not going to happen anymore. It's not going to happen anymore.

But there's always going to be some negotiation. I mean, whether the wall is 50 feet tall or 40 feet tall -- and one of the things one of the reporters said to me, they said, Well, what happens -- you know, Vicente Fox made this statement. How do you respond? Because it was an arrogant, terrible, horrible statement.

And I said, Here's how I respond. The wall just got 10 feet higher. And I meant it. And he was incensed. And then Joe Biden goes and -- he -- people -- look, Mexico's great. And the people are great because I have many, many Mexicans that...

HANNITY: (INAUDIBLE) on Joe -- on crazy uncle Joe. Go ahead.

TRUMP: I was just going to say, and Joe Biden goes and apologizes. For what? We have right now a $58 billion trade deficit with Mexico. That's why the wall gets built, by the way. That's why they're going to pay for it. The wall is going to cost -- listen to this...

HANNITY: Will the name Trump be on it?

TRUMP: Only if it's beautiful.


TRUMP: The wall -- the wall gets built. It's going to cost $10 billion to build the wall, OK. It's a lot of money. It's a wall. You know, great wall of China is 13,000 miles long. This is 1,000. We need 1,000. Of the 2,000, we need 1,000. It's going to cost $10 billion to build the wall.  It's going to be a very terrific wall. But you know what? When you're losing $58 billion -- in other words, Mexico's making essentially $58...

HANNITY: It'll be part of...

TRUMP: ... $10 billion is not bad.

HANNITY: It'll be...

TRUMP: Part of the whole thing.

HANNITY: ... part of the trade bill.

TRUMP: A hundred percent (INAUDIBLE)

HANNITY: OK, we got to take a break. We'll come back. More with GOP front-runner Donald Trump as "Hannity" continues from Valdosta State University. We're in beautiful Georgia. Straight ahead.



HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity," and we are in Valdosta, Georgia, tonight with 2016 Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

All right, the other night during the debate -- and I had -- I had asked you this question a lot and I was -- and Marco Rubio was going hard at you on the issue of health care.


HANNITY: And I don't think a lot of people understand where competition is instituted in state lines.

TRUMP: That's right.

HANNITY: Do you go as far as health care savings accounts?

TRUMP: I did. And I mentioned that.


TRUMP: I talked about health care savings accounts. I said get rid of the lines, you're going to have competition. Then they said, Oh, be more specific. Let me tell you, the competition is going to make it specific.  You're going to have hundreds of different deals. You're going to have many people coming in and competing. They're all going to be different.

HANNITY: (INAUDIBLE) buy a plan in Georgia.

TRUMP: Yes. Right now, you have no competition. There's no competition.  When we open it up to competition, you're going to have tremendous -- I mean, it's going to be beautiful. You're going to have many, many different alternatives, things that you wouldn't even know about, things that you wouldn't have any idea about right now.

HANNITY: So in other words, the companies that offer the best deal...

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: ... at the best price...

TRUMP: Correct.

HANNITY: ... will get the most business.

TRUMP: To individual people, and companies.

HANNITY: So it's a free market system.

TRUMP: It's a free market system.

HANNITY: And you did get -- and a lot of people said -- I've never felt that as a conservative that people want people to die in the streets. I think we've always taken care of those that need help.


HANNITY: Why did you get criticized for that?

TRUMP: I don't understand it. I must tell you. Look, there are going to be some people -- you can say free market, you can say it's going to be much cheaper. "Obama care" is horrible. It's -- you know, your premiums are going up 45, 50 percent. It's a horror show.



TRUMP: But look, where are -- and we're Republicans. Some of you are Republicans. It doesn't matter whether you're a Republican or not in this case. I'm not going to have, if I'm president, people dying in the street because they can't afford a health plan that's much less than "Obama care," much less, Sean. But it's still going to cost something. You're going to have people that can't afford anything.

The people aren't going to be dying on the sidewalks and in the street, not if I'm president. So we'll work out a deal. We'll get them into the hospital. We'll get them in to see doctors, but...

HANNITY: And the government buys drugs in bulk. The government will...

TRUMP: They'll buy -- and things will be -- now, most people are going to be able to buy their plan. It's going to be a much better plan than they have now for a lot less.


TRUMP: But I'm not going to allow people to die on the sidewalks in the street. And you know when I make that in a speech in front of all Republicans and -- I get standing ovations.


TRUMP: I mean, it's crazy. Who wants to let that happen? I'm not going to let it happen.

HANNITY: Just for the benefit of time, an issue that came up in the debate, too, was the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

TRUMP: Right. Right.

HANNITY: You know, I look at the Palestinians -- here's Israel, '67, '73, Israel has offered everything but the moon to get peace with the Palestinians.

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: Children are indoctrinated to hate Israel and hate Jews. How is it ever going to be possible if that's the way...

TRUMP: I agree. It's very tough. It's going to be very tough. And I've had some of the greatest negotiators in the world tell me it's almost impossible because the Palestinians are ingrained with hatred toward Israel.

And what I say is -- I'm very pro-Israel, as you know. I've been -- I've been, you know...


TRUMP: You look -- I was the grand marshal of the Israeli Day parade at a time when it was very dangerous. They said, You have to be crazy to do it.  I'm very, very pro-Israel. But at the same time, I don't want to be so negative on the other side because I would say that would be the ultimate deal, making peace between the Palestinians and Israel. I always say that may be the hardest deal in the world, all right? And I'll tell you...

HANNITY: But you recognize that there is this -- the neighbors of Israel hate them.

TRUMP: Oh, it's terrible. It's terrible. It's ingrained, and it's a very tough thing, but I'd like to give it a shot.


HANNITY: I'm going to ask you a last question...

TRUMP: It would be good for everybody. If we could make peace, that would be great.

HANNITY: It'd be great for the world.

TRUMP: Be great for the world.


HANNITY: Last question. We have a -- only a minute. ISIS, radical Islamic terrorism...

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: ... is the evil of our time. It's the Nazi Germany of our time.

TRUMP: Got to knock it out. We're going to knock it out. We're going to -- our military is very depleted. We're going to build up our military.  Nobody's going to mess with us, and we're going to knock out ISIS.


HANNITY: Is this a lifelong struggle, do you think, against radical Islamists?

TRUMP: It certainly seems it. It's a horrible thing. Something's going on. And you know what I did with respect to Muslims. There's something going on and we don't know. It's a temporary halt. We have to have a temporary ban.

HANNITY: How many support that, by the way, in this crowd?


HANNITY: Do it by clapping. People on TV can't see all of you. All right.

Do you support a temporary ban until we can vet the people to come in?


HANNITY: Almost the whole crowd.

Mr. Trump, I know you got, like, 10,000, 20,000 people waiting for you. We really appreciate your time, as always.

TRUMP: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: Thank you so much.

Give it up for Mr. Donald Trump.


HANNITY: When we come back, the countdown to super-Tuesday continues straight ahead tonight on "Hannity."


SEN. TED CRUZ, R- PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Super Tuesday is tomorrow. It is the most important day I believe in this entire primary season. We are going to have a very good Super Tuesday.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." So the countdown to Super Tuesday is on, and in the lone star state according to the Real Clear Politics average Texas Senator Ted Cruz is now leading Donald Trump by almost double digits. Cruz has 36.2 percent of the vote. Trump has 26.6 percent. And Marco Rubio is at 19.2 percent.

Joining us with reaction is 2016 Republican presidential candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Senator, good to see you. Very important day. You talked a lot leading up to this about the SEC primary. Here's my question.  You're leading in your home state. Senator Marco Rubio is down by 20. He may come out of tomorrow with no states at all and that the only two people to have won states is you and Donald Trump. Does that mean if a person can't win their own state that they have to get out of the race?

CRUZ: Look, I think that is a very likely outcome. Tomorrow, Super Tuesday, is going to be most important day of the entire primary. We are doing very well in Texas, and I'll tell you, we're running neck and neck in states all across Super Tuesday. We've been traveling all across. We were in Oklahoma. We were in Arkansas. We were in Georgia. We're in Alabama.  We're seeing very competitive races for Super Tuesday.

And I think the likely outcome on Wednesday morning is that Donald Trump is going to have a big chunk of delegates. We're going to have a big chunk of delegates. And there's going to be a huge drop off for everybody else.

And, you know, if you look at Republican primary voters, 65 percent of the Republican primary voters recognize that Donald Trump is not the best candidate to go head to head with Hillary. Donald loses to Hillary. And if Donald is the nominee, we not only lose the White House, we probably lose the Senate. We get clobbered up and down the ticket.

And so what we are seeing is conservatives consolidating and uniting behind our campaign. And let me say to folks at home. If you're one of the 65 percent who don't think that Donald Trump is the best nominee for the general, I ask you to come and join with us on Super Tuesday because we are the only campaign that has beaten Donald Trump and that can beat Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. And if you don't want him to be the nominee, we have to stand together. If we're splintered, that's how we lose the country and lose the election to Hillary.

HANNITY: I've been -- I asked you this question when we were together last week. I hear your arguments about Trump, but he still leads in the polls.  So why is he doing so well? Is it because in your view it's a five-man race or because he's popular?

CRUZ: Listen. I think people are angry. They're furious with Washington.  And Trump is a loud voice and they view him as a vessel for that anger.  But the truth is that Trump embodies everything that they're angry about.

Trump is a deal maker. He spent his entire life cutting deals, and we are furious with the deals of Washington. The problem with Republicans in Washington isn't that they've been unwilling to make deals with the Democrats. The problem is Republicans make deals with the Democrats every day. And Donald Trump is promising more of the same.

You know, let's take an issue like amnesty. When I was leading the opposition to the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill with millions of Americans standing against amnesty, Donald Trump was funding the gang of eight, Rubio-Schumer amnesty group. Of the eight members, Donald supported five of them, gave them over $50,000. You don't get to support pro-amnesty Democrats for 40 years and then suddenly wake up and decide you're for securing the border. And so when it comes to what people are angry about Donald represents the same deal making.

HANNITY: OK. So let me go back to Tuesday. I will say in fairness to you, you have been a critic of Trump for a long time. And you guys have gone back and forth and I think people understand that there's differences between the two of you. But we saw something else with Marco Rubio at the debate the other night, and all weekend long it seems that's all the media wanted to show -- Marco Rubio. How do you interpret, a, what happened at the debate, and, b, is he now flailing? Is that a sign of desperation that has now joined the fight against Donald Trump? How do you interpret it?

CRUZ: Well, listen. I welcome Marco to the fight. I was glad to see it the last debate that he finally was willing to take on Donald. As you noted, I've been taking him on for a long, long time.

And I think we're at a key decision point. Super Tuesday, if you want to stop Donald Trump, it's got to be Super Tuesday. And, you know, we saw in the debate, one of the reasons why it's so important. When I was asked a question about religious liberty and the Supreme Court, Donald responded to me, Ted, I have known a lot more politicians than you have. And he's right. He's been supporting liberal politicians, liberal Democratic politicians for 40 years. And he said, Ted, you have got to be willing to compromise. You've got to be willing to compromise on religious liberty.  You've got to be willing to cut a deal on the Supreme Court.

Well, Sean, let me tell everyone at home right now. I will not compromise away your religious liberty. I will not compromise away your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. And Donald in that debate promised that's exactly what he'd do, that he intends to cut a deal with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer on the replacement for Justice Scalia. If that happens, our basic rights are going away.

And I would note, my two leading competitors, Sean, have both supporting banning guns. Donald Trump supported Bill Clinton's nationwide ban on some of the most popular firearms in America. And Marco Rubio when he was on the city council in west Miami voted to ban guns in city parks. I disagree with banning guns, and one thing you can rest assure, I will never support banning guns because I have fought for the Second Amendment my whole life and I believe in the Bill of Rights, and I don't think Americans want another Washington dealmaker to give in to the lobbyists, to sit down and cut deals with the Democrats, take away our liberties and keep bankrupting our country.

HANNITY: Let's talk about process a little bit more. After Super Tuesday, now, a lot of states will have taken place. I know that everyone keeps asking the other candidates that haven't won a state. Is it your opinion after Super Tuesday, if you've not won a state that you should get out of the race?

CRUZ: Well, listen, each candidate is going to have to make that decision for themselves. I'll tell you, this needs to get to a two-man race. In a two-man race, we beat Donald Trump and we beat him handily. The polling shows we beat him by 16 points, 56-40. I think Donald has got a fairly high floor of 20 percent to 25 percent that he gets no matter what. As he puts it, he could walk out on 5th Avenue and shoot someone and that 20 percent or 25 percent would probably stick around with him.

But I think he's also got a low ceiling of 35 percent to 40 percent.  And so coming out of Super Tuesday, if you haven't won a state, if you don't have a path to get any delegates, I think each candidate is going to have to ask, what am I doing in this race? And let me say to everyone in Super Tuesday states right now, if you're thinking of supporting another candidate, listen, there are some good people in this race, people I like, people I respect. But the only campaign that has a chance of beating Donald Trump on Super Tuesday is us, and if you want to stop Donald, I would ask you stand with us. Let's unite and come together as a party and say we are not going to nominate a New York City liberal who has supported liberal policies, who agrees with Hillary Clinton on issue after issue after issue, whether it's supporting Planned Parenthood, whether it is staying neutral between Israel and the Palestinians, or whether it is supporting Obama's bailout of Wall Street, the TARP bailout.

On all of those issues, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton agree, and on all of those I disagree. I think we need a conservative president who stands with the working men and women of this country, not another dealmaker to -- there is a reason, Sean, that Harry Reid says Donald Trump is the Republican he wants to win, because Donald Trump has supported Harry Reid for years. Harry Reid says I can work with Donald. He'll cut a deal.  He supports the same policies that Harry Reid does.         And I think as Republicans we don't want a general election between two rich liberal New Yorkers who agree on domestic policy, on economic policy, on foreign policy. That's what's gotten us in the mess to begin with.

HANNITY: All right, we have to take a break. When we come back we'll have more with Senator Ted Cruz right after this quick break as "Hannity" continues. We are at Valdosta State University. We're in beautiful Georgia, and we'll continue.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity" as we continue now with 2016 Republican presidential candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Senator, let's move beyond process and polls for just a minute. If you become the president of the United States, so many Americans are suffering, Americans. America is not respected abroad like it once was. We have more enemies, ISIS, the mullahs in Iran, radical Islamists. How will things change and how quickly does that occur?

CRUZ: You know, I think the change begins overnight. There are three key issues I think that this general election comes down to -- jobs, freedom, and security. With regard to jobs, for seven years we've been stuck in stagnation. I want to speak for a minute to the single mom who is right now working two, three jobs at 28, 29 hours a week because your hours have been forcibly reduced because ObamaCare kicks in at 30 hours.

I want to speak to the working men and women, to the plumbers and electricians and truck drivers, to the men and women with callouses on your hands that are stuck in stagnant wages where your wages don't go up even though your expenses and cost of living go up.

I want to talk to the young people who are coming out of school with student loans up to your eyeballs, and yet you're afraid, am I going to get a job? What does the future hold?

This can and will change. The key to the economy, the heart of the economy is small businesses. We need to take the burdens off of small businesses and unleash small businesses. If I'm elected president we will repeal every word of ObamaCare. And if I'm elected president we'll pass a simple flat tax, abolish the IRS. And those two things will unleash small businesses to create for millions of high paying jobs. We're going to pull the EPA back, pull the government regulators back so small businesses can expand. That's going to raise wages.

And the other thing we're going to do is we're going to secure the border. We're going to end illegal immigration. We're going to cut off taxpayer funds for sanctuary cities. We're going to end welfare for people who are here illegally. And the effect of that is going to expand jobs for American citizens and raise wages. We're going to have young people coming out of school with two, three, four, five job offers. That's what we can do, and we've done it before. We need a president who understands the principles, how you allow small businesses to create jobs. And we need a president with the strength to follow through, who has a record of following through on his commitments. On liberty, we are going to defend the Bill of Rights and the constitution. Yes?

HANNITY: How long does that take? For all those people that you mentioned, the plumber, the contractor, the people with callouses on their hands.

CRUZ: Yes.

HANNITY: I spent 20 years of my life as a blue collar worker. How long is going to take to get out of the misery and the suffering, unfortunately, they've been experiencing?

CRUZ: Well, there are a lot of things that will change overnight. So on day one I pledge to do five things. Number one, rescind every single illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by President Obama.  That includes President Obama's illegal amnesty. And we'll begin enforcing the immigration laws on day one. The more you enforce immigration laws the more you're going to see jobs available for American citizens and wages start to go up.

The second thing I pledge to do on day one is instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and to prosecute any and all criminal violations. That you can do on the first day in office and I intend to.

The third thing I intend to is instruct every federal agency that the persecution of religious liberty ends that day. We have seen Obama abusing executive power. On January 20th, 2017, all of that comes to an end.

The fourth thing that I will do on the first day in office is rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal. A nuclear Iran is the greatest national security threat facing America, and a strong commander in chief will change how America deals with the world.

And the fourth thing I'll do on day one is begin the process -- the fifth thing, rather, is begin the process of moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Now, all of those you can do immediately. I also will instruct the Department of Education that Common Core ends today. All of that can happen instantly.

The next step is pulling back regulations, pulling back the EPA, pulling back the BLM, pulling back the CFPB, all of the government regulators. A president can do that immediately.

Now, what takes longer is passing legislation. And the two big legislative initiatives I'm campaigning on are repealing every word of ObamaCare, and passing a simple flat tax and abolishing the IRS. That will take time, but I hope to have both of those accomplished the first year in office. And that's where my energy, my time is going to be devoted, is taking that case to the people and coming out of the general election with a mandate. If we do that, if we repeal ObamaCare, the economy will explode. If we pass a flat tax, we will see millions and millions of high paying jobs. And that can happen within the first year or two of the administration. Get the federal government off the backs of small businesses and we will see economic growth go through the roof.

HANNITY: Do you see -- one last foreign policy question. Do you see ISIS as a lifelong fight, radical Islamic terrorism in some form, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas, you know, is this a lifelong fight we have with them? Or can it be won? And how long does that fight take?  That is my last question.

CRUZ: Look. Radical Islamic terrorism may well be a very, very long fight. I don't believe ISIS will be a long fight. If I am commander in chief, we will utterly destroy ISIS. ISIS has declared their caliphate.  We will go in. We will use overwhelming air power. We will carpet bomb into oblivion. We will arm the Kurds who are the boots on the ground, and we can and will defeat ISIS.

Now, defeating ISIS is also a powerful blow against radical Islamic terrorism. Right now, ISIS is benefited by the perception that they're winning. If I am commander in chief, every militant across the globe will know that if they go and join ISIS, if they take up arms against America, if they wage jihad, they are signing their death warrants. That's some of how you beat them.

More broadly the way you beat radical Islamic terrorism is the same way Reagan beat Soviet communism. You restart the economy through tax reform and regulatory reform. You get millions of high paying jobs that generates trillions in tax revenue. You rebuild the military. I am going to rebuild this military so that it is the mightiest military, remains the mightiest military on the planet. And let me say one final thing -- to all of our soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines who have had a commander in chief that doesn't have your back, that sends you into conflict with rules of engagement that tie your arms behind your back, that will end on January, 2017. As commander in chief, I will have your back.

HANNITY: Senator Ted Cruz, as always thank you for being with us. Good luck tomorrow, Super Tuesday, we appreciate all your time that you've given us up to this point. And we appreciate it. Thank you.

CRUZ: Thank you, Sean. God bless.

HANNITY: And coming up, we have more "Hannity" coming up right after the break, straight ahead.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." Unfortunately that is all the time we have left this evening. As always, thank you for being with us. Don't forget, tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and if you're in one of those states, I hope you vote for the person you like best. Thanks for being with us.

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