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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Candidates Stump For Votes in Early Voting States; Ted Cruz Rallies For Evangelical Vote; Awaiting Trump Speech in Iowa; Hedge Fund Billionaire Backing Rubio; "Affluenza" Teen Captured in Mexico. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 29, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:08] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, breaking news, Donald Trump saying he will spend a minimum of $2 million a week on ads leading into Iowa. His first vie. The Republican front-runner taking questions on his plans as he lands in Iowa for a major rally this hour.
Plus, just now, Trump is saying if he cheated on his wife, it would be fair game for his GOP rivals, but are his attacks on Bill Clinton for what Trump calls a terrible record of women abuse a fair game, too?
And the so-called affluenza teen and his mother captured in Mexico. His drunk driving caused four deaths. But he will likely only spend 120 days in jail. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT Donald Trump moments ago, Donald Trump defending his personal attacks on Bill Clinton, speaking to reporters onboard his private jet. Trump asked if his own personal indiscretions would be fair game, too?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, they would be. And frankly, Hillary brought up the whole thing with sexist. And all I did was reverse it on her. Because she's got a major problem. Happens to be right in her house. So, if she wants to do that, we are going to go right after the President, the ex-president and we'll see how it comes out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: At the same time, it is a last-minute push for votes as the clock runs out on 2015. The Republican presidential candidates at this hour blanketing the primary states to win over voters. At this hour, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump are all in the Buckeye State.
Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT with the Trump campaign in Council Bluffs. Jeff, 25 degrees there. There's been bad weather. How's turnout?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, no question, of course it's cold, of course it's snowy. But look behind me at this crowd here. You can see I would say 1,000 or more, perhaps thousands have gathered here in Council Bluffs, Iowa. We are five weeks away from those critical Iowa caucuses. If you're wondering why Donald Trump is suddenly going after the Clintons, is because he is trying to rally Republicans to his side. He is trying to get these voters here and all the supporters who have been driven by his celebrity, drawn by his celebrity, turning them into caucus goers. That's why he's here in Council Bluffs tonight.
ZELENY: Donald Trump is opening a new front in his war with the Clintons. Reviving political scandals from two decades ago.
TRUMP: There was certainly a lot of abuse of women. And you look at whether it's Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones or many of them, and that certainly will be fair game.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all so much.
ZELENY: With Bill Clinton ready to hit the campaign trail, Trump says everything is fair game in his outreach to women voters. Even this.
TRUMP: Certainly if they play the woman's card with respect to me, that will be fair game.
ZELENY: In New Hampshire today, Hillary Clinton ignored Trump's latest taunt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a response to Donald Trump?
CLINTON: Great to see you.
ZELENY: Her campaign issued a statement saying, "Hillary Clinton won't be bullied or distracted by attacks he throws at her and former President Clinton." The Clintons, the picture of a big happy family seen here on a Sunday stroll in New York. A stark reminder of how much time has passed since this tense moment in the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, raising the question of whether these old controversies still carry any weight. The new feud has Trump's primary fight written all over it. Few things rally Republicans more than taking on the Clintons. Overnight he tweeted, "Remember that Bill Clinton was brought in to help Hillary against Obama in 2008. He was terrible. Failed badly and was called a racist." From name- calling to nose picking.
The Trump campaign once again took the low road, retweeting a photo shop picture of Jeb Bush picking his nose. A Bush campaign spokeswoman fired back. Out on twitter, there arose such a clatter, late-night twitter drunk Donald is back at it. All candidates feeling the pressure. Marco Rubio and Chris Christie also in Iowa squeezing in a final round of handshakes and speeches of 2015.
TRUMP: Thank you.
ZELENY: In the New Year, Trump said he's going to open his checkbook in the final month before the Iowa caucuses. He gloated in a tweet today that he spent less than any candidate saying, now, I will spend big in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. He's fighting to stay OUTFRONT.
TRUMP: I demand the election be today.
ZELENY: Well, of course Donald Trump does wish the election was today. Because he is leading nationally and doing very well here in Iowa. But of course the next five weeks are critical, Erin. And it's one of the reasons that he said he is going to spend up to $2 million a week on ads for the border security, on ISIS, other things. He clearly is making this investment for the first time in his campaign a little worried if all these supporters of his who have been drawn to his celebrity will actually become caucus-goers in five weeks here in Iowa -- Erin.
BURNETT: Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.
And Donald Trump as we said about to take the stage at that platform where Jeff is. Now, Donald Trump's supporter Pastor James Davis. And Jeb Bush supporter Will Wedder (ph) and the former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. Matt Lewis with the Daily Caller also with me. Let me start with you, Will. Trump is about to spend millions. You just heard him. Two million dollars a week. He spent nothing so far. Now all of a sudden he is. Is this a sign he is worried?
[19:05:25] WILL WEDDER, JEB BUSH SUPPORTER: Well, it is. And there is a reason he hasn't spent anything so far and that's because he's gotten hundreds of millions of dollars of free earned media from the media. But he is spending money now. He can welcome himself to the club now with all the other candidates. And I think it's a sign of weakness. Look, he is not winning in Iowa. And in fact by all accounts, Ted Cruz looks to be winning by a wide margin there. And if you pay close attention to New Hampshire, his lead is starting to erode there as well with people like Governor Bush and others. And so, I think he is nervous, I think he is spending money because he is nervous and he should be.
BURNETT: Pastor Davis?
PASTOR JAMES DAVIS, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: I don't think that is fear-based at all. And the pundits are saying such. But there was an op-ed that came out in the "Wall Street Journal" today that spoke about there being a great chasm or the thing that is the most important feature of this election is going to be the divide. Most people are hard right or hard left. And so now comes a time Iowans make their decision late in the game. And so, it's time for him to control his own narrative. At this point, yes, he's gotten a lot of free media. But that free media has been controlled by the producers of television shows. And they control whatever tweet goes out or whatever he's saying. Because it's so hard right and left there is this anger that's in the middle. The ad said something about it being a void so to speak that people in the middle don't have a voice. And so I believe what is going to happen now, is that he is going to go after those that are in that center and pull them to his side.
BURNETT: Matt, what is your verdict on this spend?
MATT LEWIS, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY CALLER": I don't think Donald Trump is worried or afraid, per se. Campaigns ought to spend money. It is actually a miracle that he is doing so well without spending any money. So, the fact that it's -- I'm not shocked or stunned. I don't think it's a sign of weakness that he is going to spend money. But I do think it is a realization that in Iowa, for example, we know that Donald Trump's winning national polls. We know that Donald Trump has people coming to rallies. What we don't know is, if they will actually show up in caucus in Iowa.
LEWIS: And maybe this is a way strategically to try to drive them to the polls.
BURNETT: So, on this issue of the polls and the money, let me ask you this, Will. Trump was just asked about Jeb Bush in the context of all the spending he is now doing on ads. Just a couple of moments ago on that plane, let me play for you what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So, I'll be spending a minimum of $2 million a week and perhaps substantially more than that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb has spent $40 million.
TRUMP: He hasn't spent 40 million. He wasted 40 million. There is a big difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEDDER: What's my comment to that?
BURNETT: Yes. What's your comment? He hasn't spent $40 million, he wasted $40 million.
WEDDER: Look, well, that's of course his opinion. Look, if you were in New Hampshire right now, you can sense that one campaign is on an upward trend and that's Jeb Bush. And one is on a downward trend, that's Donald Trump's. He is nervous. And I know not to disagree with Pastor Davis earlier with what you said, but you're right. America does have a hard left and a hard right. But no one has been more divisive in this race than Donald Trump. He has said some reckless things. He is for things like universal health care which is ObamaCare on steroids. He thinks Vladimir Putin is a really good guy when he's brought huge instability to the Middle East and to Eastern Europe. This guy is not a serious candidate. He maybe polling really well in national polls. But when it comes down to serious voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and when they vote, he is not going to see the votes that he wants.
BURNETT: Pastor Davis, reckless? DAVIS: I think you're using the word "serious" in the place of establishment." And there is a chasm. If 60 million people showed up to vote for Mitt Romney, 61 showed up to vote for Barack Obama. That left 100 million people sitting in the living room disinterested. In fact, more people show up to vote for "American Idol" than they did the presidential election. And so, Donald Trump is speaking to that 100 million people and arousing them to get out and to embrace something that's different. And there's such, I believe that his donors, Jeb Bush donors is going to pull up at some point. At what point do the purse strings dry up when you're spending $40 million or even the number I believe is closer to $60 million and you're still polling down in single digits. It's ridiculous.
BURNETT: Matt, does that strategy make sense if you think about that but, you know, about the same number of people who don't vote?
LEWIS: I think that, you know, the graveyards of political campaigns are littered, you know, with the corpses of people who were going to bring out people who don't vote to vote this time.
LEWIS: And that's the big x-factor. You know, there is a reason that political strategists target likely voters and people who have vote -- have a past record of voting, is because they have a higher propensity to actually turn out and vote. Every once in a while a campaign comes along that changes the game. That does turn out people who didn't vote before. We don't know yet. That's the big question about Donald Trump. Will they actually show up to vote? That's the one remaining, you know, big question mark.
[19:10:16] BURNETT: And as a final point, Pastor Davis, the retweet of the photo shot picture of Jeb Bush picking his nose. Will you admit at least Donald Trump shouldn't have done that or just think that that's OK?
DAVIS: It's silly, of course. But once again, it's nothing new. Sometimes truth, sometimes the thing that's different is brash, it's in your face, it's crass even in some cases. But I believe people that are smart, people that are intelligent, the folks that are waking up out of the slumber sort of speak of the political process can throw away some of this stuff and listen to the context or the meat that's on the bone sort of speak with respect to the Trump candidacy.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.
And OUTFRONT next, Ted Cruz meeting with evangelical leaders in Texas tonight as his father a controversial born again pastor plays a crucial role in his campaign. A special report on their relationship is next.
Plus, Donald Trump is slamming Bill Clinton, his one-time golf buddy and wedding guest.
Was a Bill and Donald friendships for real?
And Jeanne Moos with a bed designed to ensure a sound night's sleep even to an earthquake.
[19:14:42] BURNETT: Right now, Ted Cruz preparing to take the stage at an evangelical rally in Cisco, Texas. Part of a two-day gathering of religious leaders and financial backers hosted by two of Cruz' biggest donors. Texas billionaire brothers Dan and Farris Wilks. Cruz needs to lock up the evangelical vote to win the nomination in the White House and he is relying on his dad to do it. Rafael Cruz, a Cuban born preacher who has been called Cruz's secret evangelical weapon.
Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ted Cruz rising in the polls and getting personal on the campaign trail.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Growing up, my father always presented an example of courage and integrity. Thank you for being my hero.
SIDNER: His father Rafael Cruz has been front and center in both Cruz' campaign and his life. Here he is on the stump during Cruz's Senate race.
RAFAEL CRUZ, FATHER OF TED CRUZ: Tea Party is alive and well.
SIDNER: Rafael Cruz is outspoken, passionate and controversial. Here he is in 2013 in a conservative forum in Iowa.
RAFAEL CRUZ: Socialism requires a government becomes your God. That's why they have to destroy the concept of God. They have to destroy all loyalties except loyalty to the government. That's what was behind homosexual marriage.
SIDNER: The younger Cruz said his father does not speak for him, but Rafael Cruz's words have at times become a liability.
RAFAEL CRUZ: We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago. I would like to send him back to Kenya.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
SIDNER: That was 2012 at a Tea Party gathering. Ted Cruz said his father's comments were intended as a joke, though an ill-advised joke. But on the campaign trail, Ted Cruz does not shy away from sharing his father's story from Cuba to Canada to America and talking about his influence.
TED CRUZ: When what is two and three-years-old, my parents, neither one of them were Christians. They were living up in Calvary. And both of them drank far too much.
SIDNER: But Rafael Cruz became a born again Christian leaving his Roman Catholic faith in 1975. Now a pastor in suburban Dallas, Rafael Cruz was born in Cuba in 1939. He fled the country for Texas as a teenager in 1957. His history as a Cuban revolutionary, a major influence on his world view. One he shared while stumping for his son's Senate race.
RAFAEL CRUZ: When Castro took over in '59, I went back to Cuba. I got the shock of my life. This same man that had been talking about hope and change now was talking about how the rich were evil.
SIDNER: The Cruz campaign said, Mr. Cruz was simply pointing out that both President Obama and Fidel Castro used slogans like hope and change. But Rafael's controversial comparisons just keep coming.
RAFAEL CRUZ: If he has his way, it will make us another third world country because it is after the redistribution of wealth on a global basis.
SIDNER: Obviously, President Obama would absolutely disagree with that. But the Cruz campaign says, look, Rafael Cruz is a hero. He is someone who is the embodiment of the American dream so it should be no surprise that he is someone that his son uses and looks up to. They also said that he will continue to stump for his son on an official basis and that he does very well with evangelical Christians.
BURNETT: On an official basis, an important caveat there. Thank you very much, Sarah.
So, let's go to Ben Ferguson now, host of radio's "Ben Ferguson Show," and Josh Holmes, former chief-of-staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Josh, you worked in the Senate with Ted Cruz. What do you think of him?
JOSH HOLMES, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: That's a lead-in. Well, I don't think it's any secret by now that Ted Cruz has not played along particularly well with others in his time in the Senate. You know, he's got a resume basically of three or four years here in the Senate where, you know, there's one or two maybe senators on most things that he can get to agree with his point of view. And 97 and 98 others who by and large disagree with it. It's proven to be very difficult for him to sort of Trump whatever it is he is supportive of. Because frankly, there is nobody sitting behind him ready to pick up the mantle. And I honestly think it's a problem for him as he is trying to convince voters that he can actually accomplish the conservative change that he is talking about when he has demonstrated absolutely no ability to actually get that done his time in the Senate.
BURNETT: Interesting point. Ben, I want to show you a clip from "Saturday Night Live" just recently. Let me just replay it here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I'm president, I can promise you, ISIS will hate me. And how do I know? Because everyone who knows me hates me.
Democrats hate me. Republicans hate me. I have what doctors call a punchable face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:19:42] BURNETT: All right. Said it with humor, Ben, but it matches what unnamed classmates told "The Daily Beast." They describe Cruz as abrasive and arrogant. His fellow senators of course have called him a whacko bird and a jack -- fill in the rest of the world.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
BURNETT: Why do so many people who know Ted Cruz dislike Ted Cruz? I mean, this is on a fundamental level, a very serious question.
FERGUSON: Well, there are people who don't like him because he didn't play by the establishment rules and Mitch McConnell and others have laid forth in Congress. Let's not forget. It's not a liability when Congress doesn't like you. The American people hate Congress. What is their approval rating, nine percent right now?
BURNETT: Fair. And I think you're overstating it.
FERGUSON: So, to walk around saying -- well, to go around though and to say that other senators who are not liked, who are the GOP establishment don't like Ted Cruz, that's a fund-raising point. That's a reason to vote for Ted Cruz. And this is the reason why people in Washington don't understand the phenomenon around him, even Donald Trump and Ben Carson. They are not the establishment pick. They are not the ones that go there and play the game for their own personal gain. Ted Cruz went to Washington as a Tea Party guy. And he said, I'm not going to go up there, I'm not going to suck up to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and any of the other people. I'm going with an agenda and I'm going to fight for it.
That's why he's loved in Texas. Now, that's also the reason why he's loved all over the country by conservatives specifically also evangelicals who are rallying behind him. And so, when I hear people say, well, he is liked by others, you're not paying attention, he's liked by the average voter, the hard-working man and woman in this country. He is liked by the Christians. You can laugh at it. Hold on! You can laugh at it but look at where your guys are right now. They are hated and they are not running for president. The ones that have are failing and falling on their face. So, I would say that voters are riding, you can smock all you want to and laugh as a D.C. guy, but you're wrong.
HOLMES: Hold on. The funny thing, I mean, it's far beyond the Republican establishment we're talking about. I mean, "The New York Times" quoted his former college roommate three weeks ago saying he'd for any name in his phonebook. FERGUSON: If "The New York Times" is quoting a former roommate, you
are talking about "The New York Times." You are only helping Ted Cruz's story. That's why you called a hit piece. And if it was written about your former boss, that is exactly what you would be saying on TV. How come it doesn't work the same for Ted Cruz?
HOLMES: All I'm saying is there is a long and distinguished history of just everybody who's ever worked with Ted Cruz complaining that they don't get along with him very well. And he doesn't have a very good reputation of working with others.
FERGUSON: Well, I would say this. The guy's won a lot of cases in front of the Supreme Court. So, if you are a lawyer, you probably are not going to like him because he is better at his job than you are. If you're in congress and you've been there for 20 years, and you haven't got to run for president or when you did you got beat badly and Ted Cruz comes along and doesn't play the Washington establishment game and now he is if second place, you probably hate him. But the American people, they like him.
HOLMES: Ben, it has nothing to do with the establishment game.
FERGUSON: Sure it does.
HOLMES: I mean, the fundamental problem that Ted Cruz has with this, is that we don't have a dictatorship in America. You got to figure out how to get your agenda through Congress in order to enact it into law. And he hasn't been able to work with any Democrats or Republicans. There's basically nobody who is willing to work with the guy.
FERGUSON: And this is what I would say, if you talk to average people out there that are conservatives that have had enough of the establishment, name one success story you guys had under Mitch McConnell that the American people were thrilled about in the Republican Party. It doesn't exist. You've been getting your brains beat in by Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Even when you have the house, you don't do anything with it. So, that's why Ted Cruz is winning.
BURNETT: So, win, you're point though, 85 percent of conservative Republican voters, they like Ted Cruz. No shock there. Only 45 percent of independents. Isn't that a problem? To Josh's point, isn't that a problem? You've got to win over some people. You can't just win with the evangelicals on the far right.
FERGUSON: Well, I agree but we also know that in the primary, you've got to get the people they're going to come out and vote for to you win those primaries. And right now Ted Cruz is going to do very well. And look at the poll numbers in Iowa for example. If you can't make it through early on, you become a guy named Jeb Bush. I would much rather be in the position that Ted Cruz is in, than the guy like Jeb Bush or any of the other ones that have dropped out that were the establishment candidates. I mean, you have to win the primary before you can even think about the general. And if you don't, you end up being Jeb Bush.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
And OUTFRONT next, we are waiting Donald Trump, speaking of the anti- establishment about to speak live to a massive rally of supporters in Iowa.
[19:24:02] Plus, Marco Rubio winning a major endorsement from a hedge fund billionaire. And OUTFRONT investigation tonight. Our ongoing series on the big money behind the candidates.
[19:27:36] BURNETT: Donald Trump about to take the stage at a rally in Iowa as he's tripling down on slamming the Clintons for the former president's sexual transgressions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There was certainly a lot of abuse of women. And you look at whether it's Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones, or many of them. And that's certainly will be fair game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Hillary Clinton refused to respond when asked about that comment today. But Bill Clinton and Donald Trump used to be friends.
Dana Bash is OUTFRONT.
TRUMP: I get along with everybody. I get along with the Clintons --
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump getting along with the Clintons? That seems like ancient history.
TRUMP: She says, oh, we'd love to run against Trump. It's her worst nightmare.
BASH: Now, Trump seems determined to relive a nightmare in Hillary Clinton's life, her husband's philandering, even invoking the names Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones.
TRUMP: Certainly if they play the women's card with respect to me, that will be fair game.
BASH: A total 180 from Trump's defense of Bill Clinton in 2008 when he told Wolf Blitzer that the former president's dalliances should be a nonissue.
TRUMP: Look at trouble Bill Clinton got into with something that was totally unimportant and they tried to impeach him which was nonsense.
BASH: The reality is Trump and the Clintons were really friends.
TRUMP: I always respected him. I actually liked him over the years.
BASH: The two men golfed together and Trump even famously invited the Clintons to his most recent wedding.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It was perfectly nice. I'm glad we did it. But he also told me on more than one occasion what a good job she did in the Senate for New York after 9/11.
BASH: The way Trump tells it now, they were both just playing the you scratch my back/I'll scratch yours political game. When the billionaire argues he won't have to play if he's president.
TRUMP: With Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding. You know why? She had no choice. Because I gave to a foundation that frankly that foundation is supposed to do good.
BASH: Regardless of the senior Clinton and Trump relationship, their daughters Ivanka and Chelsea are genuinely close. Chelsea saying this about Ivanka to Vogue early this year. "She is always aware of everyone around her and ensuring that everyone is enjoying the moment." For Ivanka, the feeling is mutual about Chelsea.
[19:30:01] IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: She's been a great friend to me. I've been a great friend to her. So, you know, the politics of our parents is not relevant to our friendship.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That friendship is no doubt being tested as their parents go after each other in such personal terms. It will likely only escalate when Bill Clinton hits the trail for his wife this coming Monday -- Erin.
BURNETT: Dana, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, Trump's campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson, and Hillary Clinton supporter, Steve McMahon.
Thanks to both.
Steve, bringing up Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones.
STEVE MCMAHON, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: Thank you.
BURNETT: Has he gone too far or not?
MCMAHON: Well, he goes too far every single day. But ultimately, it's going to be up to the Republican voters to determine whether or not they want this man to be their standard bearer, and whether or not the lemmings want to go over the cliff with him. I mean, Donald Trump has been getting away with this.
Frankly, the Republican establishment and Republican opponents cowered in the corner. I don't think you'll see that from either Clinton here.
BURNETT: Katrina, what do you say?
KATRINA PIERSON, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: Well, I think the mere fact you have the Clinton campaign and all the top ranking Democrats saying that they really want to run against Donald Trump because of these types of things, I think they are really terrified of running against Donald Trump. That's the last person they want to run against simply because --
MCMAHON: The first campaign --
PIERSON: -- in Dana Bash's reporting how they used to have a close relationship, which is why this insult calling him sexist, kind of stung really hard because Hillary Clinton knows Donald Trump isn't a sexist, a racist or a bigot that she keeps -- that the Democrats out there are pushing for.
BURNETT: Steve, you know, Donald Trump moments ago did say when asked about this, he said his own marital infidelities, he considers them to be fair game for everyone else. So, he sounds like he is saying all is fair.
MCMAHON: Well, I'm sure he doesn't care what people say about him, obviously. People say all kinds of things about him. Ultimately, this is going to come down to simple politics and the fact that Democrats start with 242 electoral votes in a general election. That's against any Republican nominee. It's a race to 28 for Democrat.
Republicans start with about 171. If you're Donald Trump, you probably start with fewer than that because 38 percent of Republicans say they'll never vote for Donald Trump.
So, the more he does this, the more he makes himself implausible and unlikely, for those 38 percent of Republicans who right now say they would never vote for him to ever come back to him.
So, you know, Democrats do want Donald Trump to keep talking, give him a microphone. The only thing harder than running against one Clinton is running against two, which is what Donald Trump will get and he'll rue the day.
BURNETT: Katrina, is --
PIERSON: Well, I think that's going to be great considering that the polling that has come out recently shows that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a statistical tie among general election voters, and more importantly among women voters.
MCMAHON: Take a look at the Electoral College, Katrina. Take a look at --
PIERSON: She is statistically tied --
MCMAHON: Take a look at the Electoral College.
PIERSON: She is statistically tied with women, with all of the top Republican candidates and that's really what she is running on, the fact that she is a woman. And just because Republicans are saying they won't vote for him, I believe that's going to change. There are a lot of Democrats that are going to vote for Mr. Trump. We
hear from them all the time. Many of these rally supporters are right now are sporting Donald Trump. And they are Democrats.
So, look, Republicans counted him out early on in this race just like Democrats are going to count him out early on in the race. And they wouldn't be out there championing Donald Trump to be the nominee if they weren't afraid to run against him.
BURNETT: So, Donald Trump used to be friends with the Clintons, right? That was the whole point we were just reporting on, went to the wedding of Donald and Melania, plays golf with Donald Trump. Their daughters are still friends.
Trump now, though, is saying that was just a political move. I do whatever I need to do. Basically, it didn't mean anything.
Steve, when you hear that, what do you think, hypocritical, dishonest, what is it?
MCMAHON: Well, I think all those things. And I think what Republicans need to ask themselves, is this somebody that they want to be representing their party and speaking for them? This is a guy will say anything at any moment to any audience that he thinks it will be pleasing to that audience at that particular time.
He was the Clinton's friend. He's gone on and on about everything that happened in 1998 was ridiculous, and, oh, by the way, it did cost many Republicans their political career. This is not a path that is new to anyone. Voters in America have already rendered a judgment on it and threw Newt Gingrich and a bunch of Republicans out in 1998 --
MCMAHON: -- Newt Gingrich lost the speakership because this is the avenue they pursued politically. Democrats are saying go ahead, go after it. That's fine.
PIERSON: But this actually wasn't the avenue.
BURNETT: I'm sorry, we have a little bit of a delay. But he is willing to change his mind about people, say the Clintons because it is politically expedient at the time. Is that something voters should worry about, that he will just change his mind, that he's not committed to anything?
PIERSON: Well, I think if you thing your mind about a politician, that is a completely different circumstance. I mean, we are talking about politicians here, not people he was friends with on the golf course that were personal connections.
[19:35:03] This was politically related. And, of course, he changed his mind. A lot of people have changed their mind on a lot of different politicians including Obama. We are looking at Obama remorse today from Democrat voters.
So, yes, there are things that have happened between now and then that have changed the minds of many people, not just Donald Trump.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks to you both. Appreciate it.
MCMAHON: Katrina, he changed his mind about whether he is a Democrat, whether he's pro-choice, about -- I mean, he's changed his mind just about everything.
PIERSON: Mitt Romney did the same thing. So, it's a political thing.
BURNETT: That's a fair point about Mitt Romney on abortion.
All right. Thanks to both of you.
And OUTFRONT next, one of Marco Rubio's biggest backers, a hedge fund manager with a taste for the good life, ahead. An OUTFRONT investigation into the billionaire bankrolling Rubio's campaign.
And the affluenza teen and his mom caught after weeks on the run. His drunk driving led to four deaths, but we're now learning he may only go to jail for a few months. The outrage and the story, ahead.
BURNETT: Tonight, a big endorsement from Marco Rubio. The man behind the House Benghazi Committee, Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, taking the stage to officially endorse Rubio.
Behind the scenes though, Rubio scored an even bigger endorsement. Billionaire Ken Griffin jumping onboard. He is a flashy hedge fund manager who lives the high life, spending big on just about everything.
Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT with tonight's "Money and Power".
[19:40:02] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And remember, I'm self-funding my campaign. Very important. Very important.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Most candidates can't afford that luxury so endorsements by billionaires are highly coveted, like billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, the richest man in Illinois and 69th richest person in the U.S.
Griffin is throwing his full support and his ample cash behind Marco Rubio, saying in a statement, Rubio is a, quote, "inspiring, courageous and bold leader who embodies the American dream of freedom and equal opportunity for all."
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Willie Sutton was asked why he robs banks and he said, "Because that's where the money is." And the same is true in politics. Candidates gravitate to those who are willing to and able to provide huge sums of money and Ken Griffin has proven himself willing to do that.
FLORES: Griffin is worth an estimated $7 billion, according to "Forbes."
KEN GRIFFIN, CEO, CITADEL INVESTMENT GROUP: Citadel accounts for nearly 10 percent of the daily trading volume of U.S. equities.
FLORES: With $26 billion in investment capital, Citadel, his pet project, is one of the largest investment firms in the world.
Griffin isn't shy about spending his cash.
An extravagant wedding reception with Anne Dias in 2003, starring disco queen Donna Summer at the Palace of Versailles in France, according to "Fortune" magazine, the same location where Kim Kardashian and Kanye West held part of their lavish multicity wedding.
Griffin's marriage fell apart about a decade later and the divorce played prominently on the front pages of tabloids around the world. His ex-wife requesting support of nearly $1 million a month.
As for real estate, four luxurious properties in sunny Palm Beach, Florida, with more than 28,000 square feet. Homes in Aspen, Colorado, Hawaii, and New York, according to the "Chicago Tribune." Plus, the main residence worth more than $40 million, according to deed records and the "Chicago Tribune." Three penthouse floors in an ultra- exclusive Chicago high rise.
Griffin is also a high-profile art collector who in 2006 paid $80 million for Jasper John's "False Start," a record price for a painting by a living artist.
The modern wing of the Chicago Art Institute is named after him. His donation there, $19 million.
(on camera): When we're talking this kind of money, there is plenty leftover to influence the political scene. Not just here in Chicago but in our nation's capital.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I announce my candidacy for president of the United States.
FLORES (voice-over): Griffin's political contributions adding up to a whopping $25 million since 2001, according to CNN's review of state and Federal Election Commission records. Though most of his money has gone to Republicans, he's also donated to Democrats, including $430,000 to the Chicago for Rahm Emanuel fund.
But giving to politicians is less like philanthropy and more like playing the stock market. After supporting Mitt Romney's failed bid for the White House in 2012 with a $1.5 million donation to his Restore Our Future super PAC, griffin is hoping for a better rate of return this time around with Rubio.
Rosa Flores, CNN, Chicago.
BURNETT: And for more on our exclusive series on the richest political donors in America, go to our Web site, CNN.com/OutFront.
And OUTFRONT next, how did they get across the border? The affluenza teen and his mother captured in Mexico after skipping out on probation.
And Jeanne Moos with the earthquake bed.
[19:47:54] BURNETT: Tonight, captured, the so-called affluenza teen who killed four people in a drunk driving accident is headed back to the United States after more than a two-week manhunt. Ethan Couch was captured with his mother after they fled to Mexico. Authorities say the 18-year-old and his mom Tonya Couch carefully planned their trip to Mexico and they even held a going away party before fleeing.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Ethan Couch was captured on the streets of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with dark hair in a dark goatee, Texas authorities say the 18-year-old had the look of someone on the run trying to change his appearance.
Earlier this month, the teen was seen with blonde hair in a video that appeared to show him at a party with alcohol, a violation of his probation. Authorities say Ethan and his mother Tonya Couch had a going away party the night before, driving from Ft. Worth to the Mexican resort town on the Pacific Ocean. An immigration official says the pair crossed through Mexico through Tijuana.
Sheriff Dee Anderson says Tonya Couch will be charged with hindering the apprehension of a fugitive and faces up to ten years in prison.
DEE ANDERSON, TARRANT COUNTY SHERIFF: Her focus has been on making sure he didn't see any justice done. Making sure he was not accountable. So, for her to assist him, I felt like it was just a natural next occurrence. I'm not surprised she helped him.
LAVANDERA: Not surprising to those who have seen the Couch family up close since the teen was only sentenced to probation for a drunk driving crash that killed four people in 2013. His attorneys argued he suffered from affluenza, saying he lived a privileged and wealthy lifestyle where there were no consequences for bad behavior.
The victims' families filed civil lawsuits against the family. ABC News obtained these tapes from that case. In those tapes, Ethan Couch openly talked about his drug use. ETHAN COUCH: Taking valium, hydrocodone, marijuana, cocaine, Xanax,
Valance, tried ecstasy once.
LAVANDER: And his mother talked about how she let her son drive illegally.
[19:50:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You understood at any time he was under 16, he was never to be driving by himself?
TONYA COUCH, MOTHER: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nevertheless, you allowed that behavior to continue.
TONYA COUCH: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When is the last time you recall disciplining Ethan for anything?
TONYA COUCH: I don't remember.
LAVANDERA: Mexican officials say Ethan Couch and his mother are being voluntarily deported back to the United States. It is not clear when they will arrive back in Texas. Prosecutors are fighting to get his case moved out of the juvenile system and into adult courts.
For now, prosecutors say he isn't likely to face significant jail time for violating the terms of his probation.
SHAREN WILSON, TARRANT CO. CRIMINAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY: If he stays in the juvenile court, the maximum sentence he could receive is incarceration in a juvenile facility until he turns 19, with which is April the 11th of 2016. That is not enough.
LAVANDERA: And, Erin, just to be clear, Ethan Couch technically has not committed any new crimes but is a violation of his probation. His mother mentioned that felony charge was getting in the way of apprehending a fugitive and she faces up to 10 years in prison -- Erin.
BURNETT: Eddie, thank you very much.
I want to go straight to Paul Callan, all right, former prosecutor and defense attorney.
How does this happen? Four people died because of what he did. He is only serving probation. Now, he violates his probation, he leaves the country illegally. He gets caught. He was trying to flee and never come back and all he can get is 120 days in jail?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It sounds really absurd. He starts out by asserting this affluenza defense, that, you know, my parents make so much money. I'm innocent.
BURNETT: Can't hold me accountable. I grew up too privileged, right?
CALLAN: Nobody in the world thinks a judge is going to buy that. And the judge in question gives him a slap on the wrist and now, he slaps the system in the face and flees the country. He is right at the intersection of the juvenile justice system and adult system.
When he violates probation, all they can do is send him back to a juvenile facility. But then when he turns 19, he's going to go into an adult facility. And he hasn't been sentenced to jail in an adult facility. So, as the D.A. was trying to explain, he will be back on probation in 120 days.
So they put out a wanted notice for him. He had this party, which was violation. Then, he fled. It was like a good-bye party.
I mean, the whole thing is shocking. They offered a reward for his capture. How did he get over the border? They just walk -- how did they get there?
CALLAN: Talk to Donald Trump about this. You have 11 million people have come into this country. We can't keep them out.
Do you think we keep American citizens from leaving the country? It is so porous that unless the cops really had sort of delivered a notification to a particular place where he left, and I understand he was driving a flatbed truck over some entrance into Mexico, there is no guarantee that anybody would have spotted him at the time he crossed. It is a very, very insecure system in terms of felons that are able to flee.
BURNETT: So, bottom line, that's it. Just a few months jail. There's no way around it?
CALLAN: The D.A. has one additional theory they were playing with. There might e been some charges that weren't covered by the plea in the original juvenile case. Maybe they could revive that and give him an adult trial. I don't think it is going to play out. What's going to happen ultimately is that he will get probation and probably fail and wind back up in jail again given his prior track record.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Paul Callan.
And OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos with the earthquake bed you have to see to believe.
[19:57:28] BURNETT: For a survivalist, and if you're not one, maybe you're addicted to watching their shows. This is the bed they've always wanted. It comes with a steel and a trap door.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the idea of an earthquake keeps you up at night, maybe you'd like to sink into an earthquake-proof bed. And we do mean sink. Buildings could come crashing down and you'd be snug in your --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coffin bed.
MOOS: Coffin bed? As one commenter joked, "Quake provides free burial."
Seismic activity would activate the bed, seen here in this animation apparently created by a Russian company. Those details are sketchy.
The bed also contains supplies, though it's unclear how you get to them. If this is an earthquake-proof bed, I'd rather take my chances, poopoo'd one headline.
But an expert on earthquake preparedness kept an open mind.
MARK BENTHIEN, OUTREACH COORDINATOR, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EARTHQUAKE CENTER: Clearly, if you're able to be in a steel enclosure with supplies, that's not a bad thing. It looks very expensive.
MOOS: Someone asks, "Does it come with tourniquets for those of us who tend to dangle limbs over the side of the bed?"
(on camera): Some wondered if shaking triggers the thing. Would you have to worry about the second most common thing people do in bed?
(voice-over): Babe, did you feel the earth move? Seismic activity was sensed by this Chinese made bed demonstrated in 2012. When a man whistles so rescuers can find him, his companion can't keep a straight face.
To simulate a building collapse they dropped almost three tons of concrete on the bed, it remained intact.
Some say the latest version could become an oven if an earthquake caused a fire. "Quake and bake," wrote one commenter. But at least there's a fire extinguisher underneath.
(on camera): So what do you say? Thumbs up, thumbs down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thumbs up if you can afford it.
MOOS (voice-over): Just keep those thumbs out of the way.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: That was pretty terrifyingly claustrophobic.
All right. Tonight on CNN, Tom Foreman looks back at the heroes and the villains of the last 12 months, all the best, all the worst of 2015, premiers tonight at 9:00 Eastern. You don't want to miss that with our friend Tom Foreman.
And thanks so much for joining us. I'll be back here again. See you tomorrow night. Be sure to set your DVR to record OUTFRONT so you can watch our show at anytime.
"AC360" with Jim Sciutto starts now.