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CNN TONIGHT

Race to the White House: Two Weeks to Iowa; Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Oscars So White Stars Are Boycotting; Cruz: Trump is No Ronald Reagan; Trump Misquotes the Bible; The Eagles' Glenn Frey Has Died. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 18, 2016 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:01] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Can you believe it, two weeks to Iowa, the moment that could change everything in a raise for the White House.

This is CNN TONIGHT, I'm Don Lemon.

The key to success in the Iowa caucuses just might be the Evangelical vote. So, this is awkward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two Corinthians, right? Two Corinthians, 3:17. That's the whole ball game. Where the spirit of the Lord, right, where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, meanwhile, the gloves are off for the democrats. I want you to listen to Bernie Sanders blasting Hillary Clinton on speaking fee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First difference is, I don't take money from big banks. I don't get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Can Sanders give Clinton a run for her money in Iowa?

Plus, as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, a sign of how far we have come and we haven't come.

Oscars still so white Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith boycotting, even host Chris Rock jokes the white they're the white BET award. What is wrong with this picture and what will it take to change it?

There's a lot going on. But I want to begin tonight with politics in this broadcast. This campaign is really heating on both sides. So, here to talk about it is Frank Bruni, he's a New York Times op-ed columnist and the author of "Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be." Catchy title. Thank you, sir. Let's talk politics.

FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Thank you, Don. Sure.

LEMON: I want to begin with Donald Trump. All right. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the republicans, because, let's see, Ted Cruz is at 27. Donald Trump is at 25.

BRUNI: He's in Iowa, right?

LEMON: Yes. And this is in Iowa. You said in your latest column that there is no room for second place in the Donald Trump world. What do you mean by that?

BRUNI: His whole brand is that he's a winner. You know, his favorite putdown of other people is you're a loser. So, what happens if he comes in second in Iowa and he's the loser? How does Donald Trump, you know, spin that, that's not his brand. I don't see him wearing the tag, 'comeback kid' very comfortably, as I wrote sort of like middle seeking coach for a guy who's have his own plans.

LEMON: That would not be fun, right?

BRUNI: No.

LEMON: But he's not like a starter from the bottom. Now we're here guy or, you know, the challenges. He's like, I am number one, I'm winning. He holds up polls and he talked about that.

BRUNI: Right. When he's criticized, he says, look, whatever you say about me, the people love me best. My poll numbers are highest. What does he say in response to criticism if in the very first contest of the race he comes in second, and it could be a distant second.

LEMON: Yes. Did you see this? This is what he had about Ted Cruz to George Stephanopoulos. Look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Look, the truth is, he's a nasty guy. He was so nice to me. I mean, I knew it. I was watching. I kept saying, come on, Ted. Let's go, Ted. But he's a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.

He's a very -- he's got an edge that's not good. You can't make deals with people like that and it's not a good thing. It's not a good thing for the country. Very nasty guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Could that alienate him with conservatives? Because they really like Ted Cruz. Do you think that could back fire for him?

BRUNI: Trump saying that?

LEMON: Yes. BRUNI: No. Because I think everybody has become so accustomed to Trump insulting his rivals, to Trump belittling, that's pretty mild for Donald Trump going after someone. So, I mean, I don't think there's a single voter out there who doesn't expect Donald Trump at some point to go after anybody who's close to him in the polls.

So, I don't think that's inconsistent with what they've seen of Trump before. Now I don't it will hurt that. I think there are people who are already are not going to vote for him, and that's not going to turn them around, but I don't think he's got to lose some folks.

LEMON: What about what he's saying about Ted Cruz that he's a really nasty guy once people get to know him.

BRUNI: You know, I don't often say this, but Donald is on to something. This is a really interesting theme throughout Ted Cruz's career. If you go back to Princeton, where he went to college, although he doesn't often talk about that because now he's the man of the people.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let's talk about that. I want to make your point.

BRUNI: All right. You know, you know, we talk to people who went to Harvard with him. You talked to people who worked on the Bush 2000 campaign with him. It's interesting. He got a terrible job. He didn't end up working in the White House where he wanted to be. He was shunted off to the kind of Siberia of the administration.

People who work with him do not like him. And Donald Trump is raising a very legitimate point that many of us who write about Ted Cruz have raised, which is how does that make you an effective leader? What well that ever make you an effective leader?

LEMON: Yes. When you look at -- when you talk about Princeton, you talk about, you know, where his -- this sort of northeast sort of education that he's gotten, you know, his wife, Goldman Sachs and all of that.

But still, you know, he's doing commercials with the Duck Dynasty people. He, as you said, he sort of says that he champions himself as, you know, I am a guy of the people. Donald Trump doesn't knew that. He says I'm a billionaire. I made a lot of money.

BRUNI: Right.

LEMON: He doesn't, you know, profess to be that. But this guy, is the perception different than the reality of who Ted Cruz is?

BRUNI: What he's putting out is different from the reality. One of the great stories from Harvard is he didn't like to study with people from Harvard Law who was from lesser ivies. You know, who were say from U-Penn and not Princeton. He is someone who has traveled in some very wanted circles who has a

very classic establishment elite education and he never, ever references that because he's looking to gain traction with an entirely different segment of the electorate.

LEMON: And it appears to be working.

[22:05:01] BRUNI: Working for now. Working to a certain degree. You know, we don't know. People haven't voted yet.

LEMON: Yes, we'll see. So, how do you think Donald Trump is handling the issues? I heard him bring up here when we -- in New Hampshire, he addressed that what's going on. And let's see, let's watch and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You have tremendous problems. You have tremendous problems with the drugs in this area. It's amazing to me. When I come to New Hampshire, I hear more about the drug problem and the addiction and all of the drugs pouring in than I do most other places. I don't even understand why.

But it's one of the most important things. And that wall is going to stop so much. And we're going to help to people that are so addicted that they can. Because I speak with parents and their children are in bad shape and they're really addicted. It is really, really a big thing to get off. It's hard.

The easiest way to get off is to never start. It's like me, I never smoke. I never smoke. If you don't smoke it's easy not to smoke. If you do smoke, I have friends they smoke. They're always giving up cigarettes. They're always giving it up.

For 25 years, a guy has been giving up cigarettes. But if you never start, and we have to get the kids not to start, and the people generally, not to start.

The ones that are already hooked, we've got to go them help and we're going to do a lot of things to help them as much as we can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do you think of the way he handled that?

BRUNI: Well, for starters, that's really interesting because one of the things you have not seen Donald Trump doing much in this campaign until now is going to a given local and really tailoring his remarks to the issues that matter there.

LEMON: Yes.

BRUNI: You're seeing Donald Trump transform into a much more conventional candidate. You're seeing him go through the paces that a candidate is supposed to. And I think that months ago, I think this was still somewhat of a lark for him and now he realizes, wait a second, I could really win this thing and you're seeing him buckle down and do the things that you expect a candidate to do like talk about an issue that's very important to the voters in that locality on their terms.

LEMON: Do you think it's fair to equate cigarette smoking and heroine?

BRUNI: No.

LEMON: All addiction is the same. There are people will tell you that. But, right. Go ahead.

BRUNI: Sure. But I don't think it's fair or unfair. I actually think that was a really good moment for Trump. Think about how many politicians when they engage those sort of issues speak as if they're on some very tall podium, they're very robotic.

He really, really kind of speaks in the conversational colloquial way that I think connects with voters. I think he's a ridiculous candidate, but he's become a much, much, much better politician.

LEMON: So, let's talk about this thing that happened on Sunday night. I'm like always surprised like, is there really a debate on Sunday night which we'll talk about that? Let's talk about the democrats. Ten million people, over 10 million people watched last night's debate.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. They're tied at 45 percent. So, who do you think moved the needle more? Was it Bernie Sanders or was it Hillary Clinton or Martin O'Malley?

BRUNI: OK. It was not Martin O'Malley. I think last night was pretty much a draw. If anyone moved the needle at all, I think it was probably Bernie Sanders. He's a one note candidate in many ways, but he hits that note so hard, so consistently. I'm not sure there's another candidate in this race on either side of the aisle who is as disciplined as Bernie Sanders has been.

LEMON: yes. I am surprised -- well, we'll talk about that. But let's suggests now and then we'll talk about this being on the weekend. I'm surprised that he said what he said about Bill Clinton. And I was like, well, he's kind of the adult in the room by saying that because most people would probably have hit Hillary Clinton pretty hard on her husband's behavior in the White House.

BRUNI: What he said when he was about, he said it was disgusting behavior?

LEMON: Yes.

BRUNI: Well, you know, as he said...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He said it was disgusting behavior...

BRUNI: Right. LEMON: ... but I don't -- I'm going to judge Hillary Clinton on Hillary Clinton and not on her husband, basically.

BRUNI: Right. Well, I think that was the right answer in the debate and I'm not surprised that he got trapped into a Bill Clinton comment or response before. These candidates have so many questions coming at them, so much of the time from the moment they step out to the moment they go inside at the end of the day.

You end up saying things you didn't necessarily mean to or get baited into answering a question. I think he doesn't want to make this campaign about Bill Clinton. I think he said that very clearly at the debate.

LEMON: So, quite honestly, Sunday night is like football night or people want to watch, you know, HBO, or Showtime or some, you know, it's their TV night or their DVR night.

BRUNI: Yes.

LEMON: And to have a debate on a Sunday night, do you think that was a mistake by the democrats?

BRUNI: I think the democrats have handled this debate cycle ridiculously. Now, the republicans have been out there on week nights. You know, there have been many, many debates. The democrats, it's like they're in a broom closet or something.

I don't think it's a smart strategy. I think it was something that was born to protect Hillary Clinton. And here we are, you know, getting close to Iowa and New Hampshire. And she's -- and she's tied in Iowa and hide in New Hampshire. It hasn't protected her. I think -- I think when people look back at this, whatever the Des Moines lines, they'll think it was a mistake.

LEMON: Yes. When you look at, you know, 20 million some people watching, more than 20 as compared to just above 10 million.

BRUNI: There's a bigger principal here, too, which is the whole point, you know, the democracy just to inform people. Let them make informed decisions. The democrats have not treated voters with respect in this process.

LEMON: Yes. Frank Bruni, always a pleasure. Thank you.

BRUNI: Thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate you coming in.

When we come right back, more fireworks from the democrats debate. Has Hillary Clinton found the right strategy to stop the Sanders surge?

Plus, Oscars still so white, the famous actress who says she won't even watch the awards on TV. But can a boycott changes things? And the music world mourns the loss of the Eagles Glenn Frey.

[22:10:04] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Hillary Clinton's campaigning in Iowa tonight. Bernie Sanders in Alabama. But for anybody who missed it, there plenty of fireworks at last night's democratic debate. Here are the highlight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are things we can do to improve it, but to tear it up and start over again pushing our country back into that kind of a contentious debate. I think is the wrong direction.

SANDERS: It is, we're not going to tear off the Affordable Care Act. I helped write it. But we are going to move on top of that to a Medicare for all.

CLINTON: I'm going to defend Dodd Frank and I'm going to defend President Obama for taking on Wall Street, taking on the financial industry and getting results.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton -- and you're not the only one, so I don't mean to just point the finger at you -- you've received over $600,000 in speaking fees from the Goldman Sachs in one year.

I think Secretary Clinton knows that what she says is very disingenuous. I have a D-minus voting record from the NRA.

CLINTON: I have made it clear based on Senator Sander's own record that he has voted with the NRA with the gun lobby numerous times.

[22:15:02] SANDERS: Yes, his behavior was deplorable. Have I ever said a word about that issue? No, I have not. I'm going to debate Secretary Clinton and Governor O'Malley on the issues facing the American people, not Bill Clinton's personal behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Joining me now is Bob Beckel, the author of "I Should be Dead, My Life Surviving Politics, TV, and Addiction," and Bakari Sellers, he's a former member of the South Carolina State House.

Thanks for coming in on a holiday. I mean, when he said Martin O'Malley, they didn't put his -- they didn't even show him. Poor Martin. Hi, Bakari, how are you? You say Hillary Clinton...

(CROSSTALK)

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Very well, Don. Thank you for having me.

LEMON: ... won but you say her big bear hug of President Obama's policy, I'm wondering if it -- if you think it could stop Bernie Sanders' surge.

SELLERS: Well, I think she did a good job last night. I think that she understood her audience. Talking last night, she was on Calhoun Street right there in Charleston, South Carolina, within the same block of Emanuel AME, where the massacre of nine people occurred, including one of my good friends, Clementa Pinckney.

And she knew that and she hammered Bernie on guns and she talked about those issues knowing her audience. And she also knew that Barack Obama has a 90 percent approval rating not just in South Carolina amongst the democrats but throughout the south.

And after you get out of Iowa and New Hampshire, when you get to South Carolina, when you get to Alabama, when you get to Georgia and you get to these other states on Super Tuesday and beyond, you start to realize that those states reflect the demographics of the Democratic Party a lot more than Iowa and New Hampshire.

LEMON: Yes.

SELLERS: And I think she understands that and she's building her firewall, and I think that last night was a success. Bernie did -- Bernie did very well. But I do think Hillary won the debate.

LEMON: But, Bob, in the general, if she, you know, if she aligns herself so closely with President Obama, is that going to hurt her in the general?

BOB BECKEL, "I SHOULD BE DEAD" AUTHOR: I'm sorry?

LEMON: Is that you -- by aligning herself so closely with President Obama, if she becomes the nominee, will that hurt her in the general?

BECKEL: I don't -- listen, she's got to look at the next state on down the line here. That's what happens with presidential politics. Right now, she's got a surging Bernie Sanders in two states. It's possible. I don't think probable, but it's possible she could win -- he could win two states, which will be a lot of momentum.

I mean, if he does that, there's going to be a lot of -- this Hillary in 2008 all over again. So, I think exactly...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: People are asking that already.

BECKEL: Yes, exactly as Bakari has pointed out, in South Carolina, this is good politics. And you've got to play for the states you need to win. And she can worry about getting back to the center. And by the way, I think the idea that Barack Obama is such an anchor around the democratic nominee's head is crazy.

I mean, he's got a good story to tell and people are getting better and better at telling it. He's getting better at telling it. And his positives/negatives are closing up. So, I'm not so sure he's going to be such a negative.

LEMON: OK. So, Bakari, you heard in the sound bite there and if you watched the entire debate there was a louder Bernie Sanders last night. Do you think he's channeling Donald Trump's anger? SELLERS: Well, I mean, I do think that there are some similarities.

And I know that this is going to drive my Twitter mentions crazy. But there are some similarities between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. And it's just the way that they tap into some anger and disenfranchisement that many voters feel.

Now they are vastly different. I would take Bernie Sanders a hundred days out of a hundred over Donald Trump that that's not what I'm saying at all. But there is an anger that he taps into and there is a disenchantment amongst the base which he taps into.

And I will tell you that Bernie Sanders is the most disciplined on message candidate that we've seen in a very, very long period of time, whatever the issue is, he taps into that anger towards the billionaire class, towards Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, and he hammers that message home better than any candidate we've seen.

But last night, he was taken aback when Hillary Clinton did bear hug Barack Obama when she did talk about Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act versus this we don't know what Bernie Sanders is quite proposing.

So, I think that she understood what she was doing for that audience. And I will comment just briefly, Don, we have to remember that Barack Obama got to 270 in Electoral College the last two times he ran. So, I think he's not going to be an anchor around anyone's neck. I think that we know what we're doing.

BECKEL: I'll tell you what, you know, watching Trump and Bernie, the two of them, that one thing is clear, when they talk, all of a sudden you'll think you're in Brooklyn. I mean, I think Bernie probably shocked people last night who didn't know him. When he started talking and he had that, you know, I'm talking about this kind of stuff here and he talks with his hands it's like Trump said...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: What's wrong with Brooklyn? I graduated from Brooklyn College.

BECKEL: Oh, you did?

LEMON: I did. So, what's wrong with Brooklyn? Watch yourself there.

BECKEL: Well, that's a good secondary education right there.

LEMON: It is. It was a very good -- I mean, look, I'm here with you.

BECKEL: That's exactly right.

LEMON: So, but what's wrong -- why is that -- why is that shocking? Why do you think he shocked people with that?

BECKEL: Well, because he's so -- look, I think he was introduced last night to a lot of people who have never heard of Bernie Sanders or watched Bernie Sanders.

SELLERS: Correct.

BECKEL: This election is getting engaged, as it usually does, about two weeks out. And now all of a sudden he gets 10 million people that take a look at him. I think he did a good job. I don't think anybody won or lost. I don't think he displaced Hillary Clinton.

But I think that was his first real major introduction and it is strange, being a former Mayor of Burlington and just you said from Vermont to sound like that.

[22:20:01] LEMON: Yes.

BECKEL: It's like going to the West Bank and listen to the settlers. They sound like different Brooklyn.

LEMON: Well, I mean, you don't have a Kennedy sound and they were -- they were just fine.

So, Bakari, listen, you know, we saw the democratic candidates honor Dr. King today. So, here is my question. Hillary is trouncing Bernie when it comes to support among black voters. In the latest South Carolina poll, she is polling at 82 percent among African-American voters. Bernie is polling at just 11 percent. Do you think Bernie understands the concerns of black voters?

SELLERS: I mean, I think Bernie Sanders is growing into it. I mean, it's very difficult because it's not a constituency that he had to represent it at any time in his political career. But Bernie Sanders does have a long history. He's not new to civil rights. I mean, I think his supporters will tell you that first and foremost.

But Hillary Clinton does understand the constituency. The Clintons understand the constituency. And, you know, I think one of the things that people need to take note of, is this morning, for example, at the King Day at the dome, Hillary Clinton really, really knows who she's talking to.

In her speech, she talked about Danny Lou Hamer today. She talked about Dorothy Height today. She talked about King. She talked about the strong African-American women who were the backbone of the Civil Rights movement. And I thought that attack...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But Bernie Sanders marched. He was a civil -- he marched during the Civil Rights era.

SELLERS: Yes. I mean, no one can take that away from Bernie Sanders, but I mean, now we have to say that it's a little bit more than that.

LEMON: Yes.

SELLERS: But this morning, and the only reason I bring that speech up, is because I believe that Hillary Clinton -- I would have to give Bernie this credit, as well. But the key to the African-American vote, actually the key to the White House, the demographic that is going to control the presidency is African-American women and I think Hillary Clinton understands that.

LEMON: Al right. Thank you, gentlemen. And I'll say this to Bob. Get out of here.

BECKEL: Get out of here, right? Get your hands off my cap.

SELLERS: We need some true South Carolina values.

LEMON: Yes.

SELLERS: We need some true South Carolina values.

BECKEL: That's right. Yes. A few South Carolina values, it would be good, you know?

LEMON: And Louisiana here, too. Get out of here you all. See you next time.

BECKEL: All right.

SELLERS: All right.

LEMON: Up next, Ted Cruz to Donald Trump. You are no Ronald Reagan. Will that attack drive conservatives away from Trump?

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Donald Trump speaking at Liberty at full house, really, at Liberty University in Virginia today. He is battling Ted Cruz for the support of the Evangelical vote, Evangelical voters with the Iowa caucuses now just two weeks away.

Man, it's coming fast. So, here to discuss now is John Brabender, he's a senior strategist for Rick Santorum, Kayleigh McEnany is a republican strategist and a columnist for Above the Law; and political commentator, Buck Sexton. What's your other title, Buck?

BUCK SEXTON, THE BLAZE NATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Host of the Buck Sexton show on The Blaze.

LEMON: All right. I have to give you a little fog there. Hey, Kayleigh, everyone thanks for coming in on a holiday. So, Kayleigh, Ted Cruz thinks that Trump's late life change to conservatism is totally different than that of another democrat, of a former democrat- turned republican, Ronald Reagan. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ronald Reagan was a voice of consistency. And I'm pretty sure that Ronald Reagan didn't write checks and support democratic politicians.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, who is more like Reagan? Trump, Cruz or neither, Kayleigh? KAYLEIGH MCENANY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGST: I think they're both a lot

like Reagan. And I would disagree with Mr. Cruz that Trump is not like Reagan. Because here's the thing. While Reagan might not have donated to democrats, Reagan did pass the largest tax increase in California history.

He was also pro-choice before he was pro-life. He supported FDR. He supported the new deal. And then he had a change. And he pivoted away from those policies and was consistent thereafter.

We've seen the same thing with Donald Trump. He's been nothing but consistent since he made the change from democrat to republican, from supporting democrats to supporting republicans. So, I disagree with Cruz. But I do think they're both a lot like Reagan and I don't like the bickering, really.

LEMON: So, Buck, do you think they're both like Reagan?

SEXTON: No. This is a fun soft ball for me. Because only Reagan is like Reagan. Until they've actually been president, until they've actually done amazing, until they've defeated the evil empire of the Soviet Union, neither of them or anything like Reagan. That was fun. I was hoping I was going to get a chance to say that.

MCENANY: Fair enough.

SEXTON: But with all of that said, I think in terms of the transformation...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So, you like Reagan?

SEXTON: I'm something of a Reagan fan.

LEMON: Yes.

SEXTONL In terms of the transformation, the political transformation that Reagan went through over time, people pointed out when he was in California, when he was a little more liberal, and that over time became obviously a hero to conservatives.

That is something that with Donald Trump, is a little bit different because not only did he support very left wing causes in the past, when he was a politician grad and he's a private citizen but also as he's gone along on this campaign, yes, he's been conservative, but he's kind of been figuring it out sometimes as he goes along. You know, one point is for -- one thing is for attack with the...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: One was a democrat and then republican. That's how they're alike.

SEXTON: Well, if you're talking about the transformation into something other than what they were, yes, but in terms of being one of the greatest presidents of all time -- I don't think we could say Cruz or Trump.

LEMON: All right. Moving on. Mr. Brabender, yesterday, Donald Trump told George Stephanopoulos that Ted Cruz is a nasty man who nobody likes, this is Cruz's response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Just in case you're wondering that is Janet Jackson and she had a song called "Nasty." Miss Jackson "If You're Nasty." So, John, classic Cruz come back with a pop culture records there don't you think?

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, he is and I think Trump was on safer ground when he was bringing up the Canadian issue. I think he was on safer grounds when he was talking about the unreported loans. I think it's a mistake for Trump or anyone of us in the republican side to be attacking ourselves with those types of words.

In fact, I don't we should be talking about the democrats that way. I mean, as nasty or corrupt as we might think the Clintons are, we should not be saying that on national TV, you know.

So, I just think that it takes away from Trump when he does it. It creates this murder-suicide scenario where, you know, he hurts his opponent but he hurts himself when he does it. And I think that's a mistake.

LEMON: What do you think of the response, was it club or not?

BRABENDER: Look, the problem is, this keeps me in the go-to for Cruz and it worries me that it's the same response on the Canadian thing, which I think is a legitimate issue that he should be talking about.

[22:29:59] If he was somebody's VP pick, they would certainly vet the heck out of that before they would ever pick them. So, it bothers me that he's flipping with some of these things that I think are important. In this one I think he probably did the right thing by being a little bit silly about it.

LEMON: So, John, he didn't go after Cruz today. Do you think he's going to be back at it tomorrow where he didn't do at Liberty University? Is that because Cruz has such strong ties there?

BRABENDER: Well, I think, yes. I think, you know, as we know over the weekend, Donald Trump got booed a little bit at a Tea Party event for going after Cruz. I think he'll be a little bit more selective where he does it.

But interestingly enough, the Cruz campaign is now going much harder against Trump. So, we've seen a dramatic shift there in the last 72 hours.

LEMON: All right. Rush Limbaugh addressed Trump/Cruz back and forth today. Let's listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW HOST: And I will tell you, like I said you before, I think Trump is making a strategic error in the way he criticizes Cruz. For folks, it's unrealistic to expect that they're not going to go after each other. They're number one and two. Iowa and New Hampshire are at stake.

This is politics. There's only one winner. The two of them can't win this together in some sort of a 'bromance' and come out as a united couple after either of these primaries are after in the whole process. It's not how it works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Is Rush right about that, that he's pushing, you know, Evangelical voters away, Buck, and do they need a 'bromance?'

SEXTON: Yes. I think -- I think it is bad strategy. A question that's been asked all along, is it really possible for Trump to blunder at least in the eyes of those who already support?

And I think that going after Ted Cruz in a way that's personal, in a way that seems to be particularly demeaning is a blunder in the context of the fact that he is going to need the conservative base, who is largely behind Ted Cruz in a national head to head matchups between Cruz and Trump.

You see that Cruz actually is beating him. The conservative base can't be turned off by Trump's rhetoric about Cruz. We're going to expect some fighting, but not nasty mudslinging and below-the-belt stuff.

LEMON: Hey, Kayleigh, let's talk about Cruz supporters. They are using Donald Trump's own words against him. Let's watch this at from Cruz super PAC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Now, one of the reasons that I like Ted Cruz so much is that he's not controversial. But the truth is, he shouldn't be controversial. Because what he's doing isn't right. He took a stand recently and it was a grand stand and had a little back.

And in my knowledge ended Obamacare, but you would have really got the big chunk out of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. That was then, this is now. Kayleigh, did Trump have any other choice really but to go after Cruz when he overtook him in Iowa? MCENANY: Yes. You know, I think Trump -- I disagree with Buck. You

know, I think Trump goes after everyone. That's what he's shown himself to do. And I don't think that that's a mistake. If anything, that's what's kept him at the top.

So, I don't think Trump is wrong to go after Ted Cruz. And quite honestly, as a republican, I'm so glad that my candidates are going through the fire before they become the nominee. If they don't go through the fire now, they're certainly going to go through the fire when they face Hillary Clinton.

I mean, as for that ad, I would just say that you could make an equally effective ad in the Trump camp by Cruz's won words, who said over this summer, quote, "I praise Donald Trump." He called him bold. He said he's going after the Washington cartel.

So, you know, it's fair knowledge. We all know that they've praised one another. It's an effective ad but Donald Trump can make an equally effective ad using Ted Cruz.

SEXTON: But, hey, Kayleigh, to be fair, it's not that we should -- we think that there shouldn't be criticism between Trump and Cruz. Of course there will be. It's the nature of the attacks recently which have been personal. Which have been that no one likes Ted Cruz.

It's like he's talking about somebody that he doesn't want sitting next to him at a high school cafeteria. I mean, that's not the sort thing, even for Donald Trump, I have to say that's not true the thing you would expect for somebody that he has showed a lot of respect to in the past and that, by the way, he is going to need some of the people who perhaps think Trump or think Cruz is their number two choice. Trump is going to need them to be along with him. He can't turn them off by deciding he's going to turn...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Kayleigh -- Kayleigh, stand by. You can respond right after the break. We'll be right back.

MCENANY: OK. Thanks, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: And we're back. John Brabender, Kayleigh McEnany, and Buck Sexton. OK, Kayleigh, you were talking about, you're going to contradict what Buck said about Donald Trump's strategy.

MCENANY: Yes. He said Donald Trump's attacks have gotten too personal. And aside from the nasty comment, I would argue that they haven't really been personal against Ted Cruz at all. I mean, Buck cited the fact that he said none of Ted Cruz's colleagues like him. I mean, that's a fair criticism that I can promise you Hillary Clinton will bring up. I mean, he doesn't have a reputation from being congenial in the

Senate. I don't find that to be a problem as a conservative. But I can guarantee you Hillary Clinton will bring that up. And it's a fair thing for Donald Trump to bring up. This is not just a personal attack; it's a widespread understanding when it comes to Ted Cruz. He's going to get all of these from Hillary Clinton or God forbid...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Buck, you don't get to respond. This is a -- it's cable news. No one ever gets to the ends of an argument.

SEXTON: I know, I know, Fine, fine. Sorry.

LEMON: So, let's move on. Thou shall not quote the bible without practicing first. And that might be a good 11th commandment for Donald Trump, especially when addressing an Evangelical audience. So, John, let's listen to Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The bible. The bible is the best. The bible. The bible blows it away. There's nothing like the bible. Two Corinthians, right? Two Corinthians, 3:17. That's the whole ball game. Where the spirit of the Lord -- right? Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

And here, there is Liberty College, but Liberty University. But it is so true. You know, when you think -- and that's really -- is that the one? Is that the one you like? I think that's the one you like because I loved it. And it's so representative of what's taken place. But we are going to protect Christianity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, John Brabender, the audience chuckled this morning when Donald Trump said Two Corinthians instead of second Corinthians. Does he get a points for trying?

BRABENDER: Well, the problem is, just watching him there, you can tell how unfamiliar he is with scripture. And the problem is here you have somebody trying to run as this authentic candidate, calls them as they see them, and this time we see them as ridiculously scripted.

And the problem is, he's in place where they're going to know whether he has convictions in his heart and understanding or he's reading it. And I thought he was reading it. So...

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: That's unfair.

BRABENDER: I just...

[22:40:00] MCENANY: It's a question of convictions in his heart because he said two Corinthians? I mean, that's so unfair. BRABENDER: It does not -- it looked more like he was doing standup at

Liberty University than like a typical candidate would go there and talk with conviction. And how often do you see Donald Trump talking with notes? That is the only time that he's talking with notes.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So, that's not a mistake that he said two Corinthians instead of second Corinthians?

SEXTON: Look, when Donald Trump speaks with the bible, you get the sense that he might want to sell Moses an overpriced condominium in Midtown, like he really has no idea, no idea what he's talking about whatsoever.

That said, there's a reason Evangelicals, there's a reason, a reason that Christians actually support him in pretty considerable numbers, the reason why he's so competitive in Iowa, either in first or second. And that's because they view him as not someone who's devout but who's a defender.

Who will standup for their Christian belief, their right to have those beliefs and this whole anti-PC move, by the way, it takes in a lot of Christians, as well, who feel like they're politically correct culture that Trump speaks out against, also pushes against them all the time, pushes against their traditional belief.

LEMON: But here's the thing. It's not, I think most people, and most voters would say it's not that big a deal, but it is a big deal to Evangelicals. I mean, don't you think that, Kayleigh? Or no?

MCENANY: No, I don't think it's a big deal at all. I mean, we shouldn't question someone's faith because they say two as opposed to second. You know, what I look at is someone else's character. And by all notions, by all -- everything I've heard Donald Trump's employees love him. They say he's exceedingly generous, a great man to work for. You know, that's telling of him...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So, if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or Marco Rubio or, you know, Ted Cruz have said two Corinthians, you don't think that they would be all over, you don't think that Trump, the Trump folks would be all over them?

MCENANY: They might, but look, I'm of the belief you don't question someone's faith. Be it the president, be it Trump. You know, if someone says they're a Christian, I'm going to take them at their word and look at the fruits of their actions not whether they can say two or second.

LEMON: But did you question his faith or, I mean, the question is faith or just his knowledge of the bible?

SEXTON: No. There is not questioning his faith. He may consider himself to be a very religious person. Donald Trump could pray every night. I have no idea. None of us have any idea. But he obviously has very little familiarity with the bible, which is a book he talks about with some regularity saying that it is the only book that's better than the Art of the Deal. So, he opens himself up to this.

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: Because he said two?

BRABENDER: The problem is from the campaign, he's trying to turn him into something he's not. He's lost how he's authentic. He's lost, instead, he's trying to be the Evangelical candidate and no one is ever going to buy that.

SEXTON: But I think he's the defender the Evangelicals. I don't think that he's really trying to pretend that he has some knowledge of scripture. I mean, today, notwithstanding.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It's a good point.

SEXTON: I think he's positioning himself as a person who understands that if you're an Evangelical with traditional Christian, a traditional Catholic, traditional in any sense as a Christian you feel like right now your culture is under attack as part of this politically correct society we live in now. That's what Trump is speaking out against all the time.

That's why you have a lot of people who, otherwise, I think would look at this, would look a scan to this. But they say, well, this is a guy who will stand up against all that PC nonsense and let us be traditional Christians.

BRABENDER: That's what he should be, but he didn't look like that today.

LEMON: I have got to run. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate. Coming up.

MCENANY: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Chris Rock is hosting the Academy Awards this year, but that hasn't stopped him from joking the Oscars are the white BET awards. Just imagine what he's going to be saying during the live show.

But first, here at CNN, we're sharing our stories of very special people in our lives with our week-long series, The person who changed my life. It's going to wrap up with a two-hour special Sunday night at 8 Eastern. Here is a quick preview for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My son helped make me change.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people changed lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you believe we're back here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join the familiar faces of CNN as they share their special someone with you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The voyage that your suggestion sent me on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I learned this from you. You have to ask the important questions on the most important issues of the day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without my mom, I am certain I would not be where I am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were to ask them how important is a mentor, and if they told you, they are not that important, it probably means they never had a great mentor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just look at that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that the letter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the letter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You found it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On his little bay (ph).

LEMON: Very few people will tell you the truth. And you do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anderson Cooper and Michaela Pereira host "THE PERSON WHO CHANGED MY LIFE," Sunday at 8 on CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, today is the day we remember the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And it is no coincidence that director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith chose today to announce they are boycotting this year's Oscars because of a lack of diversity.

Here to discuss is April Reign who is the creator of hash tag OscarSoWhite, and Nishelle Turner, host of Entertainment Tonight. And Nischelle, you have some breaking news about this controversy tonight.

NISCHELLE TURNER, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT HOST: Yes.

LEMON: What can you tell us?

TURNER: Yes, absolutely, Don. In just the last few minutes, the Academy president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs has released a statement to this situation. Here is what she said. I want to read a little bit of it to you. She said, "I'd like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year's nominees. While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I have both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversations and it's time for big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond."

There's a lot in that statement, Don. She says a lot there. This is not one of those, hey, guys, calm down, everything is OK statements. This is statement from the Academy president saying, you know what? I get it and I feel the same way you do.

And this isn't the first time, I should say, that Cheryl Boone Isaacs has expressed this frustration. She just -- I just did an interview with her Thursday after the announcements and she said basically the same thing to me, that she thought that the nominees were great, that their art was wonderful, that they deserve nominations but she was really disappointed with the lack of inclusion this year.

And she rattled off a list of wonderful performances by actors of color that she felt deserved the recognition. So, we have seen her implement a lot of changes since she took over as head of the Academy in the last four years. I think she will continue this fight. I think she would start to push for even more now because she feels this growing frustration by actors and people of color.

[22:50:09] And actually, I should just say by a lot of people in Hollywood.

LEMON: Yes. It's not just -- it's not just people of color. And I'm glad you pointed that out. Because she also says in the statement, she said in 2016, "The mandate is inclusion in all of its fascist, gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation."

And then she goes on to talk about why that is. You know, April, even now, you know, some people last year were saying, you know, it's all about the work and sometimes it just happens, you know, so it just kind of happened that way that some of the movies weren't nominated and there were a lot of people of color who were nominated or any -- if any at all.

But when it comes upon a second year and another year and another year possibly, the OscarSoWhite hash tag that you created last year is back again, and I think even more important to popular culture and to social media than it was last year.

APREIL REIGN, OSCARSOWHITE CREATOR: We've definitely seen resurgence and an increase in interest not just from the Academy itself, but also from actresses and actors. So, Don, chidele is speaking out, author Stephen King tweeted. You know, Jada Pinkett Smith, of course, Janette Hoover had comments that she made, as well, and then Spike Lee. So, we are disappointed that the hash tag is still relevant. But that just means there are more work that needs to be done and they already going to make that happen.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: April, let's listen to what you said about Jada. This is from her Facebook page and then we'll continue the discussion. Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JADA PINKETT SMITH, ACTRESS: Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence that we have amassed that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere. I ask the question, have we now come to a new time and place where we recognize that we can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgement or respect of any group.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, her husband was in star -- Will Smith starred in "Concussion." And many people think that he was snub. Here is what Spike Lee said. Spike Lee, so, she won't be watching. Jada Pinkett Smith says she's not attending and she's not watching. Spike Lee says, "My wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee and I will not be attending the Oscars ceremony this coming February. We cannot support it and mean no respect to my friends." Host Chris Rock, and producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs, and the Academy.

"But how is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category or white and let's not even go into the other branches. Forty white actors in two years and no flavor at all. We can't act? WTF." So this is not quite a boycott, but is it bordering on that, April, and do you think Hollywood has reason to be concerned?

REIGN: I think it is a boycott. I think that when Jada says that she's not going to be attending, that Spike Lee is not going to be attending, I think that is a boycott. And in fact, that's what we did last year. Last year, we had counter programming on social media and we live tweeted the movie "Coming to America" via Netflix during the Oscars telecast.

We specifically chose "Coming to America" because although it has a majority black cast, it resonates with everyone. So, regardless of your gender, your social orientation -- your sexual orientation, your race, you have a quotable from "Coming to America."

We'll be doing something on an even bigger scale this year to boycott because I think it's important not just to speak with our dollars in deciding which movies we watch and we go to see and support, but also with our viewership.

We know that the Oscars telecast last year had a decrease in viewership for the -- the most decreased -- the biggest decrease in the past six years. We believe the that OscarSoWhite hash tag the result in conversations and our boycott last year and live tweeting of a different film had something to do with that.

LEMON: OK. I want to Nischelle. And Nischelle, I'm up against a...

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: Don, we should -- yes, we should also -- go ahead. LEMON: I'm up against a break. But Go ahead, conversation because I

wanted to tell that Chris Rock tweeted out that it was the white BET awards. But go on, what did you want to say?

TURNER: Yes. No, he did. But I so want to make clear that not all actors of color actually feel this way, as well. I just spoke with Courtney B. Vance interviewed him over the weekend and asks him about this. And he said clearly he did not think boycotting was the way to go.

LEMON: OK.

TURNER: He felt like that was the wrong approach to have and that they -- the people should just continue to do the work that sometimes people are overlooked. He understands the frustration, but he doesn't support staying away from the show.

LEMON: It is interesting, too, because Chris Rock is between a rock and a hard place. People want, you know, people to watch, right? An African-American still want people to watch. But a boycott, they're concerned about that, as well.

Thank you, everyone. We'll be right back with a tribute to Glenn Frey.

[22:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Before we leave you tonight, I want to take a moment to remember Glenn Frey, a founding member of the classic rock band, The Eagles. The Eagles had hit after hit after hit in the '70s. And for a lot of people, their music was a sound track of a decade with four consecutive number one albums between 1975 and 1979.

The band went on to sell more than 100 million records worldwide. Glenn Frey co-wrote their very first hit, 1972's "Take it Easy."

[23:00:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)