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Trump Versus O'Reilly; Donald Trump Boycotts GOP Debate at Fox. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 27, 2016 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": That does it for us. Thanks very much for watching. We'll you again at 11 p.m. Easter for another edition of 360.
CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: He were we go, Trump versus O'Reilly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't like being taken advantage of. In this case, I was being taken advantage of by Fox. I don't like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
The Republican front-runner Trumps Fox News as only he can.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just don't like being used. And when they issued that tweet or whatever it was that Fox issued, I guess it was like...
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Listen, Donald, I got it.
TRUMP: ... it was like done by children.
O'REILLY: I got it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. So, here's the question. Is it just all part of a clever master plan? Does it make Donald Trump a stronger candidate? And what will it mean for him in Iowa? There is a whole lot to digest tonight and to talk about.
You know what time it is. It's time for the day in Trump. Donald Trump going head to head tonight with Fox and not giving an inch. Just listen to Bill O'Reilly's attempt to convince Donald Trump that he should do the debate after all. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: The bigger picture -- the bigger picture is get your message to the folks.
TRUMP: There's got to be something because you set the all-time record in cable history and so did CNN and so there's got to be going on, Bill.
O'REILLY: They want to just know you.
TRUMP: You know, that's fine. And a lot of people didn't know me...
O'REILLY: They want to know you but by walking away from this debate -- you're not giving them the opportunity to know what the voters would like.
TRUMP: I'm not walking away. I'm not walking way, Bill.
O'REILLY: You're walking away.
TRUMP: I'm not walking away.
O'REILLY: Would you do me a favor? Look, you owe me a good because I bought you so many vanilla milkshakes.
TRUMP: Hey, Bill, I'm not -- Fox would out.
O'REILLY: I bought you so many vanilla milkshakes. You owe me.
TRUMP: That's true.
O'REILLY: Would you just consider -- I want you to consider, all right, think about it. Say, look, I might come back. Forgive, go forward, answer the questions, look out for the folks. Just want you to consider it. You owe me milkshakes. I'll take them off the ledger if you consider it.
TRUMP: You are. Well, even though you and I had an agreement that you wouldn't ask me that, which we did, I will, therefore, forget that you asked me that. But it's up to Fox it's not up to me, Bill.
O'REILLY: You're actually telling the truth that there.
TRUMP: You actually did break the agreement.
O'REILLY: You're actually telling the truth that I said...
TRUMP: Because I told you up front, I said don't ask me that question because it's an embarrassing question for you and I'm going to embarrass you.
O'REILLY: And of course I'm not going to listen to anybody.
O'REILLY: But I'm not going to listen to any political person tell me don't ask me anything. But one you're absolutely an honest man. Then I said I'll try not to do it but the milkshake thing just overwhelmed me. But I'm asking you to reconsider it.
TRUMP: It's true. A lot of milkshakes.
O'REILLY: If you don't want to, it's up to you. And I'll give you a compliment. I don't know any politician under these circumstances that would have come on in here and done what you did tonight. I just don't know any.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It sounds like even milkshakes won't lure Donald Trump back to the debate tomorrow night.
So, I want to bring in now CNN's Gloria Borger. Jeff Kauffman, who is the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, and Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for The New Yorker.
Gloria, do you know what an angry resting face is? It's when someone even when they are resting their face they look mad. I think Donald Trump has that. But, boy, he looked really mad tonight. And no doubt about it he's angry at what's happening with Fox News. He was testy with Bill O'Reilly. Even Bill O'Reilly tried to win him over. Where is this going, I know you don't have a crystal ball but where do you think this is going?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think this is going to a debate tomorrow night with a big vacuum in it, and I think you're going to see a bunch of those other candidates tried to fill that vacuum. I think they'll take on Donald Trump in absence. I think Cruz be a target. I think Marco Rubio is going to try and raise to the top tier.
But listening to Trump on O'Reilly I think he is completely dug in. Now, by the way, could Donald Trump potentially go to the spin room?
LEMON: Yes, I thought about that. Good point, yes.
BORGER: After the debate could he had something up his sleeve? I mean, who knows.
LEMON: Yes. And if he showed up at the last minute or half way throug through, do you think they would turn him down, Gloria? I don't think so.
BORGER: I -- you know, what these debates are pretty well choreographed. You know that, Don. But I have no idea what Fox News is planning. And would they welcome him on the stage?
LEMON: Yes. I think... BORGER: Like that.
LEMON: They might. But I think he's, as you said, pretty well dug in. Because he said simultaneously he's having an event for veterans. That means at the same time.
LEMON: Ryan, this question is for you. And we're going to take a look at, a little bit more of Bill O'Reilly and Donald Trump. But he didn't argue -- they didn't just argue over the debate. They took issue with other things as well. He did at least. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: You went to church last week. You don't usually go. You went to church in Iowa and...
TRUMP: I do go. I go a lot. What do you mean, I don't usually go. I go to church a lot.
O'REILLY: Well, you know, I mean...
TRUMP: But not every Sunday, but I go a lot.
[22:04:59] O'REILLY: You're a really good, I'm surprised in. OK. So, in your Christian faith, there is a very significant tenet and that's the tenet of forgiveness. And I think you should forgive not only journalists who come at you in ways you don't like, but I think you should be the bigger man and say, you know what, I didn't like it and you should make that case all day long. But I'm not going to take any action against it. You know, don't you think that's the right thing to do?
TRUMP: It probably is. But, you know, it's called an eye for an eye, I guess also. You can look at it that way.
O'REILLY: No, no, no. That's an Old Testament.
TRUMP: I don't take it seriously.
O'REILLY: No, no, no, no.
TRUMP: Bill, you are taking this...
O'REILLY: If you're the Christian the eye for eye goes that. Here's what it is. Turn in the other cheek right here.
TRUMP: Bill, let me tell you, you're taking this much more seriously than I am. I'm not taking it seriously.
O'REILLY: Who is?
TRUMP: I'm going to have a wonderful time tomorrow night. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Ryan, this is kind of a you're mad, bro interview?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
LEMON: Why did you think Donald Trump even did this interview tonight?
LIZZA: I don't know. You know, he's in the Old Testament politician living in a New Testament world. I think he did it because he likes to dominate the media. And when we are talking about Donald Trump we're not talking about Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush and any of his potential competitors.
His whole strategy has been to flood the zone in terms of news coverage from the beginning. And, you know, like the reality star genius he is, he knows how to keep the next episode going.
He's, you know, the last time he -- he always picks some kind of fight before these debates to sort of put us all on the edge of our seats to see what he does. Will he show up in the spin room, will he, you now, show up half way through? He's, you know, he's creating a media spectacle out of the republican primary season and it served him very well so far.
LEMON: As Gloria said and I thought as well, he could show up in the spin room and that would not make him look like he sort of reneged as promised not to go. But showing half way through...
LIZZA: But he's on the hook -- he's on the hook for event for the veterans. You can't just say I'm going to have a big event at the last minute bail on it.
LEMON: Yes, simultaneously. He'll not do it. Yes, absolutely. OK. So, let's -- Mr. Kauffman, do Iowans care that Donald Trump says he isn't going to participate in tomorrow's night debate?
JEFF KAUFMANN, IOWA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: I really believe that people that did not like Donald Trump before this decision are still not going to like him. I think the people that like Donald Trump before this decision are going to continue like him.
I'm not sure that that segment of Iowans. And I think that segment is larger than it's been in the last. They are looking at this instead to make up their minds. I'm not sure that any one decision just like any one stand on an issue is going to move a group of individuals, like Iowans that are used to being discerning, used to taking a pretty analytical approach to who wins this particular caucus state. I'll be quite frank, I don't know if it matters.
LEMON: OK. So, you're chairman of Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa Republican Party, you're in Des Moines. So, my -- here's the question to you then, so is Donald Trump right that they don't need to hear any more from candidates in debates? Are they still persuadable there do you think?
KAUFMANN: Oh, absolutely. There is no doubt about it. In fact, I would go so far as to say there's more fluidity in this race, this particular cycle than there has been in many cycles before. And the point I would make on the caucuses, they're still persuading once you're in that caucus.
So, if you got a neighbor if you haven't heard from ever above in politics and he stands up and makes a passionate speech, and you're not stuck on one candidate one of the other strongly, I think there's a very good chance that there are going to be people that can either change their vote or make up their minds after they've entered the building.
Now that is still a very fluid race. There still a lot of people that are going to be making up their minds.
LEMON: So, does this debate affect that at all then? I mean, if he doesn't show up might he lose that, and you don't want to call them undecided but you say persuadable. Does he lose out on those persuadable voters or caucus goers?
KAUFMANN: If this was the only venue that was left I think he would be taking a risk. But, you know, in Iowa in January 1, one day literally is like a week normally with the level of activity we have here. My guess is that Donald Trump is going to have more venues and more ways of getting his message and getting himself out there in front of the cameras.
I don't know that one decision is going to make or break. Having said that, though, I mean, your conversation we're having before this, I think is spot on. I think there's going to be an opportunity here for other candidates to highlight what they believe, and quite frankly, I think there's going to be an opportunity here for a different set of arguments and elbows thrown.
This is a full contact sport.
KAUFMANN: I think you're going to see more people involved in this sport in this next debate.
LEMON: Gloria, you want in on this?
BORGER: Yes. You know, I was talking to a bunch of undecided voters today. I was in the Rubio rally where there are bunch of undecided voters. And even one Trump voters who became undecided as a result of Trump's decision not to participate.
[22:10:06] These undecided voters were saying to me, look, here Iowa, we like to see our candidates play. And Donald Trump should show up. Now, if Donald Trump gets all his supporters to the caucuses, he doesn't need those undecided voters.
But a lot of his supporters haven't been participants before. So, we don't know whether they'll turnout in larger numbers or whether he will need some of voters who are on defense. And that's the way I think this could affect things. Although, who knows, it's so hard to predict here in Iowa.
LEMON: Why did that voter change his mind about or her -- what did that voter change his or her mind about Donald Trump?
BORGER: He changed his mind because he thought that Trump wasn't playing by the rules that had been set out.
BORGER: He didn't like what Trump had said about Megyn Kelly and he just thought Trump was being, as he put it, kind of rude and that didn't sit well with him. So, he decided to go see Marco Rubio today.
LEMON: That's kind of the opposite of his appeal. That's why people usually like him, Ryan Lizza. And today, John McCain with Wolf Blitzer that he wished Trump were not using veterans, a veterans event as a way to further his own political agenda.
Some veterans are saying that, you know, hey, don't use us as a prop. Can this backfire do you think on Donald Trump?
LIZZA: You know, that was the first thought I actually had when he announced this, is that in a way, they're both sides now, Cruz and Trump, are using veterans as a political tool in their battle, right? So, first Trump says I'm going to drop out of the debate. Maybe he's dropping out because he's doing what front-runners do, right?
They don't want to debate, they want to sit on their lead. They don't want to risk being in that setting what Ted Cruz comes out and with something...
LEMON: No self-inflicted wounds, right?
LIZZA: Exactly. So, that's what front-runners always do. So, in one sense, Donald Trump is being a sort of typical politician here. But then to throw on top of that, I'm going to use my charitable event for veterans. I don't know, frankly, it's a little unseemingly.
And then the Cruz campaign sort of compounds it by saying, oh, we'll get some donors together. I don't know if it's the Cruz campaign but it's the Cruz donors saying we'll give $1.5 million to a veterans cause if Donald Trump debates...
LEMON: To veterans families.
LIZZA: Veterans families, there you go. Thank you.
LIZZA: I don't know if that's the best precedent for politics is that causes like this are suddenly going to be thrust into the middle of petty just debates about debates between candidates. It seems a little unseemly to me. And then, Don, if you will allow me I just wanted to throw out a question out for Jeff that follows up on what Gloria was talking about.
LEMON: We're running short on time so if you can do it quickly.
LIZZA: Jeff, everyone says Trump needs to turn out all these new voters, so far registration hasn't risen. Are you seeing any signs of republicans registering a new mass numbers that would benefit Trump?
KAUFMANN: Right now it's anecdotal. A lot of these folks are not going to hand in that paperwork until that night. So, ironically, we're not going to see the statistics and the facts until after this -- after the caucus on February 1st.
We are seeing some anecdotal evidence that there is a boost in not only republican registration but also democrats and independence changing. But that could also be for Rand Paul, that could be for Ted Cruz. Certainly Donald Trump would gain from this.
I think in the end the ground game is what's going to count here. We got some excellent ground games with Cruz and Carson, and others. I think the key to this whole caucus on February 1st is the ground game of Donald Trump, is it going to be able to produce.
LEMON: That's it.
KAUFMANN: I really think that is going to supersede a lot of this...
LEMON: And as Gloria will tell you, a ground game is always important when it comes to the caucuses. OK. So, advice Jeff, go get your coat.
BORGER: And here we are on the ground.
LEMON: Yes. And on the ground. Jeff will get coat. And Gloria go on and get warm. Thank you very much. Ryan, thank you. I appreciate it.
BORGER: I will.
LEMON: When we come right back, is all this a brilliant strategy for Donald Trump or will he pay a price in Iowa for refusing to debate?
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Well, we've been witnessing anything can happen at any moment especially between now and tomorrow night. But as this moment, at this very moment now, Donald Trump says he won't be at the Fox debate. Instead he's holding a competing event to benefit the veterans. So, let's discuss this now with Hugh Hewitt, a conservative host of the Hugh Hewitt Show. That's an odd name for a show. Anyways, Hugh, good to see you. You know, sometimes life is stranger than fiction.
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO HUGH HEWITT SHOW HOST: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: You say this is a brilliant opera starring Donald Trump. I mean, but how does this opera end? What's going on here?
HEWITT: I don't know. I watched the O'Reilly interview tonight. And it's another chapter in the long, strange trip of 2016. And I'll say when Bill O'Reilly brought up the milkshake, I immediately thought of the 2007 movie "There Will Be Blood." And I think that Donald Trump is playing Daniel Day-Lewis' role, he drank Fox's milkshake. And so, Donald Trump has beat Fox.
I don't know if he beats Ted Cruz as a result of that, but he sure did this round with Fox when your biggest star, Bill O'Reilly is begging you to come back and blowing them off. Because that's what Donald Trump did. He's blowing off, I drink your milkshake.
LEMON: Was he, OK. The milkshake thing it was like, OK, this is weird, what's going on here. But, they are saying, we're not really drinkers and when we go we do milkshakes. I have no idea. But anyway, it was little weird. But still, do you think -- it seemed like Bill O'Reilly was begging him and Donald Trump was not relenting, right?
HEWITT: Yes. No. And in fact, this morning Mark Halperin made a very fine observation that his brand is strength. Donald Trump's brand is strength. And that is not a particularly political or partisan brand. And so, by facing down the Fox press release -- it really wasn't about Megyn Kelly. It's really about the press release...
LEMON: But he was going to show up and people are saying it's about, I mean, Megyn Kelly is part of it. But he was saying he was going to show up until that press release came out and then, I mean, he just went ballistic. But go on, sorry.
HEWITT: And there's good -- there is a good argument for going ballistic. It was a time. You know, I've been in two of these debate preps now. And I feel bad for the people who have worked so hard to put it together. A lot of the effort goes into it.
[22:20:00] I've got two more of them and I would be upset if someone sent out a press release the night before if I put in 72, 96, a week's worth of preparation on question sets and order and rehearsal, and then all of a sudden someone writes a press release that sends the leader in the race overall out the back door. I'd be ticked off at CNN if they did that.
HEWITT: We wouldn't do that. We're -- I think it's too professional on operation but someone screwed at Fox. I don't know who screwed up somebody there.
LEMON: Well, speaking of Fox and Bill O'Reilly, more of the interview. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We've had six debates so far. Every online poll said I've won every one of the debate, especially the last one, by the way, with the New York values, which was horrible what Ted Cruz said.
But you know what? The democrats are all finished with their debates. They had six. They were hidden behind football games and every other thing. They're all finished with their debates. We're going to go on forever with these debates. At some point, you got to start doing other things other than debating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Hugh, I think you've been involved in two debates here in CNN this cycle. So, what's your reaction to that?
HEWITT: Well, I think we need more. I'm going to do two more with CNN. Salem Media Group has one on February 25th with CNN, we have another one on March 10th, and we need them because the republican field is much bigger. There is no pre-ordained prohibitive favorite like former Secretary of State Clinton is. And there are a lot of issues that are unfolding in front of us. Yesterday, a would-be...
LEMON: So, you don't agree with Donald Trump then?
HEWITT: No, I think we need more debates. Yesterday, a would-be Jihadist almost shot up Milwaukee. The FBI got him. This issue of domestic terrorism of lone wolves terrorism, the collapse of world order, this stuff needs to be talked through on small sets and people need to drop out of the republican race if they're not viable.
Donald Trump is going to be there at the end. Look, he's leading every poll, he's winning everything. But as the field narrows, we'll have more conversations between a fewer group of people and I hope that the moderators are not part of the conversation.
And I've said this from the beginning. Jake believes it, Dana believes it. You believed it. Wolf believes it. We ought not to be the story before, during or after the debate.
HEWITT: It should be about the people and the republican primary voters.
LEMON: Well, that's the one thing that I, you know with...
HEWITT Go ahead. LEMON: ... with Megyn Kelly, I feel that she doesn't want to be the story and then inevitably she has become part of the story.
HEWITT: I agree.
LEMON: And that I mean, that must feel terrible as a journalist. But I have to ask you about the republican leadership? Someone brought it up here last night saying republican leadership isn't saying anything about this. What about the republican leadership, Hugh, are they bewildered at this point?
LEMON: No, I think they said -- your source is wrong. Sean Spicer who is a -- for full disclosure...
LEMON: That was today.
HEWITT: Yes. He's actually my son's boss, all right. So, a full disclosure. Sean Spicer said "The rules don't mandate, you have to show up. The rules mandate, you can't go to an unsanctioned debate. No one has to shop up."
The rules are brilliant. Reince Priebus did a fine job overhauling a calendar. He did a great job moving forward to convention. He brought order out of chaos. Donald Trump should remember, the last time around there were like three times as many debates. That was chaos.
So, I like the way it's unfolding. I just think it's so unpredictable. I think Ted Cruz is still going to win Tuesday night. And I told Donald Trump that off air, last week. I could be wrong. I'm often wrong. I think Donald Trump is going to win New Hampshire and I think South Carolina is a jump ball but it's going to change a lot.
LEMON: I've got to ask you this, you had Joe Scarborough on who is a former congressman, anchor at MSNBC, you had him on tonight and you asked him if he was open to being Donald Trump's running mate. What did he tell you?
HEWITT: At first, look, throughout the entire conversation which is posted at hughhewitt.com and the audio and the transcript at hughhewitt.com.
LEMON: Your good view, go ahead.
HEWITT: He didn't say no. All right. He didn't not think though. In the end he finally said I do whatever was in the best interest of the country, which is what you say if you want to hold up the open.
However, Joe, later tweeted out "I rule it out." Because he was getting heat from a lot of people. Now I personally believe, the reason I ask him is I think he's a brilliant choice for Donald Trump if Donald Trump is the nominee because Joe he's got great media chops, he has got great Florida ties, he's well known, he won't make any stupid mistakes, he's been vetted thoroughly in this media life. And so, I think Joe's is going to get the call and be on a lot of short list. But he doesn't the attention right now and I don't want to give him unnecessary attention. He said "I rule it out" on Twitter later.
LEMON: He'd have to give up his, quote, unquote, "cushy" MSNBC job, but, you know, that's what happens.
HEWITT: If he runs for vice president job they'll be jobs for you later if you don't win. If you win, he said -- he said he'd be willing to do anything that would the help the country. So, that was not a no. It was not Shermanesque.