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Analyzing the First GOP Town Hall in South Carolina. Aired 11p- 12a ET

Aired February 17, 2016 - 23:00   ET



[22:59:57] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The breaking news, everyone, as we look at those live pictures from Columbia, South Carolina. You just saw the first night of the Republican town hall down in Greenville --- excuse me, South Carolina, Greenville, South Carolina, Columbia tomorrow.

This is CNN TONIGHT, special CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

[23:00:00] We're just three days away from the South Carolina. You just saw the first night of the Republican Town Hall down in Greenville, excuse me, South Carolina. Greenville, South Carolina, Columbia tomorrow.

This is CCN Tonight, special CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. We are just three days away from the South Carolina Republican primary Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. Each trying to make their case to the voters. Who's up, who's down, and what happens tomorrow when John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump take that stage.

Let's discuss now. I want to bring in my political dream team. Here they are. Say hello everyone.


LEMON: Amanda Carpenter is here, Kevin Madden is here, Kayleigh McEnany is here. Donna Brazile, David Gergen and Margaret Hoover.

Guess who else is with us. But it's out in the field in South Carolina none other than our very own Gloria Borger. Hi, Gloria. What's your reaction to the tonight's town hall? What do you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I love this town hall formats, don't you?

LEMON: Yeah, yeah.

BORGER: They're terrific because it gives the candidates a way to present themselves other than two dimensional. And, you know, I've been out on the campaign trail today. I was at Ted Cruz's now infamouspresser at which, you know, he talked about the lawsuit that Donald Trump has filed against him for defamation because of his ad.

And tonight I think while there was clearly politics and Cruz was complaining about Donald Trump calling him ridiculous, I do think you got to see another dimension of the candidates. You got to see Ben Carson saying, you know what? I have the experience to be president and here's why I'm qualified. Which is a question a lot of people ask about him.

You saw Marco Rubio try to define himself at unifier in the party. And you saw Ted Cruz positioning himself very much as the pro-life, anti-Trump constitutional scholar who is the best equipped to pick the next Supreme Court justice. And you didn't see it in sound bites, Don, you saw it in really lengthy segments that voters can watch and kind of chew on.

LEMON: Really lengthy answers for some. I mean (inaudible). So we were standing here, Gloria, some of the panel who were saying, my gosh, it's like a filibuster, right? Kevin, did you say that? Were there - did you - do you agree with that or were there any surprising for you, Gloria?

BORGER: Well, there really weren't any surprises to me, other that be I think Marco Rubio was the candidate out there who really decided not to kind of get deep in the muck again. I mean, he said he would defend his record and he accused, you know, he spoke about why he thinks Ted Cruz isn't telling the truth about him when Anderson asked about that.

You might call it a filibuster but we're not used to hearing candidates in more than 30-second sound bites. So I actually find it kind of refreshing to hear them explain how they feel about the issues and how they came to their positions.

I mean, I think, look, there's a big fight going on here now in South Carolina. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are engaged in a war for the second spot and Cruz is engaged in a war against Donald Trump. There is no doubt about it.

But I think we got to kind of understand where these candidates come from and also, by the way, as I'm sure you noticed, we learned a little more about Rubio and electronic dance music and Carson playing pool at home when he likes to relax and...

LEMON: And Cruz singing.

BORGER: And Cruz likes a good scotch once in a while, right?

LEMON: Well, don't we all.

BORGER: Singing to his wife.

LEMON: Yeah, specially...


LEMON: ...on late nights like tonight. Thank you, Gloria. Great analysis as usual.

BORGER: Thank you guys. Have fun. LEMON: All right, we will.

BORGER: Bye-bye.

LEMON: Let's get started with our dream team. So, I'll start with you. Who want to start? What did you think, Donna?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, since I'm the resident Democrat here. Gloria is right. I mean we got a chance to learn their musical taste. And what we learned is that, you know, perhaps they are not ready to make a joyful noise.

LEMON: Yeah.

BRAZILE: Ben Carson did I think using scripture, to try to appeal to Christian conservatives. So let them know that he is the one who understand how to put these values and actions. On the other hand, Marco Rubio say, "I'm an example of this so-called Christian values."

Ted Cruz, you're right, I think he talked a little longer than the other two in terms of his answers, but, again, tonight was about trying to appeal to a Christian conservatives. I was in South Carolina four years ago with the Republicans. And thank god I know a little bit about scripture so I wasn't off note.


BRAZILE: But tonight I think they were trying to appeal to that vote.


BRAZILE: And I don't know if there's a winner but I believe that some undecided is going on by now.

LEMON: And someone watching just as a viewer, I appreciated Marco Rubio's shorter, more succinct answers rather than the longer answers. Am I the only one who felt that way?

[23:05:11] KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that's right. I mean I was struck by tonight was the two different approaches that both Cruz and Rubio took. Clearly because of the platform, I think Rubio tried to offer a bit more of a relatable candidate to people.

LEMON: Right.

MADDEN: He tried to talk directly to these voters with a much more common touch whereas I think because Ted Cruz was taking more of a prosecutorial approach against Donald Trump, he was taking longer answers. He had a very long case and evidence to offer.

LEMON: I kept going, OK, OK. I wanted him to address the viewer. You know, I love my colleague Anderson Cooper but he kept say being Anderson, Anderson, Anderson. And if I'm speaking to Kevin, you know, if you ask me a question, I want to say, you know, I want to say Kevin...

MADDEN: Right. Right.

LEMON: ... rather than moderator.

MADDEN: It was less conversation.

LEMON: Right.

MADDEN: It was much more of a complicated prosecution of Donald Trump.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It was a mano a mano with Ted Cruz...

LEMON: Right.

MCENANY: ... and Donald Trump is essentially what you say. And Donald Trump wasn't on the stage. This was a chance for Ted Cruz to say this is who I am to viewers and he did not did that.

LEMON: Yeah.

MCENANY: Instead he brutally attacked Donald Trump. And he said ironically truth matters...

LEMON: Yeah.

MCENANY: ... and then he went on to list Donald Trump's policies all incorrectly.

MADDEN: And just right quick on that too. The up side is he had 30, 45 minutes of uninterrupted opportunities to offer negative attacks on Donald Trump.


MADDEN: The down side of that is the more negative candidate always end up losing.


MADDEN: And whereas Rubio looked a lot more positive, he did come off as somewhat...

LEMON: Go ahead Margaret. I want to get this...

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Stylistically I think the other big difference between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio who are basically vying for the secondary spot, Marco Rubio's answers were all slated for a general electorate, right?


HOOVER: They worked. They passed the test. They sort of check the box for social conservatives. They certainly didn't go against the (inaudible) social conservatives, but they were also palatable/accountable to the broader audience, to the general electorate. Ted Cruz no (inaudible) about it is going for the values voter in South Carolina. And he...

LEMON: Yeah.

HOOVER: ... brought up social issue after social issue, after social issue which is frankly very hard to translate. I mean this...

LEMON: Yeah.

HOOVER: ... makes Marco Rubio case for him that he's the guy who could win in a general.

LEMON: I want to let you guys get in. But I want to get this thing because tonight seemed to be all about liar, liar, liar, liar pants on fire, right? Everybody kept saying that. Let's listen to some and then we'll discuss.


MARCO RUBIO, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you say something that isn't true and you say it over and over again and you know that it's not true, there's no other word for it. And when it's about your record, you have to clear it up, because if you don't, then people say it must be true, he didn't dispute it. And his done that a number of times. We saw what he did to Dr. Carson in Iowa which is wrong. We saw it yesterday, Trey Gowdy, somebody came up with a fake Facebook post saying Trey Gowdy was no longer endorsing me, a very popular congressman here in South Carolina.

So, these things are distributing and it needs to address. And I'll address them. But that's not the core of my campaign. I spent 99 percent of my time talking about America's future. But it someone says something that's not true and I don't clear it up, well, that's not fair. Then people may think then it's true.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump, Marco Rubio both have said that you've lied, that you're a liar. Are they lying about that?

TED CRUZ, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I got to say, Anderson, this is a strange election season, in many ways. Both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are following this pattern, that whatever anyone points to their actual record, to what they've said, to what they've voted on to what they've done, they start screaming liar, liar, liar. I mean it is the oddest thing. I can't think of any precedent in any previous Republican presidential election.

Now, from my end, I have not and will not respond in kind. If they want to engage in personal insults, if they want to go to the mud, I'm not going to say the same thing about them. I think the people of South Carolina deserve more than people just throwing mud at each other.


LEMON: I'm not going to call anybody. You didn't hear that from me but this guy's a liar. DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Listen, tonight certainly didn't have the fireworks of debates, you know, and sometimes dragged a bit. But I thought the town hall format was much more revealing about the human beings involve running for the presidency. You had a chance to see them, as Gloria said, in a more three-dimensional way.

And it's really important, you know, when you make a judgment about these things, you think do I want that person in my living room for the next fours years? Do I want to be listening to that person for the next years? It's a major part of how you respond to them, how people talk.

In a sense, I think Ben Carson was the most comfortable person you'd want in your living room. Marco Rubio, has (inaudible) but the rat-a- tat-tat that way he talks, I must tell you, oh my god, you know, can he just slow down, I think he talk like Ted Cruz. He'd be a much more effective candidate.

I thought in terms of South Carolina, Ted Cruz did the best. So in terms of winning (inaudible) which was the name of the game. And that was him made very strong argument about Christian values and he's far more (inaudible) anybody else on the run and the group about the Supreme Court.


[23:10:03] GERGEN: I mean this is - this is giving him an opening that I think he's used well tonight. Do you want Ted Cruz in your living room the next four years? That's a harder question.

LEMON: Well, and we talked about voices and long-winded answers or short concise answers, and that's what people -- the audience will take away with that. The voter will take - that's a takeaway for voter, Amanda.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, but there's the thing, too. He has to answer these questions in full. When he has two other candidates, you know, the GOP front runner and then another figure who's really within the Republican party calling him a liar, he has to take time to answer that question. These people are using that charge all over the place, Republican voters who don't follow the tick tack of every campaign spot over (inaudible) needs to know what's going on.

And so that's why Ted Cruz had to do a press conference and relay all out the facts and charts (inaudible) almost it like it was a sudden hearing...

LEMON: I felt like I was watching the old Court T.V.

CARPENTER: Yeah, Court TV, yeah, right.

LEMON: But here's the first evidence I will present, right?

CARPENTER: Yeah, Court T.V. between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, I would watch that. So he has to take the time to do that because it may be the deciding factor in the GOP primary.

LEMON: Yeah. OK, speaking of that, we'll talk about that in a moment. But I want tell you, you can see part two of our CNN GOP Town Hall tomorrow night at 8:00. It's going to be very similar to this except the players will be different. It's going to be John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. Live (inaudible) questions in South Carolina. Voters, who will come out on top tomorrow night? Now you can finish about who - anybody on top (inaudible).

Don't miss CNN GOP Presidential Town Hall part two moderated by Anderson tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m.

So he sent a cease and desists to Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz had to respond to that today he responded to it on stage tonight at the town hall. We're going to -- is that ever happen?


LEMON: We'll talk about that.


[23:15:42] LEMON: And we are back everyone. Look at those live pictures. This is an old cigar factory, right? It's getting close to midnight. Anybody Kevin set any cigars, anything?

MADDEN: Not me.

LEMON: No? No one buy any cigars. That's down in Greenville, South Carolina. And that's where they held their town hall. Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz taking part tonight in the first of two CNN Republican town halls in South Carolina. Tomorrow night is Trump's turn. Bush's turn, Kasich's turn. This is going to be interesting to watch.

Back with me now my dream team Amanda Carpenter, Kevin Madden, Kayleigh McEnany, Donna Brazile, David Gergen, and Margaret Hoover. A lot of people here.

So, who do you think had the -- do you think that Ted Cruz had the most command of the issues?

GERGEN: Not only command of the issues but I think in terms of South Carolina, who votes in a Republican primary.


GERGEN: His arguments I think would resonate more than anybody else's and resonate better.

HOOVER: To put a finer tip on that, you're talking about evangelicals, 65 percent...

GERGEN: Absolutely.

HOOVER: ... are (inaudible) evangelicals. But they're not all values voters first and foremost. I mean I think that's one thing you have to sort of take a part of the evangelical black voters. Many of them are white, blue collar, non-college educated and there are also college educated evangelicals. Actually a smaller number of college educating evangelicals, 28 percent to 37 percent, that the non- educated evangelicals often vote on economic issues, sort of kitchen table issues. This is why Trump is doing so well on this cohort by the way because, you know, he talked about immigration, he talks about trade. These are issues that resonate with a cohort of the electric frankly that have been sort of forgotten left behind in an economic stag (ph) nation over the last 25 years.

LEMON: Yeah.

HOOVER: So it's not -- I mean while Cruz does speak about values voters and sort of speak to those themes, it doesn't resonate with all evangelical voters so that's why Trump doing so well I think.

GERGEN: And Ted Cruz is doing pretty well, too. And doing very well (inaudible) evangelicals.

HOOVER: Yeah. And Marco is doing well.

GERGEN: Yeah. You know, he's OK. But that's -- there's a reason...


GERGEN: ... Ted Cruz right now is in the first national poll we've seen actually is a tiny bit ahead.

HOOVER: Yeah. Yeah.

CARPENTER: And I would say this is part of the key. We saw this play out in Iowa is that Ted Cruz had a very effective strategy to get the people who cared about those core issues and turn out and vote. He went and (inaudible) to the itty bitty corners of those Iowa counties and got them to vote. And that's by appealing to people who really believe in these issues. He's not interesting -- you know, Donald Trump attracts a new kind of voter who may not care about the constitution as much, really just cares that, you know, America isn't great again.

But if Cruz (ph) can get to those people who really, you know, will walk through glass to save their liberties because they feel like the country is in crisis, they will turn out in the vote and deliver a good showing for that.

MCENANY: But there's reason that Donald Trump currently in the CNN poll is currently out polling Cruz with evangelicals in South Carolina by 20 percent because I think evangelicals will Ted Cruz absolutely appeals to them, he resonates with them. Evangelicals really want a fighter. I'm an evangelical. I look at Donald Trump but this is someone who is going to not just fight (inaudible) I believe.


MCENANY: This is someone who is going to be fight for what I believe not stand down. I think Ted Cruz would, too, but there's something that really appears -- appeal to people about this rogue outsider who fight...

LEMON: So you're evangelical?


LEMON: So we're trying to -- and I was trying to understand this if you look at someone like Donald Trump who has evolved on issues, right? I mean you look at the two Corinthians whether it gets -- whether it's fair enough that he can see on that. Why -- that's the appeal for evangelicals over Ted Cruz who, you know, probably knows bible verses back and forth and knows that it's Corinthians instead of two Corinthians.

MCENANY: That is the appeal because here's the thing. This election, this primary looks like no primary I think we've ever seen before here in the history and reason being Trump came out and he moved the entire field to the right near talking about potentially temporarily banning Muslims from entering this country. He set that as the stake and now that's we're debating on that margin instead of debating somewhere in the middle, somewhere along establishment line. We're debating way out here and that's because Trump came in and he shook up this primary.

LEMON: All right. So did it make it anyone in comfortable the whole line part because, you know, I'm paraphrasing the guys, I'm not calling anybody liar. They were calling each other liars. Did it make anyone uncomfortable with this?

BRAZILE: This is South Carolina.


LEMON: Because we're talking about the cease and desist. You're lying in your ad, you're lying about this and you must stop it. I want to listen to Ted Cruz talk about this letter that Donald Trump sent to him and we'll discuss.


COOPER: You got a cease and desist letter from Donald Trump.

[23:20:01] I don't think I've ever heard of that actually happening in a race, one of the many first, that we've seen. What did you actually think when you got the letter?

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTITIAL CANDIDATE: I'll confess, I laughed out loud. This has not been a typical race by any sense and I don't think anyone is surprised that Donald is threatening to sue people, he's done that most of his adult life. But this letter really was -- looked I practice law 20 years and this letter really pressed the bounds of the most frivolous and ridiculous letters I've ever seen.


LEMON: So Anderson said, you know, I'm not sure this is ever happen. I don't think this has ever happened. David Gargen.

GERGEN: Listen, I'm (inaudible) here. I can tell you that has not happened in elect times. But when do people informally for cease and desist. I mean, they said you can stop all the time. But send the legal document is very unusual. It doesn't make any difference. I know he can make a lot of difference. What I do think we missed tonight is after one of this town hall we need Tom Foreman.

We need somebody to come out and actually call these guys one what they are saying.

LEMON: Well, what I'd be hearing later in the show.


CARPENTER: Let me say something for why this is dangerous. I mean, Donald Trump has an enemies list. He has issued these kinds of letters to people like the club for growth. He's threatened to sue reporters for writing stories he does not like. This guy is not representing any kind of conservative values. He is an enemy of political free speech. I mean, he doesn't like the ad being run against him because it hurt his political as respirations. And he's using the cooler (ph) system as a legal welfare to take it down. It is not OK.

MADDEN: Well, He's doing this because he wants to distract Ted Cruz from his core message and that's exactly what he did. And I think Ted Cruz keeps walking right into this trap. Today his press conference and then he probably spend a good 20-25 minutes today talking about it during this town hall, which is extraordinary opportunity to talk directly to the voters about issues that they care more about. And he lost that during those 25 minutes.

But he's acting a little bit. He was acting -- it seemed to me he was acting more like a staff unless like the presidential candidate.

LEMON: So Donald Trump got into his head you think?

GENGER: A friend of friend of mine said it was like watching a fishman, he throws that bait out there and see that fish. And Cruz went right to the bait. He run right for the bait.


BRAZILE: And describing the letter and giving us all the legal least. He wasted almost an hour going line by line when he should have said like laugh. He should just brought the letter out and did this and said ...

CARPENTER: But I do think it's not funny.

LEMON: A lot for grabs when it comes to this election, right. Who's going to be in control of this senate as David Gergen has been saying on the weekend, who is going to be the next Supreme Court justice, right? And who is going to seat in the oval office. This is a very important election. Did they get that message across, especially when it comes it who is going to be or possibly be the next Supreme Court justice. We'll talk about that.


[23:26:50] LEMON: Speaking of Donald Trump getting into people's heads, Donna Brazile in the commercial break, as you're trying to get into my head.


BRAZILE: That's all I can get from you on this.

LEMON: We're back with the dream team, Donna Brazile, David Gergen, Margaret Hoover, Kayleigh McEnany, Kevin Madden and also Amanda Carpenter.

Can we talk about this a little bit longer? You guys were so and animated. In the last segment in a break, so you guys think it was Donald Trump getting in choice. I think and that he came out since, you know, than gone through it (ph). I think it was ego as well, that he's like I'm a constitutional -- I'm a lawyer, so I'm going to get up here and I'm going to talk about the law and I don't know if it worked.

MCENANY: For a moment it looked like he was arguing before the Supreme Court and not speaking to the American people, which is what he should have done. But, you know, how brilliant of Donald Trump to send this letter. Donald Trump has been trying to make the point for days my record is being falsified by Ted Cruz. What better way to make that point.

CARPENTER: Well, he can make that and threat and sue.

LEMON: Go ahead Margaret.

CARPENTER: Put up or shut up.

HOOVER: Yeah, I think look, he did fall into a trap. He did start -- you can see him arguing in front of justices. I mean look, if these are one of his credentials, right to be, you know, he knows the constitution, he's argued in front of the Texas Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court, he has this sort of legal expert, great. But, you know, the genius of Anderson's questions, especially at the end where you really get to know the person, you get a sense. I had no idea Marco Rubio was color blind, right? So what did I learn about Ted Cruz? I learned he can't tell a joke. I learned that, you know, he wasn't personal at all. I mean, the real Ted Cruz you get is sort of litigator, who's like this hard core, furrow-browed ...

LEMON: This isn't the moment for that. You're talking to the votes in South Carolina.

BRAZILE: Right. You're not supposed to be solicited general the state of Texas of the United States. You're support to be the presidential candidate.

LEMON: Ted Cruz would be mad at all. This is analysis people. BRAZILE: We're giving him free advice.

LEMON: Yeah.


MCENANY: He talks about his wife being the love at first sight. And now is a really great moment ...

CARPENTER: And we also learn we cannot take it all.

BRAZILE: Everything, every time ...

CARPENTER: But I do have this one. There's one thing I just find very funny. Half the time Ted Cruz is criticized because, oh he didn't on Donald Trump enough. Now tonight he spends a good amount of time answering the charges and taking to Donald Trump and now it like why on earth would do you that? I mean, really Ted Cruz is not going to win with some people on this panel. But do I agree with you, Don, this is a sign of strength. They are going man to man against each other, Ted Cruz cannot take these attacks lying down. He has to show again and again that he has the guts to take down Donald Trump one-on-one because still today in this race he's the only one who has beat him.

LEMON: But it is called a town hall, not a debate, right a town, like you're speak together town folk.

CARPENTER: But think about what's happening in South Carolina right now. This is all their way.

LEMON: It's been over.

BRAZILE: If it's over, then don't play to that.

GERGEN: If he wants to be Ronald Reagan, he was the closest one trying to walking in his foot steps again. Remember how Reagan did it. He did it with humor, he did it with stilettos, he did it in a way that got -- there you go again kind of line.

LEMON: Yeah.

GERGEN: And it was more effective than, you know, a legal brief.

LEMON: OK, so I mentioned the Supreme Court. So here is Ted Cruz talking about the polls, about the Supreme Court and Donald Trump. Listen.


COOPER: There's new poll out saying that on the national race you are actually now in the lead how does it feel out there for you?

[23:30:05] CRUZ: Look, it feels fantastic. I mean what we're really seeing, we're seeing that old Reagan coalition come together.

You know, it was interesting, Anderson, in Iowa, all the pundits in Iowa said that we didn't have a prayer. Every person on television was saying Donald was going to win, Donald Trump was going to win. And then we saw record shattering turnout show up. And you know what was so encouraging? Is the folks that came together, it was that old Reagan coalition. So we won among conservative, but we also won among evangelicals. We won among Reagan Democrats and we won among young people.

And that's the coalition it's going to take. I think to win the nomination but also to win the general election and we ended up, our campaign earned more votes than any campaign in the history of the Iowa Republican caucuses. It really was a testament to the grass roots. This nomination has the potential dramatically shift the balance of power of the court.

And so I believe, we have -- we have an election coming up in November. I think to 2016 should be a referendum on the Supreme Court. And you know it was striking, the last can Republican debate occurred the same day that we learned Justice Scalia passed. And I think that shifted. It really made people focus on the gravity of the stakes here. You know, you mentioned before the new poll today that has us in first place nationwide, it's the first time Donald Trump has not been in first place in many, many months.

And I think this is an important reason why, that people were looking at that stage and saying, who do I know beyond a shadow of a doubt would nominate and fight to confirm principle conservative jurists who would defend the constitution.


LEMON: That was a very strong moment.. Does any one disagree with that?

MADDEN: No, I would I agree. And just to show that Amanda we're too hard on Ted Cruz. He's at his strongest when he is appealing to his core supporters that they are part of something bigger, that it's not just him, that he's a vehicle for this chance to really change the status quo and that the stakes in the election are so great. And that's why he needs them. I think that is when he's at his strongest in this performance.

LEMON: OK, so now Ben Carson, Marco Rubio talking about the Supreme Court as well.


BEN CARSON, (R) PRESIDENTITIAL CANDIDATE: I probably would take the opportunity to nominate someone. It doesn't necessarily mean that that person is going to be acted on or confirm but why not do it. But heres the real problem. You know, the Supreme Court, a very important part of our governing system, was originally intended to consist of jurists who were people who loved America, people who fully understood our constitution and were there to make sure that America preserved its constitutional traditions. It was not supposed to be a partisan group. It has become very partisan. So as a result, everything that is done surrounding it, the picks, the confirmation hearings, deciding on whether to actually make the vote. All of it has become partisan and reaction to what is happened.

COOPER: If you were president would nominate somebody?

RUBIO: No I would respect that president now. He's true. That is true. There's nothing in the constitution that says he can't nominate someone but there's also nothing in the constitution that says the Senate must immediately confirm them.

COOPER: Right.

RUBIO: So the bottom line is that -- there will be someone filling that vacancy and I think the new president should be the person who fills that vacancy. And look, it may not be a Republican. I think it's going to be a Republican. That's what I want it to be. But I think it's going to be an issue in this campaign and the vote are going to be able to weigh in on it on November.


LEMON: He would not nominate someone as president does anyone believe that?


CARPENTER: No, and here's the thing. If he the next Republican president I hope that he is in that position, he will. Meaning to get over the fact that since we're going to rely in president for this. What Ben Carson and Marco Rubio should have been there? And nobody cares about whether Barack Obama is going to nominate someone. All they came about is whether they think the GOPO senate should block that nominee. And both of them answer on that. So I think they missed the ball on that question because they weren't speaking to the issue that was on voters mind.

LEMON: You don't believe that's true. David, you said that's not true.

GERGEN: Well listen, we've all been waiting for the polls to come out and how this is going to break with the public. Today we had our first poll and it showed the public is totally split on it. It likes 41-42 about whether the president should proceed or not or whether the Congress should do anything. And there's a lot support. More support than I would imagine for the Republican position don't do anything. It basically split.

My own feeling is president going to nominate and the Republicans will be watching go ahead and have hearings and take a vote.

LEMON: And that's what Ben Carson said. I thought that was a strong moment.


HOOVER: He's answer to suppose pragmatic and nonpoliticized answer, right? Clearly this is, you know, he suffer so often in this debate because he's the novice in the campaign he never run an election before he never sort of competed at this level in terms of politics.

[23:35:10] But that where it really breathes of fresh air. You just hear him say "My God let the process work." I mean we have a process our founder says it's up 230 years ago. There's with the minute. If you don't like it it's fine go along with it vote no. (inaudible) what outsiders find so refreshing about his ...

LEMON: Did he move the needle tonight Ben Carson?

MCENANY: I think he did slightly. Look, I don't think he's going to come out and win South Carolina or anything get second or third. But I think we might see him get a higher percentage of votes that we thought before. You know some one on social media said that they thought it was a great point. I finally heard Ben Carson speak and I like him because on debate people railroad over him but tonight they heard a man speak, who is not a politician, who has the same refreshing quality as Donald Trump has and voters I think will be receptive.

MADDEN: I agree with that they're going to like him but they're not going to end up voting for him. They're going vote for somebody else. He is extremely high positive.

GERGEN: But Ben Carson for surgeon general. I thought that was a great idea.

BRAZILE: Ben Carson said he's not looking for a job as, you know. As, you know, I have very strong feeling about this whole issue of the President being able to nominate someone to the bench. It's the Republican decide to set down the process, not hold hearing. You know what? We will litigate that in the fall. But I think the President has every right to fulfill his constitutional obligation and duties as well.

LEMON: And I think that's basically what Ben Carson said tonight.

BRAZILE: Yeah, it was little model but I think we need to decide to it.

MCENANY: And Rubio saying he wouldn't nominate. I mean come on. He would nominate outside ...

BRAZILE: Rubio said there was an 80-year president which PolitiFact said he's wrong because of course President Reagan.

LEMON: Speaking on it. It's a perfect segway. Because you and David Gergen say where is Tom Foreman? Where the factor.

GERGEN: Bring him on.

LEMON: Well, Tom Foreman is next right after this quick break.


[32:40:58] LEMON: Certainly heard a lot from Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Ben Carson tonight. Now CNN Tom Forman here by popular demand of this panel, the dream panel and by viewers, social media everywhere with the reality check.

What do you have for us Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ben Carson came out tonight and he had said something about the issues of poverty specifically he said the government efforts to reign in poverty have been largely ineffective for many years. Listen.


CARSON: By the time we got to the 60, LBJ was saying we, the government, are going to eliminate poverty. Now how did that work out? You know $19 trillion later 10 times more people on food stamps, more poverty.


FOREMAN: So let's go back to that period of time. Lyndon Johnson in fact launches great society program things like head start and food stamp and Medicaid and at the time the poverty rate was 19 percent and his first full year in office.

By 1973 it was down about 11.1 percent. The recession in 2008 pushed it back up over 15 percent by 2010 and our latest full year that we have numbers from the census bureau, it's still about that high but all of this is below 19 percent. Did he eliminate poverty? No, he did not, but it did not become more poverty, as Mr. Carson said. So we're going to said that his claim here is false.

Marco Rubio went after the issue of the national debt saying this is a real threat to this country. Listen.


RUBIO: In less than five years being 83 percent of the federal budget will be consumed by Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on the debt. That means only 17 percent of our budget left for everything else, including the military.


FOREMAN: Eighty-three percent of the budget, boy that's a whopping number consumed by these entitlements here. Let's look at the numbers. That's his projection.

However, other projections here that are pretty reliable are saying it's more likely 60 percent by 2021 in those five years. And even if you throw in all mandatory spending it goes to 74 percent. This is a whopping number. It is genuine concern to many people, but he over reached by going up to 83 percent. So we're going to say his claim is also false.

And Ted Cruz when after Donald Trump on the issue of abortion rights saying, that Donald Trump is all for Planned Parenthood. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: Like four days ago on the debate stage Donald Trump explained how many wonderful things he thought Planned Parenthood does. Nobody who is actually pro-life could stand up on national stage and sing the praises of Planned Parenthood is wonderful.


FOREMAN: Sing the praises. There's no question that Trumps position on abortion rights has changed over time. But now he says he's firmly by pro-life in the parliaments of Mr. Cruz and his followers. And yes, he says positive things about Planned Parenthood, offering cancer screenings to women and other medical services. But four days ago even when he made the statement he went out of his way to say I don't support them on abortion rights. This is something that Ted Cruz did not mention so while he said something that was technically true it was clearly misleading.

You can find out a whole lot more about the many things that are great reality check team looked at by going to and I appreciate you all calling me. I was home in my pajamas eating nachos.


MADDEN: He turn his car around.

LEMON: He turn his car around. Now we got to get back.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

LEMON: no you're not going anywhere Tom because, you know, we may have some question for you. So the panel is going to discuss now. So here we have our Carson on poverty LBJ. So that's false he didn't create more poverty. In your point was?

GERGEN: My point about Tom. I think you're absolutely right. As a percentage of the population poverty has gone down since LBJ pretty much has gone down. But the number of people on poverty is actually gone up because we have a much bigger population.

So I think in defense on that point of Dr. Carson. I think there was a point about poverty and there's a lot.

[23:45:00] HOOVER: And there also a larger philosophical arguments that he's trying to make which, you know, we're all familiar with. But this, you know, federal programs in and of themselves can't end poverty, that you have to have, you know, mediating institutions in our culture that can help solve this poverty problems. You have to have, you know, institutional changes and, you know, institutions like marriage, institutions like, you know, work must improve. I mean there isn't work available for many men and women out there.

So, you know, the point think Conservatives often make is that governments is not going to fix the poverty problem. You have to have government may be working in tandem with all these other elements of our culture. And I think has what Ben Carson was trying to make the point of.

And again, he's new to politics. And so, you know, get caught up I think ...

BRAZILE: She also had a great recession of 2007, 2008 that of course millions of Americans lost their jobs, 800,000 jobs being lost every month during that period.

Now we've had 71 months of consecutive job growth. But we still have persistent structural problems that keep people from being able to feel all their dreams.

LEMON: We have to be able to say something, right. So let's -- let Rubio on entitlements, Mr. Tom Foreman found his assertion entitlement or claims, false.

MCENANY: Yeah, there were a few things that Rubio said that were false.

First of all, he said he referred to Obama's to unconstitutional executive orders and if Ted Cruz were there, he would have chimed right in and said, "Oh wait those unconstitutional executive orders," on Univision you said you wouldn't re-appeal those that on day one. On Libya, he acted as if he was somehow apposed to toppling Gadhafi when actually he side it with Hillary Clinton in toppling Gadhafi.

The same when you look in Tibet to Syria. There were a lot of things that if Ted Cruz were in this debate he would have gone after Rubio and rightfully so.

LEMON: But on Ted Cruz, when Ted Cruz said that Reagan was unlikable everyone was like, "What," and Margaret Hoover was like, "What, Reagan was ...

HOOVER: But no, but even people who dislike Reagan. I always agree that he was like him. I mean this is where the happy lawyer comes in ...

CARPENTER: It's very controversial. The primary is sitting president which Ronald Reagan did. That was the contacts of being unlikable.

GERGEN: Yeah, but I was -- I worked for President Ford in a campaign. And I can tell you, Reagan shocked us. But it wasn't, we disliked him. We were just an "ah," I mean like we had no idea he would do so well. He almost took the nomination away from a sitting president. But no -- everybody liked him.

LEMON: Well what does that mean to you? Or you think it means to the voter, that his assertion -- Cruz's assertion on Trump and abortion, it was true but misleading.

MCENANY: It was so misleading.

LEMON: Well Tom says true but misleading.

MCENANY: But here is the thing Donald Trump had said Planned Parenthood is an abortion factory that trades baby parts like automobile parts. How do you glean from that, that he's OK with Planned Parenthood and wants to keep it funded. That is what Donald Trump has said. And we see something totally opposite coming out of Ted Cruz.

MADDEN: I don't think it's totally opposite. I think it's a legitimate charge that he makes and I think most Republicans going to say that Cruz makes about Donald Trump supporting Planned Parenthood and saying good things about Planned Parenthood because many Conservatives will look at that question as wanting you either stand with or against. And for them to make for -- I think what happens is they judge Donald Trump very harshly when they see him making positive statements about ...

GERGEN: It is a totally legitimate issue about whether the government ought to fund Planned Parenthood, that's totally legitimate. What is incorrect is that Planned Parenthood only is an abortion factory. You know, it doesn't do a lot of good things for a lot of young women in this country, including middle class women who have founded to be a refuge in a place they can go when they leave home after they go to college, something like that.

Planned Parenthood, has done a great number of good things have nothing to do with abortion. And when you sort of take that broad brush and just smear them, is wrong.

LEMON: OK, is that appeal to a Republican state.

CARPENTER: ... you can't separate the issues. You can't separate plan, as Conservatives ...

GERGEN: You can separate the facts.

CARPENTER: ... primary voters fully know that Planned Parenthood is a single, biggest provider of abortion. You can't support ...


CARPENTER: And is government funded at the same time. I'm not arguing with you, I'm telling you ...

GERGEN: But do you accept.

CARPENTER: ... including myself.

BRAZILE: But if it's a lie, you should be able to call it out. That's Donald Trump's argument I bet.

GERGEN: Do you think Planned Parenthood does nothing?

CARPENTER: I cannot get pass the fact that they are an abortion factory.

GERGEN: But what about the rest of what they do, which is the most of what they do.

CARPENTER: I think it's a fundamental part of what they do.

BRAZILE: They save lives. We're not going to litigate this issue but they save many lives.

HOOVER: This is where we get in trouble though because we have a primary argument that is totally untenable when you get to a general electorate. And so Ted Cruz may have won the question tonight but that answer is not going to play in November.

LEMON: This is what people are discussing as they are watching the television and as they are trying to figure out who they're going to vote for.

OK, we'll going to continue talking about this and also Republican candidates talking about the issue of race in this country.

[23:49:50] We'll be right back.


LEMON: The political dream team back with me now. I said Republican candidates before the break but it's really Republican candidate because Marco Rubio was the only one who fielded a question about race that I can remember. He talked about his friend, his black friend who's a cop getting pulled over and also, you know, people saying to him when he was a kid, go back home, as Cuban-American way.

So what do you think a Republican candidate saying driving while black is real.

HOOVER: Well, I would like to hear every Republican candidate answer this question because look, these are issues that are, you know, facing the electorate, facing the large portion of the population. And, you know, I've written about it, a lot of us have written about this.

Whenever you have a group of Americans who feel that justice isn't being served to them, you have a rocky foundation for rule law. And that's essentially the argument that Marco Rubio made.

Look, if people feel disenfranchised, the system isn't serving them. And so he had sort of his own articulation for why this is problematic not just for Republicans or Democrats but for the country and it was great because the, you know, he balanced, you know, the cops and the good job they're doing with the very real, you know, discrimination that still exists.

MCENANY: It was so powerful when he analogized that experience to his experiences as a child. When he said when the Mariel boatlift that was happening, and if something went to school. And I remember a kid looking and he's saying "When are you going to back to your boat?"

It was such an innocent moment of not understanding that racism was at play but acknowledging and exists and comparing it to racism that still exists in society today. [23:55:06] LEMON: Would it behoove the other Republican candidates to, you know, talk about those issues more and say "You know what, driving all black is real." The experience of African-Americans have are real. Kevin.

MADDEN: Oh, sure yeah. I mean in particularly at a time where so many Republican candidates say that this is a country that's been divided and showing themselves or demonstrating that they have an ability to unite people. And I think later on Marco Rubio talk to that about how he's going to try to work for people that may not even vote for him. I thought that was a pretty powerful moment that people again that they, that's why this format worked particularly well for him because he that relatability.

LEMON: I got 10 seconds, David?

GERGEN: The town house works better. And it shows the rest of what Republicans think and it makes them look more human.

LEMON: I hate to cut man, I set statute (ph) off, and all of you ...

GERGEN: That's your power.

LEMON: Yeah, thank you very much, I really enjoyed this. Please come back. It was a great experience to it. We're going to see part two of the CNN GOP Town Hall that's tomorrow night at 8:00. John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump live building questions from South Carolina voters.

Who will come out on top? Don't miss the CNN GOP Presidential Town Hall, this can be part two moderated by Anderson tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. And we'll see after that we'll have analysis with some of these great folks as well.

And if you missed part one of our town hall, you can catch the whole thing in just a moment. Good night.