Return to Transcripts main page


Post Debate Coverage and Analysis. Aired 12-1:05a ET

Aired September 17, 2015 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:00] DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And what we should be doing. I was looking for an opportunity to talk about, you know, our electric grid and cyber security. And our lack of participation in space and what the implications of that are for the security of the nation. Because I think those are huge issues in terms of our safety and what's going to happen with our children and grandchildren. But the opportunity just didn't present itself.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: In terms of where you see this campaign going, I mean, you're obviously doing extraordinarily well in the polls. You've been moving up. You're second really, only behind Donald Trump, one of the few who are in double digits. In terms of your organizational structure, that's one of the, some observers had said look, you don't have the organizational structure at this point to get to the next level that you need to get.

How actively are you working on that? Is that a concern of yours? Because I know people had been underestimating you all along.

CARSON: I would say at some point they'll get tired of being wrong. Because, obviously, we have a very good organizational structure. And, in fact, the reporter who initially, you know, made that accusation has subsequently said he was wrong and he apologized.

COOPER: The -- Carly Fiorina, it was the first time she was on that stage. She, obviously, a lot of people are saying she really did make a mark tonight. As a candidate, how do you see her from what you heard of her tonight?

CARSON: Well, you know, I've known Carly for almost 20 years and she did not disappoint. She's very, very good, particularly at the quick sound byte. And she's quick on her feet. And one of the reasons that, you know, I insisted early on that she be included is because I knew that she would have an impact.

COOPER: One of the exchanges you had with Donald Trump was about vaccines. And I just want to play that for our viewers and talk about it.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I only say it's not -- I'm in favor of vaccines. Do them over a longer period of time, same amount --


TRUMP: But just in -- in little sections.

TAPPER: Dr. -- Dr. Carson?

TRUMP: I think -- and I think you're going to have -- I think you're going to see a big impact on autism.

TAPPER: Dr. Carson, you just heard his medical take.


CARSON: He's an OK doctor.



CARSON: But, you know, the fact of the matter is, we have extremely well-documented proof that there's no autism associated with vaccinations. But it is true that we are probably giving way too many in too short a period of time.

And a lot of pediatricians now recognize that, and, I think, are cutting down on the number and the proximity in which those are done, and I think that's appropriate.

TRUMP: And that's all I'm saying, Jake. That's all I'm saying.


COOPER: First of all, you saying he's an OK doctor. That's also a reference to something he had called you. A very clever way of sort of pushing back on it without pushing back.

It doesn't -- I mean, at the end of that, it sounded like you two weren't too far apart on this issue. Do you think that's accurate?

CARSON: Well, on the issue of too many vaccinations --


COOPER: It's a timeline --

CARSON: -- in too close a period of time, that's what he was agreeing with. And that's a reasonable position to take. And one of the things that I've been saying is that, you know, there's certain types of vaccines that are very critical to public health.


CARSON: There are others that, you know, they're nice but they're not critical. And I think it would be useful for us to differentiate the two. And, you know, not impose the ones that aren't absolutely critical on people.

COOPER: Your campaign manager was on scene and I believe earlier today saying, you know, the philosophy of him and the rest of the campaign is let Dr. Carson be Dr. Carson. It's working so far. Is that moving forward for you? You just continue plugging away?

CARSON: And that's what I'll do. I'll just continue speaking the truth and explaining things to people. As I go around the country, helping people to understand what our fiscal condition is, which is very serious.

I was quite disappointed that we really didn't get into that at all. That's a huge issue in terms of the civility of this nation.

COOPER: Dr. Carson, it's always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.

CARSON: You, too. Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

Just past the top of the hour now. Before we bring in the panel, there are some highlights from a very big night.


TRUMP: Well, first of all, Rand Paul shouldn't even be on this stage. He's number 11, he's got 1 percent in the polls, and how he got up here, there's far too many people anyway.

SEN. RAND PAUL, (R-KY) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think his response, his -- his visceral response to attack people on their appearance -- short, tall, fat, ugly -- my goodness, that happened in junior high.


TRUMP: I never attacked him on his look, and believe me, there's plenty of subject matter right there.


[00:05:00] FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH, (R-FL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got Hillary Clinton to go to your wedding --

TRUMP: That's true. That's true.

I was a businessman, I got along with Clinton, I got along with everybody. That was my job, to get along with people.

BUSH: But the simple fact is --


TRUMP: I didn't want to -- excuse me. One second.

BUSH: No. The simple fact is, Donald, you could not take --

TRUMP: OK, more energy tonight. I like that.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You better be able to lead our country on the first day.

Not six months from now, not a year from now, on the first day in office, our president could very well confront a national security crisis. And a president better be up-to-date on those issues on his first day in office, on her first day in office.


TAPPER: The quote was, "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues." He said he misspoke. You said that that's going to haunt him. Why do you think that?


TRUMP: I think it will haunt him. I think it's a terrible statement. I think it's going to haunt him absolutely.

So why did you say it? Why did you say it?

BUSH: We improved -- we improved -

TRUMP: I know, but why did you say it? I heard it myself. Why did you say it?

BUSH: We increased child support -- we increased child support with a broken system by 90 percent.


TRUMP: You said you're going to cut funding for women's health. You said it.

BUSH: I have a proven record. I have a proven record.

TRUMP: Except you said it.

TAPPER: Ms. Fiorina, I do want to ask you about this.

In an interview last week in Rolling Stone magazine, Donald Trump said the following about you, quote, "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?" Mr. Trump later said he was talking about your persona, not your appearance. Please feel free to respond what you think about his persona.


FIORINA: You know, it's interesting to me, Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.


TRUMP: I think she's got a beautiful face, and I think she's a beautiful woman.

CARSON: I haven't had an opportunity to weigh in on foreign policy, and I just want to mention that when the war, when the issue occurred in 2003, I suggested to President Bush that he not go to war? OK. So I just want that on the record.

FIORINA: You were forced to file for bankruptcy not once --

TRUMP: I never filed for bankruptcy.

FIORINA: -- not twice, four times, a record four times. Why should we trust you to manage the finances --

TRUMP: I'll tell you why; it's very simple.

FIORINA: -- of this nation any differently than you managed the finances --

TRUMP: I'll tell you. I was running --

FIORINA: -- of your casinos?

TRUMP: Carly, Carly --

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R-NJ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While I'm as entertained as anyone by this personal back-and-forth about the history of Donald and Carly's career, for the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn't have a job, who can't fund his child's education, I've got to tell you the truth. They could care less about your careers, they care about theirs.

PAUL: Well, I think if we left it open, we could see how many people smoked pot in high school.

BUSH: So, 40 years ago, I smoked marijuana, and I admit it. I'm sure that other people might have done it and may not want to say it in front of 25 million people. My mom's not happy that I just did.



BUSH: That's true.

TRUMP: I'm in favor of vaccines. Do them over a longer period of time, same amount --

TAPPER: Thank you.

TRUMP: But just in -- in little sections.

TAPPER: Dr. Carson, you just heard his medical take.


CARSON: He's an OK doctor (LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: What would you want your Secret Service codename to be?

BUSH: Ever Ready, it's very high energy, Donald.


TAPPER: Mr. Trump?

TRUMP: Humble.



BUSH: That's a good one.


COOPER: Humble, indeed.

Just some of the moments and themes we'll be talking about tonight starting with Michael Smerconish, host of the CNN program bearing his name, "Smerconish."

Also, CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson joins us. CNN national security commentator, Mike Rogers. Obviously, a former Republican congressman who chaired the House Intelligence Committee.

Also, joining us, Republican strategist and CNN political commentator Kevin Madden, CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp, and former advisor to President Obama, Van Jones, who is a CNN political commentator as well.

We'll just quickly go around.

Van, your thoughts on who stood out? Who --


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Carly had a tremendous night. She'll be up five points. I just think that she wanted the ball, she fought for the ball, she got the ball.

Jeb, actually, humanized himself. He talked about his brother, stick up for his brother, not necessarily politically smart, but I thought it was human smart. He talked about his mom and he talked about, you know, his desire to do well for the country. So I thought Jeb Bush actually humanized himself tonight.

Rubio, I think, put in a good performance, but Carly was the standout.

COOPER: S.E. Cupp?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I agree. It's really hard to meet very high expectations. I thought she beat them. She came in with incredibly high expectations. She performed incredibly well. She was quick on her feet. And I like what she did.

[00:10:04] Every opportunity she got, she laid out incredibly substantive policy points. They weren't even asked for and she went -- she knew how valuable her time was.

She wasn't going to use it with platitudes. She was going to use it with policy points that I don't think any of the other candidates matched. And frankly weren't even demanded.

COOPER: Kevin, she definitely came into this well prepared with some definite ideas in mind with how to make her mark.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. And, you know, the policies, the commitment she had on policy, I thought, really stood out. We're definitely going to see headlines out of this that Carly was a big winner.

I also think Rubio. He had a similar strategy, I think, of really showing people that he was the better candidate on some of the big issues that they care about. Namely, I thought he stood out on national security and foreign policy.

And then I think the other headline is that Trump actually -- he took some punches tonight. He was knocked down a peg. I think the big question for a lot of these campaigns in the next day is, do we put our boot on his neck or do we let him off? And so that will be interesting to see what they do.

COOPER: Do you think he was really knocked down among those people, you know, the numbers of people who support him.


MADDEN: I think he did enough to help with some of those base supporters that are showing support for him right now. He got enough red meat for them on things like immigration, but I think for the other campaigns who have been dancing around him and not really sure how to hit him, I think they saw him like a boxer, who has finally bled for the first time. And I think they're going to continue to get more and more aggressive as this campaign starts to go.

COOPER: Chairman Rogers, do you agree with that? And do you think if you do that it was the length of time, it was the fact that you could get kind of specific on policy because you had candidates talking to each other?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: And Trump clearly had trouble on national security and foreign policy issues. You could tell he didn't have a comfort zone there. He got himself in a little bit of trouble talking circles. And so there were three classes of folks up there.

You have senators, former governors or governors, and then you have the outside class. Carly -- that's 50 percent of the vote, by the way. Over 50 percent of the vote is going to those three individuals. She knocked the ball out of the park. So if you're thinking, yes, Trump stumbled for me, I think those votes go to Carly.

I think Ben Carson didn't have a great night. I think those folks go to Carly. I think she's going to be a big winner in this. And then the senators, I thought, Marco Rubio clearly stood out because he had such command of the issue on foreign policy in a way that the other member -- the other folks on the stage did not.


NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I thought also. Chris Christie, I thought did well. He had a sense of personality. He was funny at times. He had what seemed like a gimmick at the first -- at his opening when he said, listen, don't put the camera on me, put it on the audience here.

And he rounded that out at the end when he said, listen, this isn't about me. It's about the person who's out there in that audience watching. It's a bit ironic, because here's a candidate who rose because of his personality. And now he's saying it's not about me, it's about the American voters. But he's clearly trying to get some of that, sort of populism that we've seen very much driving this race.

On Carly, I don't think we can say enough. She was fantastic. There is this whole concept of leaning in that women are talking about these days. This is what she did time and time again. You wanted the camera on her. You wanted to see her reaction. You wanted to see what she would do with these questions. And she did -- she often had better answers to questions than everyone else. It's almost like she was the clean-up woman in some ways.


COOPER: It was interesting, though, remember these candidates kind of show their sense of humor, she didn't necessarily show that.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: Correct. She has got to. I agree with everything that's been said relative to her command of the facts. She has a public speaking gift. She's got to smile.

HENDERSON: I say, no, she doesn't. You know how many times men tell women, oh, you've got to smile.

COOPER: It's all right.


SMERCONISH: No, no, Nia-Malika -- wait a minute, wait a minute.

HENDERSON: I think it's working.

SMERCONISH: Wait a minute, there was not a smile all night long. There are times to be serious, but you've got to loosen it up a little bit. COOPER: It was interesting how, for instance, Ben Carson kind of used when he said to Donald Trump, he's an OK doctor. You know, it's just a small bit of line --

HENDERSON: A little levity, little levity --

COOPER: It's a little levity that kind of shows -- Jeb Bush, I think kind of humanized himself in a number of ways.


HENDERSON: I think we'll have time to do that, but I mean (INAUDIBLE)

ROGERS: Plus, she had something to prove tonight. She's a newcomer up on the big stage. I think she had to say, I can hang with these people who have been up on the big stage for some time.


CUPP: I want to mention, of all the guys that did these sort of sticky answers on the dollar bill question, which is a throw away question, but a chance to sort of, humor -- she's the only one that gave the right answer.

HENDERSON: Yes, that's right.

CUPP: Which is this is a gesture, it's meaningless. They're all trying to put their moms and wives on this and she stuck. And I thought she really shone in that moment.

MADDEN: But, Michael, had a really good point, though. At the heart, these are performances. And in performance, the one thing you want to do is drive home some themes and attributes. And the theme that she successfully drove home today was somebody who is clear, concise, really strong on a lot of these issues and a really great command of the issue.

But, Michael, is actually right. There has to be a relatability and likeability. That's going to be a challenge.

CUPP: It will come.


MADDEN: That will come. And there's plenty of time. There's plenty of time.


[00:15:05] JONES: Listen, I saw this all on Twitter. I just think it's a double standard. You want to know who a real sour puss? I didn't see Marco Rubio smile once. Nobody is criticizing Marco Rubio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You forgot the water. JONES: Yes, one time.

MADDEN: Nobody else smile during that.


JONES: So Marco Rubio has a joke that doesn't work. He doesn't smile the whole time and we all say he's great. Nobody is talking about his smile.

Listen, Carly, did something extraordinary. She fought her way from the undercard. The only one who was able to do it and dominated tonight. She is going to go up.

CUPP: Yes.

JONES: Now, I agree with you, warmth is important. Strength and warmth together, unstoppable. She will get there (INAUDIBLE). I also -- although one thing happened, though, I thought was very odd. During this thing, as a Democrat watching this, there was a strange embrace of George W. Bush.

Now, I said, can you please have all of them embrace George W. Bush. That will help Democrats a lot. But something happened tonight where George W. Bush suddenly was not the radioactive name and that's weird.

COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. We're going to talk to more candidates about their big night, running the Simi Valley marathon. Three hours of debate. 360 continues. We'll be right back.


COOPER: And we are back. Alisyn Camerota is also here in this building. Scott Walker who shared the stage tonight with ten of his rivals.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am here with Governor Walker. Great to have you with us.


CAMEROTA: What was your most memorable moment of the night?

WALKER: Well, when I stepped in and say let's talk about issues and laid out a clear contrast. You know, we'll have a mistake, I think, in the White House if we're putting an apprentice in. Someone who never run anything, who had never been challenged in government.

I've been challenged unlike anybody else there up on that stage and I hope people saw that. And saw that I've got a plan on the big issues, to repeal Obamacare starting day one.

CAMEROTA: You and Donald Trump mixed it up. I mean, he sort of went after you. He said that you went down the tubes. He said in Iowa and in your state. And he also challenged what you said, the jobs that you created. What is your response to him now?

[00:20:09] WALKER: Well, he's just using the same talking points of the Democrats and they didn't work. That's why I won three elections in four years in a blue state like Wisconsin because we did fix things.

We took a $3.6 billion budget deficit. And we fix it. We cut taxes by $4.7 billion. Our schools now have the second highest A.C.T. scores in the country and our budget is balanced.

In fact, I pointed out in contrast. You know, Mr. Trump wants people to vote for him based on his business record. I said, well, if you want that then people should remember, he took four major projects into bankruptcy. You know, you can't take America into bankruptcy. We need -- that's the problem with Washington. Too many politicians want to act like they can take it into bankruptcy.

CAMEROTA: And what about that format, where you got to mix it up right next, I mean, almost right next to each other and you were trading barbs. Was that awkward? Was it uncomfortable? Were you welcoming that moment?

WALKER: No. I mean, when I had 100,000 protesters in my camp, I'd let people take over events about as close as we are right now getting in our face and we didn't back down.

We did the right thing. We took on the machine. We took on the Washington-based special interests. Doing that is not a problem. I just think in the end, though, people want in the future to hear more about -- details about what our plans are.

I've got a plan to grow the economy. I've got a plan to take huge chunks of the federal government and send it back to the states and to the people. The more we talk about that, the better off we're going to be.

CAMEROTA: A lot of the buzz online is that Carly Fiorina stole the show. What did you think of her performance and her exchanges with Donald Trump?

WALKER: Well, I think she's impressive and I thought the things that he said about her were completely unacceptable. I was one of the first people who have come out and speak out about that.

But in the end, America saw this is a great field of candidates out there. There are some wonderful Republicans running. Hopefully, whomever the nominee is and I'd like to be that nominee, will pick a good number to be in the cabinet unlike the book "Team of Rivals." That would be a pretty good fit, just like Lincoln did, to put many of those same folks in. I think America had to see there's some pretty great talent in the Republican Party.

CAMEROTA: Would you be willing to take a cabinet position?

WALKER: Well, I'm focused on earning the trust of voters in Iowa and all the early states to be the one making that choice just like I've done as governor, as county executive before.

CAMEROTA: You have been struggling a bit in the polls. Do you think that tonight was a breakthrough moment?

WALKER: Yes, I think so. I think people -- what I heard in Iowa, a lot of people have said to me at cafes and diners, and places I go to, you're one of my top two or three candidates out there. What I want to see is the kind of passion you showed when you took on the big government union bosses, when you took on the Washington-based special interests. I think we showed that tonight.

CAMEROTA: Governor Scott Walker, thanks so much for being with us.

WALKER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Great to see you.

Let's go back to Anderson.

COOPER: Alisyn, thanks very much. Governor Walker as well.

Just ahead, we're going to talk to Dana Bash and Hugh Hewitt, who did much of the questioning tonight about, from their vantage point, how things went tonight.

We'll also talk about Carly Fiorina, the big mark she made on that stage tonight. We'll be right back.


[00:26:30] COOPER: Coming in tonight from the CNN post debate spin room, we're back now with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt and his partner in questioning at tonight's debate, CNN's Dana Bash.

First of all, congratulations. I thought you both did an incredible job, as well as Jake Tapper.


COOPER: How was it out there? I mean, the word there -- it's, obviously, it's very different when you're asking the questions. You're not really kind of focusing as much on, in some cases some of the key moments. But for you, for both of you -- for Dana, let's start with you, was there a key moment that stood out?

BASH: Well, wow. I think the great news is that there were several key moments. You know, for me, personally, my interest -- this is the question that I ask.

It was kind of, you know, how Jeb Bush would handle this since he had gotten so attacked by Donald Trump as low energy. And this isn't just kind of a mud-slinging situation out on the campaign trail. This has really hurt Jeb Bush. Even his close aides and advisers will tell you that part of his slide was because Donald Trump's attacks have been, have been really successful. And the bottom line is that I didn't know how he was going to answer the question that I asked about what Donald Trump was saying about his wife. And I was fascinated to know how he was going to handle it and he ended up, you know, really taking on Trump, which I think he knew that he needed to do, but a lot of people were wondering whether he had it in him and he did.

COOPER: Hugh, how about for you? I mean, you were very close to Carly Fiorina. I think she did really a standout job tonight in terms of just coming with her, you know, best game on.

HUGH HEWITT, DEBATE QUESTIONNAIRE: You're right. She's going full Thatcher. And, I mean, it isn't -- she doesn't want to be liked. She wants to be respected. She wants to be listened to. She wants to make an impression on world leaders.

You know, there's lot of international press out here and they are asking me, you've got Assad's name wrong. So what? He's a dictator. He's a killer. I don't care if I get Assad's name wrong. But she is talking to Assad and Putin, as well as to the American people saying I'm going full Thatcher. And I thought she made quite an impact.

As did Marco Rubio. One moment, earlier in the debate, where we talked about responsibility for the hell that is Syria. And Rubio wanted to explain why that is not his fault. Why the Congress was not going to give the president that. So they -- those are the moments I'll take away from this.

COOPER: We have this exchange between Trump and Rubio. Let's just play that.


HEWITT: How much responsibility, Mr. Trump, do the senators hold?

TRUMP: I think they had a responsibility, absolutely. I think we have three of them here --

HEWITT: Senator Rubio --

TRUMP: I think they had a responsibility, yes.


RUBIO: Let me tell you why we have zero responsibility, because let's remember what the president said. He said the attack that he was going to conduct was going to be a pinprick. Well, the United States military was not build to conduct pinprick attacks.

If the United States military is going to be engaged by a commander- in-chief, it should only be engaged in an endeavour to win. And we are not going to authorize use of force if you're not putting men and women in a position where they can win.

And quite frankly, people don't trust this president as commander-in- chief because of that. (APPLAUSE)


COOPER: There's a lot of people saying Marco Rubio, tonight, definitely distinguish himself.

BASH: You know, he did. And one of the things that we were wondering was how he would do that, because he's so articulate. He's so quick on his feet.

I mean, I see that in the halls of the Senate and we've seen that on the campaign trail. But he hasn't been willing to kind of engage in the Ad Hominem attacks, which, you know, I think worked to his benefit in this debate. Because he actually showed he's about much more than that, which is important for somebody like him who's only in his early 40s and is trying to prove that he's a lot more than just, you know, a first-term senator. He's got some heft there.

HEWITT: Well, prediction is based on the worst seat in the house to make predictions because he can't see social media. The field will bunch. I think that Donald Trump and Ben Carson's number will

[00:30:00] lose some and that a bunch of people will come up, some because many different slices of the Republican primary electorate saw what they liked. And they will gravitate to what they liked. And there was a lot to like on that stage.

I asked you earlier, did anyone have a pratfall that I didn't notice? Because I didn't notice any, no Jerry Ford talking about Poland, nothing like that, no memory moment for Reagan in the second debate?

No, everyone had a very -- I think they're all talking about the good stuff tonight.

DANA BASH, SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And one thing you couldn't see on camera but we could see sitting there is how much everybody wanted in, trying to catch our eyes.

COOPER: It's often like that. It's extraordinary. You never see it on camera. But the desire to get in --

BASH: Because they all know it's, I need a moment.


HEWITT: And the sidebars, you know, Kasich wandering over to Christie to have a sidebar for a couple of minutes. And then Jeb talking --

COOPER: As a moderator, too, it's hard to often actually maintain eye contact with them because they're all trying to look at you to get you to call on them. You sort of end up -- I don't know, Jake was kind of looking at their navels or somewhere, just not in their eyes because you don't want to have that -- you know, have to tell them, I can't call on you right now.

BASH: Exactly.

HEWITT: And they were all pretty cooperative. I will say this, no one ran outside of their lane. No one got a false start. No one took the time. Some demanded time on occasion; I think Scott Walker inserted himself very forcefully on a couple of occasions he wanted to speak -- as did Carly. But generally, everyone stayed in their lanes.

COOPER: I saw some complaints online about the length of the debate. But at the same time, if it wasn't that length, with that many people on the stage, you wouldn't be able to get as substantive questions and as much exchange in which they really were able to try to -- I think all of you did an extraordinary job of trying to show the differences between these candidates, which is critical.


COOPER: Go ahead.

HEWITT: Well, I mean, you can ask Kevin later. I'm sure Governor Romney would have liked more time rather than less time in 2012. Everybody who likes their position wants more time. So I think they would still be up there if the cameras were still rolling.

BASH: No, exactly. And the bottom line is that you could really get a feel for how much was at stake because, like you said, you talked about Governor Walker. I mean, Governor Walker jumped in there because he was told, you are bottoming out, dude. You've got to show that you are there. that you exist.

COOPER: Did they say dude, really?

BASH: I think they do say dude or cheesehead or something.

COOPER: Again, just great job, Hugh Hewitt, Dana Bash as well.

Coming up next, candidate Mike Huckabee joins us with his take on the night for him and his 10 debating partners as well. We'll be right back.





COOPER (voice-over): We are back here at (INAUDIBLE) here at the Reagan Library. The candidates and surrogates still, in some cases, working the crowd. let's go back to "NEW DAY's" Alisyn Camerota, now with Mike Huckabee -- Alisyn.


I am with the former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee.

Thanks so much for being with us.

What was the most memorable moment for you tonight?

MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I think it was when it was over and we all got to get off our feet. We'd been up there for three hours. Look, it was a very spirited contest tonight. I think that was fair, a lot of elbows up on the goal. It's not really my thought that that's what our debate should be, not fighting each other.

It's about the fact that these are all my colleagues. So the reason people said, gosh, Huckabee didn't beat up anybody. No and I'm not going to. These are not my enemies, these are my friends, my colleagues. If I were president, I'd look down that stage, I'd pick every single one of them to be somewhere in the Cabinet because they're good people. And they're qualified and capable.

CAMEROTA: Were there too many people on stage?

You seemed a little annoyed that it took a while to get to you.

HUCKABEE: I think it was 45 minutes into the debate before I ever got a question. So those are frustrating things if you spent your whole life preparing to run for president and you're running for that office.

But the other side of that is that I think there's a way to fix this. And I'm going to suggest it. If all of the other guys would drop out and endorse me, then I will just do an interview the next time. It won't be a debate --


CAMEROTA: There's a suggestion.

Why didn't they think of that?

HUCKABEE: I don't know.

CAMEROTA: The moment that came up tonight, of course, that has become an issue in this presidential debate is what has happened to the Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis. Let me play for our viewers that exchange with you this evening.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Governor Bush, for example, says that that clerk is sworn to uphold the law.

Is Governor Bush on the wrong side of the criminalization of Christianity?

HUCKABEE: No, I don't think he's on the wrong side of such an issue. Jeb is a friend. I'm not up here to fight with Jeb or to fight with anybody else. But I am here to fight for somebody who is a county clerk, elected under the Kentucky constitution that 75 percent of the people of that state had voted for, that said that marriage was between a man and a woman.

We made accommodations to the detainees at Gitmo -- I've been to Gitmo and I've seen the accommodations that we made to the Muslim detainees who killed Americans.

You're telling me that you cannot make an accommodation for an elected Democrat county clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky?


BUSH: I don't think -- you're not stating my views right.

TAPPER: OK. Please do.

BUSH: I think there needs to be accommodation for someone acting on faith.

TAPPER: Governor, you said, quote, "She is sworn to uphold the law."

BUSH: She is and so if she, based on conscience, can't sign that marriage license, then there should be someone in her office to be able to do it. And if the law needs to be changed in the state of Kentucky, which is what she's advocating, it should be changed.


CAMEROTA: Governor, do you worry that the Kim Davis issue has now defined your campaign? It's almost become the sole issue of your campaign. It's eclipsing other things.

HUCKABEE: No, I don't think so at all. I mean, it's an issue that I feel very strongly about because, frankly, if we don't understand the balance of power, separation of powers and equality of branches and if we surrender to judicial tyranny, we will, in fact, do what Jefferson warned about. He said you turn the Constitution into a thing of wax. And this is very concerning. I think it ought to be an issue we talk a great deal more.

A president who surrenders the executive branch of government to the other -- to the other two, especially to the court, has been derelict in his duty. He has not fulfilled his oath of office.

So this issue was to me a seminal moment, when a county clerk is put in jail, not just told, hey, you need to do this -- put in jail. People need to remember that. And no accommodation made for her.

But we made accommodations for the Ft. Hood shooter. We've made accommodations for the detainees at Gitmo, who are terrorists and have killed Americans. And I cannot imagine that this country cannot make --


HUCKABEE: -- some type of accommodation for Kim Davis.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, you said that you would put anybody there in your cabinet.

What would Secretary Trump be?

HUCKABEE: It would be very difficult to limit him to one thing. But, you know, people need to realize, Donald Trump has a lot of gifts and talents. He's a man of great accomplishment. And if Donald Trump were willing to serve in government, I would be more than happy to find a spot for him.

And I think people are underestimating his ability as a communicator. Look, if you're a guy that's made $10 billion in business, you've done some things right, right? So give him his due.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Governor Huckabee, great to see you. Thanks so much. Thanks so much.

Back to you, Anderson.

COOPER: Alisyn, thanks very much, and Governor, thank you as well.

I want to go to Tom Foreman now, who has been busy fact-checking some of the statements that the candidates made tonight -- Tom

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Donald Trump has said so many times that he is so wealthy, you don't have to worry about him mixing money and politics. But tonight, Jeb Bush pushed back hard, saying, too late. It's already happened. Trump has tried to buy political influence. Listen.


BUSH: He wanted casino gambling in Florida.


BUSH: Yes, you did.

TRUMP: Totally false.

BUSH: You wanted it and you didn't get it. I was opposed to casino gambling before, during and after and that's not -- I am not going to be bought by anybody.

TRUMP: I promise, if I wanted it, I would have gotten it.

BUSH: No way, man. Nope. Not even possible.

TRUMP: I know my people.


FOREMAN: One of the hotter moments of the night.

What is the truth here?

Back in the late 1990s, Trump did hold a fundraiser for Jeb Bush when Trump was trying to get a casino deal going in Florida. Bush ultimately blocked that deal. So it appears here that what Trump is saying is false. What Bush said in this issue was true.

Carly Fiorina jumped into the fray by taking on those videotapes surreptitiously shot that allegedly showed Planned Parenthood employees or associates trying to sell body parts from aborted fetuses.


CARLY FIORINA (R), CALIF.: I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.


FOREMAN: Is there something on these videotapes that looks like that?

Yes, there is actually a short portion on one of the videotapes that does show a fetus, looks kind of like that's what's going on, but it's edited in. There's no proof nor any way to ascertain that this had anything to do with Planned Parenthood when it came to that piece of videotape. So what she said here is true, but it is misleading.

And Ted Cruz jumped in on the Planned Parenthood videotape as well.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: On these videos, Planned Parenthood also essentially confesses to multiple felonies. It is a felony with 10 years' jail term.


FOREMAN: Yes, well, it is a crime to sell body parts, but there's no evidence that anyone is confessing to anything on these tapes. In fact, if you watch them carefully, what you hear is these representatives saying many times, this is for the handling, this is for the processing. It's less than $100 per sample. This is not a matter of profit.

So for him to suggest that this is a clear confession of some sort, that is simply not true, false statement -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Tom. A lot more to come in the hours and days ahead. Up next, how tonight's debate played with the most important people who watched it, the voters.





COOPER: Well, throughout tonight's debate we collected feedback from voters on what the candidates themselves were saying. There were some real hits and some big misses as well.

CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us now with that -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Anderson. CNN conducted a national online dial test with big polls tonight. Specifically, we wanted to look at when self-labeled Republicans and independents -- you see Republicans here in red, independents in purple, very key in this primary season.

We wanted to see when they agreed or disagreed with what they heard in the debate. And there was one moment in particular that really registered positively with them. This was how Carly Fiorina handled this question with Jake Tapper. You can see it got very high marks here as she responded.


TAPPER: Last week in "Rolling Stone" magazine, Donald Trump said the following about you, quote, "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?"

Mr. Trump later said he was talking about your persona, not your appearance.

Please feel free to respond what you think about his persona.


FIORINA: You know, it's interesting to me, Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.



KEILAR: What also resonated with Republican dial testers in particular when Fiorina talked about abortion and defunding Planned Parenthood. You looked at the lines. They registered their agreement with her; basically it was through the roof.

Well, it also turns out that Republicans and independent dial testers, they didn't really like the testy back-and-forth that they saw between some of the candidates tonight.

Here's what they did like. This is Chris Christie when he was talking -- and this is their response -- when he called out Fiorina and Donald Trump on that back-and-forth and instead focused his ire on Hillary Clinton.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), N.J.: The fact is that we don't want to hear about your careers, back and forth and volleying back and forth about who did well and who did poorly.

You're both successful people. Congratulations.

You know who's not successful?

The middle class in this country who's getting plowed over by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Let's start talking about those issues tonight and stop this childish back-and-forth between the two of you.


KEILAR: So you see the animosity toward Hillary Clinton, a really big motivator for this Republican primary crowd.

And, Anderson, it's really interesting, though, we really didn't see that much of it tonight, when you consider the overall picture of the debate.

COOPER: Yes. That's definitely true. Brianna, I appreciate that. I want to talk about it with our panel.

Joining me again is Michael Smerconish, Nia-Malika Henderson, Mike Rodgers, Kevin Madden, S.E. Cupp and Van Jones.

Kevin, it is fascinating to see that dial testing and that exchange where Chris Christie really turned the bickering between Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina to criticism of Hillary Clinton and support for the middle class.

Carly Fiorina, though, stood up for herself, came back, said, you know what, you talked a lot about your record; we're talking about our record and it's a valid question of leadership.

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, well, I think Chris Christie's strategy there was if he knew there was one unifying theme in this campaign for any Republicans out there watching, it was go after Hillary Clinton.

But Carly Fiorina, yes, I think she did try to use it to her advantage as well. So it ended up being a positive exchange, I think, for both of them.

S.E. CUPP, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: But the go after Hillary Clinton thing I think is right unless you're John Kasich, which he gave this very bizarre defense of why he will not --


CUPP: -- take on Hillary Clinton until, I guess, the general, which makes zero sense. Of course, he should be criticizing Hillary Clinton and her policies. I thought it was a real misstep, considering he had a great night on the first debate and I think really fell flat on this one.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: I think Kasich, you saw the biggest contracts, beautiful in his home state and hometown crowd. You put him here, he just was not memorable.

I thought one thing that she had gotten a lot of credit for, Carly, since it's clearly her night. When she talked about the drug policy issue, that's been an issue that a lot of Republicans backed away from. I was happy to see Republicans actually now saying that they understand there's something wrong with our drug laws. I thought it was a very important moment for the party.

But Carly talked about her kid dying. And that was powerful.

COOPER: Let's, in fact, play that. Let's play that.


FIORINA: My husband, Frank, and I buried a child to drug addiction. So we must invest more in the treatment of drugs.

I agree with Senator Paul. I agree with states' rights. But we are misleading young people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer. It's not. And the marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same as the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago.

We do -- sorry.

TAPPER: As far as we know.

FIORINA: -- Barbara. We do need --


FIORINA: -- we do need criminal justice reform.

Drug addiction is an epidemic and it is taking too many of our young people. I know this sadly from personal experience.


COOPER: Again, her ability not just to talk about issues but also to reveal something very intensely personal, the most personal thing she could possibly have --


NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, and I think in some ways synthesize everyone else's answers and make it better, right?

She was personal, I thought. She was a compassionate conservative. She was also law and order. That original question was supposed to go to Jeb Bush, because it was a tete-a-tete between Jeb Bush and Rand Paul. And then she steps in and says, listen, guys, this is how it's done.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I thought it was interesting that Rand Paul touted his Libertarianism and made a lot of sense, I think, in certain parts of the country that they don't vote in Republican primaries both on the boots on the ground issue, where he made the argument that every time we open a base overseas, we're not necessarily making ourselves safer.

I think that resonates with much of the country. I'm not so sure it plays well with the GOP base.

And then also the way in which he spoke about marijuana and medical marijuana. And Chris Christie then came out as the former prosecutor and said that he would enforce the federal law against state law. So everyone playing to their strength in that regard.

ROGERS: I would say this, in that exchange, this is when Carly looked like the adult on the stage that we've been missing for a lot of these debates and certainly for the first half of the debate. She really shined in that moment for me because, A, she personalized it and, B, she didn't take the bait on the whole face question with Trump. She didn't do it.


MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Not only did she personalize it, she localized it. There's an epidemic in New Hampshire.

Where is Carly Fiorina, where is she doing really well and starting to grow her support?

In a place like New Hampshire. So let's not forget the early state appeal of some of these issues and some of the performance tonight.

JONES: Two things about it, one is I think she's exactly where most parents are. I'm a parent. I'm against drug use for my children. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them to go to prison. And she landed right there.


COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. Stay with us. I want to get some of the panel's final thoughts about tonight's debate when we come back.


COOPER: We're ending the evening at the beginning. I want to play a quick moment from very earl on, Rand Paul and Donald Trump trading jabs. Let's watch


TRUMP: First of all, Rand Paul shouldn't even be on this stage. He's number 11, he's got 1 percent in the polls and how he got up here, there's far too many people anyway.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KY: I kind of have to laugh when I think of, "Mmm, sounds like a non-sequitur." He was asked whether or not he would be capable and it would be in good hands to be in charge of the nuclear weapons and, all of a sudden, there's a sideways attack at me.

I think his response, his visceral response to attack people on their appearance -- short, tall, fat, ugly -- my goodness, that happened in junior high.

Are we not way above that?

Would we not all be worried to have someone like that in charge of the nuclear arsenal?

TAPPER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: I never attacked him on his looks. And believe me, there's plenty of subject matter right there. That I can tell you.


COOPER: All right. Let's get some quick final thoughts.

Michael Smerconish?

SMERCONISH: In the museum which I toured, there's a display case with Ronald Reagan 3"x5" cards on which he wrote one-liners he used in dinner speeches.

I wrote this down, "Never start an argument with a woman when she's tired or when she's rested."

That's a lesson Donald Trump should have paid attention to with regard to Carly Fiorina.

HENDERSON: No, I think the RNC owes Carly Fiorina a big fat check because she did a lot of the dirty work at sort of leveling and really deflating Donald Trump in this debate.

He said that his code name would be "Humble" at the end of this debate. And he was very much humbled, I thought, by Carly Fiorina tonight. It'll be interesting to see how she does with women, particularly. She's about 3 percent in the polls against Donald Trump. But it will be interesting to see if that changes going forward.

COOPER: Chairman Rogers?

ROGERS: I think the shininess on this new toy called Donald Trump came off tonight, really. And I do. And I think these other candidates showed that they can take him on in a debate. He is not invincible, number one.

And number two, Carly presented herself as a presidential candidate. She looked presidential, she sounded presidential. I would watch for her.

MADDEN: I agree with that, absolutely. I think the trend line to watch now is where do Carly Fiorina's numbers go in these early contests. And then the other really important trend line, does this affect her fundraising?

Is there a bunch of small dollar donors that start flowing her way because of the performance --


CUPP: I think we all agree on the winner. I would submit that one of the losers was probably Ben Carson, who had a really tough time answering some questions, as I assumed he would, as we got a little bit closer, particularly his line about 9/11 and wanting to meet that with a bully pulpit instead of going into what even Obama called the necessary war.


JONES: As a Democrat watching, did not see very much discussion about the economy at all, except as an excuse not to do anything about climate change. So here in California, with half the state on fire, that, I thought, was in poor form.

COOPER: I want to thank everybody.

A reminder, the Democrats' first faceoff comes next month. We're going to be --


COOPER: -- bringing, of course, it to you. I'll be moderating that. It's October 13th is the date, the CNN Facebook debate, Las Vegas the place. We're all looking forward to that.

That does it for us. Thanks very much for watching. Right now, an encore edition of tonight's debate. I'll see you tomorrow.