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Debate Coverage. Aired 10-11p ET.

Aired October 28, 2015 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 SHOW HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us. Welcome to a special edition of AC360. Tonight, the republican debate in Boulder, Colorado, the first one without a clear front-runner, the first since Donald Trump lost his lead in Iowa, and possibly the last debate for some on the stage tonight.

There is a lot at stake for everyone involved. CNBC hosted it, questions on how the candidates would handle the economy dominated it.

Before we bring in our team of election professionals, fact-checkers, and campaign watchers, here are some of the highlights.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the man that was a managing general partner at Lehman Brothers when it went down the tubes and almost took every one of us with us, including Ben and myself, because I was there, and I watched what happened and Lehman Brothers started it all.

He was on the board, and he was a managing general partner and just thirdly, he was so nice. He was such a nice guy, and he said, oh, I'm never going to attack, but then his poll numbers tanked. He's got verted -- that's why he's on the end, and he got nasty.


TRUMP: And he got nasty. So, you know what? You can have him.

John Kasich, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wasn't on the board of Lehman Brothers. I was a banker, and I was proud of it and I traveled the country and learned how people make jobs.

We ought to have politicians not only with government experience, but know how the CEOs and the job creators work. My state is doing great across the board. And guess what. In 2011, I got...


REBECCA QUICK, CNBC'S SQUAWK BOX CO-ANCHOR: Governor, we've spent a lot of time on this.

KASICH: He tried to take credit for it. Four years later, it's a joke. Ted Cruz, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a fighter. I am

passionate about what I believe. I've been passionate my whole life about the Constitution. And, you know, for six and a half years, we've had a gigantic party. If you want someone to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy, but if you want someone to drive you home I will get the job done and I will get you home.

Jeb Bush, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term and you should be showing up to work. I mean, literally, the Senate, what is it, like a French workweek, you get three days where you have to show up.

You can campaign or just resign and let someone else take the job. There are a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck in Florida as well as they're looking for a senator that will fight for them each and every day.

Marco Rubio, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I get to respond, right?

QUICK: Thirty seconds.

RUBIO: Thirty seconds. Well, it's interesting. Over the last few weeks, I've listened to Jeb as he walked around the country and said that you're modeling your campaign after John McCain, that you're going to launch a furious comeback the way he did, by fighting hard in New Hampshire and places like that, carry your own bag at the airport.

BUSH: I will.

RUBIO: You know how many votes John McCain missed when he was carrying out that furious comeback that you're not modeling at?

BUSH: He was not my congressman or senator.

RUBIO: Now, Jeb, I don't ever remember, well, let me tell you, I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's vote record. The only reason why you're doing to it now is because we're running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.

CARLY FIORINA, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I was fired over a disagreement in the board room. There are politics in the board room as well. And yet, the man who led my firing, Tom Perkins, an icon of Silicon Valley, has come out publicly and said you know what, we were wrong. She was right. She was a great CEO. She would be a great President of the United States because the leadership she brought to HP is exactly the leadership we need in Washington, D.C.

QUICK: Mrs. Fiorina, it's interesting that you bring up Mr. Perkins because...


QUICK: ... he said a lot of very questionable things. Last year, in an interview, he said that he thinks wealthy people should get more votes than poor people. I think his quote was that "If you pay zero dollars in taxes you should get zero votes. If you pay a million dollars you should get a million votes." Is this the type of person you want to depend with?

FIORINA: Well, this is one of the reasons why Tom Perkins and I had problems in the board room, Becky.

CRUZ: Now let me say something at the outset. The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media.


CRUZ: This is not a cage match, and you look at the questions, Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don't you resign. Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues people care about.


CARL QUINTANILLA, CNBC GOP DEBATE MODERATOR: We're clearly not having that beer that you mentioned, but I'll give you 30 more seconds to...


CRUZ: But I'll buy you tequila.


CRUZ: Or even some famous Colorado brownies.

QUINTANILLA: I'll give you 30 seconds to respond.

BUSH: You find a democrat that's for cutting taxes, cutting spending $10, I'll give them a warm kiss.


QUINTANILLA: There's a company called ManTech, a maker of nutritional supplements with which you had a 10-year relationship. They offered claims that they could cure autism, cancer. They paid $7 million to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas, and yet, your involvement continued. Why?

BEN CARSON, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, that's easy to answer, I didn't have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda.

QUINTANILLA: To be fair, you were on the home page of their web site with the logo over your shoulder.

CARSON: If somebody put me on their home page they did it without my permission.

[22:05:00] QUINTANILLA: Does that not speak to your vetting process or judgment in any way?

CARSON: No. It speaks to the fact that I don't know those folks.


CARSON: See, they know.

QUINTANILLA: Apparently.


QUICK: I had a lot of student loans when I got out, too, but you've had a windfall that a lot of Americans haven't, you made over a million dollars on a book deal. And some of these problems came out of that.

RUBIO: And I used it to pay off my loans and it's available in paperback if you're interested in buying it.


COOPER: A lot to talk about with the panel of experts, partisan and non-partisan. Like first the non-partisan -- partisans, Michael Smerconish, host of Smerconish here in CNN; CNN senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, chief national correspondent, John King, who's host of Inside Politics, chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and senior political commentator, David Axelrod, he was a former senior adviser to President Obama.

David, let me start up with you. What did you make up tonight, what moments to you stood out?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And it's been true for several cycles is you want to get a big hand at a republican debate go after the media. And I think Ted Cruz did that to great effect tonight. He repeated the moment that Newt Gingrich had four years ago, in which he brought the House down by going after the media.

Marco Rubio started it in response to a question about his attendance, and I actually think those two guys have a good night. I have humility in judging these republican debates now because I've been misled at times by my own reaction.

The one thing I feel pretty sure about tonight was the certain loser in tonight's debate was Jeb Bush. I think he had a very bad moment with Marco Rubio, he was very passive most of the night.

John Kasich stole the governing conservative mantle away from him or the lead mantle. And I think a lot of his supporters are going to be very, very glum tomorrow morning.

I want to get quick feedback from all of you. Your impressions, michael in.

COOPER: I just want to get some quick feedback from all of you. Your impressions, Michael.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR & POLITICAL REPORTER: He stole all my lines. I mean, I report my scores because I want to make sure that I'm locked in. I think it was a Kasich night. I think it was definitely a night for Ted Cruz to display those Princeton debate skills that we always heard that he had, but we frankly hadn't seen them.

I also concur that it was a bad night for Jeb Bush because like Kasich he tried to step out, but Rubio confronted him and that punch just did not land, and the counterattack did. So, Marco Rubio had a good night. John Kasich had a good night. Ted Cruz had a good night. Jeb had the worst night.

COOPER: Let's play that exchange between Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, because clearly that was something that Jeb Bush tried to be aggressive with Marco Rubio, and Marco Rubio came back at him. Let's play that.


BUSH: I'm a constituent of the senator and I helped him and I expected that he would do constituent service, which means that he shows up to work. He got endorsed by The Sun Sentinel because he was the most talented guy in the field. He's a talented politician.

But, Marco, when you signed up for this, this is a six-year term and you should be showing up to work. I mean, literally, the Senate, what is it, like a French workweek, you get like three days where you have to show up.

You can campaign or just resign and let someone else take the job. There are a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck in Florida, as well. They're looking for a senator that will fight for them each and every day.

RUBIO: I got respond, right?

QUICK: Thirty seconds.

RUBIO: Thirty seconds. Well, it's interesting, over the last few weeks, I've listened to Jeb as he walked around the country and said that you're modeling your campaign after John McCain, that you're going to launch a furious comeback the way he did by fighting hard in New Hampshire and places like that carrying your own bag at the airport.

You know how many votes John McCain missed when he was carrying out the furious comeback that you're not modeling on?


BUSH: He wasn't my congressman or senator.

RUBIO: Now, Jeb, I don't remember, well, let me tell you, I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's vote record. The only reason why you're doing it now is because we're running for the same position. And someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.

BUSH: I've been...


RUBIO: Here's the bottom line I'm not...


RUBIO: My campaign is going to be about the future of America, it's not going to be about attacking anyone else on the stage. I will continue to have tremendous admiration and respect for Governor Bush.

I'm not running against Governor Bush. I'm not running against anyone on the stage. I'm running for president because there's no way we can elect Hillary Clinton to continue the policies of Barack Obama.

QUINTANILLA: Thank you, Senator.


COOPER: Michael, clearly, seems like a moment that Marco Rubio was ready for.

SMERCONISH: The only question we knew was coming tonight was that question because in Broward County, Florida, The Sun Sentinel, a significant newspaper, they had endorsed him in the past and they wrote a very stinging editorial that said, you really ought to resign because you're not there and they laid out the attendance record, so he was obviously well prepared.

What we didn't know is that Jeb Bush would be the one who would try to play that card. And as I say, I think he did it ineffectively.

COOPER: Nia, it was interesting to hear on two establishment candidates kind of going after each other.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And two friends. At some point, I mean...

SMERCONISH: Not anymore.

HENDERSON: Not anymore, right. This idea that Jeb Bush was sort of the mentor for Marco Rubio. And in his tone I thought that Jeb Bush had this almost this like sort of scolding fatherly tone and he was like, oh, you know, you can show up for work, son.

And Marco Rubio, I thought turned it into not only an attack on Hillary Clinton but an attack on the media, it was also an attack on Jeb Bush, this idea that someone had told him that it was a good idea to make this attack that was purely political.

[22:10:04] COOPER: John.


of Shakespearian what's going on between these two folks, right? Jeb was the mentor to Marco Rubio. Rubio tells the truth when he says somebody told you that it would be good for you to attack me.

Jeb is not natural when he attacks. There's something kind of awkward about it. You know, the French workweek line was clearly canned, planned, whatever, and he's really not good at delivering those attacks. He doesn't like it. It's not joyful for him, and it kind of showed and it wasn't effective.


COOPER: It certainly didn't work.

BORGER: Right.

KING: And the bush campaign knew how much pressure they faced coming into this debate. He has flat lined. Marco Rubio has caught up to him. They are competing for the same space, the establishment candidate in the race, Governor Kasich as well. They are competing for a lot of the same money and a lot of Florida donors who are friends with both of them went to Jeb first, but they're saying, come on, Governor, show us that you're the front-runner, and show us that you have to fight to be in this.

And that he, in the past week, has tried to make the Rubio is Obama argument.

BORGER: Right.

KING: That's he's a freshman senator, why do we want to send another freshman senator to Washington, D.C. He's not prepared to be president. He had a chance sort of to spin that into that which might be a stronger argument. Because republicans have argued for the past seven years that Obama wasn't ready for the job.

Instead, he didn't picking of. Look, Rubio's attendance record may well be an issue in the campaign as we go forward. But in the debate tonight game, set, match Rubio.

COOPER: And also I want to bring in our partisan panel, Jeffrey Lord is here, Trump supporter, former Reagan White House political director and CNN contributor, Amanda Carpenter, former Ted Cruz communications director, conservative writer, CNN contributor Ana Navarro, Jeb Bush supporter, friend of Rubio's.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Could somebody -- could somebody please just get me that tequila.

COOPER: And Donna Brazile, DNC official...


DONNA BRAZILE, DNC VICE CHAIRWOMAN: I'm going to give her the marijuana. COOPER: Ana, let me...

NAVARRO: Oh, it's me, they're here.

COOPER: Ana, you can't dodge it any longer. I got to ask you, how do you think your guy did tonight?

NAVARRO: I think the Mets are doing very, very well tonight. You know, I do hear that the Kansas City Royals are up. Look, I want to tell, you know, Axelrod that you don't have to wait until tomorrow morning for Jeb Bush supporters to be glum. I'm pretty damn glum tonight.

I think that Marco Rubio is a masterful debater, he's very, very good, very quick on his feet. If you're going to attempt to land a punch you've got to do it well, and, you know, it didn't happen.

I can't believe that one of the best moments that Marco Rubio had was actually handed to him by Jeb. I think we have elevated. I think Jeb has elevated Marco with, you know, with these attacks. And I think that frankly, you know, he's got to take the next 10 days before the next debate, which is November 10th and, you know, pretty much lay off every other damn thing and dedicate himself to really figuring out how to dominate in debates.

COOPER: Amanda, your former boss, Ted Cruz had some very strong moments tonight, particularly going after, to David Axelrod's point, to going after the media.

AMANDA CARPENTER, TED CRUZ FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes. I think the reason is maybe a bit of a painkiller for Ana who may be feeling the burn right now is because the biggest loser in this debate and you'll see this, I guarantee it in conservative media tomorrow where the CNBC debaters, who lost complete control.

And I think that's actually what help allows Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to have a very good night because they were able to take advantage of those moments, read the crowds, sense that they were having difficulty and were getting mad at the moderator's questions, and they just gave them the red meat they wanted, and were able to elevate it in a way, especially Ted Cruz.

And unify the candidates by saying, hey, we're all getting picked on together and I'm the guy that's going to unify us and take this fight to the democrats who deserve it.

COOPER: I will say from a moderator standpoint, if you're going after a candidate with a quote that they have said...


COOPER: ... you better have that quote ready because when Donald Trump said I never said that about Marco Rubio, the moderator said, I'm not sure where I saw that.

(CROSSTALK) NAVARRO: And then to come back.

COOPER: I have to come back to it.

NAVARRO: Let's play commercial breaks later here's where I got it from.

COOPER: Yes. Let's play -- yes, let's play -- and it was from his web site after all. Let's play that Ted Cruz moment that you were talking about, Amanda.


CRUZ: Now let me say something at the outset. The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media.


CRUZ: This is not a cage match, and you look at the questions. Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don't you resign. Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues people care about.


QUINTANILLA: In this job do we get credit for this one?

CRUZ: Carl, I'm not finished yet. The contrast with the democratic debate where every fawning question from the media was, which of you is more handsome and wise? And let me be clear.

QUINTANILLA: So, this is the question about the debt limit which you have 30 seconds left to answer. Should you choose to do so.

[22:14:57] CRUZ: Let me be clear. The men and women on this stage have more ideas, more experience, more common sense than every participant in the democratic debate. That debate reflected a debate between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.



COOPER: Clearly also a line thought out in advance. Well, very well, a powerful line, no doubt for his supporters. Jeffrey, what stood out to you?

JEFFREY LORD, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you know, a few weeks ago, Donald Trump observed that when Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush were processioning friendship and mentorship and all of this that they didn't mean a word of it, and there we are tonight right in front of everybody sort of confirming what he said.

One of the other things I thought was interesting with Donald Trump this evening was that when he went after Governor Kasich on his relationship to Lehman Brothers. And if you noticed the sort of similarity between the attacks on the media, that attack from Donald Trump of all people, a major league capitalist on the banks, and then we get what's going on in the House with Speaker Boehner, and we get to the whole Trump/Carson thing.

And if you noticed at one point after that attack on John Kasich, Trump turned to Ben Carson and winked which I thought says a lot, you know, about what's going on.

COOPER: Between Trump and Kasich where they kind of went after each other relatively early on, I think was before the Lehman Brothers. Let's play that.


TRUMP: First of all, John got lucky with a thing called fracking, OK? He hit oil. He got lucky with fracking. Believe me, that's why Ohio is doing well, and that's important you to know.

Number two, this is the man that was a managing general partner at Lehman Brothers when it went down the tubes and almost took every one of us with us, including Ben and myself. Because I was there and I watched what happened, and Lehman Brothers started it all. He was on the board, and he was a managing general partner.

And just thirdly, he was so nice. He was such a nice guy, and he said, oh, I'm never going to attack, but then his poll numbers tanked and he's vetted -- that's why he's on the end. And he got nasty. And he got nasty. So, you know what. You can have him.

KASICH: Let me -- let me just -- let me respond. First of all, Ohio does have an energy industry, but we're diversified. We're one of the fastest growing states in the country. We came back from the dead, and you know what. It works very, very well.

And secondly, when you talk about me being on the board of Lehman Brothers, I wasn't on the board of Lehman Brothers. I was a banker and I was proud of it and I traveled the country and learned how make people jobs.

We ought to have politicians who not only have government experience but know how the CEOs and the job creators work. My state is doing great across the board, and guess what. In 2011, I got a deal and agreement with the board a lot of...

QUICK: Governor, governor, I'm sorry, we're out of time on this.

KASICH: He tried to take credit for it, four years later, it's a joke.


COOPER: Who came out of that better? CARPENTER: I think Trump did. I mean, there's twice -- two times this

evening where a candidate turned to another candidate and says I know the only reason you're attacking me is because you're low in the polls.

Jeb -- or Marco said it to Jeb and he said because a consultant told you to say that. Those were big applause lines. And I think it speaks to the GOP electorate who sees through this attack.

They would much rather have candidates who voice a positive message about their agenda rather than just attacking each other all the time.

LORD: It also speaks to the calendar. I speaks to the calendar. We've had this is the third debate and we're now 95 days from people voting. That's a big difference. Because now you have to start spending money on the ground, you have to start spending money on television; you have to start making really key choices, especially if you're a Kasich or Jeb Bush maybe even now who might not have as much money.

Who might not be able to think six months down the line, who has to think, am I going to stay in Iowa? Am I going to say, you know what, Carson seems to be calling us Evangelicals, let's get out of Iowa.

COOPER: I give you Iowa


LORD: Do I go to New Hampshire, if you're Donald Trump where you're ahead in New Hampshire right now, John Kasich has been working that state very hard and he said nasty things about you this week, so is that why you're going after John Kasich.

So, the chess gets a lot more complicated. Now they're in the window where you have to make enormously important strategic decisions about your time and money.

COOPER: Right. And we're targeting. We're going to look at closely the numbers with John throughout these two hours that we're on the air tonight.

Every one stick around. We're going to hear a lot more from all of our panel. The people who are coming up next who will have the final say, some on just a few months on what to make of say what they saw tonight. Randi Kaye talks to our viewers; viewers who vote in Florida when our special 360 coverage with you.


COOPER: Tonight's CNBC debate just wrapped up focused heavily on business. Here's a key question to Carly Fiorina about her record at HP and her departure from it.


FIORINA: Yes, I was fired over a disagreement in the board room. There are politics in the board room, as well. And yet, the man who led my firing, Tom Perkins, an icon of Silicon Valley, has come out publicly and said, you know what. We were wrong. She was right. She was a great CEO. She'd be a great President of the United States because the leadership she brought to HP is exactly the leadership we need in Washington, D.C.

QUICK: Mrs. Fiorina, it's interesting that you bring up Mr. Perkins because...


QUICK: ... he said a lot of very questionable things. Last year, in an interview, he said that he thinks wealthy people should get more votes than poor people. I think his quote was "If you pay zero dollars in taxes you should get zero votes. If you pay $1 million you should get a million votes."

Is this is the type of person you want to defend with?


FIORINA: Well, this is one of the reasons why Mr. Perkins and I had disagreements in the board room, Becky.


COOPER: Joining us is a CNN global economic analyst and Time assistant manager, Rana Foroohar. I also want to bring back Michael Smerconish, Nia-Malika Henderson, John King and Gloria Borger.

Rona, thanks very much for joining us. What do you make up tonight, who stood out to you?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, you know, you had Fiorina on earlier. I think that she's pretty slick all things considered. But I think that her record, you know, she just can't keep defending it, the idea that, you know, she is a business leader that has created jobs and has the leadership skills to be effective in Washington is just ridiculous.

[22:25:00] I think this debate showed that. I think that, you know, as you were saying earlier, I think Rubio really did very well, although I think all in all, most of the candidates didn't put through any real common sense economic plans.

I think that you heard a lot about tax cuts achieving growth, when, in fact, the last several decades shows that's not really the case. You know, Clinton raise the taxes in '93. He got great growth. George W. Bush cut them in 2001, 2003, he got very meager growth. Same thing with Obama's post-financial crisis tax cut.

So, that really doesn't work and I think that that's not a selling point for the American public at this stage. You also heard Rubio saying things like, the cost of goods is getting higher.

In fact, we have almost no inflation. So, you know, in terms of debating style, I think you can say maybe he won. But in terms of economic wisdom, I didn't see anybody come ahead really.

COOPER: I also want to spring in Donna Brazile, Ana Navarro, Jeffrey Lord, and Amanda Carpenter.

Donna, we haven't heard from you tonight, what stood out for you?

BRAZILE: This -- it was a missed opportunity I think for the republicans who, you know, one of their strengths is always talking about how they can grow the economy. They know how to fix things.

Well, tonight was the opportunity to talk to that fast food worker, to talk to home health care workers. They had an opportunity to reach the voters that typically don't listen to politics, but they could have said something about job growth, you know, raising their wage, and you know what, I think they were just focused...

NAVARRO: They didn't get asked the question. They got asked what their biggest weakness was.

BRAZILE: It's not about, you know, responding the question you're asked, but having a message to those voters and they didn't talk about the middle class. So, I think it was a missed opportunity for the republicans.

BORGER: I think John Kasich, honestly, was the one candidate out there who did when he was asked what his greatest weakness was. He just sort of went bull worth on everybody and said, we're on the verge of picking someone who can't do the job.

We've got people on this stage who wants to dismantle Medicaid and Medicare. We've got people on this stage who wants to deport 11 million people.

COOPER: You know what's interesting. Nobody here on this panel has talked about Dr. Ben Carson and I'm wondering...



COOPER: ... where what that says.

CARPENTERS: I actually want to raise a point that actually what Donald said...


COOPER: Because if you look at the latest polls he is now in the lead within the margin of error with Donald Trump.

LORD: The silent front runner.

CARPENTERS: And one of the most shocking moments to me of the debate is when Ben Carson was ask about his economic plan. Listen, this was a CNBC debate. They were told that they wanted to talk about tax policy. Ben Carson couldn't explain what his tax rate would be. So, that is

somewhere between 10 to 15 percent. The math works. They had a very awkward exchange about it. The moderator said I did the math. It works. He said, no, it doesn't. And nobody had any fact.

That was the worst moment of the entire debate. I mean, for something that was so central to the republican philosophy, tax reform; he had a front-runner who failed utterly at explaining it.

NAVARRO: For me one of the most interesting was I was very curious to see what the dynamic was going to be between Carson and Trump. We've seen Trump going after him in the last couple of days, since his poll numbers have gone down and yet, he didn't lay a finger on him. And he looks winking at the guy...


NAVARRO: ... you know, so which I think was very smart of Donald Trump because people like Ben Carson. So, I think...


COOPER: And even some of his answers at this debate got big applause when he sort of pulled back from the vitriol on the stage and kind of focused big picture again, not a lot of details on that, you're looking at the view in the spin room which is the most honest thing in politics, that the fact that they actually call it the spin room. That's exactly what it is.

BORGER: But you know what, at the beginning Carson kind of signaled to Trump. He said I'm not going to attack. I'm not going to get down, and the minute he said that.


BORGER: I think Trump is so smart that he kind of knew that that wasn't going to work for him.

HENDERSON: But in talking to Carson's people before this debate they had said that they were ready to challenge Trump in terms of being strong on the economy. This, of course, is supposed to be Trump's big positive and his area of the economy and big business, but he just sort of failed I thought

COOPER: I do want to check in with our Dana Bash who was on the scene there. Dana, what's the reaction so far that you're hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN'S CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. That's right. Well, let me just tell you before I start talking that Ben Carson has just came out to start to talk to reporters, and I expect him to come around the corner. So, when he does, I'm going to try to stop him and talk him. So, I'll sort of interrupt myself.

But to answer your question, we had kind of a remarkable thing and I know we're going to try to turn the tape around for everybody, that the Republican National Committee chair just came out and blasted the network CNBC.


BASH: As having gotcha questions, as just completely having what they call the Rubik's cube of 'gotcha' questions, and then he walked away. He didn't take questions from us. It was kind of remarkable. And you know, we're trying to get up, you know what, I'm going to stop and tell that you Ben Carson is on his way to me. Dr. Carson., Dr. Carson.

CARSON: I was pleased.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No tigers on stage?

CARSON: No tigers.

[22:30:01] BASH: Let me just start by asking you, you made pretty clear at the beginning that you were not going to counterpunch Donald Trump, even though he's been really tough on you on the campaign trail. Why did you take that tack?

BEN CARSON, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it seems to be working because he seems to be moderating and other people seem to be moderating. Because I want people to really start talking about the issues, you know. R

Right now we're in a situation where our whole financial foundation is on very shaky ground. We're in a situation where we are in danger because of Islamic Jihadists.

We're in a situation where our electrical grid is very vulnerable, where we've, you know, created a situation that doesn't produce entrepreneurial risk-taking and capital investment.

You know, these are big problems that can have a devastating effect on us. We need to talk about those.

BASH: Sure. You can talk about the issues. You can talk about the issues.

CARSON: We really did not get into those issues the way we need to. I mean, when a debate becomes more of you said this and rather than how do we actually solve these problems?

BASH: You know, one of the -- Dr. Carson, one of the big questions was going to be whether or not you would be able to keep what really is now your front-runner status. Do you feel coming out of this that you're still going to be able to stay on top.

CARSON: Well, you know, what I always say. When I was a surgeon I would say to people, why guess when soon you'll know.

ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 SHOW HOST: And soon we will know. No doubt about that.

BASH: It's a little bit of a mosh pit as you can see.


BASH: That's right. You could see it it's a little bit of a mosh pit. We have all the candidates coming out here. I'll toss it back to you.

COOPER: All right. We're going to turn around the sound from Reince Priebus, I think we actually have that, and then stick around for that and then we'll talk with our panelists.

Let's play what Reince Priebus said, the head of the RNC, said just a few moments ago.


REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: I was proud of our candidates for standing up to a pretty hostile environment. I was very disappointed in the moderators. I'm disappointed at CNBC. You know, I thought maybe they would bring forward a pretty fair forum here tonight, but I think it was one 'gotcha' question, one personal low blow after the other.

It's almost like they tried to design a Rubik's cube for every question to take the worst element. I think of what moderators and what the media should bring to the table, and all I can tell you is that while I'm proud of our candidates for pretty much sticking together. I'm very disappointed in the moderators, and I'm very disappointed with CNBC. Thank you.


COOPER: And Dana is still there with us. Dana, that is the last thing as a network or as a moderator you want to hear from the head of the RNC.

BASH: Exactly.

COOPER: And it goes to Amanda Carpenter's point which is that tomorrow people will be talking about this. Reince Priebus is talking about it tonight. I've never seen that.

BASH: I've never seen it either. He was standing right in front of me when he said that, and he did not look happy in person, and I'm sure that came across through the camera.

You know, it's very unusual, and when you think about it, and we know this, that the Republican National Committee takes sort of great pains in choosing who they partner with to do these debates. This was not just sort of a happenstance that CNBC got this debate.

It was a decision, a joint decision between CNBC and the Republican National Committee. Reince Priebus approved having this debate at CNBC so, you know, he can complain about it. But, you know, it be interesting to see what really want on behind the scenes when it came to the discussion.

We know this, Anderson. You just did a debate, you know, I've been involved in a couple of them. It is true that it might be their debate but they don't have any clue about the kinds of questions that we are going to ask.

COOPER: Of course.

BASH: And I'm sure that that's the case for CNBC. But for him to come out and blast the network I was pretty surprised.

COOPER: Yes. I start here with our panel.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Before this debate a lot of conservatives were blaming the RNC for even partnering with CNBC and not having a conservative partner in this debate, maybe a conservative, a questioner, for instance, heard Donald Trump talking about Larry Kudlow and others who could have been there.

So, it's a little disingenuous what Reince Priebus was doing there because this was his agreement. And he's I think playing...


ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: See, I don't think so at all. And I think if you ask the three of us, the three republicans sitting here that we would say to you that Reince Priebus is speaking for all of us.


NAVARRO: Though, you can't ask, you know, specific questions or suggest specific questions certainly there are parameters of general topics. And I think what we were all expecting was a serious policy discussion on economic issues.

JEFFREY LORD, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Not to make a, you know, say this on CNN about CNN, but the day after the CNN debate with -- in California, Rush Limbaugh was on the air and he also -- when you did the democratic debate, I think he also congratulated you.

[22:35:12] I mean, when you get Rush Limbaugh to be saying good things, if I may, about CNN, you know, you've got something going here.

COOPER: Right.

LORD: And Hugh Hewitt's presence, I must say, also was I think a contributing factor, and why CNBC didn't learn this. They had Larry Kudlow right there. I don't understand why he wasn't, you know, on the panel.

DONNA BRAZILE, DNC VICE CHAIRWOMAN: The democrats -- it's funny because when you think about a democratic debate and we have to come up with solutions and ideas, you ask great questions and you got a great response. Yes, we had an exchange on gun safety, got an exchange on climate, had many exchanges.

But I don't think these candidates really came to talk about their policies, and that was it. (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, one at a time. Amanda.

NAVARRO: Donna, you had four candidates and a block of granite.

COOPER: Let me -- Amanda.

AMANDA CARPENTER, TED CRUZ FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes. I just say that Ted Cruz, for example, wrote out a brought out a brand new tax plan. There is going to be an op-ed on The Wall Street Journal because he wanted to talk about it tonight, 10 percent flat tax, wiping out of bunch of deductions. He is just happy to have that debate.

But back to the CNBC question, it would make sense that the RNC would partner with them.


CARPENTER: I mean, they are a network that covers the business side of America. There were quibbles about John Harwood. But you know what, at the end of the day the environment is never going to be completely favorable. They have to rise above it and Marco and Ted did.


COOPER: Let's listen to, Dana is going to talk to Donald Trump I believe. He's about to come out. Let's see if he talks to reporters.

BASH: Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump.

COOPER: Looks like he's going to talk a little bit down there. We'll just -- we'll see if he comes closer to the microphones a little further down here.

John, I mean, this is a -- for those who are watching. I mean, all the candidates generally come to the spin room for a short period of time just to kind of get their point across, and get themselves in front of the cameras before taking off.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they come in and said one or two things to say if they have complete -- they air it. Some candidates don't come, they just send their senior staff in. But it's become much more familiar for candidates to come. Let's see if we can get this...


BASH: Mr. Trump, we're live on CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The interesting thing for -- let's see.

COOPER: Let's listen in.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thought it was a really exciting debate.

BASH: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: Much better than the Hillary debate but I had a good time tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: DO you feel you weren't the star tonight, was it tough not to be the star tonight?

TRUMP: I don't know what you mean by the star.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like the focus, like all the questions weren't at you.

TRUMP: Well, it's become very unfair. I think that I did very well. According to all of the online polls I got 80 percent as a win so, I mean, hundreds of thousands of people are sending their numbers in. And according to every single online poll I'm 70 to 80 percent with a win. I thought it was great. I thought I did well and I thought everyone did well. I really enjoyed the debate.

DASH: Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you think the media went after those questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it was fair?

TRUMP: No. The media went after the moderator. I mean, the media really went after the moderators and I understand that. I think some of the questions weren't fair and much tougher than Hillary got.

BASH: Mr. Trump, we're live on CNN. One quick question. I saw that you winked at Dr. Carson as if you kind of...

TRUMP: We have a very good relationship.

BASH: Well, but even...

TRUMP: I like Dr. Carson a lot. We have a very good relationship.

TRUMP: You've been pretty tough on him on the campaign trail.

TRUMP: No, I have a lot of respect for him. I like him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were the moderators unfair to you.

COOPER: It's interesting to hear him now basically spinning this in the spin room, fair enough, because he has been tough on him over the last couple of days in the campaign trail.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. But it isn't working for him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. BORGER: So, you know, he's clearly made a decision that Carson is

very well liked and there's no point in attacking him at this point. And I would also say one other thing about Donald Trump. He was attacking the debate before it occurred.

COOPER: Right. Yes.

BORGER: He was attacking the questions before they were asked.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. Just ahead how voters saw this, a focus group in Florida. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back. I want to go to Dana Bash who is joining us in the spin room again. Dana.

BASH: Hey, there, Anderson. I have Governor Kasich here. Stand by. He just got grabbed by somebody else while we were in a break but I've got him right now. Governor.

So, we're live now, Steve. Thank you. Governor, you had quite a moment with Donald Trump when he kind of, you know, went after you about fracking and everything else.

JOHN KASICH, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I went after him actually. Look, I think what got him all revved up is when I said fantasy land is over. You can't keep making stuff up and dreaming up these programs that just don't work, and so I don't think we can send 10 million people out of this country and leave their kids here.

I don't think we should think about abolishing Medicare. We need to reform Medicare but we're not going to abolish it, I mean, and these tax schemes, they cost trillions of dollars. I'm for tax cuts but let's be real.

We don't need to put our kids in debt again. So, I think what happened tonight is I was able to say on the stage that we're going to be real about things. We're not just going to make up numbers or make up stories, and I'm just going to keep doing it, and people say why? Why did you change? Because I got to the point where I'm sort of fed up with this, and I think people need to know what the truth is from somebody that has experience.

BASH: OK. So, that was going to be my question. It wasn't that long ago that I tried to ask you not personality conflict questions, but policy contrast questions, and you would not bite. You wouldn't go there at all and now this is a very different John Kasich.

KASICH: Well, no, first of all, it's a John Kasich you've known all of my adult life.

BASH: OK. That is very true. But this is a very different John Kasich 2016.

KASICH: But here's a -- when I hear a candidate talking about eliminating Medicaid and Medicare it sets off an alarm for me. When I think about somebody that says we're going to send 10 million people out of this country or 11 million and break up families, to the point where it's enough.

And then I look at these tax schemes, I mean, at some point, you get to the tipping point where you say people need to know what the truth is.

BASH: And it's a way to try to get traction, right?

KASICH: No. Look, I don't ever, you know, people in the press say was this plan, was this a scheme? No, I was talking to my supporters in Ohio. And frankly, I had been getting more and more fed up listening to this stuff.

And I had a lot of people encourage me to -- in fact, I got a call from a former senator today that would say would you stand up and be an adult, and that's what I tried to do tonight, and I think I was successful, and you're going to see more of it.

BASH: Thank you, Governor.

KASICH: Thank you.

BASH: Nice to talk to you. I appreciate it. Back to you, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Dana, thanks. I want to go to David Axelrod. David, I'm just curious, what do you think is the political calculus for these, for the non-front-runners, if you're not Dr. Carson, if you're not Donald Trump.

Is it the hope that maybe Carson fades after Iowa, that you can kind of pick up stuff in South Carolina or elsewhere. Where do they see the lane for themselves that they are sticking with it?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you have to view the republican field, Anderson, in two columns. There's the anti- government populist right, and then there's the center right governing conservatives, Bush, Rubio, Kasich, to some degree, Governor Christie is in that governing conservative category.

Carson obviously, Trump, and then Ted Cruz is in that other column. You would throw Huckabee in there I guess as well, and so the real guy to watch in my view is Ted Cruz. He had a good night tonight. He has lots of resources that he's sitting on. He's very well organized in many of these states, and I think that he is -- he is the guy who is anticipating that the others will lose altitude in his column and he will win.

The other question is who rises? I would like to mention Marco Rubio who probably has leaped to the front of the glass.


COOPER: Sorry, David, I've got to go to Dana who has Jeb Bush. I'm sorry, David.

[22:45:02] AXELROD: OK. Great.

COOPER: Go ahead, Dana.

BASH: That's right. Hi, there, Anderson. Governor, thank you so much for doing this.


BASH: You know, I'm sure you haven't seen the buzz online, but there was a lot of buzz that your moment where you went after Marco Rubio...

BUSH: Yes.

BASH: ... turned out to be a moment for Marco Rubio and not you.

BUSH: Well, we'll see. I mean, the simple fact is that he has the worst attendance record in the United States Senate, plain and simple, he now has an unprecedented editorial of a major newspaper saying he should resign and continue his campaign.

If he's not going to resign he needs to show up and vote. And I just believe that's the way we should be doing this. He got elected. I supported him and a lot of other people did to serve the people of the State of Florida.

When I was governor, I had a countdown clock. I worked each and every day to the last minute serving the people that I cared for and love.

I know Marco lovers the people in Florida and he should be able to go to work, go to committee hearings and fight for the military families. They're worrying about whether there's going to be a budget or not and not consider to something that's not fun anymore and he didn't have to do it.

BASH: Now, when he responded to that, part of what he said was that, you know, you're probably saying things because somebody told you to say so politically. You didn't get a chance to respond in the debate, so respond now.

BUSH: Look, his record of attendance was low prior to his announcement of his campaign, and I just think that's wrong. I think you have to have a servant's heart when you're in these positions of responsibility or to say it's not fun anymore or it's not enjoyable anymore, you know, tough luck.

There are lot of people that are working really hard with paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes they don't think their jobs are going great either, but they roll up their sleeves each and every day and continue to work, even if it's not the best job that they have.

I just think, frankly, I think that people either should resign to run for another office which is what the law was in Florida or ought to have a deduction in their pay. BASH: But it's one thing for you to think that and it's another thing

for to you say it publicly the way you did tonight. I think that that was the argument that Rubio is making that it's just, you know, politically motivated because, you know, that this has to be a moment for you to break out.

BUSH: No. I'm going to break out by campaigning hard in New Hampshire, Iowa, in South Carolina where we have the best ground game and I'm going to go there tonight and tomorrow morning. Heading off to New Hampshire. I'm going to win this the old-fashioned way, the way that party nominees always win it.

BASH: Your friend and mine, Ana Navarro, just said on air that she's feeling glum tonight because of the performance that you had and the performance that Marco -- how do you...


BUSH: I'm running for President of the United States.

BASH: How do you win them back?

BUSH: I'm running for President of United States. I'm running with heart. I'm not a performer. If they are looking for an entertainer in chief, I'm probably not the guy. If they are looking for someone with a proven record of results, 32 years in the business sector and 8 years and the most reform-oriented conservative probably in the last 30 years in the country, I'm their guy.

BASH: You seem quite frustrated.

BUSH: Nope, not frustrated.


BUSH: I wish I have gotten questions on, you know -- got to answer questions on things that are on the minds of people, you know, entitlement challenges, the debt. I got fantasy football, you know, that's important I guess but not as important as other things.

BASH: OK. So, we're live on CNN you have another chance. What are some of the things that you wanted to say that you didn't get to say in the debate.

BUSH: That I have the most comprehensive plans to create a 4 percent growth economy, that I know how to fix the broken parts of Washington, the corruption, the incredible problems of just inefficiencies because I did it. I got to do it as governor of the State of Florida. I know how to do this.

We reduced the government workforce by 11 percent. No one thought it was possible. I cut taxes every year. I didn't raise taxes. I cut them and we created 1.3 million jobs, the environment to create those kind jobs.

We led the nation in small business creation. All those things are important because that's how we're going to rise up again as a nation.

BASH: You know, I'm listening to you say all this and I've heard you say on the campaign trail. I've interviewed you before, and they're all sounds like and it is a good campaign pitch.

But the reason why I asked about you being frustrated before is that in today's environment, when your performance is the name of the game, when you have to sort of come across on TV in a certain way and the Twitter environment, that's what I meant by being from frustrated, sort of getting that message across for people to hear it.

BUSH: I don't follow Twitter. I don't worry about it. I'm going to control the part that I can control. I got -- I tried to interject as much as I could. I was asked three questions, I think, or something like that, and I'm going to continue to work hard.

And when you travel as you've done to see me campaign, you see how people connect with a message that is much more hopeful and optimistic than what we have today.

BASH: Reince Priebus came out to the reporter's the rest who are in the hallway right after the debate was over, was barely over and blasted CNBC for the way that they handled the debate. Do you share his frustration?

BUSH: They didn't control the debate, plain and simple. It was not -- it was not a fair debate in that regard. But, look, we're all...


BASH: But he said there were 'gotcha' questions. Do you think that's true.

BUSH: Of course, there were. Yes. I mean, there are 'gotcha' questions like there had been in the other one -- other debates as well.

[22:50:03] BASH: Yes. But CNN, of course.

BUSH: OK. CNN. Am I laughing out loud?

BASH: So, before we let you go, I know you've got to go. What do you say to people like not just Ana, but others who support you and love you and want you to be President but just are -- or maybe not frustrated but are concerned that you're not getting over the hump when it comes to the campaigning part of it.

BUSH: It's a long haul. Ana, hang in there, girl. It's a long haul, baby. We got a few more debates to go. I'm out-campaigning everybody. I'm working hard and we're raising the resources.

We're going to be -- we have the best ground game in these early states and President McCain, President Clinton, when she got beat by Barack Obama, Giuliani, a whole list of people were leading in October of the year before the primaries, and we got a long way to go and I feel confident where we are. BASH: Governor, thank you so much. I appreciate you doing this. Thank


BUSH: Thanks. I appreciate you, too.

BASH: Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Thanks very much. Baby, what do you think? I've been wanting to call you baby for a long time. The governor just gave me permission to justify.

NAVARRO: I'm calling Jean. Listen.

COOPER: He sounds -- I mean, I got to tell you...

NAVARRO: First of all...

COOPER: When he's talking he sounds strong, he sounds confident.

NAVARRO: And he is confident. I just came back from two days in Houston with him. he is confident. He does have the best ground team. He is rolling out great policy. He does have the heart. He does have the hunger. He is campaigning hard in all the early states.

The debate performances are having a huge influence this time around because they are being viewed by so many people, and it's probably the one component where he's not doing as well and it's having a huge...


COOPER: Donna, I saw you're kind of shaking your head, by the way.

NAVARRO: I still think he is the most qualified to be president, and Jeb, I'm hanging on, babe. I'm hanging on.

BRAZILE: You know, the love is clearly there, but debates are about moments, and Jeb Bush took his moment to attack Marco Rubio and he failed, and I think that will impact his campaign. That will impact the donors' enthusiasm and also voters.

He may have the best ground game. I've worked on campaigns with good ground games, but unless you have a candidate who can actually go out there and articulate his vision and his message.


CARPENTER: The problem isn't just this debate for Jeb, unfortunately, is that every debate he's had a moment. This debate he had a moment with Marco Rubio and another debate he had a moment with Donald Trump, and he has not been the winner of either of these confrontations.


CARPENTER: And when people picture him against a Hillary Clinton they sense that he's not going to be able to win those exchanges. In defense of senator Rubio, if I may, you know, it's remarkable, the

word chutzpah comes to mind for the son of a Vice President of the United States and the brother of a governor of Texas who used their time as Vice President as Governor to run for President and didn't resign and didn't leave their job to apply not apply to them the same standards that he's applying to Marco Rubio. And that is pretty amazing.

COOPER: Right.

HENDERSON: Well, Jeb wasn't a constituent in Texas.

COOPER: Yes, Nia.

HENDERSON: I think one of Bush's problems is that he often sounds like a whiner. He uses his time, even in that interview he said I'm not a performer. I wish I had better questions. I don't follow Twitter. I tried to inject. I got only three questions.

Like, you know, the process is the process and you have to learn in the process. You have to do it joyfully. You can't be a critic of the process that you're trying to master.


CARPENTER: He's not whining.

COOPER: One at a time.

NAVARRO: So, by the way, he's not whining. He's actually telling the truth. And I think, you know, one of the issues is he hates the idea of having to put on a performance.

COOPER: OK, OK, wait.

HENDERSON; And Obama did, too. But he did it.

COOPER: Let's look at stakes right now for Jeb Bush. John King is at the magic wall for us.

KING: Anderson, let's lay out numbers. As everyone has been discussing. Maybe he has the best ground game, but at some point you have to win. That's how you win the nomination. You have to win somewhere. First, let's look at the national polls.

The national polls don't matter as much until we get close to voting but they do tell you a little something. Number one, that's Donald Trump. Number two, that's Ben Carson. Now the latest national poll has Carson ahead, this is the real clear politics average of the six most recent polls. But you have the two outsiders way up here at top.

This gets confusing down here because there's 15 candidates to see all these colors. The good thing about Jeb Bush is he's green, you see that right here. So, Jeb Bush is down here with Ted Cruz, below Marco Rubio, way down here in the national polls. So, if you're trying to break through and you're trying to make the donors happy you need a good debate to start moving those numbers up. Now remember, Iowa votes first, that 96 days away from tonight.

Again, Dr. Carson has spiked in Iowa recently. This is still Donald Trump, he may be coming down in the first state but he is still in the second place, Jeb Bush down here. He's not invested as much time in Iowa as he has in New Hampshire but Ted Cruz is ahead of him here.

[22:55:00] Marco Rubio is ahead of him here, and this is Carly Fiorina who has gone down as of late but even here. Again, way down here with the two outsiders up here. Maybe somebody from the establishment group will break out, but at moment you have the two outsiders way up on top, and Jeb Bush just said he's off to New Hampshire tomorrow.

Again, Jeb Bush is the green. He's way down here at 10 percent on average in New Hampshire in the last several polls. Donald Trump in the most recent polls, we'll see if the new New Hampshire polls show Donald Trump coming down as he has in some other polls, especially in Iowa, but at the moment, Donald Trump is still well ahead in the State of New Hampshire.

You have Dr. Carson down here. Jeb is down here with Carly Fiorina, with Marco Rubio, John Kasich is down in this group as well. Somebody from the establishment may break out.

But at moment, Anderson, with this crowded field and the two outsiders dominating the race, Jeb Bush has not been able to break free of the other candidates that you would say are like him or Marco Rubio somewhat like him looking to get this establishment vote.

Governor Kasich very much like him trying to get the conservative, governor conservative like Ronald Reagan vote. So, Jeb Bush right now, for all the work he's doing, he's stuck down here which to the point that was just made at table, remember the last cycle and remember the last debate.

Carly Fiorina went way up after the debate and started to go down a little bit. Jeb Bush has yet to the get a moment since Donald Trump got in the race in July. Back then Jeb Bush was your front-runner, since then Jeb Bush has not gotten a moment on the national stage and this was his third chance that sends his numbers going that way.


KING: Instead, he's down here, it's a flat line at the moment and in politics just like at doctor's office, a flat line is not a good thing.

COOPER: Michael?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR & POLITICAL REPORTER: My takeaway for the night is the two so-called front-runners Carson and Trump were non-entries in this debate. We're not talking that much about them because frankly, they were not impactful. Any American who has not been paying close attention like members of

this panel and suddenly tuned in tonight would have a very hard time believing that Donald Trump and Ben Carson are leading this thing, and my final thought is, there's a sense of inevitability about it, I think, that it will not last, that he's on the downslide, meaning Donald Trump and that Carson won't hold it even if he wins Iowa and that it's one of the others that we've spent tonight talking about who will emerge.

COOPER: Well, I mean, the truth is if you look at history, you know, outsider candidates don't last. And again, people have been saying, I know Jeffrey is going to say this, so let me just say it for him, people have been saying about Donald Trump from before he even entered the race.

LORD: Thank you.

COOPER: And they have been wrong every step of the way. So, you don't need to tweet me that. I know that. That's true.


LORD: They said that about Ronald Reagan, too, who lost the Iowa caucuses.

NAVARRO: I don't want to jinx it now that it's actually happening.

BORGER: Can I just say, it's David Axelrod said earlier, I agree, Ted Cruz, watch Ted Cruz. This is somebody who is coming up on the outside here doing pretty well in Iowa. Conservative, Evangelical, he was so comfortable on the stage tonight.

COOPER: To follow through on that thought. If you're an Evangelical and you suddenly start to doubt Ben Carson's ability on a couple of issues.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: You're not sure you trust Donald Trump on religious belief or religious issue or core Evangelical issues, and I know there are many -- they are not cookie cutter, a lot of complexity there, do you go to Cruz? Is that his line?

LORD: Another outsider.

CARPENTER: So, he's always going to play. That he is if you look at when he announced his campaign and laid out a memo, what voters they would go after is that, you know, kind of capture the Tea Party conservatives and play the second favorite for, you know, Evangelicals in Iowa and that's all coming into play.

COOPER: Which is why he always stood by Trump sort of saying I'm glad he's in the race.

CARPENTER: They are aligned on immigration issues and that's all working, and if you look at where his, you know, his campaign is very up front about it, that they are very well performed to perform well on March 1st. Past Iowa, past New Hampshire and go big as you see primary day. So, they are looking ahead to that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, an outsider.

CARPENTER: We're looking ahead of that.

NAVARRO: One thing which I, though, let's remember in the CNN debate, the last debate, Donald Trump was silent for something like 37 minutes. He did not have a good debate, and Ben Carson had an even worse debate. He was missing in action the entire debate and it didn't hurt him.

SO, if we think that this debate and the fact that they were really not a presence, you know, this debate Ted Cruz shined, Marco Rubio shined, and John Kasich had very good moments playing himself.

COOPER: You know, it's interesting Donald Trump is still in the spin room talking to reporters. And that's -- I remember being at the last at the CNN republican debate, if I remember correctly, he didn't spend that much time in the spin room, he was basically in and out. I'm wondering if he wants more face time now in front of reporters tonight to sort of get his message across.

LORD: Whether you like him or not, he's constantly recalibrated.

COOPER: Without a doubt. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knows how to adjust.

LORD: He knows how to adjust. Yes. But in a moment maybe he thinks he needs more press. Ted Cruz's point, if I can make it quickly, everybody is right that he's positioned if Carson and/or Trump collapse to take the space.

The question is if they don't do it, if it doesn't happen on its own power soon, he says he won't attack them. Can he afford to lose Iowa if they hold on then lose New Hampshire which is not his state, and then if he doesn't win in South Carolina can you be in 0 and 3?

[23:00:00] He does have the resources, and Amanda is dead right, they have a plan for the southern states and the SEC primary, but in most elections if you go 0 in 3, the bottom falls out, so you're testing history.