Return to Transcripts main page


Obama: "We Are Hitting ISIL Harder Than Ever"; GOP Debate Tuesday Night; Donald Trump Speaks Live in Las Vegas. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 14, 2015 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": He added the 69-year- old physical strength and stamina are, quote, "extraordinary" and as it could grows (ph) added unequivocally, that Mr. Trump, if elected, quote, "Will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency," unquote. You are welcome.

That does it for us from Las Vegas, Trump hunting is over.

To my friend, Don Lemon, CNN Tonight starts now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Well, what a way to end that broadcast...


LEMON: It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast, 7:00 p.m. at the Venetian Las Vegas where Anderson and I are less than 24 hours away from the big CNN GOP debate. This is CNN Tonight I'm Don Lemon, this is Anderson Cooper. Before you get away, Anderson, I wanted to ask you, you moderated the last debate. Any question that you would like to those guys up on the stage to answer?

COOPER: You know, I think this is going to be the first time we see all these candidates since Donald Trump has talked about not allowing Muslims into the United States, a temporary pause on Muslim Immigration. So I think it will be interesting to see how the candidates when they're standing next to him. How they respond to him face-to-face about that. So that's really the question I think, I would probably -- I don't know if I'd start off with that...

LEMON: Yeah.

COOPER: But that would obviously be a big top...


LEMON: Most people in America want to hear about that. Thank you, Anderson. Great coverage over the last two hours and we'll see you again tomorrow here on CNN.

Now I want to bring in Michael Smerconish and Gloria Borger, they are here with me, also republican strategist Kevin Madden who has work for Mitt Romney's campaign among others, joins me as well, Gloria, good to see you. That's the question that Anderson wants to ask. What would you want to see them? What would you like to see them answer?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I want to hear them talk about national security and surveillance. This is going to be a big issue for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. They're going to have a fight about that. I want to hear them talk about how they would contain ISIS.

LEMON: Yeah.

BORGER: This is something, obviously, that is very much on people's minds after Paris and San Bernardino. And I'd like to hear them actually answer the questions.

LEMON: Right, right.

BORGER: Not just throw around some things like I'd be tough.

LEMON: And how they were lucky enough not to be out in the cold here in Las Vegas tonight. We're not complaining, thought, but it is cold. Let's talk about this new poll OK? With the first national poll, Trump breaks 40 percent, and that's this Monmouth University Poll that we have been talking about here. Forty percent, how do -- what is going on here? And that's a national poll. Look, I think the tougher Trump sounds, the better he does nationally. He's not doing as well in Iowa, Ted Cruz is now looking like he could win Iowa, but I think Trump's muscular talk is a reaction to the way people feel that the president have not handled ISIS particularly, well you know, 68 percent of the American public, things that we haven't been tough enough on ISIS. And I think that plays into Trump's rise in the polls and to Carson's decline in the polls...

LEMON: Yeah.

BORGER: To tell you the truth.

LEMON: The closet person Kevin, in this cruise is at 14 percent and that was taken after his statements about Muslims. What do you make of that?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But look, you know, I think that polls in a (inaudible) but I don't think it will --


LEMON: Oh, paper flying across the desk -- go ahead.

MADDEN: It's an ally, but I don't think -- it doesn't mean that Donald Trump right now isn't driving this conversation, particularly on national security matters. What's interesting right now is -- with voters, issues don't matter as much it attributes. That's what driving a lot of their voter preference. And the attributes that Donald Trump is executing; strength, clarity, and a time where the Bush -- I'm sorry the Obama administration is seemingly indecisive and not strong -- not issuing a strong enough sense to American people that they have this under control. That is where the American public exactly they're gravitating towards Donald Trump because he's doing all the talking. He's driving the conversation. These candidates right now, this debate is gonna offer them an opportunity to start taking control of the conversation and making it a more substantive conversation.

LEMON: Do you think strength and clarity?

MADDEN: Because I don't think Donald Trump can win on substantive.

LEMON: But you said strength and clarity. There are people who think he's not being very clear, he's just the loudest...

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, "SMERCONISH": No, I think its tone, the way that I would rephrase what Kevin just said is...

LEMON: Yeah.

SMERCONISH: I think tone matters and substance doesn't. And that's why he's benefitted.

LEMON: Yeah, yeah -- it is so weird right now because we're in Las Vegas, it's freezing, it's a weird climate when - that's happening in politics as well. Because if you look at...


LEMON: What's going -- who would have thought most people when I spoke to Donald Trump, he said most people count him out, right? They said OK, we know, he's at two percent, a four percent, an eight that he's gonna be out, he's gonna be out, but yet he is still going. Any sources inside of the party, do they think in the party that he is running away with his nomination?

BORGER: Look, I think they're worried about them. I mean we reported about a dinner that was held the other night, which was the monthly dinner that so-called the Establishment Republican (inaudible). I don't know what the establishment is anymore in the Republican Party. But they had this dinner and they were concern about Donald Trump is they feel that he could defend the nominee. It's not -- certainly not out of the question at all. They believe that if he is the nominee, he could cause them to lose control of the House and lose control of the Senate. And they're nervous about a broker convention. And they're also nervous about Ted Cruz -- quite honestly.

LEMON: Yeah.

[22:05:00] SMERCONISH: If there is a down ballot concern, I mean last weekend, you look at the frontage of The New York Times and it was about 195 nations buying into and wanted to do something about climate change that comes at the time when no republicans have said a word about that deal. Six and ten in Iowa of the GOP, they think it's a fraud so there's a huge disconnect between what's going on the nation and what's going on with incarnation of the Republican Party.

LEMON: You mentioned Iowa. Let's put those numbers up because it's a different story in topholes (ph) in Iowa, right? If we're looking at, this is Ted Cruz ahead and this is the Bloomberg Politics Des Moines Register Poll and there's another, the Fox News Poll and one, he's 21 the 13th, right? Cruz, 31, I should say the 21, and then Cruz is 28- 26. How do you explain this Michael?

SMERCONISH: I may explain it as Dr. Carson stating, and among those maverick candidates which are Carson and our Trump and our Cruz, you know there's a jockey in four position. You don't see transfer. In other words you don't see Carson fade and Jeb-gaiting. You don't see Carson fade and John Kasich all of a sudden is gaining. So there are still two primaries going on in that stage, as far I'm concern. Does that change Trump's strategy for tomorrow night?


SMERCONISH: So I think it does and I maybe in the minority in this. I think he's got to go after Ted Cruz. I think he goes after Cruz and the Cruz does not respond in kind.

MADDEN: But Michael is very right, when you look at the polls, the one that you look forward is the trend line. And Donald Trump is always taken on a head-on the person who is trend line is starting go in the direction to attempt.

BORGER: Right.


MADDEN: So that's what I expect.

LEMON: I want you guys to standby. I want you to help me questioning with Sean Spicer is going to join me now. He's the strategist communications director for the RNC. Sean, do you want to react anything that you've heard on my panelist here say tonight?



SPICER: The panel could do.


SPICER: But I would say...

LEMON: So this is...


SPICER: Is to go -- go ahead.

LEMON: No, go ahead.

SPICER: I just want to say to glorious point, I mean, I think there's one thing for us to understand that if the voters don't choose the nominee to the delegate selection, we got to be ready for anything. But there's no (inaudible) conspiracy here. Ultimately, this would be the voters, deciding who the nominee and the Republican Party is gonna be and the RNC providing that nominee with the resources that's necessary to win in November.

LEMON: Yeah. I want to talk to you about tone because this is gonna be the first GOP debate since the Paris attack, San Bernardino attack. How do you think this is gonna change? Do you think it will change the tone of this debate?

SPICER: That's a great question. I think look, right now, most Americans rightfully so are worried about the security of this country, worried about the security of themselves and their families. I think what you're seeing from the republican side, to different degrees to different tactics is addressing that concern that Americans have. That they don't feel safe, they're not -- they're concern about where this country headed and the ability to protect its citizens.

LEMON: Yeah. As you know, I interviewed Donald Trump last week and he told me that he is expecting a certain amount of decorum and respect from the RNC, you know as long he receives that, he's not gonna break this pledge to run as republican. You reacted as you don't think that he's going to break that?

SPICER: I don't. I think what Mr. Trump, Dr. Carson, Carly Fiorina, folks that are sort of outsiders to the national political scene or had sort of learned as the RNC is the new player on this. Our job is to find the resources necessary for the candidates to win in providing level of neutrality throughout the process. As they've seen that and Mr. Trump do the interview, reaffirmed that, then I feel very confident that not only will tell all the republicans that they're gonna support the nominee, because they realize that the only way that this, that we be Hillary Clinton is to be unified as a Republican Party.

LEMON: OK. You heard Michael Smerconish says there's a question about, you know, the down take, how does it affect people who are running in local races. You know, today, you said, I heard you say that the Republican Party, unified Republican Party is the only way to be Hilary Clinton. Meanwhile, you have to answer these questions about a broker convention. Do you think that a unified Republican Party is at possible right now? If so how? Because it doesn't seem to be so unified.

SPICER: Oh, it's quite -- I mean look, this is how primaries work, candidates go back and forth -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would add each other to June of 2008, and they end up winning. So there's a level of enthusiasm and intensity that our party and joys right now that's gonna prepare us for victory. And I appreciate it with concern how our party is gonna do, (inaudible), but when you look at how we are doing and how we will do, but how we are doing, we're doing phenomenal. We've got 66 and 99 State legislatures. We got some majority of governors, majority of secretary of state, the second number -- second highest majority in the House of Representatives since in the 1800, and a majority in the Senate. I appreciate the media's concern for how our party is doing, but we're doing this great and we'll continue to pick up seats.

[22:09:54] LEMON: Sean Spicer, thank you very much. We appreciate that. I want -- something Sean said earlier --I get back to my panel now, thank you Sean, I'll get back to my panel now. He said that on the republican side, he believes republicans are way more animated and engaged and involved and the democratic side. And a lot you give them that, but you think that's just because where we are in this process, or it's just because of someone like Donald Trump who is really shaping the narrative in the conversation?

BORGER: I think it's because of Barack Obama. I think this president is dislike to in the Republican Party and I think that this animates voters to say we don't want another term of Barack Obama and that's the way they view Hillary Clinton. And I think so that animates them. I also think this has been a very interesting season so far. Not a vote has been cast yet, but Donald Trump is somebody people enjoy watching and he does get more people interested in politics. So could how many people have been watching these debates? And will tune in again tomorrow night.

LEMON: Yeah.


MADDEN: I think the debate has shifted towards -- more towards national security and some concerns that the public has there. We have seen the ballot reference of republicans improve, even with all of the talk of the -- and the focus on Donald Trump through -- since the summer. So I think that's a good thing. The only thing is we saw other polls coming out today. Head to head, Hillary Clinton, she may beat Donald Trump yet, she beats Donald Trump pretty soundly. But Marco Rubio is beating Hillary Clinton. Ted Cruz is very competitive with Hillary Clinton. Ben Carson is competitive with Hillary Clinton. So those are really good signs.


MADDEN: They do underscore what Sean was saying.

LEMON: That is a real conundrum for your party, then.

MADDEN: Well, that's why we have these primaries.


MADDEN: Right now, a lot of voters aren't putting a premium on electability. They're saying I don't care if I want Trump in. It can't be Hillary Clinton. I think over the course of the next two, three months as we start to get into some of these primary battles in March, you know, in the SEC Primary, that that will be a premiums, again, which is who is going to be in the best position to win?

SMERCONISH: I can't deny that Americans, in record proportion are tuning in. I don't know that they're tuning in for the right reason now, I think they're tuning into the same way in summer specs that you rubberneck when you see an accident on the side of the road.


SMERCONISH: And I just have to say, I mean, look at the disconnect between some of what Trump is saying and some of what the nation is saying. Two-thirds of the country opposed what he is saying relative to the Muslim immigration. So that's why I continue to say ultimately in the fall, I think it catches with up with a wounded brand of the GOP from this, even if Trump is not that guy.



LEMON: Hold up. We'll be talking on what you said. You guys are gonna say a lots more to talk about here from Las Vegas. Donald Trump is due to speak at any moment now at the Westgate Resort and Casino. Westgate Resort and Casino, Donald Trump is gonna speak. We'll gonna bring that to you live as it happens. We'll be back with my panelist right after this quick break.


LEMON: Back now live from the beautiful, it's not frozen, the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas on the Las Vegas strip. It is cold here, but guess what? Everybody is warming up, right? They're all ready. Our GOP debate is just hours away and Donald Trump spending his time this debate eve getting ready to fire up a crowd of supporters at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. CNN's Sara Murray is there for us as Trump is getting ready to take the stage. You not gonna miss any other -- Sara, you know you're waiting for Trump to speak now. What's the atmosphere? What are people telling you there?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Don, this is sort of a how Donald Trump. He has a big event the night before. When I was talking to people in line waiting to get in, they were telling me, look. You are obviously for the rally, but tomorrow, when they're on stage, we do not want to see Trump go against Ted Cruz. There are a number of voters here when sales split between those two candidates or even three or four candidates. Look, they're saying, if people want to disagree about policy, that's fine, but they don't want to see these guys pitted against each other. If you're a voter right now who has Cruz and Trump and in your top two, you're worried they're going to go after each other and that that could be harmful for whoever you want to see at the top of the ticket. So that's sort of uninteresting phenomena when you're playing out tonight, Don.

LEMON: So Sara, you know, Donald Trump's doctor today released a statement and said it sounds a lot like Donald Trump. He is hugely in space and awesome. We know he had a bout with pharyngitis during my interview last weekend and before. So what his doctor say today for real?

MURRAY: Well, you know what? It's not abnormal for candidates to put out statements of health from their doctors. But it is weird to see one that is worded quite like this. His doctor called his lab results astonishingly excellent. He (inaudible) said he had no issues to alcohol or tobacco in the past. It was almost a doctor who shared the sort of same rhetorical flourish as Donald Trump does on the campaign trail, very rare to see in a health statement from a presidential candidate, Don. LEMON: All right, Sara, stand by. As soon as Donald Trump takes the stage, we'll get to him. We're going to bring part of his speech live to you. So thank you Sara, we'll get back to you. You know, you think you're being called a maniac by Donald Trump would have Ted Cruz pretty hot under the collar, but that's not exactly what happened, back with me now, Michael Smerconish, Gloria Borger and Kevin Madden. We'll talk about that in just a bit, but let's continue our conversation like we had before. We're talking about Donald Trump, so I have to say, just you know, this is a completely unscientific survey. Since I've been here, everyone who comes up to me, (inaudible) I like to interview -- I am voting for Donald Trump or -- and/or they say, "I like him and I'm voting for him." Now I haven't seen anything like that in the presidential process really sense Barack Obama. Since people saying, you know I like that -- Am I wrong?

BORGER: Well, no. I think the big question with Donald Trump is...

LEMON: Just word on a tree -- right.

BORGER: Can he motivate the people who like him, who are -- many of whom are new to the process -- new to the political process. Can he get them to the polls?

LEMON: Right.

BORGER: Barack Obama did that. He brought new people in to the electorate. This is what Ted Cruz is worried about in Iowa, because if those people don't turn out, Ted Cruz wins Iowa easy. But if those people do turn out and this, you know, I was talking to somebody who does technology for Ted Cruz and a lot the polling. What they worry about is that Trump could be like Obama and bring new voters in and then that would be difficult for Cruz. So I think this is something -- a phenomenon you're seeing now, which is something you saw with the president...

LEMON: But the current president as polarizing as Donald Trump, Michael when he was running. I think to some but not quite...

SMERCONISH: Don, I think that there could be a hidden vote for Donald Trump, they reverse Bradley effect out there because what could be more politically incorrect than saying that you're for Donald Trump. This is a man who mocked a reporter with a physical disability. I mean, that happened to week, 10 days ago. I thought that was appalling and yet it didn't put a dent in him. So it makes me wonder, are there sleepers out there (inaudible). When that curtain is closed they're going to vote for Donald Trump?

LEMON: Yeah, you read my mind. That's -- I need...

BORGER: Or go out to vote.

[22:20:06] MADDEN: Here's the one I'd say if I were If I were on the other campaigns and I'm looking at both the anecdotal evidence which is, you know the crowd that we saw tonight that Sara was reporting from, which is...


MADDEN: And some of the empirical evidence, which is he still has a very steady pace at the top in some of these polls. And that his support is starting to calcify that people who are registering for Donald Trump are now saying, if he loses, I lose, so therefore, I can't let him lose. And I got to go out, and not only am I going to vote, but I'm going to find two or three other people who I know, who haven't been involved in the process, but sort to feel like me about the system which is that, we're tired of status quo, we're tired of other establishment. So let's go out and send the message. And that would be a concern if I was in some of those other campaigns that you're seeing this support other. The only thing that's really going to move these voters is if he does start to lose. If Cruz takes him out in Iowa, they're not going to sit well in second place elsewhere and that...


SMERCONISH: And neither will be.


SMERCONISH: He is not someone who goes quietly into the night. There's not a soft concession speech and endorsement of another candidate in his future. It ends in a big way if it ends.

BORGER: Well, but what if Donald Trump wanted to...

LEMON: It's like a bad break-up, right? A bad divorce.


BORGER: It could be a bad break up, but what if Donald Trump wanted to be the kingmaker and things weren't going his way and suddenly he could decide...

LEMON: Yeah.

BORGER: Who would actually?

LEMON: Do you think that's in him, though?

BORGER: I don't know the -- do I know?

LEMON: Yeah.

BORGER: I don't know the answer.

MADDEN: There's been so much we don't know. Here we are sitting in the desert wearing winter coats. Everything we know, throw it out, so we'll see.

LEMON: Yeah. OK. So you guys keep mentioning Ted Cruz, right? Ted Cruz had little fun reacting to Donald Trump tweeting this. This is a little dig I want you to see. First with Trump said and then what Cruz tweeted. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look at the way he's dealt with the Senate where he goes in there like a, you know, frankly, like a little bit of a maniac. You're never going to get things done that way.

MICHAEL SEMBELLO, SINGER: She's a maniac, maniac on the floor and she's dancing like she's never danced before.


LEMON: All right. We saw that and that were, you know, from the movie Flashdance. They're having a little fun. How does this strategy work? Because pretty much, Ted Cruz has been sort of like, you know, just short of, I hate to say this, sort of suckling like in neck you know, he's like the little brother playing little brother to Donald Trump's big brother. Is his strategy changing now?

MADDEN: I think it's less like that, I think it's more like a NASCAR where one car...

LEMON: Drafting.

MADDEN: One car drafts behind another...

LEMON: Right.

MADDEN: And then slingshots into the lead when they have a chance. What Cruz wants to do -- I'm not even a big NASCAR fan, but...


MADDEN: Yeah, absolutely. And what Cruz wants to do is he wants to be the vehicle for a lot of the anxiety or anger that some of these Trump voters have when they start to put a premium on a more traditional candidate. And I know the bar is low, but Trump -- Cruz sees himself as a more traditional candidate.

SMERCONISH: And he has been a tiger in a tall grass saying like many of us this can't last, right? The wheels have got to fall off the cart, whether the cart is Trump or whether it's Carson. And they appear now to be falling off of Carson. And the he is, ready to pick up all the piece.

LEMON: How did you sneak your coffee on to the set?



LEMON: Nobody does that.

BORGER: What is the question about Cruz?

LEMON: Yeah, go ahead. BORGER: Is he peaking too soon?

BORGER: Because suddenly now everybody is looking for Cruz.

MADDEN: I don't know. I feel like everybody is right around Christmas time now through...


MADDEN: Before we get to the caucuses, people are started to tune in and they are starting to make their decision.

LEMON: Let's talk about Rubio, right? Because if you believe that Rubio may be -- at least in the polling shows that Rubio may be the only one who can beat Hillary Clinton. That's on the polling shows. What about Rubio, and his strategy tomorrow night.

MADDEN: OK, well, two things. First, it doesn't surprise me because among independents, if you look at the internals of that poll, it's among independents that he runs so much better than, say, does a Trump or a Cruz. Tomorrow night, there are still two debates playing themselves out on that stage and he's running in the establishment class. He's going to be more concerned with Chris Christie's rise in New Hampshire than he does Ted Cruz in Iowa.

LEMON: All right guys, thank you. I appreciate it. Go warm up.

BORGER: Stay warm.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

BORGER: Stay warm.

[22:24:15] LEMON: Thank you very much. Coming up, Donald Trump is about to speak here in Las Vegas. We're going to bring that to you live. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.


LEMON: All right. Donald Trump speaking tonight at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino, we're going to bring it to you live as soon as it starts. And just hours away from the big GOP debate tomorrow night right here on CNN. And we are, of course, live from Las Vegas here at the Venetian, a very cold Las Vegas, we should say. It's cold in the desert. In the wake of the terror attacks in Paris in San Bernardino, more and more Americans now are worried, so tomorrow night's debate, focusing on national security, more important than ever. It is very timely.

Joining me now, Mike Rogers, Julia Kayeem and Tom Hughes, good to have all of you, thank you very much. Listen, we may have to go to Donald Trump. I may have to cut you guys off, if that happens. But Mike I'm going to start with you, as we got to this debate, more Americans are concerned about they're afraid, 16 percent see terrorism as the country's number one problem. That's up three percent from last month. Last month it was three percent, I should say. The highest point in 10 years, Americans are much more concerned about terror than about the economy, which may be a bit surprising at this point. So do we have the right? Do Americans have the right to be so nervous right now?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: I think so. So you had the largest successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, in San Bernardino. And you don't have to be an expert in national security to take a look at what's going on in the world and know the policy isn't working. So ISIS has expanded its territory. It still holds territory the size of Indiana. It's now operating in some 30 different countries, both recruiting and operationally. It's still well funded. And so when you saw a successful attack after a series of successful attacks, I think most Americans said, hey, wait a minute, everybody told us everything was OK. It's clearly not OK. I think that's what people are concerned.

[22:30:06] LEMON: Well, even just before the president said that we contained them, and then all of a sudden you have an attack and I think that weighs on the Americans more.

ROGERS: Absolutely. And the president seems very disengaged from where I think people are, where his strategy is, if there's a -- clearly articulate strategy, I certainly heard it. And so I think that makes people nervous.

So when he was trying to reinforce Americans by saying, don't worry, everything is okay, our strategy is working, people could clearly see the problems that were happening and it was that disconnect that I think, really concerning.

LEMON: Juliette Kayyem, so give us a reality check here. Are we more vulnerable now?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it depends against what? And that's a hard question to answer. Are we safer overall than from 9/11? Probably from a catastrophic terrorist incident. Absolutely

Is it impossible for anyone, from any Party to stop the next guy who is 24 years old, who goes online, decides to get radicalized, buy some guns and kill a bunch of people? That is very hard to deter.

And so this is why the President is coming out to - as, you know, and sort of trying to create a narrative about both what's happening abroad and the difficulties or challenges here in the homeland, to create the narrative the same week that the Republicans are meeting to provide an alternative narrative.

And the challenge for Republicans and Democrats, as well, because as Mike certainly knows, there is a funny alignment on a lot of this stuff. Is surveillance, people talk about more and being more aggressive, but when you talk about more surveillance, it splits the parties, both Republican and Democrat.

And when you talk about issues around visa reform or travel, there's lots of splits within the party. Both Republican and Democrats that don't align neatly. And, you know, obviously, if you talk about troops on the ground, people may want to be more aggressive. When you start talking about troops on the ground, both parties also split. So it's not perfect partisan lining.

So that is what is going to be the challenge tomorrow is it's easy to criticize. It's a difficult issue. Is there an alternative vision that doesn't bump up against a lot of controversy which always happens in counter-terrorism. It's always controversial.

LEMON: Let's listen to what the President had to say today.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are hitting ISIL harder than ever. Coalition aircraft, our fighters, bombers and drones have been increasing the pace of air strikes, nearly 9,000 as of today.

Last month, in November, we dropped more bombs on ISIL targets than any other month since this campaign started. All this said, we recognize that progress needs to keep coming faster.


LEMON: Tom, this is for you. Did his comments reassure Americans today?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I don't think so. I don't think so at all. And, you know, for some of us that are old enough to recall the rhetoric during Vietnam, you know, all we heard about was the body counts in favor of the U.S. and we're winning, we're winning. You know, light at the end of the tunnel. We were winning every year of the Vietnam War right up until April of 1975 when we lost.

LEMON: Tom, what about the idea, you know, let's talk a little more about the idea of monitoring social media accounts, about the social media accounts of at least one of these killers in San Bernardino not being monitored could have been prevented.

FUENTES: Well, first of all, you know, her account was a private account and she used a pseudonym. Now, last year, the U.S. government issued 10 million visas, 40,000 were K-1 fiancee visas. When you're issuing 10 million, and probably there's three times that many that applied for a visa, how are you going to monitor any of their social media all around the world outside the United States?

It's not manageable. We don't have the resources to do it. We might probably not have the legal authority or any of the capability to do it in many of the foreign countries. So I think that, you know, the idea sounds great and, oh, we should do it, but I don't see how we can.

LEMON: Mike, you're shaking your head in agreement.

Rogers: I don't know how you do it. You think that the sheer amount and volume of data, there's something like in the order of billions of communications that we can at least get a look at, imagine a multiple of that when you talk about social media.

So this notion that you would somehow monitor all of those, as Tom said, 10 million, it's probably more, and then you take any of the other visa programs and then any of the folks that rise to the level of suspicion, it's an unworkable problem.

That's why intelligence is so crucial to this. And getting the right provisions, the right legal aspects of this in place so that you can get at the people that rise to this level.

[22:35:00] You know, there were some things in this process that maybe they could have gotten at if they had a little bit better intelligence along the way on some collection issues. That's where we're going to have to focus. You can't just say we're going to blanket monitor all social media, can't happen.

First of all, it would be a waste of time. Second, it would be a waste of money. You have to start narrowing that field and you do that through more focused intelligence operations.

LEMON: All right, stand by, everyone. Of course, we're live here in Las Vegas. We're going to get you to the Westgate Resort and Casino, as well. Donald Trump is going to speak in just moments. We're going to carry that for you, live, right here on CNN. Our live coverage continues right after a very quick break.


LEMON: Back now live from Las Vegas. Donald Trump is going to speak tonight at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. You're looking live at the podium there. He's going to step up at any moment and we'll bring part of that speech to you live.

Meantime, let's continue our conversation. The Republican rivals are united in at least one thing, that they think President Barack Obama is doing a terrible job fighting ISIS. That's what they say. But, what would they do?

Back with me now, Mike Rogers, Juliette Kayyem, and Tom Fuentes. So, Mike, first question to you, President Barack Obama today said the coalition is hammering ISIS. The infrastructure, their military assets or oil trade, shrinking their territory both in Iraq and Syria. My question is, is it working -- two-part question, is it working and he's becoming more specific about even who they're hitting. Was he kind of forced to do this, do you think, through criticism?

ROGERS: Yes. That felt a little odd and awkward to me that he would go down to the Pentagon after he said he had a strategy and a plan and talk about this then come out into a press conference and say, ooh, we do have a plan and here's the kind of things that are working. It just seemed very odd to me the way he approached this problem.

LEMON: Is it working?

[22:40:00] ROGERS: I don't think it is and for the reason he's put these pretty significant limitations on what they can do. Intelligence operations on the ground are not where they need to be. If you're going to have a robust, and tempo is really important.

So dropping a few bombs and making a few press releases has to be followed up by tempo. It has to have another day and another day and another day. You have to continue to degrade their leadership and degrade their logistics training.

They've had a few successes, but it's not an overarching strategy that will actually get to where we need to go.

LEMON: OK, so let's talk more about strategy, Tom, because the Republican candidate is hammering the President but, you know, when they get specific on how to fight ISIS, their approach isn't all that different, really. So -- in fighting, accommodation of air strikes, Special Forces on the ground and international coalition. Does anyone who's criticizing the President have a better plan?

FUENTES: It doesn't sound like it so far, Don. And I think that, you know, the problem here is that we've had two presidents in a row say that we need to put boots on the ground when we went into Afghanistan to prevent the terrorists from having a site to train, a safe haven to have their training sites and we've eliminated the sites with the monkey bars that, you know, Osama bin Laden used and now ISIS controls a territory, you know, that's enormous for the purposes of training people to be terrorists, and people are flocking there to learn to be terrorists.

The reality is, until we get them down to the size, they only need a large high school area to do the training they're talking about, to have firearms put in the monkey bars and do all of that.

I think that the problem is they have a completely open territory where they're apt (ph) to do the training and to attract people from all over the world. We haven't even talked about the people that are attracted there from Asia and Latin America and Australia.

It's not just Europeans and a couple of Americans and Canadians that are flocking to Syria to join and get trained by ISIS.

LEMON: Juliette, do you hear any of the critics presenting a viable plan, alternative to what the President is doing?

KAYYEM: Well, if there's an alternative, I don't know how viable it is.

So, first, just picking up on the congressman's point. I mean, a few -- it's not a few bombs, it's 10,000 bombs - I mean, there's a lot of bombing going on.

It is not degrading ISIS as quickly as we would like but everyone, I believe, agrees that the geographic power of ISIS has to be disrupted to have any influence on its tentacles throughout the world, that people are attracted to ISIS because it seems like a winner.

So, the bombings going on are a significant part of that. Where the Republicans do differ, obviously, or at least Trump and that might be an outliner, but he is a leader, so we have to talk about it is the exclusion of Muslims from this country.

We will hear more from him about it tomorrow. I think it's unworkable, it's not American. I think it actually caters to a narrative about us that ISIS will take it to the bank, so to speak.

But I think, you know, in agreeing where Obama has, I think, failed to capture all of us, at least in a speech in the oval office, and it's very hard for a president to do this, it's very hard for a congressman to do this, is this -- these attacks that we see by individuals or supporters are very difficult to stop.

We talk about see something, say something. We talk about engaging communities. But we -- it's going to be hard to get to zero. And I wish the President would begin to talk about resiliency and preparedness and engaging communities as forcefully or as much as we all talk about bombing because we have to be realistic about what we're facing.

LEMON: Mike, I want to ask you about -- okay. Before -- Donald Trump now speaking, so we're going to get back to the panel. Let's go to the Westgate Resort and Casino here in Las Vegas. Donald Trump spending the eve of this big GOP debate on the campaign stump, tonight again, in Las Vegas. Not at the Trump Tower, at his own property here, but at the Westgate.

There you see him entering the stage now, of course the big applause and of course, Donald Trump always interesting when he speaks live, in his interviews and he will tell you, I don't use a teleprompter. Very rarely use notes. The only time I really used it is when I wanted to talk about my plan, when it comes to how do we deal with Muslims and to fight terrorism in this country.

So let's listen to Donald Trump this evening here in Las Vegas. Here we go.

TRUMP: This is really beautiful, fantastic. What a crowd. What a crowd. Well, I want to thank everybody. You know, we have a big night tomorrow night. Has anybody, like, thinking about it? It's going be good.

We've had so many good things happen over the last five-month period, it's been actually amazing. The people of this country are absolutely incredible people and I am honored to be with you tonight. It's like this all over the place.

[22:45:00] We're going to take our country back, folks. We're going to take it back. We're taking our country back. It's gone on too long, too many mistakes, too many stupid people telling us what we're supposed to be doing. We're going to be taking it back and we're taking it back soon.

We can't put up with it any longer. You see what happens. The Iran deal, incompetent. Anything you look, now I hear Bergdahl, no jail time for Bergdahl. I mean, no jail time.

We have a man there who left. He's a traitor. He left. Five people killed looking for him. And what happens? Like, for years, he's been under the same thing, and I hear there's not going to be jail time. It's incredible.

You know, 50 years ago, what would happen? Boom. Twenty-five years ago, probably the same thing, but it would have taken longer. Ten years ago, jail time. Five years ago, a couple of years. Now, he's going to get nothing. He's going to get nothing.

Well, I'll tell you what, I'm just thinking of it now for the first time. If I get in, we will review his case, I promise you. And you know what? Statute of limitations will be reviewing Hillary Clinton's case, too. I can tell you. We will review that.

You know, before I go too far, I've made some great friends and, you know, I announced and I talked about illegal immigration. There was a huge firestorm, everyone went crazy, oh, illegal immigration, it wasn't even something that people are going to talk about.

And then all of a sudden they started saying, you know, maybe Trump is right. But I went through two weeks, it was unbelievable. I mean, it was really incredible. I didn't mind it. You know, it's like, quote life, because I'm telling the truth. I don't mind when you're saying something that's correct and this country needs to get away from political correctness. It's killing us. It's killing us. It is absolutely killing us.

And I announced all about -- we talked about what's happening at the border, we talked about the illegals pouring in. And all of a sudden people started seeing lots of crime and they started really seeing it to lose focus because it was like a magnifying glass. We had beautiful Kate in San Francisco who was killed and shot five times and then we had so many others.

We had a woman a few weeks ago in California raped, sodomized, 66- year-old veteran, raped, sodomized and killed by an illegal immigrant. We have much, much crime, so much all over the place.

And a friend of mine, I see him backstage with a group from remembrance families. You know, remembrance, right? These are people whose families have been devastated by people that weren't supposed to be in our country.

People that came here, were forced here by countries that are smarter and I want to just bring the friends of mine and in particular, somebody has really gotten to know well and he's a special man.

Could the remembered families come up? And this is Jamiel. Jamiel Shaw. Come on up and get the families up. Come on up. Come on up. I saw him back. We're going to say hello and I said, come on up and say a few words. These are incredible people.

LEMON: All right, Donald Trump doing some congratulations and thank yous and getting started, not getting into the bulk of his speech right now. We're going to take a quick break and come back live with Donald Trump in just a minute.


LEMON: OK, back now, live. We'll continue to (inaudible) it's Donald Trump speaking. His guests are up on stage now, some of the guests he introduced up on stage speaking now. Also, Donald Trump being disrupted by some protesters there, at least the event. Let's listen.

JAMIEL SHAW, SR., FATHER OF JAMIEL SHAW, JR.: ... and we have to stand with him because he's standing for America and trust in him like I do.

TRUMP: Thank you, everybody.

LMEON: We're going to listen in for a little bit because he's going to -- there we go.

TRUMP: These are amazing people. They're amazing families. What they're going through, you cannot imagine. For no reason whatsoever, just incompetent people.

They allow these people to come into our country. It's a disgrace. It's a disgrace. Okay. So today, we had a lot of news and it was all good. It never gets reported properly by these people back here. Look at all those press.

But you know, I've learned two things, more than anything else. How smart the people are and how bad and dishonest the press is because it is really dishonest. It is really, really dishonest.

So we had a lot of polls coming out today. And they were really good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. He's my man.

[22:55:00] TRUMP: That's right. So we had the Monmouth poll, very highly respected. Trump, 41. Cruz, 14. And everyone else much lower, I mean, somewhere. So I heard today when they announced the poll, 41 to 14, and I like Cruz. Good guy. But I heard, here's how they announced, Cruz surging.

So when I heard, this was on television, Cruz surging. So I said, oh, I don't know, that sounds bad to me. "Coming up, Cruz surging." Then they said the Monmouth poll was just done, Cruz is surging. Trump 41, Cruz 14. I said, wait a minute, what's going on?

I'll tell you what, they are the most dishonest people. Then, you know about CNN. CNN came out just recently, 36 to 16. Graves poll, highly respected, 42 to 16 to 12 to 11.

So then, today, it was very interesting because I did have one poll in Iowa (TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY) which I never expected to get. I can't stand the paper. It's a horrible paper. "Des Moines Register" is terrible. You know, I know of course, I would never say they do this, but they have a very small sample. They take about ten votes and put them in their pocket, you understand that.

So "Des Moines Register" was 21-31. All of a sudden, it was like the biggest story I've ever seen OK? That was just Iowa. Don't worry about it. Iowa, we love Iowa but I think we're doing great in Iowa, and I expect to win Iowa. We think we're going to do great in Iowa. I get by far the biggest crowds.

So then we had a CNN poll. So CNN today was talking about a poll that wasn't theirs. And I kept saying, why don't they talk about a poll that's theirs?

So they just did this poll, it's a new poll. CNN and Iowa, Trump 33, Cruz 20 and then everyone else much lower. So we actually sent a couple of e-mails, started to tweet a little bit. You know, the Twitter is great when you have between 5 and 10 and 13 -- we have so many people. We have millions.

So we started to tweet. We said, why is CNN not playing their poll? It's their poll. So if anybody has an idea, please let me know before the evening ends.

Then we had a Fox News poll, which was a pretty good poll. It was pretty much tied. Then we have Quinnipiac. And Quinnipiac was 28 Trump, 27 Cruz. In other words, we won.

They call it was tie. They say it was tie. OK. I mean, so what? You know the bottom line? I think we're going to win Iowa. I think we're going to win New Hampshire big. I think that, frankly as we win Iowa ...

LEMON: Donald Trump saying he's going to win Iowa, he's going to win New Hampshire big, also criticizing the media, something that shouldn't be a surprise. He does that all the time, but again, Donald Trump speaking live now in Las Vegas. We're going to continue on with Donald Trump right after a very quick break. Don't go anywhere.