Return to Transcripts main page


Donald Trump Firing Up Florida Crowd; Nikki Haley: Voice of Opposition; Obama's Final SOTU Getting Mixed Reaction; The Capture of El Chapo; Trump Versus Cruz Heating Up. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 13, 2016 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The power ball of candidates who is, of course, Donald Trump firing up the crowd in Florida as only he can.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nikki Haley, a very nice woman. She said I'm an angry person. And they said you to me, they said you are an angry person? I thought, I said, I am. I'm very angry. Because I hate what's happening to our country. I am very angry. I'm very angry.


LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

Trump sounding confident as always. But there is a battle raging for the heart and soul of the GOP tonight. In South Carolina, Governor Nikki Haley just might be the voice of the opposition.


GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When you get loud, when you get angry, the work stops. Things stop moving.


LEMON: So, here's a question. Is the GOP a house divided and could it cost them their best shot at the White House in years?

Well, there's lots to get to tonight and I'm going to begin with the faceoff between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley. It started with this from her republican response to the State of the Union.


HALEY: In many parts of society today, whether in popular culture, academia, the media or politics there is a tendency to falsely equate noise with results. Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference, that's just not true. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And just in case there was anybody who didn't know exactly who Governor Haley was talking about. Here is what she told me on New Day just this morning.


LEMON: You said the loudest voices in the room. Was that comment directed at Donald Trump?

HALEY: Partially him but a lot of people. A lot of what I was talking about is we've seen across our country, if you look at places like Ferguson and Baltimore, we are seeing that people are feeling like they have to be loud, they have to be angry to get their voices heard.


LEMON: Well, you didn't think that Trump would take that lying down, did you? Of course, you didn't. So, listen to what he told. CNN's Erin Burnett just tonight.


TRUMP: So, let her refer to me, that's fine. As far as I'm concerned anger is OK. Anger and energy is what this country needs. And I won't be angry for long. If I become president we're going to start having great victories and we're going to China in trade, and we're going to beat other countries in trade and lots. And we're going to have borders, and we're going to have good health care, not Obamacare, which is going up 25, 35, and 40 percent and people can't afford it.

We're going to do -- we're going to do some great things and the anger will totally subsist that it will be gone very quickly.

As far as Nikki Haley, I like her. She comes to my office and asking me for campaign contributions before I was a candidate and very substantial contributions. She was very aggressive. I will tell you that. But I like her.

She is a very nice woman but she is very weak on the subject of illegal immigration. And you know, that's not something that I care for in terms of somebody's attitude. She is very, very weak on illegal immigration. And that's no good with me.


LEMON: So, why don't we discuss now. Dana Bash is here as well as Hugh Hewitt. It sounds like it's on, guys. It is on here. Hugh, you think that Governor Haley didn't mean to pick a fight with Donald Trump. I mean, what makes you so sure she said I intended Donald Trump was part of the intention.

HUGH HEWITT, RADIO HUGH HEWITT SHOW HOST: Yes. I know what she told you this morning, Don, and she said the same thing on Today Show. But the last time I was doing commentary for ABC so it's in the virtual soundproof booth and I heard an amazing speech by an amazing governor.

And the thing I focused on was her passage on Mother Emanuel Church and the fact that in June, this horrific event happened and the people of South Carolina chose not to react with rage but rather by turning towards God and by forgiveness. I was taken away by that and thought that she had homerun.

And so, I was quite surprised today to find out that the after effects of that speech was somehow Haley not online with Trump and I'll be interested whether you and Dana had the same reaction that I did because I just did not focused on that. I focused what I thought was a better...


LEMON: I know you didn't focus on it but you don't think that if she's -- if it's coming out of her own mouth and she says, listen, "The intention, Don, was Donald Trump partly, yes." I mean, why wouldn't you? I don't understand the logic there that you wouldn't that she's...


HEWITT: The logic is just the question of the priority of the speech. I think the priority of her speech was to draw attention to her state and how it responded in the aftermath of a tragic mass shooting. And that in the course of that she said there are some irresponsible conversations out there, and surely she meant Donald Trump and probably some of the other candidates. But I don't think she meant to have a, you know...


LEMON: Let Dana get in on this. Dana, what do you want to say?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, I do think, Hugh, that you're -- that you're right. That they weren't prepared for the fallout from this, no question. I mean, that's obvious that they didn't really sort of anticipate that that would be the main take away and something that would contribute to the already real divide within the Republican Party. However, they probably should have known about that...


[22:05:00] But, Dana, they didn't anticipate it? I'm going to let to let you finish, but how could they not have anticipated that?

BASH: Yes, exactly.

LEMON: She confirmed to me that the speaker read her speech. She told me that the leaders read her speech, the speaker, the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell...

BASH: They did.

LEMON: ... both read her speech before she delivered it. So, that's pretty important, don't you think?

BASH: It is. And that was exactly -- my point is that they should have anticipated it. You're right. That the leadership in Washington looked at her speech beforehand. I did some reporting on this today throughout the day, and my understanding, according to a couple of sources really on both sides of this is that she made it very clear when she accepted the job do this rebuttal. Because it's not always something that you want from them.

There is a long history of people who have done this speech and not -- and it's been a kind of career killer for them. But for her she said, look, I'm going to do this but it's going to be on my terms, it's going to be my ideas and my words.

And I'm told that Paul Ryan who was one of the people who has done this speech before said, OK, fine, it's going to be your words, your speech and then that's what she did.

Now it shouldn't have been a surprise to anybody and I guarantee you it wasn't a surprise to the leaders in Washington that she included this kind of call to calm down. Because she made so much news just a couple weeks ago, when she was very out front saying that Donald Trump is just wrong to call for a temporary ban on Muslims coming into the U.S.

LEMON: Hugh, listen, and Donald Trump is not the only person who is attacking her. I mean, Ann Coulter, you know this, you had Ann Coulter on your radio program today. I listened to her. Laura Ingraham, they both found sooner (ph). Ann Coulter tweeted that Donald Trump should deport her. So, I mean, how can the Republican Party unite at this point over this?

HEWITT: Of course, you know, Ann is a wonderful guest and like Donald Trump is a terrific interview. And Laura Ingraham is a very smart very accomplished host. But there are -- in the middle of a primary campaign and Laura and Ann support Donald Trump.

Now I heard the Erin Burnett interviewed earlier tonight when Donald Trump called in, and I would not be surprised if Donald extended an olive branch to Nikki Haley now. It's great politics, he's a very smart politician. He is leading in New Hampshire, he is leading in South Carolina, statistical dead heat in Iowa.

The smart thing to do is to put this behind you. And I also think it would be smart politics to get rid of this crazy debate about Ted Cruz's eligibility. Because there about like, four people in the country who thinks he is not eligible, and Ann Coulter is one of them.

But if you get Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, John Eastman, Andy McCarthy, and every other conservative legal scholar out there agreeing that Ted Cruz is eligible, he's a natural citizen. There isn't much of a debate and there isn't much of war. They ought to be fighting as Donald has been fighting about which direction the country is going on. That's where they ought to be talking about.

LEMON: Yes. Dana bash, go ahead. BASH: But on that point, I think what's important to remember is

that, you know, maybe the voices that we're hearing about, that you just mentioned, Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter. They're the ones who Nikki Haley was talking about. It wasn't just Donald Trump.

It was that kind of rancor that she says we -- that she says we just have to calm down. And again, I want to sort of underscore that Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, they knew what they were getting when they got Nikki Haley. The fact that she's saying that today with Don, and then in a press conference saying I stand by this. This is what I want to say. They knew that because they are referring about Donald Trump.


LEMON: Well, Dana, let me ask you this because I want you to comment. Do you think that's part of their strategy? You got the House Speaker...

BASH: Yes.

LEMON: ... you got Speaker Ryan today.

BASH: Yes, I do.

LEMON: ... he told you yesterday President Obama speech last night degrading the presidency because of its veiled references to Donald Trump and, you know, and the presidential primary race. I wonder its delivered to having, you know, him criticize the president and Nikki Haley take on Trump that there is something some strategy in this that we may not be seeing?

BASH: I don't think that it's necessarily a clear line through all of that. I do think that there's one fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and the leadership in Washington, Paul Ryan included at the top of that, are worried about the rhetoric. And they knew that Nikki Haley had a very strong possibility of speaking her mind on that and they're with her on that.


BASH: On the issue of the president, Paul Ryan said beforehand, I was at a breakfast with him yesterday morning, I guess it was the day at the State of the Union saying that he was ready for the president to get into presidential politics, 2016 politics, because he wants to make sure that his successor, who he thinks will be Hillary Clinton on the democratic ticket is sort of prepared for that. So, that's what he was going for there. He was playing politics just as much as he says that Barack Obama was.

LEMON: And they should -- you're right. And they should not be surprised. Because Governor Haley is a force and she is going to do what she wants to do. And she doesn't necessarily always follow the partisan line.

Go ahead, Hugh. I want to move on but go ahead quickly. HEWITT: I want to go back with the 30,000 hit (ph). Nikki Haley gave

a great, great speech.


HEWITT: And underscored the fact that four of the top eight republican contenders for the presidency are minorities or women.

[22:10:00] It also -- it took away from the headline of the day, which is Heuy Jackson -- Hugh Jackson is now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and so I really I'm upset that we deferred from that big story today.

But she gave a great speech and she is going to be on the short list for the vice presidency.


HEWITT: And I think this will blow over in two days. But there was no grand plan and that was reporting was backed up by Dana, you just said by Robert Costa of the Washington Post...


BASH: I agree.

HEWITT: ... that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell got the speech in advance but they had no editorial control. That was Nikki Haley channeling Nikki Haley saying...


LEMON: And no one should be surprised by that.

HEWITT: Right.

LEMON: No one should be surprised by that. And not to be overlooked. I mean, she is a daughter of Indian immigrants and, you know, giving the rebuttal to the State of the Union speech from the President of the United States.

Dana, you know, you have been with Ted Cruz in South Carolina all day and you were just able to ask him about this new story out about his finances. Tell us about that.

DANA: That's right. It's a story that the New York Times broke that he, during his run for Senate. He is a first-term senator but when he ran, he, during that campaign, he got a loan from Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street bank that actually his wife worked for.

She's on a leave of absence now. And that perhaps it wasn't properly disclosed to the Senate Ethics Committee or even more specifically the Federal Election Commission. I asked him about that. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BASH: Senator, how do you explain to your supporters that you got a

very large loan from your wife's Wall Street bank in order to fund your upstart insurgent Senate campaign.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the premise of your question is not right. Heidi and I...

BASH: You didn't get a loan?

CRUZ: The premise of your question is not right. Heidi and I, when we ran for Senate we made the decision to put our liquid net worth into the campaign. And so, we did so through a combination of savings, liquidating our savings accounts through a combination of selling assets and then we had a brokerage account that has a standard margin loan like any brokerage account has, and we borrowed against the stocks and assets that we had under ordinary terms.

And so, those loans have been disclosed over and over again on multiple filings. If it was the case that they were not filed exactly as the FEC requires then we will amend the filings. But all of the information has been public and transparent for many years. And that's the end of that.


LEMON: Dana, is that really the end of that?

BASH: Has he met Donald Trump? I think he has. You know, who knows? I will say that I spoke to a source, a senior source in an opposing campaign who really does not like Ted Cruz and his campaign who said that he thinks that this is a non-issue.

But one important sort of point to button this, why this could matter is because of his brand. He has been so much time out there railing against the institutions of Washington and people sort of think of New York and maybe New York banks as that, as something that the populous fervor would not be very happy with.

So, to have Goldman Sachs and Ted Cruz and loans and you know, where people is not really understanding everything that he is saying because it is confusing. It's not what they want to be talking about less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses that he is very much hoping to win.

LEMON: Hugh, the person who is closest to him in the polls, Donald Trump, is he going to seize on this?

HEWITT: Of course. You know, if I -- I might be wrong about this, but I believe that absentee ballots are now available for the New Hampshire primary. That means is underway in the 2016 election. I think that it is the case.

So, we will see opposition research dumped on all of the candidates...

BASH: Right. HEWITT: ... at least the top seven or eight and they're all trying to play for a vote here or a vote there. It is so close. Donald Trump is ahead in New Hampshire, he's ahead in South Carolina. And Ted Cruz has got a little lead in Iowa. So, the kitchen sink, duck, because it's coming at you if you're in this race right now, everything is coming at you.

LEMON: Hugh Hewitt warned you, so take heed. Thank you, Hugh. Thank you, Dana. I appreciate that.

BASH: And I will say of course -- of course Hugh Hewitt is right, New Hampshire is already voting absentee. I met somebody at Trump rally -- at a Trump rally on Monday who had already voted for him.

LEMON: The voting has begun for 2016.


LEMON: Underway. Thank you.


BASH: Don't doubt yourself, Hugh, you're always on it.

HEWITT: Well, I'm glad for the confirmation. Thank you, Dana. Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Sometimes don't -- don't blow his head up. I mean, come on , don't gas him up any more than he help you. Thank you, guys. I appreciate it.

When we come right back, President Obama's biggest regret of the past eight years. And what do you think other presidents might have done better.

Plus, the plot thickens. Was drug lord, El Chapo captured because he was flirting with a Mexican actress?


LEMON: President Obama's final State of the Union getting a mixed reaction, praised from his supporters and harsh criticism from his opponents.

I want to talk about this with James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic. Good evening, sir. Thanks for coming on.


LEMON: So, James, I want to talk to you about the State of the Union address, but first I want you to listen to this exchange between Donald Trump and Erin Burnett. This is on CNN earlier tonight on Outfront. She asks him about a robocall supporting him from a white supremacist super PAC. Listen


ERIN BURNETT, CNNOW HOST, "OUTFRONT": And I want to play you a clip from the robocall. Here it is.

TRUMP: We don't need Muslims. We need smart well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.

BURNETT: Mr. Trump, when you hear that, does that shock you? Do you denounce that?

TRUMP: Nothing in this country shocks me. I would disavow it but nothing in this country shocks me. People are angry. They're angry of what's going on. They're angry at the border. They're angry at the crime. They're angry at people coming in and shooting Kate in the back in California in San Francisco. They're angry when Jamil Shaw is shot in the face by an illegal immigrant.

They're angry when the woman, the veteran, 65 years old is raped, sodomized and killed by an illegal immigrant. And they are very angry about it. And by the way, thousands of other cases like that. They are very angry about it. So I would disavow that. But people -- I will tell you, people are extremely angry.

BURNETT: People are extremely angry. But to be clear, when he says we need smart, well-educated white people to assimilate to our culture, vote Trump, you're saying you disavow that, you do denounce that.

TRUMP: Well, you just heard me. I just said it. How many times do you want me to say it?

BURNETT: A third would be good.

TRUMP: I said I disavow.


[22:20:01] LEMON: James, did it sound to you like he disavows everything about that robocall?

FALLOWS: Well, he sound -- he said the proper thing there. And so, I think I would also agree with Donald Trump. I found myself surprised to say this that there are a lot of things in politics, every campaign has things like that from all sides. So, it's not really fair to connect that to him.

But I think it's fascinating too, he say the other word he said more than I disavow was angry, he said, you know, a dozen times there. And I think when people look back at the stage of our history they are going to compare the tone that is behind the Trump campaign right now to a degree the rest of the GOP field with what President Obama was trying to convey earlier this week.

LEMON: Let's turn now to the State of the Union, Mr. Fallows. I want you to listen to the moment from the speech and the response from Senator Marco Rubio today. Here it is.


BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: It's one of the few regrets of my presidency that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. I have no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide. And I guarantee I'll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has divided this country deliberately for political gain for seven years, and then in his last State of the Union he says, why is everyone so mad at each other? Because of you.



LEMON: So, is this how you see it?

FALLOWS: There's a fascinating speechwriter touch there. I was once a speechwriter for President Carter, I should disclose it for your viewers. And the fact that he compared himself to FDR and Lincoln, number one, that's interesting. It's like I'm saying, well, I'm not as good tennis player as Roger Federer. Just sort of strange comparison to make.

But also FDR and Lincoln were not exactly conciliators in their time. Lincoln led the Union of Victory, FDR he had his very hard line New Deal program. But I think the interesting thing is that President Obama was making the case in this speech that he made when he first came to national attention in 2004...

LEMON: Right.

FALLOWS: ... with the democratic convention speech trying to say let's come together not blue or red. And so, this, I think is what he would like the last few years to have been. And Senator Rubio was saying the way it seems from the other side.

LEMON: Let's listen to that 2004 speech.


OBAMA: There is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America.


There is not a black America, and a white America, and Latino America and Asian America, there's the United States of America.


LEMON: Wow. One thing he looks so young. I remember watching this at a union hall in the South Side -- I think it was a union hall on the South Side of Chicago. Everyone in Chicago was so proud back then. But can you remember a moment, can you point to when you look back

over our politics over the last few decades where we have crossed this line into just total stone walling by each side on the other's agenda. What happened?

FALLOWS: I think that there is a -- there is a long discourse we could have another time. But I think the history of the Republican Party since the time of Richard Nixon where they decided that their base was no longer sort of, the northeast but the south.

But I think -- what I'd like to identify is a shift in sort of the optimism versus pessimism quote -- pessimism quotient. I mention my work for Jimmy Carter that he of course lost to Ronald Reagan. When people look back at that they said that Jimmy Carter was too downcast and that Reagan was sunny and optimistic and made Americans feel good about their country.

Oddly, that's what the president was trying to do last night, saying that our economy is better than any other country's despite all the things we know are wrong. We're a stronger nation than any other by far. And so, he was trying to say let's be calm about the ways we are progressing.

And while Donald Trump and Senator Rubio and the rest are saying things are bad and getting worse. And so, we have a very interesting inversion in which the position of the republicans as sort of made them say that this is -- it's really -- it's dire times and we have to -- have to change the course.

LEMON: Do the facts bear that out, though? When you look at the -- as I heard the president saying that last night made me really proud to be an American. And I wonder, you know, the facts really bear saying that this is the worst time that our country is not great anymore. And the president is saying the economy is good, jobs are being created, gas is really low.

FALLOWS: So, everybody knows the problem the U.S. has of stagnant wages of polarization of declining infrastructure. But I challenge anybody watching the show to name another country on earth whose circumstances you would prefer to those of the U.S.

You know, maybe, Andorra or someplace like that, but a real country, same to with a national strength. I lived in China for a long time as we've discussed. And China's problems are a hundred times greater than America's problems.

So, the United States is in a situation of having a lot of problems but also a lot of resources to deal with them. I think the argument the president was trying to make and I hope the next president whoever he or she is will make too, is we have real problems but we are uniquely equipped to deal with them if we can just concentrate our minds.

LEMON: Let's talk about the democrat -- the democratic side of the race. The polls have not been good news for Hillary Clinton. She could lose both in Iowa and New Hampshire to Bernie Sanders. And now there is a New York Times poll that shows him closing in on her nationally. Do you think this is 2008 all over again for Hillary Clinton?

[22:25:05] FALLOWS: It's, you know, anything is possible. And this is prognostication in politicians are risky for anyone. I think the big difference is we compare Hillary Clinton in 2008 and now, she was running then against Barack Obama who had a unique historical role, who had a very wide ground game across the country, who led demographic appeals, especially in the South, the South Carolina primary.

And Senator Sanders who's appeal is very effective to the democratic base, who I like personally and admire, I think he's a different kind of candidate from the -- from the then Senator Obama was.

So, it's also Hillary Clinton has been through the 2008 defeat once. So, presumably she's learned something from that. So, let's wait and see when the democratic voters start voting in Iowa and New Hampshire.

LEMON: James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, thank you, sir. Have a good evening.

FALLOWS: My pleasure. Thank you.

LEMON: Up next, as the clock ticks down to the Iowa caucuses the war of words between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, well, it's heating up.


[22:29:58] LEMON: Less than three weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses and the battle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is heating up.

So, let's discuss now with Phil Musser, republican strategist, Kristen Soltis, a columnist for The Washington Examiner, and Bob Cusack, editor-in-chief of The Hill. Good to have all of you here.

Phil, to you first. The latest polling out in Iowa shows Ted Cruz on top, 25 percent followed by Trump, 22 percent and Marco Rubio at 12 percent. In the latest Des Moines Register poll, Cruz had a 10-point lead over Donald Trump. What is going on here, Trump's 'birther' attacks working and not working in?

PHIL MUSSER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, it's really tough to say, Don, because this is one of the most volatile electorates in the history of republican presidential nominee and contests. There is tremendous energy in a lot of different sectors of the party.

And one of the things that viewers and audience should know is that, really there is large chunk of caucus goers who really don't decide until the week or two, week or even days before they go to caucus. And typically, that tends to be the more moderate element of the Republican Party in Iowa that shows up.

So, the things that we're watching for is are more caucus goers, 124,000 people showed up in 2012, is that pool getting bigger? And if so, who is growing the polls? Donald Trump if he is, then he will probably very, very well and could even surpass Ted Cruz. It doesn't, if it's smaller it puts a larger premium on organization. So, it's a very fluid electorate with 19 days to go. Believe it or not, I think it's a total jump ball out there.

LEMON: OK. So, Bob, this is for you. This is what Donald Trump told Erin Burnett tonight about that.


TRUMP: Well, first of all, Ted is very nervous and he shouldn't be nervous. I don't know why he is so worried about it. I even watched him talking it and you can see it. It's ridiculous. He's got to take care of a problem.

He has got a problem that the democrats will be bringing suit saying that he wasn't born in this country and therefore, he is not eligible, essentially, to run for president. There's going to be a suit brought.

Right now there are people who are mixed. You have Laurence Tribe, a brilliant lawyer from Harvard that said that this is an unsettled matter. You have federal lawyers...


BURNETT: He was a professor of Ted Cruz's.

TRUMP: ... who was a professor of his, a very, you know, a very great lawyer. You have other lawyers, numerous other lawyers that have said the same thing. Now, there is a group, a large group of legal talent that thinks to run for president you have to be -- you have to be born on the land.

Now McCain was born on a military to two people that were citizens, OK, of the United States. He was born on a military base. And I understand that very well. And, you know, he was able to skirt that issue and that's fine. And I fully understand that. This is different. He was born in Canada.


LEMON: Was this an issue, Bob, before as Trump says, or has he succeeded in making it an issue?

BOB CUSACK, THE HILL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Oh, he has made it an issue. I mean, earlier he said that it was fine with Ted Cruz and it wasn't an issue. He has brought up the issue again and partially because he was asked about it, but also he is right. A suit will be brought.

I mean, Congressman Alan Grayson who is running for the Senate and some say it's a PR stunt, said he will sue, a democrat from Florida. So, I think this is working for Donald Trump because he is planting some doubt, well, you could vote for this guy but maybe your vote won't count because of the invalidated at later point if he wins the nomination and the polls show it. I mean, Don, he's picked up some points over the last week on Ted Cruz.

LEMON: Yes. You know, he also said something similar about Bill Clinton's infidelity and whether Hillary Clinton enabled it. Something he has spoken about in interviews and released ads about. Look at this.


TRUMP: Well, this all begun when she said that I had a penchant for sexism. And I was -- a statement -- first of all, I have tremendous respect for women. I mean, I will do more for women than Hillary will ever do. So, when she said that I was very offended by it and I said what I said, and I guess she got picked up a little bit more than they would have anticipated.

So, you know, if she's not going to comment I think that's a wise thing. Because it's hard for her to comment on this subject. This is not a good subject for her.

BURNETT: And so, you think this is going to continue to be an issue and fair issue for her?

TRUMP: I hope not. I hope it's not going to be. But she's the one that started it. I hope it's not going to be. I'm not looking to make it that way.


LEMON: Does that kind of defy belief that it's not going to be an issue and she's the one that started it, Bob?

CUSACK: Well, I think this is he's trying to take the war on women attack that the democrats have used and used effectively in the last couple presidential cycles. So, you know, since he said that, Bill Clinton gave a speech, was stumping for Hillary Clinton, then basically dodged all questions about Donald Trump.

So, at least for the moment, the Clintons have gone quiet. I don't think they want to exchange in this type of back and forth with Trump. And you know, as he said, hey, and this is something that Trump always says, they started it, I'm counter punching. I don't want to talk about it but they raised it first. It's been an effective type of argument that he is been using over the last several months.

LEMON: Is it so, Kristen, and is it working?

KRISTEN SOLTIS, WASHINGTON EXAMINER COLUMNIST: What Donald Trump's core message is I'm a winner. I'm a winner, I know how to win. And if you look at all his attacks on all his opponents whether it's Hillary Clinton or whether it's his opponents on the republican side everything kind of links back to that theme.

[22:35:07] The core of the argument that he used against Jeb Bush, look, he's not a fighter, I'm a fighter. I know how to fighter. It's the core of the argument he's using against Ben Carson, look, we don't really know about this guy but I'm a fighter. I know how to win. And it's what he's doing with Ted Cruz.

He's not putting sort of ideological distance between himself and Ted Cruz because he knows that they kind of share in some ways a little bit of the same pool of voters. He doesn't want to get cast out by the sort of quote unquote "conservative talk radio crowd," but what he wants to do is plant a seed of doubt about whether or not Ted Cruz can win, whether or not Ted Cruz is a winner.

That's why in that clip that you played, you know, he described Ted Cruz as being sort of uneasy, he seems kind of worried. It's not about right or left, it's even about policy. Donald Trump's message is consistently "I'm a winner and I know how to win." And his criticisms are always rooted in this idea that his opponents don't know how.

LEMON: But speaking of being worried, I'm wondering if Donald Trump is worried. Because I think it's fair to say that the truce between these two guys is over. Here's what Cruz had to say about Trump in a radio interview. Listen.


CRUZ: I think he may shift in his new rallies to playing New York, New York because you know, Donald comes from New York and he embodies New York values. And listen, the Donald seems to be a little bit rattled.


LEMON: Phil, is Trump rattled?

MUSSER: You know, rattled and Trump don't typically seem to go together. He manages to turn the corner on it. And I think -- I think what he's -- you know, to pick up where we started just a second ago, I mean, he just projected strength.

You asked just why he rose in the polls a little bit I think in Iowa. I would definitely point to the projection of strength and the tussle with Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and coming out on top.

I mean, at the end of the say here there is 19 days to go, 18 tomorrow, all of these candidates need to sharpen their angles of attack. And honestly will continue to do so.

So, I think we'll probably hear more of this kind of rhetoric coming in the next couple of weeks. Because the truth is that at this point in time, Cruz needs to win the Iowa caucuses in order to take the momentum and the story line into New Hampshire and drive forward through the nominating process. If Trump were to beat him in Iowa it would be a huge setback for the Cruz campaign.

LEMON: So, I want everyone to stay with me because one of my favorite parts of watching last night, Paul Ryan's poker face. Was the speaker disrespectful of President Obama's State of the Union or was it just politics as usual?


LEMON: Back with me now, Phil Musser, Kristen Soltis, and Bob Cusack. So, Kristen, this one is for you. You tweeted this after the republican response to the State of the Union. You said, "It is one of my deepest hopes that the future of my party and my country is leaders like Nikki Haley, not Donald Trump." I'm sure you're not the only one who feels that way. Why are we not seeing a maybe a Paul Ryan or Nikki Haley ticket?

SOLTIS: I think that somebody like Paul Ryan or Nikki Haley, I mean, they've -- they've got other jobs that they are doing quite well. They are sort of smartly sitting out this kind of crazy presidential race. But I think both of them really represent the future of where the

party's headed.

We've gotten in this tough situation in the GOP where we've confused sort of conservative ideology and principles with a sort of angry tone. Yes, voters have every reason to be frustrated and angry. And Nikki Haley in her response in the opening paragraph acknowledges that people have a right to be frustrated and angry.

But there is a way to sort of get things done, be pragmatic, take a tone that's optimistic and hopeful and there is just sort counting anger in of itself as conservative or as valuable. And I think Nikki Haley's speech really sort of put that contrast into perspective. And I certainly know that watching it, it really resonated with me.

LEMON: Well, funny you should bring that up. Because Donald Trump also told Erin Burnett tonight that anger and energy is what American really needs. Do republicans believe that is -- is that at the root of this split do you think, Bob?

CUSACK: Oh, yes. No, I mean, there is anger at Washington and Donald Trump is running in a perfect cycle for his message and he's got a strong message and he had a slogan from the beginning, let's make America great again.

The establishment is getting very nervous with each passing day. That's why we saw Nikki Haley and that response. Remember, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell both on the same day, clearly a cooperated attack on Trump's Muslim policy. Donald Trump has zero congressional endorsements. Jeb Bush has 30. It hasn't gotten them very far.

So, running against Washington, especially this year, is working.

LEMON: So, let's talk about Paul Ryan's poker face or whether he would be a good poker player or not, OK, last night. So, he says...


CUSACK: I know, what do you think -- what do you think, Don? I mean, you know, what was your call?

LEMON: I think it was quite obvious. I just -- I kept watching him going, oh is he going to applaud for this? Is he going to squirm on that? Everyone noticed his lack of applause. Even Zoe Saldana tweeted, you know, out of, he said, tweeted this out, he said "Seriously? You cannot clap for curing cancer? You are that much of a whiner?" And hash tag as a State of the Union or SOTU. I mean, so, what -- what do you guys think? Phil, I'll go to you first.

MUSSER: I mean, I don't know, maybe he forgot to buy his Powerball ticket and was he bummed about it. I mean, you know, honestly, look, Boehner cried. You know, he was -- he was weeping all the time. You know, maybe Paul Ryan is a little bit -- little bit stonier and trying to send this, you know kind of a signal about gravitas, but beyond that I'm not exactly sure I know, you know.

LEMON: Kristen.

SOLTIS: I had no problem with Paul Ryan's face during the State of the Union. I think his job there was to be sort of the respectful opposition, not to make unpleasant faces, not to boo, bot to do anything bad like that.

But, you know, he's the leader of the opposition party. And if you don't agree with the things that the president is saying, you know, he's in this top position where he's got a very diverse caucus in the House. And many of whom are still trying to figure out, OK, you're the new speaker but do you really represent me in the very conservative wing of the party?

So, by staying as neutral as possible bringing out that poker face, he's doing what he needs to do, to lead his very diverse caucus and jsut trying not to make anyway.

LEMON: I don't know if that is neutral.


MUSSER: And that is exactly a smart answer.

LEMON: I don't know if that is -- that is a smart answer. But that was not neutral as you were saying. He was neutral -- we're showing pictures that show that it wasn't so neutral. I mean, but it was kind of like -- I'm not listening, I'm not going to laugh at your joke. That's not funny, right? I mean, you could sort of read his face. Bob, I'll let you weigh in.

[22:45:03] CUSACK: Well, as I -- the first time Paul Ryan has been in that chair. So, it's a very awkward spot for him because you got to decide very quickly whether you are going to clap or you are going to get up. And so, I think he tried to play it safe and be grim the whole time.

And of course, remember, Barack Obama said some nice things about Paul Ryan, I wonder Paul Ryan was thinking 'Please, Mr. President, stop doing that.'

LEMON: Exactly. This is going to be like the Chris Christie hug, don't do it. So, are there two sides of Paul Ryan, it seems like, you know, one hand you see this sort of back slapping friendly speaker who is joking, you know, with the vice president, they seem to be have a good time. And the other, I mean, really, you have an attack dog on Obama's policies, especially when you look at Obamacare, Phil. MUSSER: Well, you have a principle conservative leader who is one of

the smartest policymakers that has come through in the Congress in the last half century. I mean, this is a guy who has unbelievable mental faculty. He has unbelievable respect in his caucus and very importantly, he is a principle conservative leader.

That said, you know, all those niceties you just referenced with respect to President Obama, if President Obama sincerely works with Paul Ryan I think he'd find a partner that could make the machinery of the legislative process work and accomplish things for the country. Because I don't think that Paul Ryan...


LEMON: Don't you think there was an olive branch last night that, you know, where they said, hey, you know, I'm willing to talk about these things, and then the vice president leaned over, Paul Ryan leaned over and the sounds like, hey, you know, let's get this on the calendar or something?

MUSSER: Look, I hope so. I mean, there is a lot of -- this is a lot of theater. The State of the Union is really a lot of theater. At the end of the day behind closed doors, relationships between political leaders are very different. And I hope for the sake of the country that Paul Ryan and President Obama have a good relationship because it will benefit all Americans at the end of the day.

LEMON: Great panel. Kristen, that was a pretty good answer.

SOLTIS: Staying the same.

CUSACK: That was a very good answer, Kristen.

LEMON: I'll have you guys back. We'll see you soon. Thank you very much.

CUSACK: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Coming up, Sean Penn's interview with Mexican drug lord, El Chapo was a surprise to most of us but did the U.S. government know more than we thought they knew.


LEMON: We are learning more tonight about the capture of the notorious drug lord Joaquin El Chapo Guzman. And it looks like his flirty texts with Mexican soap opera actress, Kate del Castillo might have been his downfall.

So, joining me now is Jim Clemente, a retired FBI profiler, and Alejandro Hope, security and justice editor for El Daily Post.

I mean, it seems like a soap opera and, you know, I'm kind of reading it smiling here but it does seem like a soap opera. So, Alejando, today, the Mexican newspaper, Milenio published text messages, actually Blackberry messenger --messages between the actress and El Chapo and his associates. And they start off on September 25th and they end on November 9th.

So, I want to read some of them for you and then we'll discuss. Here's what El Chapo said. "If you want to bring wine I'll try it. I like tequila and I like Buchanan. But I'll try the tequila that you bring and champagne. As I've told you I'm not a drinker but I will because you being here will be so beautiful. I am very excited to meet you and come to be great friends."

And then El Chapo says, "How is the best and most intelligent woman in the world how I -- who I love so much?" And then del Castillo writes, "Haha, thank you. Hello my wonderful friend, I'm going to call you, it will be an American number. I will call you today! Look at yourself! And thank you." Kiss, and then there is the kiss emoji. All right. And then he says, "Thank you, my friend, for your good wishes. I hope you're well. Your friend loves you. Bye."

Del Castillo says "I love my friend. Bye."

You hang up, no you hang up. OK, So, Alejandro, does this sound like the words of a man responsible for hundreds of brutal murders and a billion-dollar illegal drug buyer.

ALEJANDRO HOPE, EL DAILY POST SECURITY AND JUSTICE EDITOR: Well, you know, what El Chapo, it's always a tragedy but somehow he always ends up like a farce. But this -- what is the poetic justice behind all this. This was probably the lead that the Mexican and U.S. team chasing him was -- the lead that led them to his hideout in the mountains and ultimately led to his capture two months later. This I think, I mean, it gives you a sense of probably, I mean, it is important in the sense that it demystifies the character.

LEMON: Right.

HOPE: He, El Chapo is something of an icon in Mexico. He has this perception of being all powerful, all-knowing, and seeing him in this vulnerable phase I think somehow important in bringing down the myth.

LEMON: OK. So, let's read a little more of this, all right. Talking to Kate del Castillo, his visit, OK - so, her visit. The attorney says "She wants to bring the actor Sean Penn." And then El Chapo says "Bring the actor, and if she -- and if she sees that you need to bring more people, bring them, as her guest."

And then El Chapo says, "What is the name of the actor?" The attorney says, "Sean Penn. He was in the movie "21 Grams." El Chapo, "21 Grams," when was that made? Attorney, "I'm looking it up so I can tell you the exact date." El Chapo, "OK." Attorney, "21 Grams" was made in 2003. He's also a political activist. He's been very critical of the Bush administration." El Chapo, "Is that his latest film?" Attorney, "He has barely acted recently. Now he produces films."

Clearly he wanted to meet the actress and he did not really know Sean Penn that well, right, Jim Clemente?

JIM CLEMENTE, RETIRED FBI PROFILER: Yes. It's apparent from the actual verbiage he didn't know who Sean Penn was. But what's important was that she became his Achilles heel. It's basically euphoria on his part because he was actually getting to talk to and potentially meeting this actress that he really, really aspired to meet and thought she was beautiful and wonderful and he lowered his defenses.

[22:55:03] He ruined every bit of planning and all his security measures because he was basically thinking about this sexual attraction he has.

LEMON: Isn't it always a woman know, Jim? I mean, it sounds salacious and it -- you know, like high school. But this was key evidence.

CLEMENTE: It is key evidence. Are you kidding me? I mean, Sean Penn had to -- should win basically an ignorance award for setting this up if he didn't intend this to happen. Because he thought he was playing spy games, you know, using unsent e-mail drafts and Blackberry messages and throw away phones.

He thought he was getting into this spy game. But he's not a professional. And the real professionals that were my former colleagues and other three-letter agencies, I'm sure that they had him under 24-hour surveillance and knew where he was and that's why El Chapo was arrested.

LEMON: Alejandro, I have just a short amount of time here. CNN has learned today that the U.S. law enforcement officials knew that Sean Penn -- knew of his interactions with Kate del Castillo and the connection to El Chapo before the two travelled to see him in October. What do -- what do they know?

HOPE: Well, we don't know for sure. But certainly, this was no secret for intelligence agencies in both countries. There have been -- I mean, in the Mexican press has published pictures of Sean Penn and Kate del Castillo in airports traveling to see El Chapo.

So, they were clearly under surveillance far before the actual encounter. And again, I mean, this is quite surprising for a man known for his paranoia for that has been on the run for so long that should be an expert at really taking precautions to lower his guard this way. I think -- I think that's quite remarkable.

LEMON: And I have to run, gentlemen. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Jim and Alejandro.

CLEMENTE: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you very much. That is it for us tonight. I'll see you right back here tomorrow. AC360 starts in just a moment.