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Palin Endorses Trump; Interview with Robert Gates. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 19, 2016 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: You know what it's like? It's like she never even left.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: We're paying for some of their squirmishes that have been going on for centuries where they're fighting each other and yelling "Allah Akbar" calling Jihad on each other other's head forever and ever. Like I said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out.


LEMON: Come on, be honest, how much do you love this?

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

It is a meeting of the maverick. Tea Party sweetheart and McCain running mate, Sarah Palin takes the stage with the mogul who wants to be your next president.


PALIN: Iowa, you say a lot. Being here tonight, supporting the right man who will allow you to make America great again. God bless you, God bless the United States of America and our next President of the United States, Donald J. Trump!


LEMON: So, you know, do you hear that -- that sound that you hear right there, pundits' heads exploding all across America. But if there's one thing that we have learned from this race is that conventional wisdom is usually wrong.

So, will the Palin endorsement put Trump over the top in Iowa? Will it leave Ted Cruz in the dust? And what about those democrats? Stunning new poll numbers from New Hampshire, is the Clinton/Sanders race about to blow up?

Boy, oh boy, it's going to be a good show tonight. Lots going on. For those of you who may have missed it, I want to begin with Sarah Palin endorsing Donald Trump as only she could. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: It look back there in the press box.


PALIN: Heads are spinning. Media heads are spinning. This is going to be so much fun. Are you ready to make America great again?


We all have a part in this, we all have a responsibility. Looking around at all of you, you hardworking Iowa families. You farm families and teachers, and teamsters, and cops, and cooks. You rock 'n' rollers and holy rollers. All of you who work so hard, you full-time moms, you with the hands that rock the cradle.

Just last week, we were watching our sailors suffer and be humiliated on a world stage at the hands of Iranian captors, in violation of international law. Because a weak kneed capitulator in chief has decided that America will lead from behind and he who would negotiate deals, kind of with the skills of a community organizer maybe organizing a neighborhood tea, well, he deciding that, no, America would apologize and as part of the deal, as the enemy sends a message to the rest of the world that they capture and we kowtow and we apologize, and then we bend over and say thank you, enemy?

He, better than anyone, isn't he known for being able to command, fire.


Are you ready for a commander-in-chief? You ready for a commander-in- chief who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS' ass?

For the GOP establishment to be coming after Donald Trump's supporters, even, with accusations that are so false, they are so busted the way that this thing works. We, you, a diverse dynamic needed support base that they would attack, and now some of them even whispering they're ready to throw in for Hillary over Trump because they can't afford to see the status quo go, otherwise they won't be able to be slurping off the gravy train that's been feeding them all these years.

They don't want that to end. How about the rest of us? Right wing and bitter clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religions and our Constitution. Tell us that we're not red enough, yes, coming from the establishment, right.

Well, he, being the only one who's been willing, he's got the guts to wear the issues that need to be spoken about and debated on his sleeve. Where the rest of some of these establishment candidates, they just wanted to duck and hide, they didn't want to talk about these issues until he brought them up.

In fact, they've been wearing this political correctness kind of like a suicide vest. And enough is enough. You guys are all sounding kind of angry is what we're hearing from the establishment.

[22:05:03] Doggone right, we're angry. Justifiably so, yes. You know, they stomp on our neck and then they tell us, just chill, OK? Yes, just relax. Well, look, we are mad, and we've been had. They need to get used to it. This election is more than just your basic ABC's, anybody but Clinton. It's more than that this go around.


When we're talking about a nation without borders, when we're talking about bankruptcies in our federal government, debt that our children and grandchildren, they'll never be able to pay off. When we're talking about no more Reaganesque (ph) power that comes from strength, power through strength, well, then, we're talking about our very existence.

So, no, we're not going to chill. In fact, it's time to drill, baby, drill, down and hold these folks accountable. Let me say something really positive about one of those individuals, Rand Paul. I'm going to tell you about that libertarian streak in him that is healthy because he knows you only go to war if you're determined to win the war.

And you quit footing the bill for these nations who are oil rich we're paying for. Some of their squirmishes that have been going on for centuries where they're fighting each other and yelling "Allah Akbar," calling Jihad on each other's heads forever and ever.

Like I said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out. Finally, friends, I want you to try to picture this. It's a nice thing to picture. Exactly one year from tomorrow, former President Barack Obama...


... he packs up the teleprompters and the selfie sticks and the Greek columns and all that 'hopey-changey' stuff and he heads on back to Chicago where I'm sure he can find some community there to organize again.

There, he can finally look up, President Obama will be able to look up and there over his head he'll be able to see that shining, towering, Trump Tower.


Yes, Barack, he built that, and that says a lot. Iowa, you say a lot. Being here tonight, supporting the right man who will allow you to make America great again. God bless you, God bless the United States of America, and our next President of the United States, Donald J. Trump!


LEMON: I told you it was awesome. Here to discuss, and there's a lot to discuss, indeed, Congressman Steve King, national co-chair for the Ted Cruz campaign, and Katrina Pierson, national spokesman for the Trump campaign.

I mean, you know, she said it, don't you love it, it's very interesting to watch, Congressman King, but is this not a great day for Senator Ted Cruz if you're a conservative? How can you beat that?

STEVE KING, TED CRUZ NATIONAL CO-CHAIR: Well, you know, I like Sarah and I enjoy her. I'm just sitting here thinking, it's my fault, it's my fault, Don.


KING: We had the chance to put the two of them out on the field together hunting pheasants here in Iowa and I didn't press hard enough. They were standing right side by side. And I was looking at this thinking it would be entirely different if they picked up shot guns and walked out there together and she'd be endorsing Ted Cruz today.

LEMON: Do you think -- do you think that they would be together had you done that seriously?

KING: Sure, I do. I think that if they got a chance to know each other in that environment, Sarah is an outdoors gal, and Ted is an outdoors guy. And I would put them both together, I think that would have been -- would have been the difference. They would have been bonded together and this speech would have been just interchangeable, only been the name of the endorsee.


KING: But I don't think it's policy. I really don't think it's policy and I don't think it's -- I don't think it's either a matter of competency, certainly there's no doubt Ted Cruz is very, very competent. He's demonstrated that many times. And so, that's just what it comes down to it.

LEMON: So, what is it, then?

KING: Well, you know, Donald Trump, when he decides that he wants somebody on his team, he is relentless and he is persistent and I think that he has probably worked this very, very hard for this moment today.

LEMON: OK. Katrina, you could see Donald Trump was standing there the side of Palin watching all of this go down. How pleased is his campaign with this announcement, and how this announcement went?

KATRINA PIERSON, DONALD TRUMP NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Don, I think that today was a great day for the Trump campaign. Everyone is very excited and thrilled to have the Governor on board. She is definitely one of the strongest conservatives out there and to have her endorsements on this campaign really helps.

[22:10:00] But, you know, to Congressman King's point, really if you don't understand why Sarah Palin is endorsing Donald Trump. Donald Trump is the one that is feared most by the GOP establishment. They may not like Senator Ted Cruz but they fear Donald Trump just because of what he represents.

He is not politically correct. He is not going to tow the line. He's not an ideologue. People want 14-points talking plans from think tanks that they never follow through with them. He's being honest about what he feels and feels and that's resonating. So, Sarah Palin is backing that outsider that's going to take it to the GOP establishment.

LEMON: Congressman King, you want to respond to that? She's basically saying your candidate is an outsider, I don't want to put words in your mouth, that he is politically correct and he's not as authentic as her candidate.

KING: Yes. I don't think there's any doubt. Ted Cruz stood in there and he's taken on the Washington cartel. And if you look at the job he's done, he's the one that's run to the sound of the guns each time.

ANs when I look around, he's been in that fight with me. Any time I've stepped up there, I look around and Ted Cruz is there. I think that Katrina is right when she says Donald Trump's not an ideologue.

I can't track his ideology. I can't predict what he's going to do. I can't be confident on the decisions that are made that they're anchored in the underlying principles that guide the rest of the conservatives. And so, it's a...


LEMON: Are you calling hip a flip-flopper?

KING: I'm not saying that. I'm saying that I can't track nor can I predict the decisions that Donald Trump will make. He makes his own decisions. There's no question. But they don't follow along consistently within a predictable ideology and that's what's different about Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz is a principled full spectrum constitutional Christian conservative. He is guided by that and you can look at the positions he takes and the actions that he does and the statements he makes and they fit all within that and that is what America needs.

LEMON: So, Katrina, you know...


PIERSON: But I think that's the point. But I think that's the point, Don, because when we look at the republicans that have run in the last few election cycles, what we essentially get on the primary trail is people auditioning for a role in 1776 on Broadway. Then they get elected...


LEMON: OK. Your point is taken.

PIERSON: ... and then they don't govern accordingly.

KING: Yes.

LEMON: Your point is taken but I want to stick with Sarah Palin, OK, if we can. Because we're going to talk in general about the candidates in just a moment here. Love her or hate her. That's what most people do, Katrina. You have to admit that.

She is extremely polarizing -- a polarizing person, candidate. This won't necessarily pay dividends for Donald Trump later on in the general, but, I mean, did your campaign need to do this because you're running behind Ted Cruz in Iowa for a few weeks now, even if it could hurt your candidate down the road?

PIERSON: No, this isn't about the Iowa polling numbers. Governor Palin likes Donald Trump. She's been very supportive of him even before she wanted to endorse him. And so, we welcome that endorsement.

The numbers in Iowa are statistically tied at this point. This isn't something the Trump campaign needed to do. This is something that the Trump campaign wanted to do because it's just another show of how broad the support is for the Trump campaign whether it's the conservative...


LEMON: How much did this have to do with Evangelicals, you believe, because here's what Ralph Reed, let's put the Ralph Reed tweet up. He, ralph Reed he put it this way, this is The New York Times, excuse me. It stays "Palin's brand among Evangelicals is as good as the faucets in Trump Tower."

So, I mean, what do you -- what do you think about that? First, Katrina. Is this about garnering the Evangelical vote, maybe?

PIERSON: Well, Don, I'll just point you to last month. Phyllis Schlafly came out in support of Donald Trump who's also a fire brand for much longer than Sarah Palin, within the pro-life movement, in the conservative movement, in the Evangelical movement.

So, this isn't just about Evangelicals. Sarah Palin wanted to endorse Donald Trump and show her position. She has a lot of supporters who have been supporting Donald Trump as well. And this is just the consolidation of support around Mr. Trump.

LEMON: OK. All right. Congressman, I'll let you respond after the break. We're going to have you come back after the break. So, stay with me, both of you.

KING: I'll be here.

LEMON: When we come right back, did Sarah Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump seal the deal?


PALIN: You deserve the best. He is from the private sector. Not a politician. Can I get a hallelujah? (CROWD CHEERING)



LEMON: Donald Trump rolling out the wig big guns in Iowa tonight with Sarah Palin's big endorsement.

So, back with me now is Congressman Steve King and Katrina Pierson. So, I'm going to let you respond. I was asking her how much of this really is all about courting Evangelicals. You want to respond?

KING: Well, I think that Sarah has some attraction to the Evangelicals here in Iowa but I wouldn't say it's golden because you have to draw it in comparison to a number of the other voices and influence that we have in the state.

One thing is, the father of the leader in the polls, and that would be Rafael Cruz, has been all over this state. He's a Baptist minister, he's given -- he's given sermons all over Iowa and the country for that matter.

It's pretty hard to say you can wrap up the Evangelical vote with that. I don't have any that Ted Cruz match up against Donald Trump that the Evangelical community will look at the deep and apparent Christian faith of Ted Cruz and, of course, especially his father, and that go that direction. I think they will go that direction.


KING: And so, in addition to that, I just remember the speech that was given down at Liberty University yesterday, and I don't think that went that well for Donald Trump when he said to the Evangelicals two Corinthians instead of second Corinthians and use some profanity to his speech, at least a couple of times.

So, I think it's going to be hard to lock up the Evangelical vote if those kinds of things are happening at Liberty U. But I do think that Sarah means something in this race, and I wouldn't want to disparage it at all.

LEMON: So, well, I'm not sure. We may have, you know, you guys back here talking about Glenn Beck soon because he is reportedly going to endorse Ted Cruz. He took to Facebook to slam Sarah Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump pointing out all the things that Trump has flip-flopped on.

Here's what he says, "The big government bailouts, executive orders, not just abortion, but partial birth abortion, nationalizing our banks, stimulus pathway to citizenship. All of these views were held by Donald Trump during this administration when Sarah and the Tea Party won a hard fought election and were under attack in 2010, DJT, meaning Donald J. Trump, was giving money to Pelosi, Reid, and Rahm. I couldn't disagree with her more but she has played the game now for years." And then he goes on to say "Maybe the press was right about her but

for all the wrong reasons." Ouch, Katrina, how do you respond to that?

PIERSON: Well, that was a lot. I'll have to go and look because it seems like Glenn Beck has been posting some stuff that's been found out to not be true about Donald Trump. So, I'm going to have to go through all that list that you've given me.

[22:20:01] But I will say this, just because Sarah Palin is not supporting their guy all of a sudden all those horrible things are being said about her, which lets me know that this might be the best endorsement that Donald Trump could have received. Considering he is the candidate that is building a broader base, a broader spectrum of voter, which the republicans absolutely need to win in November.

LEMON: Congressman?

KING: Well, here's this. Donald Trump is a showman. They put on a show today, and he's good at production, he's good at shows. That's out there and that's part of this.

I'll go back to Phyllis Schlafly, too, when I read the text from what she had to say, it wasn't an endorsement. She was encouraging him to say he might be the only one that is taking this on. But it wasn't an endorsement like Sarah Palin gave an endorsement today.

And if Glenn Beck comes into Iowa and endorses Ted Cruz, that will -- that will I think scoop the news from today, and it will influence another segment of the caucus goers. But I stand with Ted Cruz and a full spectrum constitutional agenda. He's there. He's solid as he can be. And I'm going to stand next to him all the way through this and I think he wins Iowa.

LEMON: OK. So, I want to ask you this. This is our latest CNN poll of polls. This is in Iowa, OK? It has Ted Cruz at 27 percent, Donald Trump at 25 percent. You know, if today turns this race around and Cruz loses Iowa, what happens next?

Because it doesn't seem like Cruz is going to win New Hampshire. And I ask you that because, you know, Sarah Palin has a lot of support in Iowa. She is liked in Iowa. And as I said to Katrina, maybe not in the general but this definitely could help him in Iowa and could, you know, put him over the top.

KING: Is this is for me, Don?

LEMON: Yes, that's for you.

KING: OK, OK. Thanks. I would put it this way, that of all the people in the race, it does come down to essentially a two-man race here in Iowa. And when people go to their caucus and they take a look and they think, I might want to put in one for Rubio or one for Ben Carson. And tragically, he lost a campaign volunteer in an accident today, Braden Joplin. Our hearts and our prayers go out to his family and to the Carson campaign.

LEMON: Absolutely.

KING: That's -- all of our sentiments I think we agree with that. But as they go on down the line and they look at the other candidates that are there that are lower in the polls, if you vote for one of those other candidates, what you're doing is affecting the vote total for one of the two leaders.

I think it comes down to this. Do you want a full spectrum constitutional conservative or someone who is very dynamic, a dynamic showman who is unpredictable and who has a track record that has been all over the place? I'm going to stick with Ted Cruz.


LEMON: Even if this...

KING: I believe the caucus goers will do that in Iowa, too.

LEMON: So, you think, do you think he's still going to win Iowa even with Sarah Palin? But, Katrina, let me ask you this.

KING: I say it's a tight race but I think he wins Iowa.

LEMON: All right. So, let's say, Katrina, that Donald Trump goes on to lose in Iowa despite the one-two punch against Ted Cruz today with Sarah Palin. How would he spin that when he has built his campaign on being a winner?

PIERSON: Well, I think the mere fact that we're even having this conversation shows that he's a winner whether he wins Iowa or not. He's going to win New Hampshire; he's going to win South Carolina and all the other states that follow.

I'm going to sit here and tell you, Don, that Donald Trump will win Iowa because there is a broad base that support, including Evangelicals and conservatives and Tea Partyers alike, and there is a lot of brand new caucus goers that are going to be coming for Donald Trump in Iowa.

So, what we're looking at here is that the fight between second and third place, that's going to be with Ted Cruz and somebody out of the establishment.

LEMON: That was a good poker face that you put on, too, there, Congressman King until that laughs at the very end. Thank you, both. I appreciate you joining me this evening.

KING: Thank you.

PIERSON: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

Up next, the Trump show gets a new celebrity co-star. Will Sarah Palin stump for Trump?



PALIN: I was told, you know, warned left and right, you're going to get so clobbered in the press, you are just going to get beat up, chewed up and spit out. You know, I'm thinking, and? Yes. You know what, you guys haven't tried to do that every day since that night in '08 when I was on stage nominated for V.P. And I got to say, yes, I'll go, send me, you, bet you, I'll serve.


LEMON: Our breaking news tonight is Sarah Palin endorsing Donald Trump with the Iowa caucuses only 13 days away. Let's discuss now. Kayleigh McEnany is a republican strategist and a columnist for Above The Law, Bob Cusack is the editor-in-chief of The Hill; political strategist, Angela Rye; and republican strategist, Cheri Jacobus.

Good to have all of you. Bob, you first, Sarah Palin endorsing Donald Trump. How huge is this?

BOB CUSACK, THE HILL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: I think it's pretty big, Don. Isn't that about, I mean, Ted Cruz wanted her endorsement. She's not an endorsement you're going to tout in the general election, but certainly in Iowa when you have this close race getting Sarah Palin's endorsement is important.

And I think it's more important he's getting all these headlines. Once again, Donald Trump is attracting the media's attention and Ted Cruz on the defensive; he did not win her endorsement. So, I think it's a pretty big deal.

LEMON: Yes. Ted Cruz, let's put this tweet up. He says "I love Sarah Palin USA, without her support I wouldn't be in the Senate. Regardless of what she does in 2016, I'll always be a big fan." So, he's down playing it, Bob. So, my question is, how big of a loss is this for Cruz? And why -- why doesn't -- why didn't she go with him?

CUSACK: Well, I think that it helps both Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. Sarah Palin has basically disappeared from the political scene for quite some time. She's lost power and this could be the beginning of her comeback if Donald Trump goes on to win the nomination and becomes the next President of the United States.

I think that it's a positive for Trump, but, however, as Steve King was calling you, he has a rock solid support in Iowa. And these guys are neck in neck. But if Trump does not win, then we're going to look back at this endorsement and say, well, maybe it's wasn't that important.

LEMON: Cheri, you don't think that this was such a win for Donald Trump, do you?

CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't. I mean, it could be but this was a hot mess. Sarah Palin was a hot mess.

LEMON: A hot mess?

JACOBUS: This was not the Sarah Palin that was so sharp and so on point in 2008 that we loved, and I defended her a lot.

[22:30:01] I would not, I mean, this was supposedly the biggest endorsement of the season. I wouldn't have wanted somebody up there doing what she did. The other thing is she is supposed to be bringing in the Evangelical vote from Ted Cruz to Donald Trump in Iowa, that's her purpose.

And her message in this endorsement has nothing to do with the things that the Evangelicals care about. There would be no reason for them to leave Cruz and go to Trump.

LEMON: Who's she talking to?

JACOBUS: She seemed to be talking to people who were angry at the establishment and at the government and at Obama. Now the people who are with Trump for those reasons are going to stay with Trump for those reasons. But there was nothing in there for Evangelicals particularly since Donald Trump is pro-partial birth abortion in the past, he's pro-big government, pro...


LEMON: But is this -- is this a slap in the face to McCain, you think?

JACOBUS: You know, I think that the fact that she didn't really stick up for McCain that much when the first insult came, when she said both men are heroes when Donald Trump said that John McCain is not a hero because he got captured, I like people who don't get caught. That was a bigger slap in the face to John McCain.

LEMON: Do you know anything about the Palin-Trump relationship any inside before today?

JACOBUS: I know nothing of the relationship, I just know that they have similar ways of speaking, word salad, if you will.


JACOBUS: Similar supporters. So, I'm not -- I'm not quite sure she -- I mean, his supporters are going to love it. I just don't know what's there for Evangelicals who are with Ted Cruz to now move to Donald Trump.

LEMON: Before Kayleigh jumps off the thing and through the screen, I'm going to let you respond. Go ahead, Kayleigh.

PIERSON: You know, I completely disagree with you, Cheri. You know, first I want to correct what you said. Donald Trump is not for partial birth abortion. He had a policy shift a long time ago and he has been consistent ever since. So, I think incorrect to say that he's currently for those things. And second, I would say that this is a huge deal. Look, you might not

like the way Sarah Palin speaks, she doesn't speak like an Ivy League professor, she doesn't speak like McCain or Romney or what the establishment is used to, all of whom, by the way, lost elections last time I checked.

She might not speak like an Ivy League professor. However, she speaks from the heart. American voters are angry, they're angry with the republican establishment which has lied to them and pronounce certain policy positions and then gotten into office and done the exact opposite.

Voters are angry and Sarah Palin speaks to that frustration in a very poignant way. This is huge for Donald Trump. I think that this could seal the deal in Iowa.

LEMON: OK. Angela, I have not forgotten about you. And just because we got to you last, just for you, here is some fresh sound of Sarah Palin. Here it is.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: And you're ready to stop the race baiting and the division based on color and zip code to unify around the right issues. The issues important to me or I wouldn't be endorsing them.

Pro-life, pro-Second Amendment. Strict constitutionality. Those things that are unifying values and they're time-tested truth involved. These re-unifying values from big cities and tiny towns. From big mountain states and the big apple. To the big, beautiful heartland that's in between.


LEMON: I am betting, Angela, that you don't think that Donald Trump is a unifier. I mean, you have to admit, it's true that he has an appeal nationwide.

ANGELA RYE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Don, can we just go back, so earlier, another guest said hot mess, I think that hot mess is the understatement of the night. She sounded like a drunk narrator of a Dr. Seuss book. That is why...


LEMON: yes. That was Cheri who said that.

RYE: Yes, so, Cheri. I'm sorry. But the thing is, you know, I don't know if he wishes he could, like, moonwalk off the stage. Because he looked embarrassed. There were a few side eyes. Sure, he may have national appeal. But shame on anyone who is appeal -- who appeal -- who appeals to that type of rhetoric that makes no sense.

Cheri also mentioned earlier that her design and the reason why this announcement was important to be rolled out at this point is because of her appeal to Evangelical voters in Iowa. But she talked about kicking ISIS' ass.

Like, I mean, you're also not supposed to cusp an Evangelical witness. So, I'm just saying I don't understand what she was supposed to be doing tonight, but it was rather confusing. And I definitely would not say that she was very effective.

LEMON: OK. I want viewers to mark this moment that Angela Rye and Cheri Jacobus who's usually on opposite sides of the fence are actually agreeing on something.

RYE: Bipartisan agreement.

LEMON: I know, bipartisan agreement tonight. But you know, Angela, two reality TV stars, two celebrity politicians. How much do you think that we're going to see Sarah Palin on the campaign trail? Because you mentioned some side eyes.

Some people said he looked maybe a little bit uncomfortable.

RYE: Yes.

LEMON: Maybe you're reading a lot into it. You're agreeing, Angela, Cheri is agreeing as well, Angela. What do you think we're going to see more of her?

RYE: I think that we'll definitely see more of her. What we know is, at least the cameras will follow her. I think it's for entertainment value. But perhaps there are folks out there that will continue to agree with Sarah Palin.

I know that there was commentary about, you know, she doesn't sound like an Ivy League, you know, graduate, and but she also lost an election. I think she's the reason why John McCain lost so badly in 2008. So, she's certainly no gold standard when it comes to winning elections, either.

[22:35:09] Before I pull Bob back into this, Cheri, you really think that he seemed that uncomfortable?

JACOBUS: I thought he seemed a little bit uncomfortable. And I'm looking at it as somebody who's, you know, run campaigns and been to campaign...


LEMON: And a supporter of Sarah Palin.

JACOBUS: And I would be, if I were a campaign staffer, and I would be on the sidelines saying somebody get the hook. I think I don't -- it's almost as if she didn't take it seriously. Maybe she's lost her touch.

But I thought it was a hot mess. That said, you know, his base may absolutely love it. The people who love her are still going to love her. But I just don't see what that did to take supporters from Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or anybody else and put them into the Trump column. LEMON: Bob, you want to respond to that? Did he seem uncomfortable to

you or do you think people are just reading into it?

BOB CUSACK, THE HILL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Well, listen, I don't think that speech was vetted. I don't think Donald Trump cares that much because he just got the endorsement, if she wants to go off, what was a rambling speech, there's no doubt about it.

I think he's just very happy that he's got some conservative credentials because Palin has backed him now. Because Cruz has gone after Trump recently as not being conservative, flip-flopping on different issues.

So, that's where I think it is important. I don't think it's going to be a complete game changer, but overall, is it a good day for Donald Trump and a bad one for Ted Cruz? Definitely.

LEMON: All right, Kayleigh, don't worry. We're going to get you back because she's like I want to talk. So, everyone stay with me.

When we come right back, is Sarah Palin's endorsement of Trump a gift to Hillary Clinton? How her campaign is reacting tonight.


LEMON: You could say he played his Trump card tonight, but do Donald Trump and Sarah Palin agree on all the issues that matter to conservative voters?

We're going to talk about that now with Kayleigh McEnany, Bob Cusack, Angela Rye, and Cheri Jacobus, all back with me.

Kayleigh, I'm a man of my word, I'm going to give you the first question. Tea Party support down in the U.S. right now. Only 70 percent in October of last year, right, versus 32 percent in 2010. So, could this emphasis on Palin and the Tea Party wing hurt the campaign in the long run?

MCENANY: I don't think so because here's the thing. There's a few differences between Donald Trump and the Tea Party. You know, for the most part, he agrees with, you know, what the Tea Party stands for which is anger at politicians who don't keep their promises, which is conservative values.

But Donald Trump is a different kind of candidate. He has a bit of a populist undertone to him. When he talks about taxing imports from Mexico, when he talks about going after China, when he talks about, you know, blue collar workers. That's very different than what the initial Tea Party stood for.

So, I think he has a different element and across appeal to democrats, Reagan democrats. You could see him winning states like Michigan or Pennsylvania in a general election. So, I don't think that this will hurt him in a general.

LEMON: OK. Let's talk about the message tonight and whether she was on point or not. As Cheri has pointed out here. So, here's Sarah Palin talking about Trump not being an elitist.


PALIN: And he is not elitist at all. Oh, I just hope you all get to know him more and more as a person and a family man and what he's been able to accomplish with his -- it's kind of this quiet generosity.

Yes, maybe his largesse kind of, I don't know, some would say gets in the way of that quiet generosity and his compassion, but if you know him as a person and you'll get to know him more and more, you'll have even more respect, not just for his record of success and the good intentions for America, but who he is as a person.


LEMON: Cheri, you're supposed to be looking in the camera. I know, what is -- what?

JACOBUS: I didn't know what she was talking about, and you have to sit there and try and convince people that someone, a billionaire who has a gold-plated plane and a gold-plated apartment is not an elitist, you're probably losing the argument. I just don't know what that was. I have to say she...


MCENANY: So, was Mitt Romney an elitist? I mean, just because you had money you're an elitist? That doesn't makes sense. I'm sure you weren't calling Mitt Romney an elitist.


JACOBUS: No, I wasn't.

RYE: He was elitist because he talks about this county...

JACOBUS: But the fact that she had to stand there and make the case that he was not an elitist sort of was not the wisest thing to do, a little bit off message.

Because I don't, you know, I don't think anybody goes around running around Iowa claiming that he's an elitist even if you think that he is. That's not a campaign point.

My point is that Sarah Palin was up there tonight just rambling about nothing on what had been built as the biggest and most significant endorsement of this campaign cycle.

MCENANY: She talked about...


JACOBUS: I don't think -- I don't think she meant to saying...

MCENANY: She talks about Iran, she talked about Donald Trump's personal, on a personal level, that he embodies Christian values. She talked about a ton of different things. I mean, that's wrong to say she had no message.

JACOBUS: Which, yes. And which he kind of messed up yesterday at Liberty University trying to come off as a Christian when he clearly isn't.

RYE: Two Corinthians.

JACOBUS: He was trying to come off as the Evangelical Christian and made a fool of himself and he insulted a lot of people.


JACOBUS: Sarah Palin was brought in tonight to try to fix that. I don't think she did that.

LEMON: So, Bob, listen. OK. So, maybe or maybe not people are being a little bit hard for the two Corinthians versus second Corinthians which is what it is. But, you know, as Cheri said, she said a lot of things tonight, right? And Kayleigh is saying she said a lot of thing.

The question is, could you follow her message? Did you understand what she was saying? Was it -- did she lunch bag it, putting too much in her message this evening?

CUSACK: I think it was a mixed bag, Don, honestly. I mean, she did point out the -- as far as the populism, he is someone who has gone after the pharmaceutical industry, someone who's gone after Wall Street, someone who's gone after CEO pay.

These are not normal tradition establishment republican things that resonate with the voters. But then all of a sudden she brings up Rand Paul in the middle of a speech and this is, remember, Donald Trump has gone after Rand Paul repeatedly and she was praising him.

So, you know, I think it was at times, yes, you could follow it, and other times you couldn't.

LEMON: So, what do you think there, Angela, do you think that Hillary Clinton's team was like, "woo-hoo," or "oh, my goodness," they're nervous?

RYE: I think that they are saying "woo-hoo" just like they're saying "woo-hoo" about the fact that the republican establishment decided they would lift up Bernie Sanders as their candidate, right? Like this is very clear.

[22:44:59] Hillary Clinton's name regularly comes up in GOP debates and Sarah Palin does not. But I think that this was very helpful to not only the Clinton campaign but frankly, the republican candidates who want to be taken seriously.

LEMON: I've got to go. Thank you, all. I'll see you soon right back here on CNN Tonight.

MCENANY: Thanks, Don. Up next, the man who served in both Bush White Houses and the Obama administration, Robert Gates, knows what it is like to work with republicans and democrats. What he thinks of this campaign, coming up.


LEMON: Robert Gates has served under eight U.S. presidents including George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. He has a new book out that's called "A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from 50 Years of Public Service." And Robert Gates joins me now.

Most people haven't lived 50 years and you've done 50 years of public service. I want to talk to you about this book because I know it's an incredible book. But can we talk some politics now?


LEMON: Between the democrats and the republicans and everyone trying to get in office. It seems like, you know, the tone is kind of crazy. Civility seems to be dead these days. What do you make of that?

GATES: Well, I think it's very this appointing. One of the worries that I have about the level of the dialogue that's going on is that, you know, people are making some broad assertions. They're making some grandiose promises.

[22:50:04] Both on domestic affairs and on national security.

LEMON: Talking about our border, Mexico, and Muslims.

GATES: And now the immigration and how we're going to deal with ISIS, and so on. And nobody's providing any details in terms of how are you going to do that? And does it matter that that really is not the way the world really works? And how are you actually going to make another country do something?

So, I'm pretty disappointed at the level of generality and, frankly, what I regard as some pretty unrealistic promises.

LEMON: And tough talk. I think it's fair to call it bluster out on the campaign trail about using military force. The two top contenders on the republican side both are doing that. Let's listen.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me. I would bomb the (muted) out of them.


I would just bomb those suckers. And that's right, I'd blow up the pipes, I'd blow up the -- I's blow up every single inch. There will be nothing left.

TED CRUZ, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will carpet bomb them into oblivion.


I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out.


LEMON: So, everyone is talking about using force. Compromise is seen as weak. What do you make of this talk?

GATES: Well, I think, first of all, it's -- carpet bombing, making the sand glow, so on, frankly, that's not the way you accomplish military objectives. It probably wouldn't be successful. I mean, it's not like they have masked military formations that are all just going to sit there and wait for the bombers to come over.

But these problems are more sophisticated, more complex, more difficult than some of this debate and some of this dialogue conveys to the American people. And I think, you know, this is a tough, long slog that we've got with ISIS and I think people who promise easy solutions and fast solutions, frankly, are just, are not being realistic with the American people.

LEMON: Let's talk now about some of the polls here. This is a CBS News poll. Sixty-nine percent of likely republican primary voters, very confident or somewhat confident that Donald Trump would be an effective commander-in-chief. Sixty-seven percent feel the same way about Ted Cruz.

Why do you think that is? Considering what you just heard from him and your comments that you just said.

GATES: Well, I think that both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and I would say Senator Sanders all have tapped into clearly a deep vein of frustration and anger on the part of the American people with their elected representatives, with the paralysis in Washington, with mele- mouthed answers to questions, with no progress being made against any of the major problems facing the country.

And so I think that -- I think that the support that all of them are receiving is a manifestation of that anger at those who have been in power and are perceived as having not accomplished anything.

LEMON: Not being effective in Washington.


LEMON: Here are the numbers on the democratic side. For Hillary Clinton, 74 percent say that they are very or somewhat confident that she'd make a good commander-in-chief, despite attacks on her record in the public. Still seems to be confident in her. Are you surprise at that?

GATES: Not really. I was Secretary of Defense for two and a half years while she was Secretary of State. As I've written, during that period until just a few months before I retired, we agreed on a lot of issues, and I consider her very tough-minded in terms of the policies we needed to follow in Iraq, the policies we need to follow in Afghanistan.

She was a very strong supporter of the surge in Afghanistan. And really the first time we parted ways was on the intervention in Libya. And as I told folks in the situation room, can I just finish the two wars I'm already in before you all go looking for a third one?

LEMON: I want to talk to you about Iran because there was a deal made that would swap Americans for Iranians.

The U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was reportedly concerned that this would, this deal would set a bad precedent. What are your thoughts? Would this deal set a bad precedent?

GATES: I think it is worrying. I'm also concerned that a couple of people were left behind, but I don't know what we asked for and I don't know what they asked for.

[22:55:02] So, it's hard to judge, but I think there always is that risk, but I would tell you that during the days of the Cold War, there were times when we exchanged absolutely guilty spies for completely innocent people. Dissidents and others in Russia and Soviet Union, to get them out.

LEMON: Let's talk about your book right now. It's called "A Passion for Leadership," right? So, we have seen these threats to the U.S. inside and outside of America. What kind of leader do you think that we need right now to deal with these threats?

GATES: Well, what I write about in the book is how a leader can transform an organization. There are -- there need to be leaders in every organization at every level of society who can envision a better way forward, who can envision a better way to do the job, and can lead people to embracing that better vision and making these organizations more responsive to the people they serve.

It's really about the, what kind of talents a person needs to be able to improve an organization. And it basically draws on my experiences at CIA and as president of Texas A&M, the Department of Defense, how do -- how do you mark, how do you envision a better way to do things and how do you bring people along with you? But it applies at every level.

LEMON: It seems you need a better resume and much more experience to do it. OK. The book is called "A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from 50 years of Public Service." That's a long name. It's a good book, though, I'm sure. And I thank you for coming in.

GATES: Thank you.

LEMON: It's an honor.

GATES: Thank you very much. LEMON: Thank you very much.

GATES: Thank you.