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Donald Trump Will Not be Going to Next Republican Presidential Candidate Debate on FOX; CNN Interview with Donald Trump Moments Away; CNN Interview With Donald Trump; Trump Arrives For Rally, Skipping Debate; Trump Event Starts Soon. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 28, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:14] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening.

Tonight, I want to show you a pair of live pictures right now. Take a look. On the left, the Iowa event center in Des Moines. On the right, Drake University, also in Des Moines, Iowa, just three miles away. In just about an hour on the left, the final Republican debate before the caucuses on Monday. All the leading candidates except Donald Trump. Also in just about an hour on the right, Donald Trump. Just moments from now on this program, Donald Trump as well.

A360 exclusive, our Brianna Keilar sat down with him on his jet. The interview is just wrapping up right now. We are going to get the video ready as we speak. We are going to bring it to you as soon as we physical can because it was quite a conversation and a totally unique moment in American politics.

Donald Trump pulling out of tonight's debate taking on FOX News directly. His gamble that viewers and voters have not been watching the GOP debates to see all the candidates. Now, Trump is betting they have been tuning in to see him. So he is holding his own event tonight being built as a fundraiser for wounded veterans. Not every Veterans group supports it. In fact, not every caucus watcher or political professional thinks that skipping a debate is a good idea either. Then again, Donald Trump has made his bones by proving the professionals wrong time and time again.

Sunlen Serfaty is at the Trump event. She joins us now.

So, let's talk about skipping the last debate before the Iowa caucuses, holding this fund-raiser. What do people expect from him and what is this event he's going to hold? What does it entail?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we can read a lot into what to expect. By the way this was arranged, Anderson. You know, it is no coincidence that Donald Trump will be speaking here at Drake University in an hour at exactly the same time the debate will be starting. The Trump campaign very aware of that split screen image they want to present. That image coming out tonight.

I'm here outside of the event where you can see this line behind me. I will take you and show you this long line. It goes blocks down the street. You can tell people just very excited to be here. The first person I talked to today started ling up at 11:30 a.m. Inside, there's 700 people that will be allowed inside. But Drake University first to send a press release tonight saying the Trump campaign has significant over ticketed the event. The Trump campaign has now set up an over flow area.

Bone-chilling weather but big television screens set up so all these people who are clearly very excited to see Donald Trump will be able to. Now, this is billed as a Veterans event. We expect we will hear a significant amount of that from Donald Trump on stage tonight. All day it's been a mystery where the fund-raising money would go to. The Trump campaign - Trump's son actually tweeting out tonight, Anderson, that he will reveal on stage tonight, where this money is going to.

COOPER: So - I mean, some of the other Republican candidates are planning to join him. I guess the ones who are on the undercard debate. But is this basically just a Trump talking event? I mean, do we know? Is he just going to be talking? Are other people going to be talking? I mean, how is this actually raising funds? Do we know?

SERFATY: Well, that's is the big question, you know. And I had the same question. I talked to many people online. They said they actually were not asked to donate any donations when they registered to come to this event. Inside it's a similar experience. People are not being prompted in any way to give any money. Not sure how that one to one transaction will work. The Trump campaign saying they think that people will just be inspired to donate to the Donald Trump Web site where they are funneling these funds and later it will be revealed where the funds get divvied out to veterans organizations.

But to your question, Mike Huckabee will be here tonight. Rick Santorum will be here tonight. We are not sure what capacity, whether they will all appear on stage with Donald Trump or not. Both of those candidates, of course, rival candidates of Donald Trump saying they wanted to be here to support the Veterans. And they say they will make a donation as well.

COOPER: All right. Sunlen, thanks very much. We are going to talk to governor Huckabee. He will be joining us shortly on this broadcast as well.

Now, preview of one until a couple of days ago, was supposed to be the GOP's one and only big event tonight in Des Moines, the debate.

CNN's Sara Murray joins us from outside the venue -- excuse me, from inside. The debate stage without Donald Trump. How are the other Republican candidates preparing for a debate without the front-runner? Because I mean, his shadow is looming large, even though he's not there.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Anderson, it will certainly be an interesting dynamic. Now, remember for a number of these debates, Donald Trump sort faded into the background. But he has been very prominent front and center. And this may give some of the candidates further out in the wings, a little more talking time. But it also could mean that Senator Ted Cruz, who was one of the front-runners here in Iowa, could be the prime target tonight. And that's something that we are hearing from his campaign.

Some staffers were even joking they hoped Donald Trump would show up at the last minute because that may take a little heat off Senator Cruz. And I think that's what's we are sort of preparing for here. You could see much feistier exchanges between senator Rubio, people like Senator Cruz and even people like Governor Chris Christie who are really hoping to use these final days to boost their poll numbers here in Iowa.

[20:05:07] COOPER: All right. Sara, we are going to be looking forward to it. Thank you.

Again, a night like no other in this presidential election. As I said Governor Huckabee is going to be on this broadcast as well as an interview with Donald Trump. That interview just wrapping up. We are going to try to turn that as quickly as possible and bring it to you as soon as we have it.

Joining us right now is chief national correspondent and anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS" John King, chief political analyst Gloria Borger, senior political commentator and former Obama advisor David Axelrod, and chief political correspondent Dana Bush, plus our senior political commenters Jeffrey Lord, Trump supporter, Ana Navarro, a Bush supporter and a friend of Marco Rubio, Amanda Carpenter, former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz and Kevin Madden, a republican strategist.

David let me start with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have that programmed?

COOPER: Yes, I do. I say that every night before I go to bed right after my prayer.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And I'm working on teaching him how to do it in Spanish.


COOPER: Have you ever seen a night like this? I mean, in presidential politics?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: No, but I have never seen a night like this. But I said that several times in this program. So it's almost become commonplace to expect the unexpected.

But, you know, look, I think there's been a lot of talk back and forth. Is Trump making a mistake? He is going to be in the lead this story if he showed up and he's going to be in the lead if he doesn't show up. And he is really dominating -- we haven't mentioned Cruz, Rubio, or any of the others here yet. The entire attention is focused on Donald Trump. And he has escaped what could have been a difficult debate for himself a few days before the caucuses. I kind of think it's pretty savvy on his part.

COOPER: Right. I mean, yet again, you know, as we have seen before, he is dominating the conversation no matter what he does.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Just even the visual of it, the stagecraft of it. It is, you know, it - he is a genius at it. The fact that he has got his plane sitting there on the tarmac knowing full well that there's no way it's an accident that there's going to be this split screen that someone was just talking about between the plane, Trump air and the debate.

COOPER: And I think Brianna Keilar was doing the interview, if I'm not incorrect, on the plane?

BASH: Yes, on the plane. That's right.

COOPER: So that's what's happening inside the plane. He is giving the interview --.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On air Trump one.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he made an emotional decision on this. He got angry at Roger Ailes. He got angry at the way they spoke about him. He made an emotional decision and then he turned around and turned it into something that could actually work for him. And as you say --

AXELROD: That's been the whole campaign. He's like a scrambling quarterback. He improvises and then makes the most of what he has.

BASH: A total improviser that comes from doing reality TV.


COOPER: And John, there was article in "the Wall Street Journal" the other day which I thought was really interesting where the reporter spent several days kind of with him watching how he makes decisions. And his -- it really seems like, not only does he have a small group around him. He basically seems to be making a lot of these calls by his guts, by his intellect on the fly just based on watching TV, reading polls, and sheer instinct.

AXELROD: There's a minor point of what that would mean if you are president of the United States.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We will know Monday night if this is the right or the wrong decision. Because here is a guy who is in the lead or tied for the lead in Iowa right now. And we will see if he can turn out his vote and we will see if he loses. But the calculation inside the Trump campaign is that if you around undecided Republican, you are probably not going to go his way. That he has gotten what he's gotten right now. And he doesn't want to lose what he has. And if he can turn out what he has, and that is a big question, he is going to either win or be a very competitive second place to Ted Cruz who has a very strong organization on the ground in Iowa.

Yes, he has a fight with FOX News and Megyn Kelly. This is sort of like the 3rd grader of Megyn Kelly. He keeps telling her, he hates her.

BORGER: Seventh grade.

KING: No, it is the third grade. He keeps telling her he hates her. And I think there's something else to it. But it is more than that. He knows now that Ted Cruz is going to take a lot of harpoons because Ted Cruz is going to be there. And Cruz is the threat to him in Iowa.

So Donald Trump will not take harpoons. Ted Cruz, they advertise it, the bromance is over. How many times did you say you were pro-choice? How many times did you say the economy does better under Democrats? How many times did you say Hillary Clinton was great before you says she was a disaster? That's what Ted Cruz wanted to do tonight, no he can't. And the others will go after Ted Cruz.

And now guess what? Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are coming to the Trump event. Every vote Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum get comes from Ted Cruz. Donald Trump knows what he's doing.

COOPER: You know, Jeff, I have to ask you because John mentioned Megyn Kelly. I want to show you a tweet about Megyn Kelly that Donald Trump retweeted early this morning. It says quote "and this is the bimbo that is asking presidential questions." And underneath it says quote "criticizing Trump for objectifying women, poses like this in "GQ" magazine" with I guess a photo of Megyn Kelly posing in "GQ" magazine.

I mean, is that really presidential behavior to be retweeting this kind of language and pictures?


COOPER: What's your answer to that question? Is that presidential behavior?

LORD: Yes. In the 21st century that we are headed to with twitter, there may be other presidents who start doing this.

COOPER: Using the term bimbo and retweet --

LORD: This gets to political correctness. Wait, no --

COOPER: You are saying political correctness. There's political correctness and then there is just like there is presidential behavior and there is human decency.

[20:10:05] LORD: Right. Well, Bill Clinton wasn't terribly into presidential behavior either. I mean, we have had lots of presidents not into presidential behavior.

My point here is what Donald Trump has done is reinvent presidential and political convention here. He is as a fellow colleague, CNN colleague, said in a column and Rush Limbaugh compared him to Steve Jobs, to Amazon, Uber, et cetera. This is not your father's presidential campaign. This is a totally different way of approaching American politics, approaching convention. The political correctness thing is we are done with that. So whatever comes out, comes out.

COOPER: To me, that -- to me, that retweet just validates the questions Megyn Kelly was asking. For a guy whose wife is a former supermodel who I think posed on the cover of "GQ" in a very provocative pose and may be the first lady of the United States, should he be throwing around the term bimbo regarding --

LORD: Are you saying Mrs. Trump is a bimbo?

COOPER: No, I'm not saying that at all. But I'm saying for a guy who has, you know, had plenty of people in his family who have posed provocatively, should he be calling bimbo as another woman who does that? Why isn't it fine for a woman to pose provocatively? I mean, I don't --.

NAVARRO: Because the normal behavior in a normal measuring state do not apply to Donald Trump. This entire campaign, since June when he has been doing things which would have led any other candidate, whether it is coming out and offending POWs, coming out and saying he's never asked God for forgiveness, telling people of Iowa in their state in their face, that they are stupid. He has done things that we have said over and over again, this has got to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. But you know what? He can't. He gets away with it.

The reason he is doing this is because he is a New York Manhattan billionaire who acts like one. He can do it. And if you -- he'll sue you, he will fight you, he will counterattack and he will try to squish you because he has the big pockets and big ego.

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SEN. TED CRUZ: But also the key to Donald Trump's entire campaign thus far has been to dominate the headlines with whatever outrage from day-to-day. That is how he leads in the polls because he thinks the polls are like ratings. Look what he's doing to FOX News right now. He is saying I'm not coming. I'm going to hurt you. He is monetizing the political process.

COOPER: In fact, he is talking about their rating, saying your rating is going to go down. This is going to cost you.

CARPENTER: And I think that's (INAUDIBLE). This is the political process. And he is saying it's about money at the end of the day. And I think that speaks to the kind of person that Donald Trump is. And I hope for the sake of our democracy that view does not prevail.

NAVARRO: You know what? It is grotesque, but does anybody around this table doubt that FOX News will lose viewers tonight from that debate because there will be a lot of people turning in to a live streaming that every other network is going to put on?

CARPENTER: That's for FOX News. That's the TV networks can worry about ratings. That we need to worry about as a party is what the ideas are that are on the table. If Donald Trump, at the end of the say, you can look (INAUDIBLE) and you will see that he is not a team player. At the end of the day he is in it for Donald Trump and Donald Trump only, not the Republicans and not --

COOPER: Kevin, what do you make of Huckabee and Santorum going to this event?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Other than the fact that they are just trying to get as much attention as possible? You know, the old saying that if you're going to get run out of town and, you know, come Monday, they may be run out of town. But if you are going to get run out of town, get in front and make it look like a parade, you know. That may be what they are trying to do. They are trying to just grasp on for the last embers of their own campaign and some attention toward their campaign.

NAVARRO: Frankly, I think that they are little embarrass. Let's remember, these are two guys who won the Iowa caucuses and now they are relegated to being like two little minnows that swim behind the shark.

AXELROD: They are bobbles on Donald Trump's charm bracelet.

BORGER: But they don't like Ted Cruz.


KING: We will count their votes Monday night and Dr. Carson's votes Monday night. Because what those three get will have a lot to say about what the margin is at the top.

BORGER: And I think this is, you know, this is not so much how much they love Donald Trump, but it is how much they don't like Ted Cruz.

MADDEN: And that's the big question, I think. Is this the first sign of other folks within the campaign starting to move their infrastructure toward Donald Trump, where the -- when the rest of the field begins to winnow to only a couple, only a handful, maybe three or four candidates, do those two candidates, they start to see their supporters as well?

AXELROD: I think there are a lot of complicated strategies going on. And you saw the governor. You saw taking his position against Cruz. You saw senator Grassley appear at a Trump rally. The establishment of the Republican Party has decided that Donald Trump in Iowa is their vehicle to stop Ted Cruz. And they want to stop Ted Cruz in Iowa because if he wins Iowa, he could be a very formidable candidate in this race. And so, they are making a feisty embargo with Trump right now thinking that maybe they can catch him later. Maybe Rubio catches fire.


NAVARRO: As a member of the Republican establishment, that's a very risky bet.


NAVARRO: Let's stop Cruz now. Let's stop Trump later? COOPER: Dana, the final thought and we got to go to break.

BASH: The one thing under the radar with so much focus on Trump, and I saw this when I was out in Iowa, is that to your point about Huckabee and Santorum and Cruz trying to stop him. They have been, and people who like them, have been trying very hard to push the evangelical vote away from Ted Cruz with a lot of things whether it is on immigration or other issues. They have been very much trying to chip away at that because he is doing so well with evangelicals and that is historically the ball game in Iowa.

COOPER: We are going to take a quick break. We are going to check back in with all of our panelists here right after the break.

Our Iowa coverage continues throughout the evening.

Just ahead, we're scrambling to bring you that interview with Donald Trump. He just sat down with Brianna Keilar on his Boeing 757 just a few minutes ago. This is live - that's some of the video from before the interview. This is live at a Trump event. Right now, you can see there obviously the crowd pretty energized. There are a lot of Trump fans. That is expected to start soon as well. We will keep an eye on that, talk about which Veterans group or groups may benefit from it, as well as why some Veterans think the only one who stands to gain tonight is Donald Trump. More ahead.


[20:19:53] COOPER: As we said moment ago, Brianna Keilar just wrapped up her interview with Donald Trump. We are just now getting it ready to air. His event tonight about 40 minutes away. He is billing it has a fund-raiser but has not said which Veterans groups will benefit. Probably tonight we will hear some of that.

Earlier, his son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted that his father will reveal which groups will receive donation during his event tonight. Not everyone is happy, though. One group, Vote Vets, says he is using Veterans as a prop.

Joining me now is Peter Kauffmann, a Vote Vets senior adviser and former Navy adviser. He is also a Democrat. Also back with us is CNN political commentator and Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord.

So Peter, let me start with you. You say Trump is exploiting the Veterans issue, that he is using it as a prop in order to hide behind his lack of policy initiatives. How so? Because he does have, or his campaign says they have some policy issues on their Web site.

PETER KAUFFMANN, SENIOR ADVISER, VOTE VETS: Well, listen, if Donald Trump wants to give money to Veterans, he should give money to Veterans. But why does he have to hide behind us because he is afraid of Megyn Kelly.

I have been to his website. I checked out what he had to say about veterans issues. And apparently the person that wrote that forum doesn't even know that the department of Veterans affairs has been a cabinet level agency since 1988. They are still calling it the Veterans administration.

It basically it reads about the depth of policy you would expect from Donald Trump when you've heard it on the trail so far. Basically reads like somebody Googled what's wrong with the VA and then cut and pasted what they found. There is very little depth. There was little understanding of what Veterans do. There is very little understanding of what Veterans need. And, like really like Donald Trump, much of his campaign, there is no depth there.

COOPER: Jeff, I want you to be able to respond. Because what is interesting of you - I mean, Donald Trump obviously has been vocal about Veterans saying how much he loves the Veterans from the beginning. He claims to have introduced Veterans issues into his campaign. If you look at his charitable foundation which is doling out the donations from tonight's event. And its history from 2010 to 2014 of the nearly $6 million it donated over that period, only $77,000 went to Veteran related charities. So to Peter's point, is he using Veterans tonight?

LORD: No, I don't think he is using Veterans. Look. Being a Veteran in politics, I mean, John Kerry sailed into Boston harbor on a boat that was supposed to recall memories of his own military career. General Wesley Clark made a big deal out of the fact that he was a general. Dwight Eisenhower, I mean, there is a long history of this kind of thing. So injecting military backgrounds and Veterans --

COOPER: But Donald Trump is not a Veteran himself.

LORD: Right.

Peter, I assume, is a supporter of Hillary Clinton, neither is she. She certainly could have joined the military. There were ladies in the military in the 1960s and 70. She didn't join either. Si I really don't think - I mean, I think with all due respect to Peter and his service, we have to say must be appreciated. I mean, and thank him for it.

One of the values he fights for is freedom and liberty to sit on panels like this and have free speech. He clearly is a Hillary Clinton supporter, that's fine. But you know, his criticism of Donald Trump I think comes from that background.

COOPER: Peter is that where you criticism comes from that, in fact, you are a Democrat?

KAUFFMANN: My counterpart is clearly a Donald Trump supporter. So I think that we have aired that. Donald Trump does not have a military background. He went to a ritzy little military prep school and yet goes about denigrating Veterans. It wasn't Democrats that he went after this summer. He denigrated the service of John McCain and prisoners of war, genuine American war heroes and he denigrated their service. He has never worn the uniform a day in his life and yet he thought nothing of denigrating their service. And then when he had a press conference in front of a naval warship to say he was pro- Veterans, trotted out more props for him. Talked about this big Veterans group that was going to be with him this summer. And it turned out that Veterans group didn't even exist. It was two guys standing behind him.

So I don't know what this event is about in Iowa tonight. It seems to me like he is really scared of Megyn Kelly. He is really scared of being uncovered for the fraud he is for the lack of depth that he has. The fact he's more P.T. Barnum than commander in-chief. And I really don't know what this event is, but it certainly has nothing do to do with Veterans other than they serve his public relations interest.

COOPER: Jeff, why do you think it's need to have an event that he says is for Veterans that's basically, as far as we know, again, we don't know who else is coming. Maybe he will have Veterans speaking. But right now, it seems clear it's going to be Donald Trump speaking. I just saw a tweet saying his whole family will be there. Why put it under the mantel of Veterans? Why not just hold a Donald Trump event?

LORD: I assume he wanted to make a point here and do something for Veterans, you know. Again, the quarterback. David's point about the quarterback. I think that we got into this situation with FOX. He wanted an alternative and his first thought was a good one. Let's do something to help Veterans. I mean, I don't think he should be criticized for that.

But let's be clear on the commander in-chief business. President Obama didn't serve in the military. President Clinton was accused repeatedly of being a quote/unquote "draft dodger." Hillary Clinton didn't serve. Ted Cruz I don't believe has served in the military. We have presidents who haven't served and we have had presidents who have served. So I really don't think there's anything unusual about Donald Trump in that respect.

[20:25:11] COOPER: Peter, what about Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina, both saying they would donate to Veterans charities if Donald Trump would debate them either one or one or Carly Fiorina wanted to get into a debate with Ted Cruz. Do you take issue with that as well?

KAUFFMANN: They are all cut from the same cloth. You don't have to serve to be a commander in-chief, but you have to know what Veteran goes through. You do have to have a depth of knowledge. Hillary Clinton certainly has that. But when you see Ted Cruz getting out there trying to jump into this, they are cut from the same cloths. It's the same issue. They are using Veterans as a PR stunt.

You know, frankly, I'm a New Yorker. And New York has a special law. It go dates back to the civil war where if you are a Veteran, you can get a special license and you can sell products on the street in New York City. It's a way to encourage Veterans to help take care of them that they can earn an honest buck.

And you know what Donald Trump has fought for 20 years against them because he didn't want Veterans selling T-shirts outside his ritzy hotels in Manhattan. So he kicked them to the curb literally. Have been fighting against it for 20 years. Had them kicked off Fifth Avenue. That's how much Donald Trump cares about Veterans.

So when you see this little PR stunt that he is doing tonight, really know that when you look at his background, he doesn't care about Veterans. And frankly, Ted Cruz is no better because he just wants to get in on the PR gimmicks as well.

COOPER: Jeff, I want to have the final thought.

LORD: Yes. Well, I mean, I think what Donald Trump does in terms of who is or is not in front of his buildings applies to anybody. I mean, there is nobody. I was in Trump tower the other week. There is nobody out there, Veterans or anyone else. I mean, so to say that this all about Veterans, I think, is just flatly false.

I mean, look. Again, Peter, and I respect him for it. I mean, he is a partisan Democrat. And that's I get that. I'm a Trump supporter. He gets that. So I don't really think this criticism comes, you know, specificity from veterans because there are veterans. Certainly (INAUDIBLE).

I heard from one today who happen who have seen whom I don't know who happened to see Peter on television earlier today, and was quite unhappy and said that her husband, she and her husband, were very strong supporters. And her husband was a Vietnam vet who was disabled. So, you know, there's a lot of diversity of opinion.

COOPER: Obviously, a lot of diversity of opinion among Veterans. No doubt about that.

Jeffrey lord, Peter Kauffmann, appreciate your perspective as well. Jeff is going to stick around here as we work to turn around Brianna Keilar's interview with Donald Trump which will happen just moments from now. We are going to get some quick thoughts from the panel about this truly remarkable night to say the least.

We'll be right back.


[20:31:32] COOPER: Welcome back. Whether Donald Trump's decision to skip tonight's debate is right or wrong, good judgment or bad, good campaign tactics or bad, that's of course for you to decide at home and our panel to talk about.

When he arrived on his customized 757 tonight, he agreed to talk to our Brianna Keilar. She joins us now.

Brianna, how did it go?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a really interesting interview, Anderson. We spoke on his plane with his wife Melania, his daughter Ivanka and his sons Donald and Eric looking on the entire time.

And we talked about how he decided not to go to this Fox News debate tonight. He said that he was fielding phone calls all day from Fox News, including Roger Ailes. He said he got a phone call apologizing. Wouldn't say who apologized.

He actually said, he might have considered going to the debate but at this point it was too late. He already had this event scheduled for veterans in Des Moines and he was unable to go. Here's the interview.


KEILAR: Mr. Trump, I want to clear something up right off the bat because I've heard from people over at the debate sites and I know a lot of them are expecting and quite frankly a lot of them are hoping that you'll make some sort of appearance tonight, even if it's in the spin room.

Do you think that's something you'll do?

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Brianna, what's happened is when I said we won't do the debate because, you know, as you know, I was treated not so nicely and at some point you have to say -- you have to put your foot down.

What I said is we'll do something for our veterans. And we're going to have a big fund-raiser and it's already set up and I just saw on CNN, we have thousands of people standing in line. It's a big event and it's taken a whole life of its own.

So, I'll be going there and I think we're going to have a great time. We're going to raise a lot of money. We've already raised a lot of money for the vets.

KEILAR: Putting aside the fact you're upset at this point with Fox News, we are right now just a few days away from the caucuses.

TRUMP: Right.

KEILAR: There are a lot of Iowa Republicans who are undecided. Do they deserve to hear you on the debate stage tonight answering tough questions?

TRUMP: Well, I think they will hear me because I'm going to be up there for an hour, hour and a half at a bigger event and we're going to have more people than they have.

KEILAR: But, getting questioned asked by a moderator.

TRUMP: Well, I think they have been hearing me. You know, I've had six debates and according to every single online poll and most other people and then particular on the last one, I've won every debate.

They've asked me every question they can probably ask me and I guess we have five other debates scheduled after this at least which is a lot of debates. You know, the Democrats who are already finished with their debates. It's a lot of debates.

KEILAR: I think they're having more now as we've just ...

TRUMP: Well, now they may. I understand they want to do some more.

KEILAR: I hear you saying that there've been several debates. But, back in 2011 when Republicans sort of already gone through several debates you were hoping to do a debate with Newsmax, have Republican candidates their and they started bailing on the idea.

You told actually, Megyn Kelly at the time that they weren't showing courage, that they weren't showing bravery. And here you find yourself after several debates bailing on the idea of having another one.

TRUMP: Well, that was an interesting thing because Newsmax just called me out of the blue. They say, we'd love to have you doing -- host a debate and I'm friendly with Chris Ruddy and the folks over to Newmax I said, "I'll do that if you want me to do that." That something I've ever done before but think I could do it pretty well. I don't know, I could do it like new, but I could do it OK.

And so I was willing to host the debate. But I think they were a little bit concerned with me as a moderator because they think I might have been a fairly tough moderator, which I would never -- I would have been fair.

KEILAR: But, you have an issue with certainly one of the moderators of the debate. How is it any different?

TRUMP: Well, I'm not a person that respects Megyn Kelly very much. I think she's highly overrated. But, other than that, I don't care.

In fact, when Fox called me because they very much want me here, they called me just now. They called me just before you walked on the plane.

[20:35:00] And they called me -- and in all fairness, very nicely. But, they want me there very badly and I never once asked that she be removed. I don't care about her being removed.

What I didn't like is their public relations statement where they were sort of taunting and I didn't think it was appropriate. I didn't think it was nice.

KEILAR: Don't you sometimes put out press releases that are, I mean, there's somewhat similar in tone to the one you object from Fox News.

TRUMP: I can understand that. But, you know, for me, I didn't think it was appropriate right before the debate.

KEILAR: You do have this well-documented beef with Megyn Kelly. We've seen it, kind of go back and forth at this point.

TRUMP: Yeah.

KEILAR: You said ...

TRUMP: ...and I think she's fine. They don't like in every honest, I think she's fine. It doesn't matter. She asked me a question which I thought was inappropriate. I thought it wasn't a good question, I think it was unfair. I gave her a good answer. I think it was a very - it was my Rosie O'Donnell answer, I gave it to her.

And frankly, to be honest, I think that I won that debate according to every online poll and many of the pundits, I won that debate. I regret also asking a question which was, you know, "The raise your hand question", which was not exactly an easy thing to do.

But I love the debates. I will say this, I've probably given more interviews than anybody. In fact, I'm credited with that, whether it's you or anybody else. I've given more interviews than anybody.

I've been in six debates. I've done well in every debate. Everybody said I won the last one, but they said I won most of them.

And I've actually enjoyed the process. I just didn't think this was a fair process. And by the time they apologized, I said, "Look. The problem is we now have a big event scheduled ...

KEILAR: They on the phone they apologized? Is that was phone call was about did you get ...

TRUMP: Fox could not have been nicer.

KEILAR: You got an apology?

TRUMP: Yes. And they could not have been nicer.

KEILAR: Who apologized to you?

TRUMP: I don't want to say.

KEILAR: OK. So, when it comes to Megyn Kelly and you've had this beef, you raised the idea of the word, "Bimbo". You said, you didn't want to use it, you said it was not politically correct.

TRUMP: I do.

KEILAR: You said the word and then you've retweeted ...

TRUMP: I said I don't want to use it, because it's not politically correct.

KEILAR: You've retweeted followers who have used the word. Why?

TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, they are followers. That's a retweet. That's different, that's different.

Look, I haven't had a very good relationship with her. I think she treats me very unfairly. She covers me all the time. I mean, you know, for somebody that doesn't want to necessarily like Donald Trump.

I mean, I'm always covered. I'm on her show all the time. But I just don't think she treats me fairly. And that's OK. I mean, she's got to do what she's got to do. I don't think she treats me fairly. And it's one of those things.

KEILAR: Ted Cruz ...

TRUMP: Right. KEILAR: ... has been -- he -- not just Ted Cruz, but also those who support him, have been hammering you when it comes to your previous views on late term abortion ...

TRUMP: Well, I'm hammering him on his views and where he was born. And he's weak - by the way, he's very weak on interview immigration.

KEILAR: But you said to my colleague just recently, Dana Bash, you said I don't want to talk about that when you were asked about your previous support for late term abortion with this ...

TRUMP: ... you know what, because everybody knows, first of it, it's falls. I am pro-life. Everybody knows I'm pro-life, he knows I'm pro-life.

You know, Ted Cruz also took a commercial - wait a minute, Ted Cruz took a commercial that I ripped down an old ladies house.

He said, ripped down. They have the bulldozers, they say, he destroyed and because of eminent domain, which by the way is very important because you wouldn't have roads, you wouldn't have schools, you wouldn't have any ....

KEILAR: ... but can you explain that you said ...

TRUMP: Wait a minute, wait a minute. The house was never ripped down. I never ripped down the house. She didn't want to do it. Ultimately, I said let's not do it.

KEILAR: Well, let me ask you this question.

TRUMP: But no, wait, wait, wait, wait. Why have you mentioned?

KEILAR: This is my question, though.

TRUMP: Brianna, wait. Brianna, he did a big commercial, he said I ripped down a person's house.

KEILAR: So, what does that have to do with you not wanting to talk about this issue of late term abortion?

TRUIMP: Excuse me, it has a lot to do with it because he's very dishonest in what he's doing.

He said "I ripped down a house of an elderly lady" and I didn't rip it down.

KEILAR: And you've said that, and you've said that, certainly, and that's in the interview.

TRUMP: ... but he never apologized.

KEILAR: Was this you bailing on this debate so that you didn't have to talk about things like this issue that you clearly don't want to address.

TRUMP: Not at all. I'm doing an interview with you, I'm doing interview with Bill O'Reilly.

I'm answering every question. You hear a long time. I mean, a lot longer than you're supposed to be.

I'm doing interviews last night with Bill O'Reilly. And he even said I was so surprised, you did the interview, I did the interview, I was totally open. I have nothing to hide. I've done more interviews than anybody. I've done the debates very happily. But, I was insulted by Fox and I said it's time not to do it.

And by the way, I think you'll going to find that a lot of the voters and a lot of the caucus goers, I think they're going to say he's the one person that will stand up for himself.

When it comes to this country, we have nobody that stands up. With the Iran deal, where instead of walking out of the room, and making proper deals, we just took everything they gave us and we gave them $150 billion, and it's a disaster. We didn't get our prisoners back until everything was done.

And then they go and put guns to our sailors' heads. So look, we need people that are going to stand up for themselves and for the country, we don't have that.

KEILAR: Focusing on tonight, what do you say to that Iowa voter who may have just think say, "You know what, I like Donald Trump. I'm thinking of supporting him on Monday night."

And that way with that backing away from that, maybe they're turned off because they feel like this is just a bunch of drama with you not going to the debate.

[20:40:03] TRUMP: Brianna, say this, I wanted to fight for myself, just like I'll fight for the country. I was treated very badly and very unfairly by Fox. Fox was very nice to say ...

KEILAR: But Fox aside, what about the voters?

TRUMP: No, no. I'm explaining something here. I was treated very unfairly by Fox. Since then, they've been excellent, they've been very nice. But it's too late, because we have an event and we're going to make a lot of money. You'll hear that over $5 million for the veterans, probably more than that.

But I was treated very unfairly since then. Fine. What I say is this. You have to stick up for yourself. You have fight for yourself and you have fight for your country.

And a lot of people are saying, "I really respect Trump because he took on the establishment", which in this case is Fox. He took on the establishment. And you know who else respects it? Fox respects it. And they told me that.

KEILAR: You've been sort of going back and forth, there's certainly -- there's been some criticism of you from Ted Cruz when it comes to immigration. You've talked about sending undocumented immigrants back to their home countries and then you said allowing the quote, "Good ones back in". Ted Cruz ...

TRUMP: Brianna.

KEILAR: ... has called that touchback amnesty.

TRUMP: Sure. I was just endorsed by Sheriff Joe of Arizona. There's nobody tougher on immigration than Sherriff Joe. He chose me because he understood me and he understands my plan.

Now Ted, was totally in favor of amnesty. Ted didn't want to build a wall. All of a sudden, he's now saying, "He wants to build a wall". I'm the only one who wants to build the wall. Ted was saying all of -- Ted was very weak on illegal immigration.

And just to go a step further. If I didn't bring up illegal immigration, it never ever would have even been a subject. You wouldn't be asking me that question like that. You would have never been asking me that question.

We are going to have borders. We are going to have a wall. Mexico is going to pay for that wall. You know, everyone sort of smiles when I say that because they think that's impossible.

The reason they're going to pay is very simple because they make a fortune with our country, a fortune with trade and other things coming across that border, that very porous border. So we're going to have a border and we're going to have a country again.

KEILAR: I've heard -- you joked about, you said, "You could shoot people and you wouldn't lose supporters." And I've heard some people say, "That's kind of maybe taking supporters for granted". Are you taking your supporters for granted?

TRUMP: Not at all. And frankly, that was done obviously, in a very joking manner and a lot of people laughed. In fact, I was smiling. They were smiling. Everybody was smiling.

And the truth is, in your own report, your own report, your own polling said that, "By far, Trump has supporters that will never leave him." I was up to 68 or 69 percent and then I think I got even into the 90s with pretty strong.

But we have great people. I have great supporters. I have just amazing people. I am in love with the people. I cherish these people. They are really great. And I'm very proud of that. I mean, to me, that's -- to me that makes me very proud that I have people that are so strong in favor of me, by the way, far stronger than any other candidate by a long shot.

KEILAR: Before I do leave, I want to ask you more about this event tonight. Who is going to be with you on stage if you're going to be talking specifically about the veterans groups that you plan on donating money to? TRUMP: Well, it's a tremendous evening. It's become a tremendous evening which is really one of the reasons I just can't go to the debate now even if I wanted to. But ...

KEILAR: Would you, would you if you didn't have the event planned?

TRUMP: Well, I might have because Fox was very, very nice to me. I mean, they really were, they couldn't have been nicer. And I spoke to the top people and they couldn't have been nicer. And I might have.

But you know, this took on a life of its own. You covered it better than anybody in terms of the lines. You've seen the thousands of people standing on the line. We're very proud of the event. And it was done over about a 24-hour period, you know, which is pretty amazing. We are going to raise a lot of money for veterans tonight. The veterans have been treated horribly in our country. We're going to take care of our veterans.

And one thing I'll say about the debates, with all of the time I've debated because I've done -- gone through six debates and done well. I don't think any question has been asked to me or almost anybody else about the veterans. They forget about the veterans. The veterans are like forgotten about.

And even in the debates, the veterans aren't discussed or talked about. And what I'm going to be doing is, we're going to be talking about them and we're going to be doing more than talking. We're going to be raising millions of dollars tonight for the veterans.

KEILAR: Mr. Trump, thank you so much.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.

KIELAR: Really appreciate you making the time.


COOPER: Fascinating interview, Brianna. And I mean, what Trump said is very true. He has given more interviews and he is more accessible as a candidate, I think than any candidate we have seen certainly in a long, long time.

KEILAR: Yeah. He certainly has given a number of interviews and that really is sort of the forum that he clearly prefers, Anderson. One on one with a reporter compared to the debates where he hasn't necessarily, he talks about how he's won them.

But a lot of people who observers will look at the debates and say, "You know, there are other candidates who sort of create their moments". And Donald Trump really creates his moments instead out on the campaign trail.

Clearly, what he wanted to do tonight, though, was to hit Ted Cruz in a forum where Ted Cruz could not defend himself.

[20:45:00] So that was a pretty interesting -- sort of interesting things that he was trying to do, instead of appearing in a debate where certainly, he would have gotten that pushback from Cruz.

COOPER: And certainly, some of our appellants have pointed out Cruz now will also probably be the focus from a number of other candidates on that stage tonight who he might not otherwise have been sort of works on both levels.

Brianna Keilar, I appreciate you being with us. As we wait for the Trump Event and The Everyone but Trump Event. We'll be joining next by one of the other candidates at the Trump Event; Mike Huckabee joins us right after the break.


COOPER: Welcome back. Two big events tonight just moments away in Des Moines office of The Fox Debate and the Donald Trump Event which he says is for veterans. Let's bring in the panel, the debate and the Trump rally. You guys just heard that Donald Trump interview I mean fascinating interview as frankly as it usually is with Donald Trump.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS: We're doing this for 30 years, I've never heard a politician asked about abortion and start talking eminent domain. A plus to Brianna for effort for tying to press them on some issues in then press them on some policy issues but Trump has his remarkable way if you ask him that he doesn't talk about and like a politician but Trump is just great at it. He just wanders and goes where he wants to go.

AXELROD: For fans -- of linear thinking, it's not for you.

COOPER: And yes and I got to say so.

[20:50:00] And, again I guess in this from the beginning from the first Trump speeches. He is unlike any other politician in that even if he's not answering the question ...


COOPER: ... you feel he's doing it in a way ...


COOPER: ... that is genuinely authentic to him. It's not a canned answer. You sense his mind is working and maybe he's dodging things but doing it in a way that at least seems like it's a real person talking.

BORGER: If he has any talking points, he's jotted them down himself. They are his own taking point. He doesn't have anybody telling him what to say.

What was interesting to me about Brianna's interview which was terrific was that he seemed a little wistful to me almost about not being able to go to the debate tonight because, after all, Fox apologized.

COOPER: Well, let's play that sound because I want to play that's really the probably one of the big headlines from this interview. Let's play that are just from his plan they other ...


TRUMP: I was treated very unfairly by Fox. Since then, they've been excellent, they've been very nice. But it's too late because we have an event and we're going to make a lot of money you hear that over $5 million for the veterans, probably more than that.

But I was treated very unfairly. Since then, fine. What I say is this. You have to stick up for yourself. You have to fight for yourself. And you have to fight for your country. And a lot of people are saying, "I really respect Trump because he took on the establishment, which in this case is Fox. He took on the establishment." And you know who else respects it? Fox respects it. And they told me that.


COOPER: And of course he wouldn't say who he spoke to at Fox but he said people in the higher-ups. It's interesting also to hear him linking his fighting back against Fox with fighting for the country.

AXELROD: I think he knows what his comparative advantages are. And that that pugnaciousness is what people are responding to. But I also think he doesn't want to bear the impetus for not being there tonight. And, so he sort of as you can say that, "You know, if just spoken up sooner then apologized sooner, I would have loved to have been there." So he wants to have his cake and eat it, too.

BORGER: And he also calls Fox the establishment. Which is good for him because Ted Cruz has been trying to portray Donald Trump as the establishment and Donald Trump is having a fight with Fox News. And he says I'm not. They're the establishment.

COOPER: And Kevin I mean earlier I think I don't know if it is David or Gloria, and put someone in this side made the point that without Donald Trump being on that stage tonight not only is a shadow looming large of the debate stage but other candidates then are probably going to go and bear their fire on Ted Cruz to a greater extent.

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that's largely right. But I think look, Cruz is a very good debater. He is very smart candidate. I think he's going to turn this he is going to try and turn this opportunity into a two-hour attack ad against Donald Trump. And Donald Trump won't thereby to defend himself for the next 120 minutes. So he could also use it to his advantage.

COOPER: We're going to see that.

NAVARRO: You know it would remarkable and if the rest of them all decided to ignore the guy. I think that would kill Donald Trump more than anything else if for two hours all of them refuse to mention his name. Like Lord Baltimore and Harry Potter. He who's name shall not be mentioned.

MADDEN: The elephant is not in the room. Just like not looking at any clips so it's very hard of course.

COOPER: We're going to take a short break. More on the other side. We'll have more from the Donald Trump interview in just a moment. Will be right back.


[20:57:10] COOPER: Welcome back. Just want to show you another moment from Brianna Keilar's interview with Donald Trump that occurred just minutes ago. Let's watch.


KEILAR: Putting aside the fact you're upset at this point with Fox News, we are right now just a few days away from the caucuses.

TRUMP: Right.

KEILAR: There are a lot of Iowa Republicans who are undecided. Do they deserve to hear you on the debate stage tonight answering tough questions?

TRUMP: Well, I think they will hear me because I'm going to be up there for an hour, hour and a half at a bigger event and we're going to have more people than they have.

KEILAR: But, getting questioned asked by a moderator.

TRUMP: Well, I think they have been hearing me. You know, I've had six debates and according to every single online poll and most other people and then particular on the last one, I've won every debate.

They've asked me every question they can probably ask me and I guess we have five other debates scheduled after this at least which is a lot of debates. You know, the Democrats who are already finished with their debates. It's a lot of debates.

KEILAR: I think they're having more now as we've just ...

TRUMP: Well, now they may. I understand they want to do some more.


COOPER: Yeah, at least Hillary Clinton would like to do some more. We'll see if that action does in fact occur.

How does Donald Trump judge success tonight? I mean, is that ratings?


COOPER: Or just sheer media attention?

BASH: Well ...

COOPER: In this case, he's already ... BASH: He's already won that.

COOPER: ... won -- yeah.

BASH: But, for him, they are one in the same, right? It's hard for me to believe that if Fox News, from his perspective God forbid, does like really fafo in the debate ratings tonight, I mean, that's the worse thing that could happen to Donald Trump ever, right?

I also found it really interesting that he was pulling back. Yes, he said he got several calls from Fox. But, I sort I have the counter perspective. Obviously his supporters back him but I also think that there is a fundamental dynamic and the sensibility in Iowa that they do have expectations from the people who they feel privileged to have to go and begin to choose in the caucuses.

And that the fact that he just said, "You know what, I'm not going to be part of something like that", might not have gone over there with some. And there are a lot of people who are undecided.

BORGER: Undecided.

AXELROD: I will just point out that the ratings come out tomorrow. He'll declare victory tonight.

COOPER: Right.

BASH: Right, that's true.

BORGER: But, I was at a bunch of rallies with people for the last couple of days. And his voters, it's not going to make any difference. But, those undecided that Dana's talking about are a large group in Iowa.

And there are people who said, you know, I was thinking of Trump and they showed up at a Rubio rally, they showed up a Cruz rally. And, you know, they are clearly trying to decide. And as Iowans, they said to me, "I'd like to see him on the debate stage. I just like to see him."

COOPER: He should also point out he's going to be raising money for -- he says for veterans groups. He says they've already raised $5 million. We'll see what else happen.

KING: Remember, every rule that is applied to prior campaigns does not apply. I was driving past the hog farm in Iowa the other day and I literally want to go in and toss one in the air and see if it would fly. I mean, that's where we are in this campaign. Four days from tonight at this hour we will be counting votes.


[21:00:00] KING: Amen.

COOPER: And we have really no idea what's going to happen. It's quite a night already. It is far from over. CNN is covering all of it nonstop. We'll be back with another edition of "360" a live one, 11:00 on clock Eastern, "CNN Tonight with Don Lemon" starts right now.