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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Uses Vulgarity to Attack Clinton; Cruz Surges in New Poll Within Striking Distance of Trump; Poll: 50 Percent Would Be Embarrassed if Trump Wins Presidency. Aired 7-8:00p ET

Aired December 22, 2015 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:11] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: New tonight, Hillary Clinton comes out swinging against Donald Trump.

Plus, Cruz rising. The conservative darling raking in the cash. But who exactly is funding his campaign? An OUTFRONT investigation tonight.

And in her own words. We are hearing from the woman who drove her car into dozens of people on the Las Vegas strip, her toddler in the car with her. Why did she do it? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Clinton slamming Trump, the democratic frontrunner telling supporters in Iowa that Donald Trump does not deserve to be president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We shouldn't let anybody bully his way into the presidency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Clinton's attack coming less than 24 hours after Trump used a vulgar word to describe how Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the 2008 race. Tonight at a rally in Iowa, Clinton says she's not bothered. The plenty of bad things have been said about her and she tripled down on her claim that ISIS is using Trump to recruit terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: You look at what is being blasted out with video of Mr. Trump being translated into Arabic, no Muslims coming to the United States, other kinds of derogatory, defamatory statements, it is playing into the hands of the violent jihadists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: This is the latest national poll shows Trump holding on to his lead in the GOP. Four points ahead of Ted Cruz. That is though within the margin of error. Much more on that in a moment. But we begin with Jeff Zeleny OUTFRONT tonight. And Jeff, you know, I guess people are asking, what has this campaign come to? JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I mean,

just when we think we've heard it all, just when we think a line has been crossed, we realized the old rules of acceptable political discourse seem to be out the window here. But as you said, Hillary Clinton fired back today in her own far more subtle way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLINTON: You are looking at somebody who's had a lot of terrible things said about me. Luckily, I'm old enough that it doesn't particularly bother me.

ZELENY (voice-over): A not so subtle dig at Donald Trump. Today after a young girl asked Hillary Clinton about bullying.

CLINTON: We shouldn't let anybody bully his way into the presidency.

ZELENY: Just when you thought politics couldn't sink any lower, Trump went there, talking about Clinton's 2008 defeat to Barack Obama.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How does it get worse? But she was going to beat, she was favored to win. And she got schlonged, she lost.

ZELENY: Yes. He said Schlonged, a Yiddish word that means, well, you guessed it. And he didn't stop there.

TRUMP: Where did she go? I know where she went. It's disgusting. I don't want to talk about it.

ZELENY: He's talking about this moment when Clinton went missing for a few moments at the democratic debate. When she returned, she had only one word to say.

CLINTON: Sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you respond to Donald Trump's comments?

ZELENY: While Clinton refused to answer questions today about Trump's remarks, her campaign seized on his comments as a rallying cry for women. "We are not responding to Trump, but everyone who understands the humiliation this degrading language inflicts on all women should." Clinton Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri tweeted. But for Trump, it's just the latest volley in a campaign filled with vulgarities, none of which has tarnished his popularity. First, he went after FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly.

TRUMP: She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, wherever.

ZELENY: The Republican rival Carly Fiorina. In a "Rolling Stone's" story, Trump said, look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that? The face of our next president? But Clinton is Trump's favorite target.

TRUMP: And she is playing the woman card up. That's all she has. Honestly, outside of the woman's card, she's got nothing going. Believe me.

ZELENY: A sentiment his opponent Jeb Bush took even further today.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's great at being the victim. You know, this will enhance her victimology status. This is what she loves doing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Now, the bottom-line, it's good politics for Republicans to say anything negative about Hillary Clinton. And Jeb Bush is clearly trying to get into the game here. You can bet the word "victim" fires up all the Democrats -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jeff. And now, Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord, he served as political director for Ronald Reagan. And Penny Nance, the author of "Feisty and Feminine: A Rallying Cry for Conservative Women." Also CEO of the conservative group Concerned Women for America. And David Gergen who served as advisor to four presidents including Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Penny, were Trump's comments inappropriate or not?

PENNY NANCE, CEO, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA: Well, I learned a new word, Erin. Which is quite a feat considering, you know, my age and, you know, I have kids. But -- so I thought that was interesting that, you know, really, I think we've got to think about his electability. I mean, we have to -- Republicans have to carry women. Women carried every presidential election since 1964 where the majority of general election voters hope the Republicans will think very clearly and thoughtfully when they go into the voting room booth about who they cast their vote for and whether they can actually win in a general.

[19:05:29] BURNETT: So, Jeff, you've heard in the piece there from Jeff Zeleny, comments Trump has made about Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly and others. Women made up to Penny's point, more than half of the vote in the last presidential election, 53 percent. Among women in a head to head, Clinton gets 54, Trump gets 33. How does that math worked for Donald Trump?

JEFFREY LORD, DONALD TRUMP'S SUPPORTERS: Because when you get to the election itself in November, if the two of them are the eventual nominees, people make their choices based on a lot of things, the economy is first and foremost always. Secondarily is foreign affairs. In this case, ISIS, et cetera. And that goes for women. Evangelicals I mean, across the board. All these folks are not to be pigeon holed into one category or another. Because by the time you get to an election, there really is a choice to be made. You know, and I would say this also, Erin. There is a history of this in American history. William F. Buckley once said of Harry Truman that he was the nation's most conspicuous Bulgarian. To which Harry Truman replied that they said the same thing about Lincoln. Both of them were correct. So, in other words, we've been sort of down this path before. And my point is, it didn't hurt the nominee, it didn't hurt Lincoln, it didn't hurt Harry Truman and I'm not sure it's going to hurt Donald Trump.

BURNETT: And to that point, David Gergen, all right, so let me take the other side of the woman coin here. In a new Quinnipiac poll, Trump supporters split evenly pretty much 27 percent women, 30 percent men. That's pretty even. Ted Cruz 29 percent men, 19 percent women. If you look at it from this poll, Donald Trump doesn't seem to have a problem with women at all. Is it possible that many of them just see him talking like a regular person to Jeff's point? And he uses vulgarity, so what?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Let's go back a little history. Yes, Harry Truman was vulgar so was Abraham Lincoln. I have the privilege of knowing eight presidents overtime. And I can tell you this, all of them have used profanities at time but there's a distinction. They used them in private. They didn't go out and say things like this in public. They didn't want to demean the office. And that's -- it't -- hat'd tion s, al adviser ual nominee, Trumpp s unfortunate, it's sad that Jeb has to come out here and defend this. Donald Trump ought can it.

BURNETT: Jeff?

LORD: Well, David, I know one of those presidents was not Lincoln. I'm kidding you here. But I just think, you know, let me make just sort of a --

GERGEN: Comes close. Harding.

LORD: Let me make an observation about the culture.

(LAUGHTER)

Let me just make an observation about the culture. Where we are all aware of the comment sections on social media. And I have to say, I'm always astounded when I read these things. And this has nothing to do with being liberal or conservatives. They are frequently vulgar. They are off the charts sometimes. I'm wondering if this is not sort of in the culture for movies and television and all this kind of thing. And that Donald Trump in that sense --

GERGEN: It may be part of a low culture, Jeff.

NANCE: Erin, if I could.

BURNETT: Yes. Go ahead, Penny.

NANCE: Honestly, perhaps yes, the f-bomb has permeated our culture and apparently there is a new word. But that is not what we aspire to. In our president, we expect to be better. And so I really think this is what's catching up with Donald Trump in Iowa. He is probably not going to win Iowa. This is why Ted Cruz is gaining on him and perhaps surpassed him at this point. And that looks like that's the trend. This is a big issue for him. I think his likability factor for women is going to be a problem and it's definitely going to be a problem in general election.

BURNETT: So, which is an interesting point again. Because as I point out, Ted Cruz does a lot worse with women. But Penny, let me ask you about, you know, when you heard about what Donald Trump said to Carly Fiorina, who could vote for that face. People say, oh, we just likes beautiful women, it's so nasty. So, we actually looked up all the times Donald Trump has used the word "beautiful." He is obsessed with beautiful things and beautiful people. Let me play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm a big builder. I do beautiful work. The door is going to be a big beautiful door. Beautiful to this day, it's magnificent, Lower Manhattan. They finally used a beautiful picture of me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: He calls himself beautiful, Penny. Is it possible he's not being sexist when he talks about looks and things like that but this is just the way he talks?

NANCE: I don't know. I don't know him personally. But I know enough about him to know that there's some deep concerns there. But not just about the way he talks. It's about the way that he flip- flops on issues. The fact that we don't really know where he stands on Planned Parenthood. Conservatives aren't sure what he thinks about gay marriage. We're not really sure what he thinks about a number of things because he's changed his mind every other day. There are some deep concerns about his reliability, about his electability. And that's really what people are asking themselves as they get closer to when they really have to vote and that's why we're seeing his numbers flip.

[19:10:30] BURNETT: Jeff, what do you think about that? When Donald Trump though loves the word beautiful to talk about himself?

LORD: I mean, I know him at this point fairly well. And I've heard him use the term. I mean, he's into, you know, beautiful and amazing and things of that nature. I think that is just, you know, every single personality and what -- I'm sorry?

NANCE: And also the word loser. He likes that one a lot too.

LORD: And also the word -- what I'm suggesting is every personality as we get to know them has, you know, ticks, if you will, verbal ticks. And maybe those are his. But something, let me get back to Hillary Clinton to your per second to Hillary Clinton because I do think this is important. When I asked Donald Trump about a year ago what he would do because the complaint from conservatives was that their candidates didn't fight back in the media. And they didn't fight the media, they didn't stand up.

NANCE: Yes. LORD: And he said what he illustrated in spades, that he would

do that. Hillary Clinton among a number of women, Juanita Broaddrick et cetera, has this image of being a bully herself. So, when I hear her say this, there are a raft of women who are willing -- more than willing to stand up in public at this point and say that she herself, is one. And I think that that -- when you get to the women's vote in that kind of thing, I think this is going to play out.

BURNETT: All right. We are going to hit pause for a moment. We'll be back in just a couple of moments. Of course, David will be back with me. OUTFRONT next, Happy Birthday Ted Cruz. The latest national poll has Cruz neck and neck with Donald Trump. Is it going to be a two person race?

And half of all voters say a quote-unquote, "President Trump would be an embarrassment," but his poll numbers keep going up. Why?

Plus, Tina Fey and Sarah Palin with dueling impersonations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we not doing the talent portion?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:02] BURNETT: Tonight Ted Cruz surging now within the margin of error against Donald Trump in the race for the White House. The latest national poll showing Cruz four points behind the GOP front-runner.

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ted Cruz steadily chipping away at Donald Trump's dominance.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: From day one, my view of this race was conservatives unite, we win it.

SERFATY: While Trump still is on top, his lead over Cruz getting smaller. A new national poll showing that Cruz has gained eight points in the past four weeks and now is within striking distance of Trump.

CRUZ: I think that it could easily end up being a two-man race between Donald Trump and me. And I think that presents a good choice to the American people.

SERFATY: That head-to-head matchup already playing out on conservative talk radio. Right wing radio hosts who reach tens of millions of listeners each day extremely influential with the very voters both Cruz and Trump are chasing seem to be showing their hand.

SEAN HANNITY, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: Here is the problem going after Ted Cruz who is rising dramatically in the polls from a Trump perspective. Ted Cruz is loved by the conservative base.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: At the end of the day when people go vote, people are going to remember of the two, it was Marco Rubio that was a member of the Gang of Eight and Ted Cruz that wasn't.

SERFATY: Most notably when Cruz took a rare blow from Donald Trump calling Cruz a maniac, the conservative radio heavyweights coming to Cruz's defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think my friend Donald Trump really screwed up this weekend. Big time.

SERFATY: Radio host Eric Erickson wrote to his listeners, quote, "It is increasingly obvious that Ted Cruz is the last, best chance to stop Donald Trump. It is more obvious that Cruz and Rubio are aware of the race will ultimately be. But between the two, I would give the edge to Ted Cruz right now. All this as behind the scenes Cruz's dollar power seems to be packing more punch. His well-funded Super PAC --

CRUZ: Everyone here talks about the need to take on Washington.

SERFATY: Asserting more strength.

CRUZ: Who actually stood up not just to Democrats but to leaders in our own party?

SERFATY: And Cruz happily bragging that his campaign is flush with cash too.

CRUZ: If I told you six months ago that we are going to outraise the other Republicans and have $3.5 million more dollars than Jeb Bush, you would have thought I was bark at the moon crazy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And Ted Cruz has been focusing exclusively on Super Tuesday States for the past week like here in Tennessee. Those states that vote in March. Certainly, this is a core part of the Ted Cruz' campaigns real strategy is really to invest in a long-haul and to focus on looking ahead -- Erin.

BURNETT: Sunlen, thank you very much in Tennessee tonight.

And OUTFRONT now, Ted Cruz supporter Bob Vander Plaats, he's the president and CEO of The Family Leader and Republican strategist Rory Cooper who served in the George W. Bush administration.

Bob, let me start with you. Ted Cruz, not just battling with Donald Trump for the lead in Iowa. It is now nationally in that poll. And just to emphasize it, not just within the margin of error but a jump of eight points in just a few weeks for Ted Cruz. Can he topple Trump?

BOB VANDER PLAATS, CONSERVATIVE LEADER ENDORSING CRUZ: I really believe he can. And I do think it's down to a two-person race. I think it's Trump versus Cruz. And what we're seeing is conservatives are uniting not only here in Iowa but across the country around Ted Cruz as a full spectrum conservative. And they are enthusiastic about going behind Ted Cruz.

BURNETT: Rory, you have worked for the Republican establishment, which candidate is scarier, Trump or Cruz?

RORY COOPER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, that's an easy question that anyone answer is Trump. And I think that Ted Cruz is having a very good moment right now. And other candidates have had really good moments in Iowa in December weeks out from the caucus before and not one like Rand Paul. So, I do think that there is plenty of time for other candidates to still have their moment.

BURNETT: Uhm.

COOPER: And to the point of how many people are coming out of Iowa, I do not think that it's not going to be Trump versus Cruz by themselves. I think that the old saying goes, there are three tickets out of Iowa. I think in this case there is going to be more than that unless of course Donald Trump comes in fourth. There will be three tickets. But I think that there are still plenty of time for other candidates. New Hampshire is also going to be indicative of people having strength there that aren't necessarily playing strong in Iowa. So, we still have time to go here.

BURNETT: So, Bob, everyone that Trump has gone after has fallen in the polls. Now that Ted Cruz is breathing down his neck, are you worried? Trump might go after Cruz and do you think it could happen again that that could be a death knell for Cruz?

VANDER PLAATS: I think what's happened what you're seeing with Trump, is he's usually done the counterpunch. Someone attacked Trump and then Trump has done the counterpunch and they've gone down in the polls. Ted Cruz is not attacking Donald Trump. Ted Cruz is uniting conservatives. And I really do believe that Cruz is building a campaign to last. This isn't like other campaigns that you've seen in Iowa that peak and they have fallen. These people are with Ted Cruz. He's only going to build on this support and build on this momentum. I think you are really looking at Ted Cruz as not only looking at Iowa, but it can be a real competitor in New Hampshire.

BURNETT: Uhm.

VANDER PLAATS: As he is doing right now in the SEC primary, I think he wins the nomination.

[19:21:12] BURNETT: So, Rory, let me ask you though because something that Bob said, he said Ted Cruz is a real conservative, a spectrum conservative. And, you know, obviously he is on a lot of issues, social issues and more. Donald Trump used to be pro-choice, now he isn't. He used to be a democrat, now he isn't. I'm not putting words in your mouth Bob, but a lot of people who are conservative, those are things they dislike.

VANDER PLAATS: Right.

BURNETT: So, Rory, what I'm asking you though is, Donald Trump is at least from the perspective of those sorts of things, able to get independence in people in the middle. Do you need that to win or is Ted Cruz right? That you can just leave all those independents and Democrats who might consider voting Republican and just win with the conservatives?

COOPER: Right. Of course not. Of course not. You have to win some in the middle. Which is not to say that you have to change your values or change your principles. It's how you communicate how conservativism helps achieve the goals that a lot of independents have for better education, better health care, stronger economy, stronger security. You can do that and remain true -- true conservative principles. Now, as you said, Donald Trump is none of those things and I think that Ted Cruz is currently benefitting from people who are giving a strong look to Donald Trump and realizing that this personal is not a Republican let alone a conservative. And right now, there are other candidates who are sitting by who may also benefit from that. I think that Marco Rubio has a very strong chance. Somebody who started in the Tea Party movement who has actually landed a blow against ObamaCare as opposed to merely being a strong and articulate spokesperson against it.

BURNETT: So, what you're saying is, in your view between Trump and Cruz, do you think Cruz would be the better choice. But that doesn't sound like you will prefer Cruz over anyone else.

COOPER: I think that there are a lot of Republicans who have in the past differed with Ted Cruz over his strategy during the shutdown or over the idea that he may say things in one room to one group of people and maybe things to another group of people. Those are concerns. I think that he could bridge those potentially. But I think that there is a strong anybody but Trump camp in the Republican Party right now to save the future of our party. But I do think that Ted Cruz is not going to walk away with this -- because of the current blip in the polls. I think he has a lot of work to still do. And there's also candidates who are also on the rise like Marco Rubio who are going to give him a strong run.

BURNETT: Bob, how do you feel about Marco Rubio? Does it make you nauseous or do you think that he could link to some of your principles, even though he's the guy who did the Gang of Eight who is for path to citizenship.

VANDER PLAATS: Well, look, Senator Rubio does not make me nauseous at all. But I would disagree. I don't think Ted Cruz is a blip on the radar. I think he's exceptionally strong candidate.

COOPER: I didn't say that.

VANDER PLAATS: You take a look at his favorability -- his favorability ratings, he's like 73 percent, he's the highest amongst Republicans right now. And I think what's happening is what you heard with Rush Limbaugh. When I think of, you know, Senator Rubio, they think of Gang of Eight. And they know that Ted Cruz wasn't a part of that. This race is going to be phenomenal. But I love what's happening with Ted Cruz in the way he's finally being able to unite conservatives around his campaign.

BURNETT: Thanks to you both. I appreciate it. Happy holidays.

And OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump still topping the polls. But voters say they would be the most embarrassed to have him as president. Why the disconnect? The answer may really surprise you.

And two billionaire brothers who are backing Ted Cruz. Who are they? A special report and OUTFRONT investigation ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:28:06] BURNETT: All right. Tonight, half of Americans say, they would be embarrassed if Donald Trump would be their president. A new poll of Quinnipiac says, 23 percent of Americans would be proud of a President Trump.

Dana Bash is OUTFRONT. I want to talk about Hillary in a moment. But this is half of all Americans, some could be Democrats, right? It's not just among Republicans. Donald Trump is still the front- runner.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely. And in fact, I went to sort of a little bit deeper into the poll so we could talk about that. You mentioned this as all Americans, say 50 percent, half of the country. But when it comes to Republicans, only 20 percent say that they would be embarrassed. And a lot more obviously say that they would be proud. So, look, what does this show? It shows that Donald Trump is incredibly polarizing. Probably not a big surprise that we see that in these numbers. But one thing that did surprise me Erin, when I kind of what, looked a little bit deeper is just talking about gender, you know, you hear and you were talking in your last couple of segments about whether or not there is a gender issue that he has. More men said that they would be embarrassed than women, 47 to 40, I thought that was maybe a little bit surprising considering the rap that he gets.

BURNETT: Yes. Yes. Absolutely. And I'm also curious about Hillary Clinton. When you talk about among Republicans, the numbers are vast different -- vast majority of them are proud. Hillary Clinton has a similar problem in terms of Americans -- more Americans than not say, they would be embarrassed by her. The number less than Donald Trump, 35 percent. But still, more embarrassed than not embarrassed. What does this say that this country, Americans, really have such a negative view about both frontrunners?

BASH: It's very interesting. I think it's largely because both of them are very well known, and not just Donald Trump that's polarizing, Hillary Clinton is polarizing and has been for the past, what, 25 years in public life. Something that we should actually expect from her. And the fact that she, you know, has about a third who say that they're proud, about a third, a little bit more as he's mentioned who say that they're embarrassed. Again, I think if you're the Clinton campaign they say, OK. You know, tell us something that we don't know.

BURNETT: Right.

BASH: Because, you know, there are a lot of people out there who can't stand the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency just like there are a lot of people out there who can't stand the idea of a Trump presidency. We are very early on in the process. Both of them actually have to get the nominations for this to be an actual conversation not a hypothetical conversation. But I think, talking about it really is important now because it does gives us a good snapshot of just how divided this country still is. Not just about both parties, but about the people who are most well-known when it comes to the political race.

BURNETT: All right. Dana, thank you very much.

Now, Pastor James Davis, he's endorsed Donald Trump. He's from the New Spirit Revival Center in Ohio. And CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson, host of "The Ben Ferguson Show".

When you look at your support for Donald Trump and you hear a poll like this, does it worry you? Does it upset you? Do you worry about a president that half Americans say they find embarrassing?

PASTOR JAMES DAVIS, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I'm not worried, per se, because I believe that the poll in and of itself is bias from the outset. I don't believe that Quinnipiac, I don't mean to be dismissive to the great work the folks do up in there Connecticut, what they do, I just believe that they would never ask s that question request of Barack Hussein Obama, whether or not they would be embarrassed to have President Obama as the president, because it would throw in the face of being racist in nature. It would also throw in the face of political correctness.

So, with that, obviously, you can ignore --

BURNETT: But they did ask it about Hillary. And more people were embarrassed of her than not, but the number overall was still much lower. It was 35 percent.

DAVIS: But it's consistent with this polling, I would say, because even at 50 percent, that would show that Trump camp, where the fight is going to be, the fight is always in the middle. That shows that if 40 percent, he has 40 percent per se favorability in the Quinnipiac poll, then that would say that there is another 10 percent that he hasn't gained yet.

And so, with respect to embarrassment, I believe that truth many times is brash and it's in your face. We are at a stage in this country where we can't allow ourselves to fall into what someone says, all the banter back and forth with respect to the quips that come out of his mouth. At the end of the day, we need someone that can lead the country forward. And we believe Mr. Trump to be that person. BURNETT: All right. So, Ben, people say he's embarrassing, but

he's still at the top of the polls. And you heard, Dana, when you drill down, only 20 percent of Republicans felt that way. That means a vast majority would more than likely be proud of a President Trump.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there's a lot of people that love him and there's a lot of people that hate him. I do think his biggest vulnerability right now is that ceiling, is can you get people in the middle, the undecided to come to your side over Hillary Clinton in a general election? That is what this poll I think is saying be cautious of here, is the fact that, yes, there's a lot of people that would be embarrassed by Hillary Clinton.

But Donald Trump, people absolutely love him or they hate him. If you hate him, it seems to be you really despise him. So, can you -- let's say elections, 46 percent Democrat, 46 percent Republican, the middle is what's going to make up the winner or the loser here. Are those people so turned off that you have a hard time coming over?

And I think the answer is, that's exactly why you see Ted Cruz right now surging, is a lot of people looking at him as being the guy that has a bigger upswing side here that Donald Trump may have already maxed out his potential.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: If I could jump in right there, here's the thing -- also with the 46-46 or, whatever numbers you look at, 40-40. When people were polled online, and there was a study that came out in the last day or so here, that says that if it's an online poll, he's catching four out of 10 more consistently than he is three out of 10 when it's a live phone call, because there is this shaming aspect. In my community, there is a bullying aspect if you support Mr. Trump.

BURNETT: What about that?

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Because they have this feeling they should be ashamed. When you ask them, they don't want to admit they like Trump.

FERGUSON: I don't think so. I think people who like Trump love Trump. I talk to people every day on my show that call in. And Donald Trump has the biggest and best advocates than probably any candidate out there. If you are on the Trump bandwagon, you are proud of it and you want everyone else around you to know it.

DAVIS: I disagree.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Look at your campaign, look at how many people come out to Donald Trump events, they're not bashful, with all due respect. They are excited. They love him.

(CROSSTALK) [19:35:05] DAVIS: There is a cross section of people that are

still embarrassed. There are people who came to us when we had the meeting that exploded and everyone lost their minds because --

BURNETT: Meeting of Trump and the black pastors.

DAVIS: And the black pastors, right, when they had that meeting. But there were people came up after that meeting. Some went around on the news channels and said they were against it. They were uncertain.

FERGUSON: All right. But for this to be true --

DAVIS: They had conversations with us -- let me finish. They had conversations with us that said they would never vote for Hillary Clinton and would stand in support of Mr. Trump, however in private. I hear that all the time. I don't know how scientific poll is --

FERGUSON: Here's what I would say, when you look at other candidates that are doing well now, and you look at, for example, Ted Cruz, who has gotten closer to Donald Trump, I don't think people are not afraid to say his name and saying his name in de facto because they are too afraid to say Donald Trump's name to someone they don't know randomly calling their phone. I think that's a pretty big stretch.

We know people lie to exit polling when that comes out because they like to mess with people and they want to make sure that their vote and others count on election day. But I've never seen this idea or phenomenon that you're discussing right now, and I don't think people when they're called are saying I'll go protect Cruz.

DAVIS: I don't believe it's my phenomenon, the study was done and I'm simply quoting, in fact, two studies. The Los Angeles papers did one, and another group did one as well where people still have an "embarrassment factor", quote/unquote, because if not, we wouldn't have this so-called poll saying 50 percent of people are embarrassed to have him as president.

But beyond that, the chatter of this whole thing is silly, because we should be on the conversation of who is the most competent person. But it also jumps down every three or four news cycle to some quip that came out, or this poll because it's just something that shouldn't be on the table in the first place is what I believe.

FERGUSON: For Donald Trump, he's the best turning, quote- unquote, "being picked on" to making his poll numbers rise. If you play this well in the Trump camp, he'll be using this to his advantage to make people like him that much more. I don't think you're going to be a victim out of this one.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

And OUTFRONT next, a little known Texas billionaire brothers who are bankrolling Ted Cruz. Who are they? What do they want? We have a special report.

And in her own words, we are hearing from the woman who hit dozens of pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip for the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being homeless and on my own taught me how to stand on my own two feet. Not only did I manage to beat working dead-end jobs that I had seen my mother struggle with, but I managed to land a federal job at 21.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:41:25] BURNETT: Ted Cruz celebrating his birthday tonight. Plenty of people are trying to make money off the occasion. This is the website asking for $45 for his 45th birthday. The small donations are crucial to any campaign. But for Cruz, it's been all about the big money so far, from two little-known billionaires. That is tonight's America's choice.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dotting the road leading to the tiny town of Cisco, Texas, sits giant billboards blaring the beliefs of its billionaire residents Farris and Dan Wilks, brothers, and the newest and biggest single family donor to the race for the presidency, pumping $15 million to Republican Ted Cruz's super PAC.

JAMES KING, MAYOR OF CISCO, TEXAS AND WILKS FRIEND: Whenever he sees biblical examples of how to do things, that's the way he wants to do things.

LAH: And what Wilks wants, the family's conservative Christian values defended on the national stage, says James King. He's Cisco's mayor and an associate pastor at Assembly of Yahweh's Seventh Day, where Farris Wilks is the head pastor.

KING: Farris doesn't want to do interviews.

LAH: And they didn't allow our cameras into their service, but did invite me in. In its program this week, urging parishioners pray for public officials

opposing gay marriage, even naming Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis. In a rare interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network last year, Farris Wilks said this.

FARRIS WILKS, SUPER PAC DONOR: They're being taught the other ideas, the gay agenda every day out in the world. So we have to stand up and explain to them that that's not real.

LAH: His brother Dan.

DAN WILKS, SUPER PAC DONOR: I just think we have to make people aware and bring the bible back into the school. LAH: In this town of 4,000, the Wilks are Cisco pride and

folklore, local sons of a modest bricklayer made their way into the new oil, fracking. Their expansive home tells their story of a billionaire fortune.

(on camera): These remote compounds are some of the few outward signs of wealth here in Cisco, small reminders that these brothers are worth $2.7 billion, according to "Forbes." So, a $15 million political contribution? That's less than 1 percent of the brothers' net worth.

(voice-over): The Wilks joined an elite group of super PAC bankrollers to super PAC Conservative Solutions. Motor car mogul Norman Braman donated $5 million, backing Marco Rubio. Right to Rise USA, health care equities investor Miguel Fernandez gave $3 million to Jeb Bush's super PAC. Priorities USA Action, Univision owner Haim Saban donated $2 million to Hillary Clinton's super PAC.

This is presidential politics 2016, where a limitless donations to super PACs means recently rich sons hold sway.

(on camera): Their rise on the national stage, is that good or bad news for this country?

KING: I think it's good news. Personally, we've got all kinds of influences that you can get from all different sides. And any time you've got somebody that's willing to provide and is able to provide an influence for good, I think it's a fantastic thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: Cruz' super PACs haven't spent much of the millions that they have raised, although this week, the super PAC did release -- one of them did release a new ad for Ted Cruz estimated to cost into the six figures. But with Cruz nipping at Donald Trump's heels, keep an eye on the money.

The financial disclosures, how much they have raised for the super PACs, that is expected to be released next month -- Erin.

BURNETT: Kyung, thank you.

It's a fascinating story. I want to go to straight now to our senior political analyst, David Gergen.

[19:45:01] So, David, you just heard, you know, in Kyung's report, these brothers, one of them talking about wanting to bring the bible back into school. The other talking about how schools were pushing a gay agenda and that's what they are against. Yes, they are the top dollar backers for Ted Cruz, but are people with these beliefs going to hurt or help Ted Cruz down the line?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, I think they have -- the two Wilks' brothers are promoting Christian values. In Iowa, the Christian right is a strong powerful force. The very story we started with tonight about Donald Trump, his

vulgarities, that will go badly with true Christian groups. So, there's a real chance, these two things connect, and the promotion of Christian voters, Christian values, is I think going to be a major force in the weeks ahead, especially when we get into super Tuesday in the South and in South Carolina where Ted Cruz could score heavily through the investments made by his PAC, especially by the two Wilks' brothers.

BURNETT: And that's, of course, where he's been spending the past few days, in that tour through the South. Now, I guess what I'm curious about, David is, there's a lot of money out there right now, right? You got Donald Trump who's not taking money from the big donors. So, you don't have him competing and he's been the front runner.

A few of them have gotten onboard with Marco Rubio, but it seems like a lot of them are still sitting and waiting. That means a huge opportunity for someone. Where does this money go?

GERGEN: Well, that's an interesting question. There have been people sitting on the side, because they have seen so far that their investments haven't paid off all that well for most of the candidates. Jeb Bush is the prime example. He raised more money than anybody else. And yet, he's down fourth, fifth, sixth in various polls.

So, money doesn't guarantee you that you win. But people then start sitting on the sidelines for Jeb and they weren't sure about Carson. There will be money out there for the Republican nominee in all likelihood, especially if it's someone like Cruz or Rubio. If it's Donald Trump, that is a different ballgame. You know, he may have to sell finance to a very considerable degree.

BURNETT: Pretty incredible that would be.

GERGEN: But I do want to come back to this. These folks are serious. The Wilks, you know, they have played a behind-the-scenes role.

BURNETT: Yes.

GERGEN: But I do think it's time, as Ted Cruz rises, to look at who the money is, what kind of values they stand for. And as much respect as I think the Wilks command in Texas, it's also true that in their church, according to a "Reuters" report, you know, being gay is considered a crime. Abortion is considered murder, even for rape and incest.

They consider climate change to be a nonissue. So, they are also promoting free enterprise and the like. As some voters, especially the independents and Democrats who Republicans would like to break away, are going to look at that and say, I'm not so sure.

BURNETT: All right. David Gergen, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT next, just three years ago, Lakeisha Holloway said she was rescued and living a grand life. Why did she end up crashing her car and killing people just the other day?

And on a lighter note, Sarah Palin and Tina Fey.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:52:04] BURNETT: New information tonight about the woman charged with murder. Las Vegas police say she plowed her car into a sidewalk of tourists. One of them dead. It was just about three years ago that Lakeisha Holloway was featured in a video for turning her life around.

Stephanie Elam is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to need a lot more cops to shut pretty much this whole place down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have multiple people that are not breathing.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police say when Lakeisha Holloway plowed her car into a crowd of pedestrians on the busy Las Vegas Strip Sunday evening, she killed 32-year-old Jessica Valenzuela and injured more than 30 people.

Now, Holloway is being charged with one count of murder with a deadly weapon, one count of child abuse, neglect or endangerment, and one count of leaving the scene of the accident.

STEVEN WOLFSON, CLARK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We will also be filing additional charges as information flows to our office.

ELAM: Three people are still in critical condition with life- threatening head injuries. According to the police report, Holloway would not explain why she drove on to the sidewalk but remembered a body bouncing off her windshield, breaking it.

We are also learning more about the 24-year-old mother. Holloway legally changed her name to Paris Paradise Morton in October, according to a court judgment in Oregon. She also was part of the program at the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center for at- risk youth.

In 2012, Holloway was honored for her achievements and even spoke about overcoming the odds.

LAKEISHA HOLLOWAY: Today, I am not the same scared girl I used to be. I'm a mature young woman who has broken many generational cycle that those before me hadn't. Being homeless and on my own taught me how to stand on my own two feet.

ELAM: But police believe Holloway and her 3-year-old daughter were living out of her car since arriving in Las Vegas about a week before the hit and run. A test for alcohol came back negative but police say she may have been on a stimulant. MICHAL JACKSON, WITNESS: At first we were like, she's probably

drunk because she was just slowly on the curb. But then when she accelerated, it seemed like there was a purpose to her actions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELAM: And Holloway will make her first court appearance to face her three felony charges tomorrow morning at 8:00 am local time -- Erin.

BURNETT: Stephanie, thank you very much.

And next, Sarah Palin turning the tables on Tina Fey.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:54] BURNETT: Tonight, Sarah Palin turning the tables on Tina Fey. Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For political candidates being parodied on "Saturday Night Live" is almost a rite of passage.

TRUMP: Look at this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great, great, great, great, great. Isn't that fantastic?

SIDNER: But former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is turning the table.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a TV writer who left the small town for the big city.

SIDNER: Yes, that is Palin, spoofing her TV lookalike Tina Fey. Instead of Liz Lemon, Sara is Lynn Melon. Instead of the hit show "30 Rock", this is Palin's version "31 Rock."

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nerds!

SIDNER: Tackling all important issues like missing snowflakes on Starbucks cups.

PALIN: No snowflakes? Grrr.

SIDNER: And bashing political correctness.

PALIN: The only PC I need is right here.

SIDNER: Clinton and Palin have been fodder for years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.

TINA FEY, ACTRESS: And I can see Russia from my house. SIDNER: And the two are still favorite targets of the show.

FEY: Oh, God, that was a real fun election. I was paired up with that cute little John McCain fellow. May he rest in peace, I'm guessing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's alive.

SIDNER: But Palin isn't the only one enjoying the last laugh.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Melon, OK, here is what you do.

SIDNER: Senator John McCain tweeting, "I think I like Sarah's impression of Tina better."

Senator Ted Cruz is also getting in on political satire. Remember that time that he read Dr. Seuss to filibuster President Obama's health care bill?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am.

SIDNER: Now, he has a commercial about it.

NARRATOR: Imagine the greatest Christmas stories told by the senator who once read "Green Eggs and Ham" from the Senate floor.

CRUZ: It was the night before the shutdown. And all through the house --

SIDNER: It looks like politicians are taking the old saying to heart. If you can't beat 'em --

FEY: Oh, geez, looks like I went through time and space again.

SIDNER: -- join 'em.

PALIN: Nerds!

SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, New York.

PALIN: "Star Wars" didn't actually change cinema.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Thank you so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.