Fox News
August 15, 2011

Could Christie, Palin, Paul Ryan Still Jump in GOP Race?

Guests: Karl Rove, former Bush adviser & Fox News contributor

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 15, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And the road to 2012 took a lot of twists and turns this weekend. The GOP fields gained a candidate, they lost another, all of this Michele Bachmann rode to victory in the Ames straw poll, but just barely. She beat out Texas Congressman Ron Paul by just 200 votes. GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, he placed 7th in the Iowa poll. Now he has not campaigned much in the nation's first caucus state and he did not officially participate in the straw poll.

Now he is looking to New Hampshire though where earlier today he gave "The Anointed One," well, quite the verbal beating.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And, you know, the president was on the "Today" show, shortly after getting elected. And he said, if I can't turn this economy around in three years, it is a one term proposition for me. I agree and I'm here to collect.

ROMNEY: The president this week is in three states on a bus tour, campaigning. Then he's going on vacation to Martha's Vineyard for 10 days. There's a lot of Democrats in Martha's Vineyard, I don't know why. But I wish the president were in Washington calling back Congress and dealing with the challenges we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And joining me with analysis of all of the developments over the past few days, the author of the New York Times, bestseller, "Courage and Consequence," the architect, the one and only Karl Rove. Sir, how are you?

KARL ROVE, AUTHOR, "COURAGE AND CONSEQUENCE": Fine, how about you, Sean?

HANNITY: All is good.

All right. A lot happening here. Bachmann wins the straw poll. Now, Romney in fairness, he didn't participated in it nor did Newt Gingrich and a few of the other candidates. Rick Perry gets in, Pawlenty gets out. A lot of changes. A lot of moving parts, what do you think?

ROVE: Well, a lot of good things happened. That mean, it was a big boost for Michele Bachmann to win the straw poll. Let's not read too much into it though. There's really, I mean, there are 17,000 people who turned out. Iowa has three million, seven thousand people. So, a lot of people didn't show up at the straw poll. But nonetheless, it's a good boost for her. Momentum probably gives her a jump up in fundraising, certainly gives her a bigger part on the national stage. She did five Sunday talk programs as a result.

Perry has gotten in I think in a very adroit fashion. He leaked it, he dominated the news leading into the straw poll the day before he made it clear he was going to get in. So, he dominated the pre-coverage, announced on the same day, that gave him a part in every story. You know, Michele Bachmann led, but the second paragraph in most stories was Rick Perry getting in.

And then Mitt Romney had a good performance in the debate and maintained his lead as the frontrunner.

So, we've got a good field. I don't think it is the end though of the field. I think we are likely to see several other candidates think seriously about getting in. And frankly, they have time to do so. November 22nd, is the first deadline to file papers to get on a ballot. That's the last day somebody could get in without starting to lose a place in some of the early primaries and caucuses. And I suspect we are likely to see early in September and late August, some people taking a serious look at it.

HANNITY: Who are these other people you suspect are going to get in?

ROVE: I think Palin.

HANNITY: You do think Palin is getting in?

ROVE: Christie -- well, I think she is going to look seriously at it. I don't know if any of this are going to actually get in. But I think that the nature of the field and the fact that we've now got three candidates when we could have four, five or six major candidates, is going to leave people to say, well, I could be in that contest. Palin has got a pretty active schedule in early September. I think Chris Christie and Paul Ryan are going to look at it again. And I wouldn't be surprised if all three of them gave serious consideration.

HANNITY: Why do you think --

ROVE: Whether or not they do end up at the end I don't know.

HANNITY: All right. I've talked to Governor Chris Christie a lot, he says, no way. I was more convinced Governor Palin after I saw her and interviewed her Friday night at the Iowa State Fair that she might get in now. Paul Ryan I don't think has given any indication, what makes you think those two will get in? Meaning, Ryan and Christie.

ROVE: Well, two things. One is, there was an event in New York, (INAUDIBLE) pulled together some big money raisers and met with Christie and said you need to think seriously about this. And it's not just a meeting, what happened afterwards is, from what I picked up around the country, I talked to a number of people who had picked up the phone and called Christie to tell him they thought that he ought to run. And these are Republican activists, Republican donors, movers and shakers activists around the country. And the same on Paul Ryan. And I'm starting to pick up some sort of vibrations that these kinds of conversations are causing Christie and Ryan to tell the people who are calling them, well, you know, what, I owe it to you, I think I will take a look at it. Whether or not that happens or not, I don't know. But I'm just picking that up that people have some sense, some belief that these two guys are going to take a look at it.

HANNITY: All right. First of all, the Gallup poll now has the president at 39 percent approval rating, 54 percent disapproval rating, that's a 15 point gap. And no president since Harry Truman has been reelected on approval ratings this late into their first term. The lowest President George W. Bush's numbers came in his first term was 46 percent. So, what is this, how big an opportunity now at this has gotten bigger?

ROVE: Well, I think the president has some structural problems and they are not going to get better. And they have to do with the bad economy, high joblessness, sluggish growth. And the fact that he has no real concept on how to deal with it and no plan. I thought it was interesting today on his taxpayer-funded campaign stop, he announced that he would make a plan available in September. Well, you think the president would have a plan available now. He's only had how long to get a plan together after the failure of the stimulus bill? But we'll see what happens with this proposal. But I think the president is in deep, deep, deep, dodo, as they say.

HANNITY: All right. That will be the quote of the day. Let me go to -- handicap the candidates here. Mitt Romney still in the lead. Rick Perry has some very good numbers coming out of the box. Michele Bachmann has been doing very, very well. You mentioned three other people that may get in, Ryan, Christie and Governor Palin. If you had to handicap, how these things going to evolve, well, you know, looking to the Karl Rove architect crystal ball, who are going to emerge as the front runners here?

ROVE: Well, look, Romney is the nominal frontrunner though not by the margin that we've personally seen frontrunners lead. I think Bachmann and Perry are going to first have to have a sort of a primary of activity to figure out who is the principle not Romney candidate. I think at the end of the day contests like this tends to be become binary in nature. Romney has got enough strength and enough money and enough activity, that he's going to be the leader and the question is which one of them is going to come up.

The first bout of this was Sunday night in Waterloo, Iowa, Michele Bachmann's hometown. And Rick Perry won this particular round. He showed up early, he shook every hand. He posed for pictures of everybody, spent hours at this Black Hawk County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner. Michele Bachmann sat in the bus outside and came in just before she spoke and then afterwards stood behind the table signing t-shirts. I think that will be the last time that these two people will campaign exactly, Michele Bachmann will campaign exactly that way. I suspect she will take a lesson from Perry's aggressive retail campaigning and not let that happen to her again.

HANNITY: All right. Karl Rove, good to see you. We'll be following that closely. I appreciate you being with us.

ROVE: You bet. Thanks, Sean.

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