• So look, this thing is going to have hundreds of billions -- I wish it had more than hundreds of billions than I think it's going to end up having -- of savings for the American taxpayer by cutting budget authority, which ultimately means you can't spend the money, which reduces outlays.

    VAN SUSTEREN: And is that why -- I mean, I'm tell you that that brings us sort of into these weeds that are...

    ROVE: Sure.

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... you know, for people who don't live and breathe this, you know, it all seems enormously confusing. But is that your reason for thinking that...

    ROVE: Yes. Look...

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... the Republicans...

    ROVE: No, no, no. Not...

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... won this round?

    ROVE: ... the only thing. Not the only thing.

    VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

    ROVE: First of all, let's step back a little bit. From December...

    VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

    ROVE: ... when President Obama wanted to spend more money to today, the budget authority of the federal government has been reduced by $60- some-odd billion. So between what happened in December, what happened in the two temporary short-term continuing resolutions and what happened Friday night, the Republicans have got $60-some-odd billion worth of budget authority cut, which means, ultimately, the government doesn't spend $60 billion it was otherwise going to spend.

    Second of all, what happened is the tone of the debate changed. It shifted from, How much more money are we going to spend? We're going to go be spending money on high-speed rail and high-speed Internet and quote, "countless green jobs" -- that's what the president said in the State of the Union address -- to the president's speech on Wednesday, in which he said, We've got to cut $4 trillion in spending.

    Now, he didn't describe how he was going to do it. And when you peeked underneath the surface and you looked at the fact papers they put out at the White House, it was smoke, mirrors and asterisks. But the president basically caved and said, OK, I now agree with the Republicans we've got to cut money out of the budget, and I'm going to commit to finding ways to cut $4 trillion out of it.

    Now, he may -- he didn't do that and he won't do that. But you know, the fact of the matter is, is they've got the wind behind their back now and the battle is over, How do we trim the FY '12 budget, the next year's budget, down from the president's levels? And what do we do about the debt ceiling? Do we let it go through -- as the president says, let it go through clean or do we strap it with a very robust package of spending restraints and deficit caps that cause the deficit and spending to begin going down?

    VAN SUSTEREN: All right, one quick question on the Donald Trump controversy, since he has grabbed headlines across every network and every newspaper, this whole birther issue that he has raised. I don't agree with Donald Trump on this. I'll say it right from the get-go. But does this hurt the Republican Party?

    ROVE: Well, it hurts Donald Trump and it removes -- he was an interesting candidate who had a business background and could have contributed to the dialogue. But his full embrace of the birther issue means that he's off there in the nutty right and is now an inconsequential candidate.

    I'm shocked. The guy's smarter than this. And you know, the idea that President Obama was not born in Hawaii, being -- you know, making that the centerpiece of his campaign, means that he's just -- you know, now, you know, a joke candidate. Let him go ahead and announce for election on "The Apprentice." The American people aren't going to be hiring him, and certainly, the Republicans are not going to be hiring him in the Republican primary.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Can he bring himself back?

    ROVE: I don't know. He's so far out there. The initial part was, he said, Well, I think the president was born in the United States. I acknowledge that. But I don't understand why he hasn't put out the birth certificate. Now it is weird conspiracy theories, saying things that people -- you know, none of his family knows what hospital he was born in in Hawaii. Wait a minute. Everybody -- you know, yes, his family knows know what hospital he was born at. You know, nobody knows him in college? One of my White House deputies was a classmate of Barack Obama's at Harvard and helped get him elected the Law Review editor.

    So you know, this is just -- he's now embraced full-throated the nuttiness that somehow or another, Obama was born in Kenya and his parents and grandparents arranged to have birth -- birth notices printed the next day in the Honolulu newspapers so that 40-some-odd years later, he'd be eligible to run for president. It just -- you know, I'm sorry to see it happen. He had an opportunity to provide an interesting contribution to the dialogue.

    VAN SUSTEREN: This week, former senator Rick Santorum has inched closer to making an announcement. And also, the -- Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's raising an awful lot of money. Either one of those two have a chance?

    ROVE: We'll see. Santorum filed an exploratory committee. Let's be careful about reading too much into Bachmann's fundraising. She raised it under the guise of I had a tough race last time give me money to continue to fight these battles because they are coming after me again. I'm not sure that is translatable into the presidential campaign. We'll see.

    She will do better in Iowa because she was in Iowa and represents a Minnesota district. It is hard, there's a reason why the last president that we ever elected who came from the House of Representatives was James Garfield. It is hard having representing one-435th of the country to jump on the stage and to really say here's what I've done. What is the record of accomplishment?

    Even Garfield was chairman of the ways and means committee, currency committee. He was a known expert on currency questions important issue of the time. He helped lead civil service reform. You have to have a robust record in the House to jump on the stage. It is why people are talking more Paul Ryan than they are Michele Bachmann.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, thank you.

    ROVE: Thanks, Greta.