OTR Interviews

Super Tuesday: 419 delegates up for grabs and a definitive night in the making

Karl Rove breaks down the latest on Super Tuesday and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 5, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: We are hours away from Super Tuesday, 419 delegates at stake. Now, that's a lot! So what is the most important question facing the candidates heading into this very important day? Well, this might surprise you. It wasn't gas or jobs on "Meet the Press," it was the contraception controversy.

Anchor David Gregory asked former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich about these inflammatory remarks by Rush Limbaugh.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What does it say about the co-ed Susan Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex!


VAN SUSTEREN: Now, Rush Limbaugh apologized for those comments. He did that on Saturday. But that didn't end the uproar. On Sunday on "Meet the Press," Speaker Gingrich was asked about it, and he did not seem happy.


NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, David, I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the president's apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid the trillion-dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression, and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of this week.


VAN SUSTEREN: So is Speaker Gingrich right, or are questions like these fair game? We're back with Karl Rove.

Karl, you know, I sort of -- when you watch someone else do it, another member of the media, you sort of cringe a little bit. I'm sure I'm guilty myself of doing some of that. But Speaker Gingrich certainly didn't think that was the most important question going into super-Tuesday. But is it fair question of the speaker?

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER SENIOR BUSH ADVISER: Well, God bless Speaker Gingrich for taking David Gregory out behind the barn and giving him a whupping. Remember, it would be even worse if you showed David Gregory's questioning, which was -- I believe the first question, in which he said, you know, like, I know there are other important issues, but you know, let's -- you know, what do you think about this Rush Limbaugh thing? Let's play the footage. What do you -- how big a problem is it, says David Gregory with all earnestness.

And Speaker Gingrich took him outside, you know, and did what he needed to do to him, tanned his hide. And good for him. We've seen media attempt throughout this process to do this kind of stuff.

Now, imagine what would have happened if David Gregory had started off by talking about gas prices and he'd been asking tough questions about jobs and the economy and you know -- you know, things of substance, and then at some point had said, Now, we -- we -- you know, I want to ask you a question about this issue.

Speaker Gingrich could not have given the answer that he gave and might have answered -- he might have said, is it problem or isn't a problem. But Gregory had to lead with his chin, and he got it dealt with pretty severely and deserved to be treated that way.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if nothing else, you would have thought that he might have learned, you know, in sort of asking a question like that of Speaker Gingrich because I remember one time, Speaker Gingrich practically took the skin off of John King of CNN at a debate.

ROVE: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, it's almost as though that we're sort of, like, you know, handing -- handing the ball to Speaker Gingrich so that he can just shove it down our throats.

ROVE: Yes. Right. Well, you know, it's sort of like Gingrich -- you know, both -- John King, you're right -- John King and David Gregory both threw, you know, sort of -- you know, reared back from the pitcher's mound and threw the ball. And there's Gingrich with the bat on his shoulder and just sort of seeing the ball approach in slow motion and then pounds it out of the park. And well he should have. I'm glad that he did it. Good for him.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now let's -- all right, let's talk about Super Tuesday tomorrow, 419 delegates are up, the what if's. Obviously, if Governor Romney has a big night, then that may be the end of the whole story. If he just -- he secures at least -- he pretty much is headed towards the nomination.

But if Speaker Gingrich wins Georgia and if he wins Tennessee, does that change things?

ROVE: Yes. First of all, let's define what a big night is. I mean, we're going to have lots of definitions out tomorrow night. I think there's a chance that tomorrow night, every chance that Romney could come out with a strong plurality of the delegates that are up for grabs tomorrow night and in the contests last Saturday in Washington state and this coming Saturday in Wyoming. And I think there's a chance he could come out with an absolute majority.

And if he does, if he wins a strong plurality or majority of the delegates and at least half the contests, either half the 10 that are up tomorrow night or half the 12 that have been up from last Saturday to next Saturday, and the others are all split up, this could be very strong inflection point in the campaign.

Speaker Gingrich, in my opinion, has got to not only win Georgia, but he's also got to win elsewhere in the country. And it looks like the only other places he's a chance to win are potentially Oklahoma and Tennessee. And if he does, then he becomes a regional candidate. If he doesn't, he becomes a favorite son candidate. Neither one of them, though, is adequate to go all the way.

Same with Rick Santorum. He's got to win Ohio, and I think he may win Ohio tomorrow night, but I think it's going to be mathematically impossible for him to win a majority of the delegates.

You probably have shared this with your viewers before, but Senator Santorum did not file delegate slates in three congressional districts. Nine delegates are up in congressional districts 6 and 13, which are along the Ohio River, and congressional district 9, CD-9, which is from Cleveland over to -- to Toledo.

And he didn't file enough delegates in six other seats. He failed to file -- he filed only one delegate in CD-4 in northwest Ohio around Lima, which is good territory for him, CD-10, which is which is in Dayton, CD-16, which is in Cleveland, going south towards Canton.

And he only filed one delegate in CD-3, which is in Columbus, CD-8, John Boehner, Speaker John Boehner's district in southwest, which should be good turf for Santorum, and CD-12, which is in -- north of Columbus and the suburbs and rural counties.

You know, and it's inexplicable. It means that 18 of the 66 delegates up tomorrow, he can't compete for, including nine in three congressional districts that he has no chance whatsoever at.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I imagine that probably the best job in terms of being campaign manager be of Governor Romney's tonight. But if you had to decide between running either Santorum's campaign or Gingrich's campaign tonight, strictly from a campaign manager's point of view, which campaign would you rather be in charge of and why?

ROVE: Yes, Senator Santorum because he has demonstrated thus far, you know, ability in Midwestern states, Minnesota and Missouri. And he's demonstrated some strength in the polls in Oklahoma and Tennessee. But again, he's got an uphill climb.

I mean, he has won Iowa, which netted him some delegates, but they don't apportion them. They don't lock them in that night. And three contests that are -- are -- you know, Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, where delegates are not awarded. And so tomorrow night is his first chance to actually lock in delegates under the party rules. The rest of these are estimates of what he is likely to come out with at the end of the process.

But if I were to pick between Gingrich and Santorum, I would rather have Santorum. He has demonstrated a western strength and southern strength in the polls, Midwestern strength. And he has actually demonstrated broader depth than has Speaker Gingrich.

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, thank you.

ROVE: You bet, thanks.