OTR Interviews

Is Ben Carson just what the doctor ordered for the GOP?

Karl Rove on whether Dr. Carson should run for political office, the fresh faces within the GOP and what it all means to the future of the Republican Party


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 22, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: I want to ask you about Dr. Ben Carson. The political buzz has been building over a possible Carson candidacy in 2016. And of course, the neurosurgeon first excited conservatives with his National Prayer Breakfast speech.


DR. BEN CARSON, NEUROSURGEON: There must be something inherently fair about proportionality. You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10, you put in $1. Of course, you got to get rid of the loopholes.


CARSON: But -- now -- now, some people say -- they say, Well, that's not fair because it doesn't hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made 10 -- where does it say you have to hurt the guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot! You know, we don't need to hurt him!



VAN SUSTEREN: Should Dr. Carson run for office? You know, Karl, these -- these new faces sometimes are exciting to both parties and everyone sort of seizes upon it, think this is a possibility, regardless of the -- What do you think about Dr. Ben Carson? He says it's unlikely he'll run, but is it a possibility?

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER BUSH SENIOR ADVISOR: Well, it might be a possibility. I know Dr. Carson. He's an exceptional human being. I got to meet him when I worked at the White House. He was a friend of George W. Bush's. He's a remarkable human being, a gifted neurosurgeon, a wonderful life story, tremendous values, loves America.

You know, there's another thing, though, between that and running for office. And there's a reason why we have rarely elected people who've not previously served in political office. And the times that we have -- for example, in 1952 -- nonetheless, the person had a long record of public service, in that case Dwight Eisenhower who commanded our traps in battle in World War II.

So I hope he enters the public sphere of our country in some way, shape or form because he's a really fine human being with a lot of insights and remarkable ability to get to the heart of a matter and to express it in ways that people can understand.

VAN SUSTEREN: Terms of the Republican Party, some of the fresh faces -- Senator Marco Rubio hails from the Senate, at least most recently from the U.S. Senate. Then you've got candidates who coming out of -- out of jobs, like, as governors. You've got Governor Scott Walker. You've got Governor Susana Martinez.

In looking at the party, should the party be reaching -- you know, if given the choice, for people with more experience as an executive or legislative?

ROVE: Well, traditionally, the Republican Party has tended to have more people come from the ranks of governors who have been successful in getting elected, you know, Governor Ronald Reagan, Governor George W. Bush. But look, politics changes, and the question is (INAUDIBLE) people are going to be looking at in 2015 and 2016 that there's Republican nominees from the perspective of do they have the ability to lead the country? Are they a leader?

Now, some of them, like Bobby Jindal of Louisiana or Nikki Haley of South Carolina or Susana Martinez of New Mexico or John Kasich of Ohio or Governor Snyder of Michigan -- all of these people may be able to emphasize their executive experience, but we're also going to have people like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, whom you mentioned. Also Rand Paul is going be, I suspect, a candidate.

We're going to hear some talk, I suspect, at some point, maybe if not for the top spot, for the second part, for Kelly Ayotte, senator from New Hampshire, and of course, Governor Chris Christie, if he gets reelected as governor of New Jersey, particularly if he gets reelected with a big margin, is going to be a player, if he wants to be a player.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you see a -- do you foresee a bigger role for the people who tend to identify themselves as Tea Party candidates in the party, or do you think that, especially in light of, like, the recent RNC autopsy report is doing certain things like suggesting that perhaps there be fewer debates, which may be more difficult for the less well known candidate -- but what -- what do you see looking into the future?

ROVE: Well, look, a dozen debates is going to be adequate for anybody to get known. Twenty-some-odd -- 22 hurt the Republican Party. I think that Chairman Priebus is absolutely right. We ought to limit the number of debates to a reasonable number. It's what the Democrats did in 2004 to minimize the damage to them from putting anchors in charge of these unscripted, un -- un -- unchoreographed events.

And on our side, it really hurt because they -- most of the anchors were really happy to depict the Republicans as strange people not really concerned with jobs, economy, deficit, debt and the health care, but concerned with every weird sort of social issue or every weird sort of recent statement by somebody that they could be -- that they could draw out of the -- out of the past and -- and -- and make the subject of the debate.

But -- but I do think that we're going to have a lot of new faces. This is healthy for our party. We're going to have some -- we're going to have one or two faces that we're familiar with. I wouldn't put it -- you know, I wouldn't suggest that Jeb Bush might not run. Six months ago, eight months ago, I might have thought no, but maybe today, he might.

But I think this is going to be a very healthy discussion about the future course of the Republican Party, and more importantly, the future course of the country.