This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," August 2, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Chris Wallace.
Countdown to the first Republican presidential debate. With just four days to go, the contenders jockey for position.
GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hopefully, we'll be on the stage. But, you know, there's no life or death in politics. You know, you do the best you can.
RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's get a pull-up bar out there and see who can do the most pull-ups.
WALLACE: With the largest field in recent political history, what are the stakes and what about Donald Trump?
DONALD TRUMP, R-N.Y., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never debated before. I’m not a debater. I get things done.
WALLACE: We'll talk with two GOP candidates vying for a prime time spot -- Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Then, our Sunday group weighs in on what to look for in the debate and whether Hillary Clinton's troubles could entice a new rival into the Democratic race.
All, right now, on FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
WALLACE: And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
Now, just four days before the first Republican debate. This Thursday, August 6th, the huge field of GOP candidates will gather in Cleveland for FOX News/Facebook debate night. The first event at 5:00 p.m. Eastern and then main prime time debate with top ten candidates on 9:00 p.m. Eastern on FOX News Channel.
Today, we're talking today with two candidates vying to be on the stage. First, the governor of Ohio, John Kasich, who’s riding a post-announcement bump in the polls.
Governor, welcome back to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
KASICH: Thanks. Thank you, Chris. Good to be with you.
WALLACE: In the "Real Clear Politics" average of recent polls, you're in ninth place now at 3.5 percent. And in the most recent, the latest of the polls you're doing better than that. As the governor of the state where the debate is going to be held, how important for you to be on the stage in prime time Thursday night and frankly how embarrassing if you don't make it?
KASICH: Well, first of all, there's nothing wrong with a person being embarrassed who has been in the spotlight for a long time. I mean, I rather not be embarrassed, Chris, but, you know, life is short and the more we keep our feet on the ground, the better it is.
In terms of being on the stage in that big debate, I’d like to be there, but, you know, this debate comes six months before the selection of a single delegate. And, you know, what I’ve been focusing on is out there in the grassroots and as I think you know, I’m now running third in New Hampshire, which is a very important part of my political future.
And we'll see what happens. I would like to be there. And we just have to wait and see how all these polls work out.
And, look, you know, as it relates to the polls, you know, I was -- I’m governor of Ohio. I wasn't traveling around the country trying to make a name for myself. I was just trying to take care of Ohio. And not many national reporters wanted to come out here and cover something that was going well. I mean, if we had been blowing things up, they would have been here.
But, you know, everything is fine. You know, I’m very pleased with where we are and I’ve enjoyed being out with the folks.
WALLACE: You seem determined not to comment on Donald Trump but your top political strategist, John Weaver, sent out a tweet this week. He wrote, "Imagine a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race knowing one of the drivers will be drunk. That's what prepping for this debate is like."
Is that how you think of Donald Trump?
KASICH: He won't be sending anymore tweets like that, Chris, OK? I mean, that's not the way we operate. And we're basically sort of like the engine that just keeps going along. And, you know, we don't appreciate stuff like that. I don't think you'll see any more of that.
And in terms of commenting on other people, I have enough to do to get my message out to people and if I’m spending my time talking about somebody else or something else, like I am right now, then I’m not telling you how I was the chairman of the House Budget Committee that balanced the federal budget, you know, as the chief architect since we walked on the moon, or my defense experience, or the fact that we turned Ohio around from $8 billion in the hole to $2 billion in the black, a growth of 350,000 jobs.
I mean, that's what I need to tell people, because I find when I’m out there in these town halls and I’ve done a bunch in New Hampshire, is people ask questions and they want answers and they want to see experience and they want to see a record and they want to see who you are.
And why would I talk about somebody else? I might want to talk about you and toughness of your questioning. That would probably get applause if I criticize you.
WALLACE: Well, listen, you want to go after me in the debate, go ahead.
WALLACE: I'm going to ask you about your record right now.
WALLACE: Because I think you’d agree, that's the main thing you're running on, is your record of achievement.
KASICH: That's the main thing. What the heck else would you run on? You run on like --
WALLACE: OK, let me --
KASICH: We had a president that was running on what?
WALLACE: This is going to be a tough debate if I can't get the question out.
Anyway, let's talk about your record. Turning an eight -- as you mentioned, an $8 billion shortfall into a $2 billion surplus.
WALLACE: Unemployment down from 9.1 percent to 5.2 percent. And the top income tax rate has been lowered from 6.2 percent to 4.9 percent.
But the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, gave you a "D" on its government's report card just last year, noting the budget grew 13.6 percent in 2014 and that over your time as governor, government jobs have increased 3 percent. A "D", sir?
KASICH: Well, I don't know who these folks are, Chris, another Washington group. But, look, we have the lowest number of state employees in 30 years and in addition to that, our budget overall is growing by about 2 percent or 3 percent, and our Medicaid growth has gone from 9 percent when I came in to less than 4 percent and no one has been left behind. We haven't had to cut benefits or throw anybody off the rolls. So, we pay attention to the mentally ill and the drug addicted and the working poor.
But, you know, it's Washington. And, Chris, here's the thing -- remember they said, "He won't get in the race." Then I did.
Then, they said, "OK, well, if he gets in, he won't be able to raise the money." Then I did.
Then, they said, "Well, he's getting in too late." Now they say, "What a brilliant move."
So, I pay no attention to folks in Washington. I want to move a lot of the power and money and influence out of that town back to where we live like normal Americans, you know?
WALLACE: OK. Let me pick up on another issue that Cato and a lot of other conservatives don't like, and that is that you push Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid through in your state of Ohio over the very strong objections of the Republican-controlled legislature -- state legislature in Ohio.
And here are the critics’ complaints: they say that Ohio will be on the hook long-term after federal aid begins to run out. They also say that you were one of the few Republican governors to give President Obama bipartisan cover on Obamacare.
KASICH: Yes. Well, first of all, I’m opposed to Obamacare and I’ve been clear on that. Medicaid has been expanded -- was expanded by Ronald Reagan I think three or four times.
In addition to that, instead of locking people in prison who have mental health, we give them treatment and keep them out and that saves us money. Instead of putting the drug addicted in prison and having them be released and back in prison, we treat them and we have a 10 percent recidivism rate for those people drug addicted. And for working poor, instead of us all paying uncompensated care when they go in there and they don't have insurance, they now have health care so they're not sicker and more expensive.
Now, we not only save money by doing this, Chris, but at the same time, frankly, morally, we’re letting people get up on their feet and have a great life, or a better life. And let me say to you that conservative principles mean that in the United States of America, every once in a while, we give a helping hand to somebody to get out of the ditch so they then can live their God-given purpose. That doesn't mean we just give them a handout. We also expect personal responsibility once we help them.
So, you know, I don't know what all these folks are saying. Again, our Medicaid growth rate some of the lowest.
In regard to Medicaid, however, two points, one, we bring our money back to treat people here in Ohio because the federal government has no money. And, secondly, I would take a Medicaid program and I would block grant it empowering states to deal with those who are sick and poor in the way that they can so it's not a one-size-fits-all mentality.
So, it all fits together. And, remember, I was one of the architects of the last time we balanced the budget in Washington and we had surpluses for four years and we cut taxes and the economy was growing.
So, what is there not to like about that? I don't know.
WALLACE: I want to pick up -- you talked about the moral component of the argument and you have made an argument with me and you also made it last year at a big conservative donors conference. I want to put up on the screen what you said.
A woman was questioning you about expansion of Medicaid. You said, "I don't know about you, lady, but when I get to the pearly gates, I’m going to have an answer for what I’ve done for the poor." Now, reportedly some people walked out after you said that and the criticism was that John Kasich thinks that you're not a good Christian unless you support a massive increase in government.
KASICH: Yes, well, first of all, it's not about being a Christian. The Jewish and Christian principles of this country say basically the same thing, Chris.
And, look, I’m a public official. But I’m also I think a leader in terms of how this country ought to move. And my sense is, is that it is important that we do not ignore the poor, the widowed, the disabled. I just think that's -- that’s the way America is. And I think there's a moral aspect to it.
In my state, there's not only a moral aspect where some people's lives have been saved because of what we've done, but it also saves us money in the long run, and I never said that to that woman. I said it to Ohio speaker of the house.
And, by the way, the legislature just reaffirmed the expansion of Medicaid in this last budget in overwhelming numbers.
So, we could never have gotten this done if leaders hadn't supported it. But, look, it's bringing our money back to solve our problems. That’s actually conservative. Bring our money back to solve our problems. The same thing we should do in education, we should do in job training, in highway funding. I mean, this is the way we need to be moving.
WALLACE: Let me pick up on another issue that some conservatives have with you. Back in 1994, you voted for the assault weapons ban that Bill Clinton was proposing, which earned you an "F" from NRA, and they were so upset that when you first ran for governor in 2010, they actually endorsed your Democratic opponent against you.
Now, your NRA rating now is straight "A", but what would you say --
KASICH: That's called improvement.
WALLACE: Yes, the comeback kid.
Yes, what would you say -- particularly in a place like New Hampshire where hunting is a big deal -- to gun rights advocates who are going to say, look, I’m not sure I like a guy who at one time had an "F" from the NRA.
KASICH: Well, that was an assault weapon ban. What I learned from that experience is you write a law and it doesn't have any meaning. I’m a Second Amendment advocate, Chris. I don't believe we should -- the government should be taking guns from people. I think people have a right to be armed.
And, look, that's what we've done in Ohio and I think they've been very pleased with what I’ve been able to do. But it's not about pleasing them. It's keeping the Second Amendment and it’s allowing legitimate gun owners to be able to do what they want, which is exercise their constitutional rights. So, people don’t need to worry about that.
WALLACE: Do you regret your vote for the assault weapons ban in '94?
KASICH: No, you know, going back and regretting, it’s just -- when I look at it now, it was superfluous. We were adding a law that had no impact. And I don’t think that's ever smart to do.
WALLACE: Finally, in your announcement a couple weeks ago at your alma mater, Ohio State University, you said that you are running, big picture, to restore the American Dream. Realistically --
WALLACE: -- how much can a president do?
KASICH: Well, I think a president can do a couple things just like I have as governor. And that is to create economic growth, first and foremost, by getting government to work in terms of respecting job creators and job creation.
But, secondly, I think it's also a communication, both in policy and the way in which you conduct yourself, that everyone -- no matter who you are if you're poor, you’re in a minority community, if you have been disabled, if you have had real problems -- that you also have a right to share in the American Dream.
If you're working and you're poor, you lost your job -- I saw a guy in New Hampshire, 55 years old, engineer, lost his job, he’s working in a sandwich shop. We want to give people like that hope, Chris, because I think our country has become divided, some have become depressed.
But you know what? We've been through tougher times before. And we will fix this.
The president can lead, but fundamentally, America works from the bottom up, from the folks to the top, not from the top down. My dad was a mailman. And I’ve always believed that.
WALLACE: Governor Kasich, thank you. Thanks for talking with us and we'll see you somewhere on some stage Thursday in Cleveland.
KASICH: All right, Chris.
WALLACE: Look forward to it.
KASICH: Thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, another candidate hoping to be part of the prime time debate, former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Will he get a chance this week to make up for some shaky moments in the last campaign?
WALLACE: A look outside the Beltway, at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, site of this week's first Republican presidential debate. One of the candidates hoping for a prime time spot on that debate stage is former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Governor, welcome back to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you, Chris.
WALLACE: In -- and we were just talking about this with John Kasich -- in the "Real Clear Politics" average of the most recent polls, he's in ninth place. You're in 11th place with 2.2 percent support, which means that you are right on the bubble for making the top ten and the prime time FOX debate Thursday night.
Honestly, sir, how damaging to your candidacy if you're not on the stage 9:00 p.m. that night?
PERRY: Well, I full well expect to be on the stage, but as a lot of people recognize, this is not one shot pony here. We've got a full campaign in front of us, lots of things going on. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, we spent a lot of time in those states. And how you do in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina is going to have a lot more to do with who is going to be the nominee than whether somebody makes a debate presentation on the 6th of August of 2015.
WALLACE: Let's talk about debates.
I think you will agree that you did not do well in debates last time -- which raises the question whether it's this debate or some of the others, aren't they more important to you than they are perhaps to any other candidate, so that you can show that you are not Rick Perry of 2012, but you’re a new and improved Rick Perry?
PERRY: Well, you're kind in that observation. But, yes, I think a lot of people are waiting for that 6th of August debate. And they know our record. They know that this is a governor that is overseeing the 12th largest economy in the world for the last 14 years, and from '07 to 2014, created 1.5 million jobs while the rest of the country lost 400,000 jobs. They know that we're, you know, socially conservative. All of those things have penetrated through.
They want to see a debate performance that is, you know, more than passable. I will suggest to you that's exactly what they'll get.
WALLACE: So, what are you doing -- I mean, how are you preparing? And is it in the back of your mind I can't afford another oops moment?
PERRY: Well, I have not made it any secret that my preparation has been substantially more than what it was four years ago. We got in this process late. We had had major back surgery. We were not prepared physically or mentally, and it reflected that.
So, the preparation is going to be very reflective of what we've done. I think people will see a very, very focused, disciplined candidate and you add that to the record, and I feel very comfortable about where we are at this particular moment in time.
WALLACE: We pointed out in the last segment that Governor Kasich has just steadfastly refused to engage on the question of Donald Trump.
But, quite frankly, you and Donald Trump have really gone at each other. He's suggested that you should take an IQ test. We went down to the border and said you did a, quote, "terrible" job managing that border when you were governor of Texas and he said this. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I see Rick Perry the other day. And he’s so -- you know, he's doing very poorly in the polls. He put glasses on so people will think he's smart. It just doesn't work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Why do you think Trump is picking on you, sir?
PERRY: You know, it's really interesting. Chris, you're wearing glasses now, too, from time to time, and I think you're still a pretty smart guy.
But I responded -- I responded to that with the appropriate -- and I said, hey, let's go have a pull-up contest and get this over with. I think that was about the same level of which he's focused on.
Here's the more important issue: Donald Trump wants to be commander-in-chief of the United States and he does not know that it is the federal government's responsibility to secure the border. It's not the state of Texas or any other state's responsibility.
Now, what the state of Texas did after I looked the president right in the eye and told him last summer, "If you don't secure the border, Mr. President, Texas will." And we sent our Texas Ranger recon teams and Park and Wildlife wardens and put them right in that river, and our National Guard to be force multipliers, and we saw a 74 percent decrease in the number of apprehensions.
Now, I don't know what Donald Trump is paying attention to. But let me tell you: that is the success that Americans are looking for -- and when I’m the president of the United States, the will to secure that border will reside in the Oval Office every day, and the border with Mexico and the United States will be secure.
WALLACE: You have done more than just fire back on Trump on the issue of immigration. You devoted a major speech to Donald Trump in which you said -- you accused him of a, quote, "toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense."
And you didn't stop there. Here you are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: Let no one be mistaken: Donald Trump's candidacy is a cancer on conservatism and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.
WALLACE: How do you explain, what now in the polls, 20 percent of Republican voters saying that they would support Donald Trump for president? How do you explain that and what would you say to those voters?
PERRY: I’d say those issues that he has talked about, we've been talking about for a long time. This is an individual who has extraordinary celebrity. But I’m not going to be quiet, Chris, when Donald Trump shoots a bullet through John McCain and hits veterans, particularly those that have been captured.
I'll challenge Donald Trump. You go tell Marcus Luttrell who was captured by the Taliban that he doesn't like being around people that have been captured. I think that was one of the low moments of this campaign from my perspective.
And I’m not going to be quiet about that. I’m going to -- I’m going to clearly push back and I’m going to push back hard because -- I'll tell you one thing -- having worn the uniform of this country, I know what men and women have gone through. I wrote a letter a week from '03 through 2010 to a parent or a loved one of a young Texan who lost their life on the war on terror. I know what the cost of this war is, and I’m not going to let anybody belittle those individuals. I’m going to stand up and pushback and I’m going to pushback hard.
WALLACE: But when you say that he’s a cancer on conservatism, it's more than these remarks that he makes. That seems to be a bigger critique.
PERRY: Well, when you think about -- he's for single-payer. I mean, how can anyone who is a conservative stand up and say, "I am for a single-payer for health care"?
I mean, that is anathema for my perspective of an individual who wants to have the banner of the Republican Party, the banner of conservatism -- when you look back at the positions that he has held, it is not in concert with conservatism. And I think, you know, regardless of whether he's a celebrity -- and there are a lot of people that are following him today -- I’m going to stand up for conservatism.
Nobody has a more socially conservative position. Nobody has a better job creation record. Nobody has a better record of running the 12th largest economy in the world and I think that's what Americans are looking for. They want somebody who has the experience and the result of being a major CEO of something that really matters out there.
And I would suggest to you, the state of Texas, about the size of Canada or Australia, is what they're looking for -- somebody who truly knows how to lead this country.
WALLACE: Governor, you made a major speech this past week about reforming Wall Street. You called for more regulations of big financial institutions, you praised the Federal Reserve for requiring big banks to hold more capital, and some folks said that you sounded in terms of all this for more regulations, that you sounded like Bernie sanders.
PERRY: Well, I talked about smart regulations. There's a difference between more regulation is what Dodd-Frank did and Dodd-Frank drove community banks out of business. I mean, we have lost huge numbers of community banks. I used to be on a small bank board back in Haskell County in Texas, and I know what these regulations are doing.
I think it makes sense for us to have these big banks. You realize that the sixth largest banks in the country have 61 percent of the mortgages now. It's a stunning number. We're seeing Freddie and Fannie Mae back in the business of having small down payments to be able to get a loan.
I mean, it is a stunning direction we're going in this country again and it's because of Washington and Washington's policies that are causing this.
And let me address this Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve didn't miss my spleen either in that remark. I said that they had done some things that were absolutely hurtful when it came to our economy. So, the Federal Reserve, Washington, D.C. and Wall Street for that matter, I laid out a clear way for us to get this country back on track. Those banks need to have more cushion, so that there can never be one of these too big to fail issues again.
WALLACE: Governor --
PERRY: The American people that lost their savings, they're the ones that somebody needs to be standing up for and I’m going to do that for ‘em.
WALLACE: Governor, we’ve got about a minute left. FOX News and Facebook are of course partnering in this debate and we're asking folks to send in questions that we'll be asking you and other candidates. You can go to the FOX NEWS SUNDAY page on Facebook, and click on the link to submit either written or video questions.
Governor Perry, here's a question that Derek Osenbach sent. If elected president, what would be the first thing you'll do?
PERRY: Well, tear up that agreement with Iran. That's the biggest challenge I think that we have in this country and, obviously, there’s -- securing that border with Mexico is incredibly important as well, and those two things can happen on the first day.
WALLACE: Governor Perry, thank you. Thanks for sharing your Sunday with us. And we'll see you later this week in Cleveland.
PERRY: Good to be with you, sir. Thank you. See you in Cleveland.
WALLACE: Up next: our Sunday group offers its advice and analysis for what to look for in the FOX News/Facebook debates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am paying for this microphone!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Bush, a philosopher thinker, and why?
GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Christ. Because he changed my heart.
NEWT GINGRICH, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: A look back at some memorable Republican debate moments over the years, and it's time now for our Sunday group. GOP strategist Karl Rove. Susan Page, Washington bureau chief of USA Today. Head of Heritage Action for America, Michael Needham, and Fox News political analyst, Juan Williams.
Karl, this is what everyone, including rival campaigns, has been asking me this week. What will Donald Trump do in the debate, what should Donald Trump do in the debate? What's your answer?
KARL ROVE, GOP STRATEGIST: The answer to the first question is who knows. I thought he's been artful this week that he's been downplaying expectations, that he's going to do lousy in the debate. But he does face a fundamental question. Does he show up and sort of throw the barbs and the personal insults at everybody, or does he try and project the seriousness that people ultimately look for in a presidential candidate. It's going to be interesting to see how he responds. I -- my sense is he's going to try to come across as more serious and more substantive than he has in his recent interviews, but that's one of the interesting things about this election. A lot is unpredictable. And we'll all be watching in order to find out what happens.
WALLACE: If you were his brain the way you were with George W. Bush, what would you advise him? Would you say to do that? And don't you run the risk that suddenly a different Donald Trump shows up on the stage from the one that people obviously have been attracted to?
ROVE: Show the energy and the emotion and show the -- all that we've seen from the Donald in previous weeks, but aimed at an issue, aimed at the thing that he disagrees with, rather than aiming it indiscriminately at both that and his fellow competitors on the stage.
It is going to be problematic for him if he does things like he's done to Rick Perry, you know, mocking him for his glasses, because the rules have already -- Fox has already made clear, you use somebody's name, you go after somebody, they're going to give that somebody a chance to respond. And in politics, the counterpunch is often times more powerful than the punch. And what Donald Trump doesn't want to place himself in the position of doing is throwing a punch, and having counterpunches wailed on him throughout the night.
WALLACE: Susan, you know, there is a lot of free advice to Donald Trump, which is worth what people are paying for it. And it gets to exactly this issue. Some are saying be the statesman. You're at 20 percent in the polls, you're leading, show that you're really -- you are not a reality show clown, show that you are up seriously to being president, and then there are other people who say, hey, this got you to 20 percent, keep doing that.
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: He's in the catbird seat. We got a new Wall Street Journal poll that came out just a few minutes ago that shows him at 19 percent, clearly in first place in this field.
And one thing we know about this debate that the headline the next morning is going to have Trump in it. It's either going to be something Trump says or something someone says to Trump.
And what a complication this is for the other candidates to not know which Donald Trump will show up, the more serious, substantive one, or the one that throws barbs, because their attitude has to be so different depending on who it is.
I suspect that the Donald Trump that shows up will -- that there's not -- subject of a lot of calculation on his part. I think that's what we like about Donald Trump. He responds to the moment. He's very spontaneous. So as you say, who knows.
WALLACE: And what could be better? Who knows. Michael, let's take a step back. Let's not just focus on Trump. There are going to be nine other people on that stage. How important is this first debate, but one of nine or ten or 11, and what your wing of the party, the sort of Tea Party wing of the party, what will they be focusing on? How will people either turn them on or turn them off?
MICHAEL NEEDHAM, HERITAGE ACTION: They want somebody who represent them. It's not just Tea Partiers. For a lot of Americans right now, they feel disconnected from Washington, D.C. They feel like they are unheard, and they're right to feel unheard. So I think the candidate that goes out and says the path that the Republican establishment has been on for so long, count on people to show up and give their energy and enthusiasm during the election, but as soon as it becomes time to govern, we're going to ignore them and we're going to do what the special interests and the Chamber of Commerce wants, that is very disenfranchising to people. So I think there's going to be a candidate who says it's time for us to change, it's time for us to channel all this energy into a party that is actually worth fighting for, a party that has a soul, a party that stands for something, and that candidate is going to be somebody that unites traditional Republicans, Tea Partiers and all sorts of independents and former Democrats.
WALLACE: You've been on this show before. You haven't liked Donald Trump, and that seems to be his main message; they're all a bunch of losers, they're all a bunch of dopes. I'll make America great again.
NEEDHAM: Right. Donald Trump is a symptom of a party that has decided that it will govern based on special interests, not based on what they ran for. Nobody ran in 2014 and said if you give us the House and the Senate, we're going to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. Nobody ran in 2014 and said if you give us the House and the Senate, we're going to increase entitlement spending by half a trillion dollars. People are sick of this. It's a game. And the problem with the Republican Party that allows Donald Trump to be somebody at 19, 20 percent and not an asterisk in the polls is that most Republican voters hate their party. And that is what needs to be addressed.
WALLACE: Is there something, Michael, that more moderate candidates -- and it's all relative. But the more moderate candidates on that stage, like Bush, like Kasich, like Christie. Are there things that they could do to try to win over that disaffected wing of the party?
NEEDHAM: I think most of them will say the right things. Chris Christie has said great things on entitlement reform. John Kasich has a record that he's talked about. It's not proving that this isn't going to be the same drill that we've seen all over again. People who are running based on promises, yet once they get in there, they are taking the phone calls from the Chamber of Commerce and saying, what are we going to do? They're taking the phone calls from the typical Washington establishments, who have made our party soulless, and going down that path. They have to stand up and do what they said they're going to do.
NEEDHAM: That's the challenge. I think part of it is actually being willing to take punches at the right people. The reason Donald Trump is getting enthusiasm is he's ticking off all the right people. It's former Bush advisers who are running to the New York Times to talk about all the problems with Donald Trump. It's the people who all through the last couple of decades have made our party intellectually bankrupt. If you can start picking some strategic fights, where you're taking on something like the Export/Import Bank -- that's why this was such an important victory -- and you are saying, we're going to identify something that's the crux of cronyism in Washington, D.C., and take it down, you can start building up trust.
WALLACE: Facebook has been sharing some fascinating data with us. Of course we're partnering with them for the debate. Take a look at this. Here are the top five most talked about political issues on Facebook over the last two months. You can see two there, Mexico and immigration, seem to have a link. Racial issues No. 1. And LGBT issues No. 4. So it's kind of surprising.
Juan, what do you make of that and what do you see as the opportunities and challenges for all of the candidates on the stage Thursday night?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: It's interesting. Because I think it ties into what you've heard from my other fellow panelists here this morning. I think if you look at the issue of race, for example, or you look at something like Mexico, Donald Trump is all over that. Donald Trump speaks to those issues, on immigration in specific, and Trump has become a media sensation and an Internet media, social media sensation, I think, because he speaks to the issues that people want to hear about.
And I thought Michael laid this out. I don't happen to agree with the perspective, but that's exactly right. The sense of alienation, the infighting that we've seen just in the last week inside the Republican Party, taking on Speaker Boehner, taking on Mitch McConnell as the Senate majority leader. I think that's instructive in terms of a fractured party. So I think this is all about the Trump show at the moment, and Trump as evidence of a party that lacks leadership in that sense, and is looking for somebody who can galvanize them.
WALLACE: Karl, do you agree with that? Is that your perception of where the party is at this moment?
ROVE: Look, first of all, let's put things in perspective. 20 percent is the frontrunner. Nobody is the frontrunner. He's the best we have got in terms of a frontrunner, if you want to pick someone at the front of the pack, but this is not what races normally look like. Normally the frontrunner has 35 percent or 40 percent.
This is a field that's closely packed.
The second thing is that Donald Trump has a high floor relative to everybody else. He's got 20 percent. He's also got a low ceiling. He has the worst favorable and unfavorables of the top five Republicans in that poll. In fact, if you look at his positives, his positives are the lowest in all of the contest in the Quinnipiac except for one, Carly Fiorina. And that's because 38 percent of the sample didn't know who she was. Zero percent of the sample didn't know who Donald Trump was.
He loses by a huge margin to Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden performs better than Hillary Clinton does, but nonetheless she's likely to be the nominee.
WALLACE: -- 17 candidates, which is what we have now, in that kind of a fractionated field, 20 percent, you can do pretty darn well in Iowa and New Hampshire.
ROVE: We'll see, because we got a long way to go between here and there. Frankly, I thought there was a very good piece in the New York Times by Russ Douthat, who said that Donald Trump is holding in essence back the Republican Party haters inside the Republican contest. He's helping the traditional Republicans are benefiting by Trump taking that anger that Mike talked about and channeling it towards him rather than channeling it towards a Ted Cruz, for example. I think -- nobody -- I run into very few people who think Donald Trump is likely to be the nominee of the Republican Party. He's likely to be a presence for some period of time, longer rather than shorter, but at the end of the day, it's what is to me is interesting is who is he holding back, not who is he advancing? Because 20 percent, you have to go back to the 1976 Democratic presidential contest to find a poll that had a frontrunner at the low levels that we see today.
WALLACE: All right. Panel, we have to take a break here. When we come back, as Hillary Clinton's struggles continue to pile up, could it be enough to draw Joe Biden into the Democratic race?
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HILLARY CLINTON, D, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is not appropriate nor fair for me to prejudge in a public arena what Secretary Kerry and President Obama eventually have to decide. I will not express an opinion until they have made a decision. If it's undecided when I become president, I'll answer your question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Hillary Clinton repeatedly refusing to answer questions about where she stands on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. And we're back now with the panel.
First you have that dodge on Keystone, which was not exactly a profile in political courage, and then you have the continuing saga about classified information on Clinton's private e-mail server, and then you had this story in the Wall Street Journal this week that after Clinton intervened as secretary of state to help the Swiss bank UBS, that that firm donated more than half a million dollars to the Clinton Foundation and paid Bill Clinton $1.5 million for a series of appearances. Here is how Clinton responded to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I would say that any implication that is attempting to be made along those lines is categorically false.
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WALLACE: Karl, how much is all of this, just the drop, drop, drop hurting Clinton?
ROVE: Hugely. 37 percent believe that she is honest in the Quinnipiac poll. Honest and trustworthy, 57 percent do not. And we'll have continuing monthly revelations about her e-mails, and we'll find out more of these kind of perceptions that she was trading on her position as secretary of state to help people who were contributing to her foundation.
I think this brings up a broader question. We've seen a lot of evidence that the foundation creates perceptions of insider trading and insider dealing in a lot of ways. And you wonder why they didn't think about this in advance, or why they didn't care about it. It also shows we were told that all of his speeches were going to be reviewed by appropriate officials at the State Department to avoid problems. Well, he's getting the largest single corporate source of income for him since he left office is coming from an entity that's under review by the secretary's office.
So, yes, there are problems, and we have seen the tip of the iceberg in my opinion. And we're going to see this constantly throughout the campaign. You take this honest and trustworthy problem that she's got and put it with the problem that she's got of people, does she care about people like me, which is also enormous, and you have a toxic combination that we have not seen. Mitt Romney had a huge problem with the issue of cares about people like me, but people saw him as honest and trustworthy. She has got a problem with both, and it's going to be a continuing difficulty for her candidacy.
WALLACE: But Clinton is not backing off. She and Jeb Bush spoke on Friday before the National Urban League, and she really went after Bush as a hypocrite and mocked his campaign slogan. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I don't think you can credibly say that everyone has a right to rise, and then say you're for phasing out Medicare or for repealing Obamacare.
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WALLACE: Michael, the Bush camp was surprised and angry.
NEEDHAM: They should be. I guess the only thing they miscalculated is not anticipating that the Clintons would do something classless, and I think going to that event and launching her attack the way she did was pretty classless.
But look, if Hillary Clinton wants to have a debate about whether the right to rise is more advanced by a progressive ideology that has given us the war on poverty, has given us the absolute decimation of the American family, and then created a Democrat Party that is afraid to stand up for school choice because of the teachers unions, we would love to have that debate about the right to rise.
And here is the other thing, and Hillary Clinton, as Karl was just saying, kind of perfectly encapsulates this notion of public service or the purpose of enriching yourself and your friends. The same week that she's saying this, she's going and meeting with the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO right now that is lobbying for an increase in the minimum wage in San Francisco, except for unionized workers, and that's how the Clinton economy works. That's how the crony economy works. It's that Richard Trumka and Hillary Clinton get to choose who is in the club and who is not, and if you're in the club--
WALLACE: Head of the AFL.
NEEDHAM: Head of the AFL-CIO. If you're in the club, if you're part of the well connected ruling class, you get to have lower wages. If you're not in the club, you don't get to have the right to have a job, because of the minimum wage increasing the cost of labor.
WALLACE: Susan, with all of Clinton's troubles, and first, I would be curious to hear what you think about how much trouble she's in, there's a lot of buzz in the papers and especially today about Joe Biden actively exploring -- that is the operative phrase -- actively exploring running against Clinton for the Democratic nomination. How likely do you think it is that he will jump in, and if so, what would his chances be against Clinton?
PAGE: I think Joe Biden's heart has always wanted to run. I interviewed his wife in 2012, and she left the door open, to my surprise, to the idea that he would run in 2016. But I think his head has told him there really isn't an opening for him. He's run for president twice. Neither time has he managed to be a really significant factor in the race, and he's now 72 years old. Hillary Clinton, for all her problems, is well liked by most Democrats, and is excited with some considerable amount of enthusiasm to be -- at the the prospect of being the first woman president. So I think there must be this battle going on for Joe Biden between his desire to run one more time, and from people who may be counseling him saying, not now. The opening isn't big enough. You'll hurt some of the credibility you've gained as vice president, and especially since --
WALLACE: This speaks to the whole issue. Obviously one of his big calculations, how wounded do you think Hillary Clinton is now?
PAGE: I think she's still by far the likely nominee. But I think the thing that strikes you about all of the controversies that you mentioned, they are all self-inflicted. These are not things that other people are doing to her. These are problems she has brought onto herself, from her failure to answer a straightforward question about Keystone pipeline, to the continuing stories we see about questions about at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.
NEEDHAM: Great contrast between the two parties. Here on the one hand you have one party with 16 candidates, different races, different genders, all with a different story to tell about how they can provide opportunity for all Americans. On the other hand, you have a Democrat Party. They don't like Hillary Clinton. They don't like the disheveled socialist running against her, and the only place they can find to find a different candidate is Barack Obama's 72-year-old vice president. That's the state of the two parties right now.
WILLIAMS: I think you're off on that one, Michael. Democrats like Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton holds a substantial lead in the Democratic Party race and beats every Republican out there right now nationally. So just let's show down a second.
I think on the Joe Biden front, Joe Biden is so popular and especially now, there's a great deal of sympathy after the death of his son, and the reports coming from Maureen Dowd and the Times that Beau Biden was encouraging his father to run, that his father still has some political life. There's a great deal of that, but Joe Biden doesn't want to be Ralph Nader. He doesn't want to be remembered and have a legacy that says he separated the party and served this great Republican excitement about the idea that Hillary Clinton actually may not be the titan that we thought.
WALLACE: But he wouldn't be a third party candidate. He'd run for the nomination--
WILLIAMS: He would run for the nomination, and potentially maybe like Trump say, oh, you know, maybe there's something for me. So I don't see Hillary Clinton crumbling. I think Susan is right. There's been a lot of self-inflicted damage. But this week, rather than classless, Michael, I think she did something very clear. She said there's a clear distinction between the Democratic Party and Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio in Florida. She said you know what, Bush wants to lower capital gains taxes. She released her taxes this week. She said I paid a high tax rate. This man wants to lower it. He's not looking out for the middle class. That's making a clear distinction everybody can understand. She said Marco Rubio wants to lower taxes on people who make more than $3 million a year. She says I want to do more for the middle class.
NEEDHAM: I think that the same week that the Bushes and the Clintons are on the front cover of Time magazine, and you can have the opportunity to talk about how we can work together to make the right to rise, we appreciate you, Juan, for writing an essay in the Heritage Foundation's recent Culture of Inopportunity Index--
WILLIAMS: I'm a strong supporter of school choice.
NEEDHAM: -- on school choice.
WALLACE: As a sports fan, I have always noticed that the most -- when a team isn't doing particularly well, the most popular person in town is the second string quarterback, because he hasn't messed up yet. So all your hopes for things are going to get better -- how seriously do you take Biden? Do you think he will get in the race? If he did, what would be his chances?
ROVE: Well, I'm with Susan. Hillary is going to be the nominee. But look, he doesn't need to jump in the race and shouldn't. It would take the focus away from her. If she's going to have continuing problems and if they are going to be mortal, if they are life threatening, we're going to see it play out in the next three or four or five months, and better for him to wait and see her lose in Iowa and then think about jumping in. The Internet is changing how money can be raised and organizations be established.
WALLACE: Interesting. Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday. Up next, our power player of the week. Washington's golden girl.
WALLACE: The world's best swimmers dive into the pool today at the world championships in Russia, and all eyes will be on a local D.C. teenager we first introduced you to last September. Here's our power player of the week.
KATIE LEDECKY, SWIMMER: Wake up at 4:15. Practice from 5:00 to 6:30. Go to school.
WALLACE: Katie Ledecky is discussing her daily schedule. A regimen that's made her arguably the best swimmer in the world. She has no thoughts of slowing down. Is it ever too much?
LEDECKY: No. I've gotten used to it. I think swimming has helped my school work, the school work and school day, always helps my swimming. So it goes both ways, I guess.
WALLACE: It certainly seems to be working.
What world records do you now hold?
LEDECKY: The 400 free, the 800 free and the 1,500 free.
WALLACE: That's all?
LEDECKY: Yeah. I broke them a few times.
WALLACE: Last September, the then 17 year old has just started her senior year at Stoneridge (ph), a private school outside Washington.
How tough is it to be a normal teenager?
LEDECKY: It's not tough at all. It's been a lot of fun the last couple of years, just swimming and going to school.
WALLACE: Is there any time for boys?
LEDECKY: No. I don't have a boyfriend and never have.
WALLACE: Katie started swimming competitively at six, her enthusiasm stronger than her form. But by the time she was eight, she was starting to win.
LEDECKY: You can improve that time, and that's a result of what you do every day in practice. I think you can really see the correlation.
WALLACE: Numbers don't lie.
LEDECKY: Exactly. Numbers don't lie, and they show what you do in practice, and I like that aspect of it.
WALLACE: In 2012, at age 15, she made the Olympic team, but she was no favorite.
LEDECKY: I would have been happy if I got first or last. I was just really grateful to be at the Olympics, and I didn't have many expectations for myself.
WALLACE: And what happened?
LEDECKY: I won. It was a surreal night. This is the 2012 Olympic gold in the 800.
WALLACE: May I? It's gorgeous.
LEDECKY: Yes. It's a nice keepsake.
WALLACE: The keepsake got some company last summer. Five more gold medals from the Pan Pacific Championships. Now Katie is back in training, focusing on the 2016 Olympics.
LEDECKY: I think it's more of time goals rather than I have to make this meet or I have to get these medals.
WALLACE: So if you met your time goal and finished third, would you be happy or disappointed?
LEDECKY: I would be happy. You can't control what other people are going to do. But I try to set my time goals so that it will put me up there, put me in contention for a medal.
WALLACE: Ledecky gets back in the pool this week as a big favorite, competing in five events at the World Championships and get ready for another Ledecky gold rush.
Before we go, this program note. I'll see you Thursday night along with Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly for the Fox News/Facebook presidential debate, featuring the top ten candidates in the national polls. It all starts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on Fox News Channel. That's it for today. Have a great week, and we'll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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