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Special Report

GOP outsider wave shows no signs of receding

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 4, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't really understand the Ben Carson thing. I will tell that Ben Carson does not have the aptitude to bring jobs back, does not have the aptitude to deal with China, Japan, Mexico, and any other country you can name. Just doesn't have it, it's not his.

CECILY STRONG, 'SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE': Because of equal time rules for television, Mr. Trump can only speak for four seconds in this promo.

TRUMP: So let me just say this -- Ben Carson is a complete and total loser.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: OK, Donald Trump in New Hampshire and in the "Saturday Night Live" promo, one of many he's done. We have some new FOX News polls as reported at the beginning of the program. And take a look -- Donald Trump up two points since October, now leading, obviously within the margin of error, over Dr. Ben Carson. But you see Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio also moving up, Jeb Bush dropping down. And you see the rest of the field.

If you add the second choice, there you see an interesting list. Ben Carson, first and second choice combined leads, Trump still up there, Rubio next. Take a look at two other polls before I bring in the panel. Most qualified to handle the question, look at this poll, 42 percent, Donald Trump. GOP candidate most qualified to be commander-in-chief, Donald Trump, 19 percent, Ben Carson, 17. And you see the rest.

With that, let's bring in the panel: Jason Riley, columnist with The Wall Street Journal, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post. Bob, welcome. You look at that and you look at what's happening on the trail, what do you think about Donald Trump and Ben Carson? They seem to be up above the rest.

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: The outsider wave that's been surging all year shows no signs of receding. Trump and Carson continue to lead nationally. You have seen some strong momentum coming out of the last debate for Senator Cruz and Senator Rubio, and I think many in the Republican establishment are looking especially at Rubio as someone who can come around the corner and be their contender.

BAIER: A.B., I'm sure in the next few days we're going to hear this poll cited -- qualified to handle the economy, 42 percent say Donald Trump.
This is 1,230 voters, this is Republican primary voters, there is a margin of error, 4.5 percent, but this is such a huge lead.

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: I think that he's going to remind the kindly doctor that he beats him by 33 points on handling the economy. The doctor is behind Cruz. And also he beats him on 19 points on who can best beat Hillary Clinton in a general election.

And the commander-in-chief numbers are only two points apart. And in polling, the general poll they're very tight. I think those numbers are going to be bragging rights for Donald Trump. And, again, he's, he he's behind him in national polls, but this is a good poll for Donald Trump.

BAIER: Top issue, let's go to that. Fox News poll four, and facing the country. Deficit government spending at 36 percent, jobs, unemployment, there you see it, and not much of a change from September, but on that issue of the economy, obviously it drives the day.

JASON RILEY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, it does drive the day. And you'd expect that. That's been the big story of the Obama administration, where are the jobs. A lot of people and of course the employment rate doesn't really reflect, who's not looking for work anymore, or who's looking for work part time but would rather be working full time.

So I'm a little surprised that Trump has decided to set aside Ben Carson right now because one of the things this poll shows is Carson's likeability versus Trump. And there Donald Trump is getting creamed by Carson. So that's a little -- I'm not sure that -- that seems very short sighted for him to go there.

I think the other thing that struck me about the poll, Bret, is that Jeb Bush has fallen off the cliff here. He is no longer a top tier contender. And it will be interesting to see if the mainstream media coverage reflects that going forward, because the people at the top of that poll whether we're talking about Carson or Trump or Cruz are people that the mainstream media typically likes to condescend to. It will be interesting to see if they treat them as top-tier candidates as they are right now in this race.

BAIER: I'll tell you, Bob, you look at the Jeb Bush campaign, they're in their third iteration of a restart. And there are more and more questions about are you getting out. He's obviously pushing back hard against that. But you look at these falling poll numbers. What is your sense of where the Bush is right now?

COSTA: I've called around Bush's allies. And they say remember, he's a Bush. He has presidential politics in his blood. So this idea that he's going to quit, they say that doesn't really ring true.

But Bush has a difficult proposition ahead of him. How does he win New Hampshire? It's crowded right now up there in the granite state. You have Senator Rubio, Senator Cruz, Governor Kasich, Governor Christie. If you want to be a center-right candidate who gets a bounce out of New Hampshire, that's what Bush wants. For now the field is very crowded.

BAIER: I want to look at Fox poll 11, this is honest and trustworthy. It has all of the candidates, Democrat and Republican and how they stack up against each other. Leading in honest and trustworthy, Ben Carson, plus 34. There you see yes and no. You can see all of the other candidates.
Sanders is second in the plus column, and there you see Clinton in the bottom in the honest and trustworthy, kind of upside down, right behind Donald Trump. What do you think of that poll?

STODDARD: Well, this affirms what was found in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out earlier this week. Clinton's numbers, even after her Benghazi testimony on honest and trustworthy are terrible. They're 36-60, the worst of any candidate. And those aren't getting better. She's a known quantity. It will be very hard for her to earn credibility and high marks on character and trustworthiness when she's so known and she remains under FBI investigation. Trump continues to succeed in these polls despite the fact that his numbers are pretty bad as well.

BAIER: I do want to play one more sound bit from Donald Trump talking about Marco Rubio and then Rubio's response and how that plays.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

TRUMP: Marco Rubio has a disaster on his finances. He has a disaster on his credit cards. When you check his credit cards, take a look at what he's done with the Republican Party when he had access, what he had to put back in, and whether or not something should have happened. You'll understand it. Marco Rubio has a basic disaster on finance. So let's see what you find. Let's see what kind of a reporter you are. OK? Good luck.

(APPLAUSE)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know what he's talking about. I don't have any debt in the world except my mortgage on our home. He always gets weird whenever his poll numbers go down. He goes off a little bit. So I guess that's what's happening.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BAIER: What about that tactic?

RILEY: I think he's taking shots at these other guys. But I think the campaign is most concerned about Ted Cruz.

BAIER: The Trump campaign.

RILEY: The Trump campaign. I think that long-term is the person who could hurt him most. Carson's numbers have come up, but they haven't come up at Trump's expense. Trump has really maintained pretty level over, you know, throughout the summer. He's still pretty much where he's been in the mid 20s.

I think, and what I think is happening in the campaign is you're going to see the other voters, the other side is consolidating around an anti- establishment candidate. And if Trump isn't their guy, the most likely person it could be is Ted Cruz. So then the others will coalesce around an established candidate.

BAIER: Bob, last thing. A lot of people get mad that we focus this much on polls this early. It is the marker by which we kind of measure where things are. Organization on the ground, you've been out there. Who is best organized?

COSTA: In terms of grassroots fervor and organization on the ground, you have to look to Trump and Carson. I've seen their operations in Iowa. Trump has Rick Santorum's former strategist working on his side in the Hawkeye state. And you see Carson, the enthusiasm for him is letting him have this network grow almost organically. Bush has a great operation in South Carolina, Rubio as well down there. It's pretty competitive all-around.

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