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Is Trump risking losing Iowa by skipping the Fox debate?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 27, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight ON THE RECORD, two sizzling and big battles kicking in to high gear in Iowa. Trump vs. Cruz and Clinton vs. Sanders.

And right now, Donald Trump is leading in most Iowa polls. The newest poll, a Monmouth Poll of likely Republican Iowa caucus goers says Donald Trump is still number one with 30 percent. Senator Ted Cruz, a significant 7 points behind at 23 percent. That's second place. Senator Marco Rubio in third place with 16 percent and Dr. Ben Carson at 10 percent.

No other candidate breaking double digits. Trump is dominating the poll, but with so many undecided voters, is Trump's decision to skip the GOP debate the best plan? And which candidate has the smartest strategy to win the vote of new Iowa caucus goers.

Former senior advisor to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove goes ON THE RECORD.

Karl, good evening. And Donald Trump's strategy and it's been going on for the last 24 hours. He says he is not going to be there at the debate. Tell me about that strategy and what you think about it.

KARL ROVE, FORMER DEPUTY SENIOR ADVISOR AND CHIEF-OF-STAFF TO G.W. BUSH: Well, I think it's a high risk strategy. You know, debates haven't been his forte, but he has held his own. And it just strikes me that this shows a -- you know, sort of a contempt at the active disrespect towards Iowa and the Iowa process and Iowa voters. I can't be up on that stage. I'm afraid of Megyn Kelly. I'm going to go off and hold my own event. They are unfair to me. They are being mean.

That's not a good, confident, strong, you know, candidate going into the final stretch here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's sort of interesting. I realize that people have sort of email campaigns, but the campaigns, the flip side of what I'm hearing is that he is standing up to "Fox." That he is strong. That he has done six other debates. I mean, that's the argument I'm getting on the flip side as well as the one that you have.

ROVE: Yes. Look, I've heard those same arguments. I will tell you this. I have been in a lot of campaigns, presidential campaigns, gubernatorial, senatorial campaigns, congressional campaigns. I have never seen anybody make it a winning argument that, you know what? I have had too many debates already. I'm not going to do anymore. They always suffer some damage. If they're the front-runner and way out ahead, it may be a little bit of damage. But if you are in a close race, it could be significant enough damage.

Let's think about this. Monmouth Poll had a 7 point gap between Donald Trump in first and Ted Cruz in second. But, that's not the only poll. In the last several days, think about this, Quinnipiac, which came out two days ago had a 2 point race between the two. And the ARG Poll which came out on the same day had a 7-point like this -- like the Monmouth Poll. But the question is where is the right?

VAN SUSTEREN: But wait -- but wait a second, the Fox Poll, though, the day before that had Trump ahead by 11 points.

ROVE: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which brings me to this, is that Gallup isn't doing these polls this time around. And as I understand, a Gallup business, because of the inherent unreliability of all these polls.

ROVE: Look, it is very difficult to do a poll in a primary to get an accurate reading of where things are in a primary. It is just inherently difficult because, you know, you are talking about a share of a larger share. You are talking about part of the Republicans, not all of the Republicans. You are not talking about a general election pool of voters which is heavy turnout. You are talking about a much smaller.

And then we are getting into an age. Let's admit it. We are in a period of time. We've passed through the golden age of public polling. It used to be we had people sitting at home and we had people with landlines and then pick them up and answer them. Now people are untethered from their landlines. They are using cell phones and as a result, they are getting much more undependable.

And we also have another factor at play here, Greta, which is, how many people are actually going to turn out in the caucuses? The Monmouth Poll, which you talked about at the beginning, 30-23, Rubio in third at 16 and Carson in fourth at 10. That was estimated. They say it has about 170,000 turnout what that poll would point to.

At 200,000 turnout, 32 for Trump, 21 for Cruz, 16 for Rubio and 9 for Carson. And the last time around, it was about 123,000, that's what it's historically been. So 130,000 turnout, which would be sort of like what we've had in the past, it's a dead heat, 26-26.

In fact, the head of the Monmouth Poll had a great quote. He said, "Trump's victory depends upon a high number of self-motivated, lone wolf Iowa caucus goers showing up."

I thought that was a great phrase to explain the challenge facing Donald Trump.

VAN SUSTEREN: I would say just a clarification. We say 123,000 is sort of what you expect to turn out. Is that include Republicans and Democrats, or just Republicans?

ROVE: No, that's Republicans only. And that's what turned out in 2012. And what historically has been about 120,000 or slightly less.

Trump does better among people who are not regular caucus goers. Among people who are regular caucus-goers, Ted Cruz actually leads. But where Trump gets his margin is among people who are Republicans. But don't vote in the caucuses. He leads there 44 percent to 20 percent for Rubio. 13 percent for Cruz.

And among independents who say that they are going to attend the Republican caucus. Independents are allowed to choose which caucus they go into. He leads among those with 50 percent. Rubio is in second with 20 percent and Cruz is in third with 10 percent. So he is depending on an atypical turnout. People who do not turn out. Among those who turn out regularly, it's 26 percent to 26 percent.

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, thank you.

ROVE: You bet.