OTR Interviews

Rove: Trump should be more precise with his language

Donald Trump stirs uproar by suggesting 'Second Amendment people' could stop Clinton. Karl Rove reacts and sounds off on the latest swing state polls


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 9, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The reason we took you there live is to see if he makes news on that controversy from earlier today.

And earlier today, Donald Trump causing a stir at a rally in North Carolina. Trump said this.


DONALD TRUMP, 2016 GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick --


If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know.

But I will tell you what, that will be a horrible day.


VAN SUSTEREN: The Clinton campaign immediately releasing a statement that reads, "This is simple. What Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way."

And then the Trump campaign saying this: "It's called the power of unification. Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified which gives them great political power. And this year they will be voting in record numbers, and that won't be for Hillary Clinton. It will be for Donald Trump."

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

Good evening, Karl.


VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Karl, where do you stand on this new controversy?

ROVE: Well, I think he could have been far more precise in his language and said, when he made that statement said maybe the Second Amendment supporters can have something to say about that by going to the polls in record numbers, saying at the time and not be forced to come back and trying to clean it up later.

But you really -- every political candidate needs to stay away from any implication that they're encouraging violence in the political system. I'm sure he wasn't, but he ought to be a little bit more careful about his language and a lot more precise.

VAN SUSTEREN: How long are we going to be hearing about this? Because this one, you know, there is a lot of controversy around this one. And I'm not so sure what he meant by this. I mean, I assume that he was being this cavalier and flip.

ROVE: Yes. Well, we're going to hear a lot more about it until he comes out and stops it. And my hope is at this rally in North Carolina, he takes a moment to reflect on this and to say I see that the other side is taking this out of context. I want to be clear. I don't want to have violence at our rallies. I don't want to have violence in our political system. I don't want -- I especially don't want to have violence against our leaders and our country and people running for office.

What I was talking about was the Second Amendment supporters going to the polls and making certain that she didn't have the opportunity to appoint Supreme Court nominees, who would undo our great constitution and Second Amendment. He ought to do it tonight. End it.

If he doesn't, this is going to linger for a couple of days and they'll find new and creative ways to go after him on it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here is my prediction. All those who like him now will give him a pass on it. All of those who don't like him will -- certainly will take a swing at him. So I don't think this is -- I think it's just -- I don't think people are going to change their minds about him.

ROVE: Yes. No, what I'm worried about are the people who have yet to make up their minds, who are only weakly link to him or weakly link to her. Those are the people who are going to decide this election.

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, brand new -- there's brand new information, new polls that we have, swing-state polls showing a tight race in some of the important states.

The Quinnipiac University polls finding in Florida, Secretary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 1 point, 46 percent to 45 percent. In Ohio, Clinton leads Trump by 4 points, 49 percent to 45 percent. And in Pennsylvania, Clinton leads Trump by 10 points, 52 percent to 42 percent.

Meanwhile, Trump has been wrapping up his attacks against Secretary Clinton.


TRUMP: But she lacks the temperament and the moral character to lead this country. It's very simple. She really does. She is a dangerous person who doesn't tell the truth.


VAN SUSTEREN: That line of attack over temperament has been one that Secretary Clinton also uses against Trump. But Ivanka Trump is defending her father.


IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: He is incredibly level-headed. I think that he fights and he is strong and he's had to fight. He has a lot of people coming at him. He also has tremendous support and love and enthusiasm for his positions. But he beat 16 incredibly capable, competent people in our Republican primaries.

So, I'm, you know, it's not my place to tell him to change his campaigning style. You know, I think he fights the fights that he feels are important for this country. And he'll bring that same spirit and that same energy to the White House. And I think people want somebody who is going to fight for them.


VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, there is so much discussion about temperament, about Donald Trump's thoughts. What his statements today about the a Second Amendment.

But when you look at these polls, Secretary Clinton up by only one in Florida within the margin of error. And in Ohio, Secretary Clinton is only up by 5. A little bit outside the margin of error. But no Republican can win the White House without Florida and Ohio, I'm told. And it looks like he is at least giving her a little bit of a run for her money in those states.

ROVE: Yes. Look, I took good news. This is good news in Florida and Ohio from the Quinnipiac poll. As you say one point up in Florida, 4 points up in Ohio after two dreadful weeks for Donald Trump. So I think this shows the race is competitive and if he gets his sea legs under him.

Look, he has to win Florida. If she wins Florida, and wins the states that the Democrats have won in all six of the last presidential elections, which have 242 electoral votes, if she wins Florida with 29, she's got 271 electoral votes and she is president.

If he wins Florida, he stays alive to fight in these other battleground states.

You're right, Ohio, 18 electoral votes. If he wins that, plus Florida, plus what Mitt Romney won, then he's at 253 votes. He's got to win Florida to keep her from winning. He's got to win Ohio in order for him to win. No president, Republican president has been elected while losing Ohio.

The one bit of bad news is Pennsylvania. Because Pennsylvania, while it has been Democrat in the last six presidential elections has been competitive. In 2004, for example, George W. Bush came within 2.5 points of winning the state. If Trump were to win all of the Romney states in North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona have got some worries about them, but if he wins the Romney states plus Florida, plus Ohio, and then takes Pennsylvania, he is at 273 and he is president.

If he doesn't win Pennsylvania, then he has got to Kabul together 17 electoral votes out of other battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and so forth.

VAN SUSTEREN: And not lose Utah, which Romney won before him, in which he's right -- he needs to -- he's not doing too well in Utah. But we will leave that for another night.

ROVE: You bet.

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, thank you.

ROVE: You bet. Thank you, Greta.