Bob Dole discusses the state of the 2016 presidential race

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 19, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY:  Jeb has been a great son, great father, great husband, married well, and is one of my four favorite sons.




NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  She has a great sense of humor.

And I always wonder, the popularity of the Bush family, no more so when it comes to Barbara Bush, but, of course, Barbara isn`t running.  It`s her son Jeb Bush.  And he is in a world of hurt right now in the polls in the Palmetto State and elsewhere.

On the phone with us right now, former Republican presidential nominee back in 1996, Senate Republican leader as well, Bob Dole.

Senator, so good to have you back.  How you doing?

BOB DOLE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Doing good, Neil.  How you doing?

CAVUTO:  I`m fine, sir.

There has been a bit of a confusion here that you were maybe veering away from Jeb Bush and looking at others.  I think Marco Rubio`s name came up.  So, where do you stand?

DOLE:  I am 100 percent for Jeb Bush.  And you can study their records.

And the best qualified to be president -- and that`s what we`re electing -- is Jeb Bush.  And, you know, he has all the qualifications.  He`s been around a couple of presidents.  He knows his way around.  He knows his foreign policy.  So, I`m for Jeb Bush.  And I`m looking for a South Carolina surge.

CAVUTO:  If he doesn`t see a surge, Senator, what then?

DOLE:  Well, I don`t know what the next state is.

CAVUTO:  Well, I guess a lot of folks there when it comes to Jeb Bush point to Florida.  It`s a do-or-die battle between he and Marco Rubio, obviously favored sons, even though that is a state that Donald Trump could win.

What do you think of that?

DOLE:  Well, I -- you know, I have -- I really believe in Florida that Jeb Bush is going to win.

He was a great governor.  And, you know, he was tested with, I think eight, hurricanes in 16 months. And he`s appointed thousands of women to high- paying jobs.  I mean, he has a great record.  And he`s the only one I know of who spelled out programs in every area, including Social Security, tax reform, health care, and national defense.

CAVUTO:  Well, no, he definitely has detailed policy positions.  It hasn`t helped him a lot in the polls, but it could change.  You`re right.

Let me ask you, though, then.  I don`t know how you feel about this battle back and forth between Donald Trump and the pope.  Whose side are you on?

DOLE:  Well, I would say I`m neutral, but I don`t think the pope should have been, you know, talking about American politics.

And he truly had Trump in his sights.  On the other hand, the pope is right in talking about helping the poor and helping others in need.  And I think the press kind of -- if you read the script, it`s not really that bad.

CAVUTO:  Yes.  If you read -- you`re right.  If you read the Italian version of what he said, it`s a little different.

But it is what it is.  He did seem to say, that is, the pope, that there are some times that Donald Trump appears, in his views, for example, on building a wall, to be less Christian-like.

Do you think that that hurts Donald Trump or helps Donald Trump, whatever your own personal political preferences -- I know you just said you like Jeb Bush -- in a state like South Carolina?

DOLE:  Well, there`s a wall around the Vatican.


CAVUTO:  Yes.  You`re right about that.  You`re right about that.

DOLE:  So, no, I don`t think it hurts Donald Trump.  I think it`s kind of one-day story.


DOLE:  It`s gone, and it demonstrated again that Trump can control the news, as he did all day over that story, and he`s pretty good at it.

CAVUTO:  Yes, you`re right about that, Senator.

I want talk about your thoughts on Ted Cruz.  When last we spoke, and you expressed more reservations about Ted Cruz certainly than Donald Trump at the time.

And I talked to a lot of Cruz folks right afterwards, sir, who said, well, that`s our next campaign commercial right there, the RINOs, that is what they were kind of intimating you were, Republican in name only, Mr.
Establish, that the attacks he got from the Bush family and the rest, that if that isn`t a sign that he is a compelling -- that is, Senator Cruz -- compelling new force, than someone like Bob Dole saying what he did about him is pure magic to us.

What do you say?

DOLE:  Yes.

Well, I think I don`t know what he said about me.  I know what he said about me earlier.  He ridiculed me and McCain and Romney because we weren`t right-wing extremists like himself.

CAVUTO:  Well, what he was saying is that you were, all three, good men all, ultimate losers in the general election.


DOLE:  ... didn`t say that...

CAVUTO:  Go ahead.

DOLE:  ... quite that way all the time.

CAVUTO:  So, it is your sense that he overdid it with those attacks?  And I think your argument was, Senator that if a President Cruz got in, forget about reaching across the aisle.  He would have more -- a lot of trouble with his own side of the aisle.  Right?

DOLE:  He doesn`t have a single Senator supporting him.

And if that doesn`t speak volumes to the voters in South Carolina, if you have 64 friends, and you`re 64, and you want help from the other 63, you want to do something, you`re going to get it.

But he doesn`t has -- they don`t like him.  And he`s self-absorbed.  He has got this giant ego.  And he`s overly ambitious.  He entered the Senate as a Canadian citizen.

So, I don`t know.  I just never been -- I thought I was a conservative, but I worked for Ronald Reagan for four years as the leader, and I think behind Jesse Helms and another one, I was the third highest supporter of Ronald Reagan.

So, I told Cruz he ought to check our voting records before he starts making remarks.

CAVUTO:  Let me know next time how you feel about Senator Cruz.

But let`s say, in the end, Senator, he is the nominee of your party.  Would you support him?

DOLE:  Oh, yes, certainly.

CAVUTO:  OK.  Just wanted to be clear on that.

You know, I want to get your thoughts on a good friend of yours, Antonin Scalia, passing away.  He`s lying in repose in the Supreme Court now.  Both you and he had exchanged good, funny barbs.  He had a good sense of humor.

You were not too shabby on that front.  Much was made of the fact that the president paid his respects today, is not going to the funeral.  Is that much ado about nothing to you?  Should the president go to the funeral?  
Inconsistent protocol on this.  What do you think?

DOLE:  Well, Joe Biden knows -- knew Scalia very well, because he was chairman of Judiciary Committee and a Catholic.

CAVUTO:  Right.

DOLE:  I don`t know why the president`s not going.

I mean, I think, if I were there, I would go.  But I can`t -- you know, I don`t know what made the decision.  So, Justice Scalia, you know, was -- when I ran for president in `96, he was considered as my running mate.

CAVUTO:  I remember that.

DOLE:  Yes, and probably would have been a good one.

CAVUTO:  That`s interesting.  I think you settled on a guy named Jack Kemp.

Real quickly, if I can, I mean, this dust-up over whether the president, too, should go ahead and name a successor, Republicans in the Senate should have confirmation hearings, where do you stand on this?  There are many in the party, Mitch McConnell, say, maybe we don`t hold those confirmation hearings.  Maybe we wait until a new president.

DOLE:  Well, I think Grassley, who is chairman, Senator Grassley, who is chairman of the committee, has a little different view on that.

CAVUTO:  He does.  You`re right.

DOLE:  And he wants to have the hearings.

CAVUTO:  Do you?  Do you?

DOLE:  And if he wants to have the hearings, there will be hearings.

Now, whether or not there will be anybody reported out of the committee is something else, but -- because it would take, I think, Grassley to join the Democrats.

But, you know, we don`t have to wait too long.  We`re -- 11 months isn`t long, and they`re split 4-4.

CAVUTO:  Right.

DOLE:  And some of these cases will go back, and there are not too many cases coming up.

CAVUTO:  So they can wait, you think?

DOLE:  Yes, I think they can wait.  You know, we`re not...


DOLE:  It`s not the end -- it`s not a big -- it`s going to be a campaign issue, because, obviously, Democrats will say one thing, and we will say another.

CAVUTO:  Yes.  That`s the way it goes.

Senator, always an honor to have you on.  Thank you very much for joining me.

DOLE:  Good luck tomorrow.

CAVUTO:  All right.  Well, we`re going to be busy.

Senator Bob Dole, a pleasure.

One of the titans of the Senate, an iconic Republican figure, Bob Dole.


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