Rove: 'Fresh face' could be needed to help GOP beat Hillary

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 1, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:  Donald Trump excites a lot of enthusiasm.  But he also excites a lot of anger within the Republican Party and outside of the Republican Party, and a fresh face might be the thing that could give us a chance to turn this election and win in November against Hillary.


CHARLES PAYNE, GUEST HOST:  That was the part, right, that fresh face line, that everybody is talking about today.

Well, Karl Rove is with us now.

Karl, you know, that was like, oh, bingo, that`s it, the establishment admitting that they`re going to put somebody in, they`re going to give us a nominee on the GOP side who wasn`t even in the race.  Any credence to that?

ROVE:  Well, first of all, Charles, I didn`t want the boomlet for you to get out so early, but I wasn`t thinking when I was talking about it, but you`re the fresh face.  And let`s be honest about it.


ROVE:  It would be an exciting choice for the Republican Party to have you as its nominee.

PAYNE:  I feel like I could come to the rescue.  So, I will stay in the back and be prepared.

But, listen, Karl, you already know that you have been a target of a lot of non-establishment candidates for a long time.  A lot of people think that you are part of the establishment that squandered opportunities here in recent -- more recently, and when they hear...

ROVE:  But wait a minute.  Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. The two presidential came campaigns I was in charge of, we won.

You may remember them in 2000 and 2004.

PAYNE:  Did you raise money in the last campaign?  Were you involved at all?

ROVE:  Yes, I did.  But I was a loyal soldier in a vast army of people.

And, frankly, the last two campaigns that I was involved in, we came out the winner.  You may remember those two.

PAYNE:  I remember those two, but I also remember the last two.  And I also remember that...


ROVE:  Well, you know what?  You know what?  I wasn`t the campaign manager.  
I wasn`t in charge.  I was a loyal soldier.  I wanted both John McCain and Mitt Romney to win.

But thank you for blaming me for their defeats, but, frankly, that`s a bunch of baloney, Charles.  And you and I both know it.

PAYNE:  I`m not blaming you.  I`m saying that a lot of people do blame you. And...

ROVE:  Well, and you and I know that`s a bunch of baloney.

And if -- I`m willing to take responsibility if I`m in charge, but I wasn`t in charge of the last two presidential campaigns.

PAYNE:  What about this one, Karl?

ROVE:  I will take responsibility are for the two that I have been in.

PAYNE:  Karl, what about this one?  It`s no secret that you do not want Donald Trump to be the GOP nominee.

ROVE:  Yes.  No, I do not.  I do not.  I do not think that -- I want the Republican Party to win.

And a man who has a 30 percent favorable and a 63 percent unfavorable and whose numbers are getting worse, they are deteriorating from February -- and every time I hope that he will turn around and show us that he can be presidential and do something to show us that he could be capable of winning the general election, he offends more people and says more stupid stuff.

PAYNE:  Karl, by the same token, you talked on that radio bite that we played about the excitement that Donald Trump brings in.  He has brought in millions of voters, fresh voters, new voters, people who have crossed party lines.

ROVE:  Well, you got to be careful.  But you got to be careful about that a little bit.

He has run better in states that have had a smaller increase in turnout and run worse in states that have had the most dramatic increases in turnout.

PAYNE:  But net-net, he has -- net-net, he has brought a certain amount of excitement that was missing from the party.

ROVE:  Sure.  But my point is, is that net-net, everybody who is in this race can point to bringing additional people in.

This is a -- the growth in the Republican primary -- again, I repeat, he has run better in places with lower increases in turnout compared to past years and run worse in states with bigger increases.

And, look, you cannot argue with the fact that he is winning 37 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, but you also can`t...


PAYNE:  No, no, but we also can`t -- we also can`t argue that he has energized a certain amount of people that were not energized the last time around.

ROVE:  Sure.  And you can`t...


PAYNE:  So, this is what I want to get to, Karl.

ROVE:  That`s right.

And you also -- and you also can`t deny the fact that he -- in 51 national polls, he has -- he has trailed Hillary Clinton in 44 of 51 national polls.

PAYNE:  Right, the same polls that said he wouldn`t do anything when he announced, the same polls that had him at 5 percent, 10 percent, that said he was a joke, the same polls that have been 1000 percent wrong up to this point.

I get you. But who would that fresh face be?  Because you understand, if it`s someone who is not running right now, Karl, there`s going to be people who are going to be upset.  Can you give us a hint?

ROVE:  Yes.  Yes.  You`re right.

PAYNE:  Is it Paul Ryan?  Is it Mitt Romney?

ROVE:  Look, look, look, I don`t -- I don`t -- look, here`s the deal.

Let`s step back.  I know you`re enthusiastic about him, but really to say that these polls show that he could win, point me to the poll that says he could win.

Now, look, here`s the deal.  My point is simply this.  If you had listened to the whole Hugh Hewitt thing, you would have heard my point, which is, when we get to the convention, if nobody has a majority, do you think that Donald Trump delegates are going to go for Ted Cruz, whom he called lying Ted?

Do you think that the delegates of Ted Cruz are going for Donald Trump?  If we get to a stalemate, the party is going turn around, and it`s going to be really hard for people who have been for Donald Trump to be for one of the other candidates and vice versa.

PAYNE:  So, then, Karl, is this an acknowledgment -- so, is this an acknowledgment that Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, and even neither one has all 37, they`re not going to get the nomination?

ROVE:  No, no, no, I`m not saying that.  I`m saying that there`s going to be a tendency in the convention for us -- for people to try and say, well, who can we agree upon?

And it`s going to be really hard to get the Donald Trump people to agree to go for Ted Cruz and Ted Cruz to go for Donald Trump.  Now, it may happen, and particularly if Ted -- if Donald Trump is within a handful of delegates of the magic 1,237, then some people are going to say, well, I don`t like him, but you know what?  It`s -- he`s at 1,215 and all he has got to get is 1,237, I`m not going to be the one -- I will be one of the 18 to put him over the top.

PAYNE:  All right.

ROVE:  But if it`s a bigger number, then you have to -- I think you would agree that it`s going to be hard for people who have such strongly felt opinions about the other candidates in the race to say, well, yes, I`m going for him.

And some fresh face may cause them to say, I`m willing to go for Charles Payne.

PAYNE:  The only thing, though, I would say, Karl, the only thing that is going to be harder is if someone gets this nomination that is not named Trump or Cruz.  I think it would be a disaster.

We got to leave it there, Karl.  You know I respect you, but we have got to these conversations from time to time.

ROVE:  I`m still for you.  I`m still for you, Charles Payne, as the...

PAYNE:  Keep me on the...


ROVE:  I`m still for you, Charles Payne, as the fresh face.

PAYNE:  All right.

ROVE:  Fresh face.


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