Rove: Romney must 'share who he is' at convention

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 24, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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MONICA CROWLEY, GUEST HOST: There's a lot of new presidential polling out and our very own Karl Rove has been crunching the numbers. We'll take a look at his Electoral College map in just a moment.

But first the Republican National Convention kicks off on Monday in Tampa, Florida and Mr. Rove will be there. He joins me now from Austin, Texas. Hi, Karl.


CROWLEY: Well let's start out with what Governor Romney needs to do. Because starting next week he will have his first major national platform to introduce himself and his ideas to the American people.

So what do you think he absolutely must do in terms of telling us who he is, what he believes and what he would do as president?

ROVE: Yes. Well you laid it out pretty well there. That's exactly what he must do. People -- we who are political junkies have been watching this contest go on for, you know, almost two years. And yet, a lot of the swing voters, the Independent and swing voters who are going to decide this election while they have been absorbing information and paying a little bit of attention to it will now begin to pay a lot more attention to the contest. More people will see Governor Romney next week when he delivers his speech than have seen him in any campaign event since this contest began over, you know, a year and three quarters ago.

So you're right. He must share who he is. We need to know something about him. We need to know where he came from. What the arc of his life is about. We need to know what his values are. The American people want to understand what makes him think. And they want to know what the -- what it is that he's going to do.

Now, it doesn't matter for him that much to, you know, sort of go after Barack Obama and his record. It's more important for him to talk about what -- who he is, what his values are and what it is that he will do. And that's what the -- the American people are waiting to hear.

CROWLEY: Now Karl you say it's not so important for him to bash Obama. I don't think he would do that anyway. But in terms of setting out the clear choice for the American people, between the status redistributionism of Barack Obama that has given us this economic catastrophe and a real reduction in American power and prestige abroad versus the kind of vision that Governor Romney is, I think, going to lay out next week which is a pro-growth economic message. A message based in individual freedom and economic freedom and also about building American exceptionalism and dynamism back again. I think if he lays out that clear distinction he will really go a long way toward getting this campaign into a momentum where he can win.

ROVE: You know I think you're right. Now, part of this is going to be his responsibility in the speech. But not all of it lays on his shoulders. Some of it lays on those who are going to be speaking before him and the structure of the convention. You know, for example, Monday they are going to devoted to small business by heralding you know, "we built it". Playing off of the President -- President Obama's comment that if you got a business you didn't build it.

So each day of the convention will be designed to showcase an element of the Romney agenda and the Romney values and hopefully, also, the Romney persona. I mean these people who speak need to talk about the kinds -- provide insights into the kinds of things that they've seen in their interaction with Governor Romney that the American people want to know.

Perhaps one of the most important surrogates is going to be Ann Romney who as the candidate's wife is going to be able to talk about him in a very deeply personal and revealing way.

CROWLEY: I think one of the big things here that I haven't really heard a lot of conversation about, Karl and maybe you can shed some light on this, is that the point for Romney to win, yes but to win with meaning. And I think if he really -- it's a speech and as you say it's all of the other speakers, Ann Romney and Chris Christie and Paul Ryan, if they all use their major platforms next week to lay out what that meaning is, then they could go a long way to showing the American people what a Romney win would mean but also what a Romney presidency would mean.

ROVE: Yes. Now and remember, we can't get all of what the future might be. And all of what the agenda is going to be in these four days. And nor should we try. We should begin to introduce the arc of the narrative so that in the weeks ahead people will say well, you know Governor Romney talked about his view that in America we could work hard. If we dream big and work hard you can achieve what you -- what you seek and -- and particularly if you are a small business person, this is one of the great things about America. And then let him build on that with specific proposals, some introduced at the convention and some introduced in the weeks ahead.

Because remember, look, let's -- let's realize the media are not going to be Governor Romney's friends. So if he lays out everything about his -- the specifics of his agenda at the convention. Then the weeks ahead when he attempts to return to those, the media is going to be inclined to say well, he said nothing new today. I mean we saw that for example when he laid out a pretty crunchy, well-developed energy plan in Hobbs, New Mexico and some in the media just or simply dismissed it as saying nothing new.

Well, it was a lot of new things and more important than that is it was a lot of things that the American people want to learn about and hear about now as they begin to make up their mind.

CROWLEY: Yes you make up a great point about the press, too, he's going to have to do what just about every other Republican president has done in the modern age and go over the heads of the media directly to the American people.

All right, Karl I don't know if you brought your famous white board but I want to ask you about the electoral map. What does it look like right now? What states are sort of in play and is there any movement?

ROVE: Yes, there is movement. Now, remember, in a race this close, the movement tends to be small and incremental and -- and persistent. Since April 25th when I put out the first map, all of the movement has been pretty consistently towards Governor Romney. That is to say each week there has been more movement towards him than there has been movement towards Obama. And that's happened in the last week.

Governor Romney -- Wisconsin came in to play by leaning Obama. Ohio went to a toss-up state that was offset to a little degree by New Hampshire going from a toss-up to lean Obama. But we have a very close race. And I suspect we are likely to see the Republicans in the week or two ahead grow even further. There will be a little bit of offset here and there Ohio is particularly interesting state to watch this year.

But my suspicion is that with what we've seen in the national polls will be reflected over the next couple of weeks in the individual state polls. And that is to say movement towards Governor Romney and Paul Ryan.

If you look at the national polls, basically just before Ryan was chosen, Governor Romney was down by, in the Real Clear Politics average three to four points. If you look at it now, he's down by less than a point. And as you've seen in the most recent polls in the last couple of days, both Rasmussen and the Fox News poll, Mitt Romney has a -- has a one- point lead.

CROWLEY: And just very quickly, Karl, in terms of the 12 or so battleground states, which ones looks the most challenging for Governor Romney and which one looks the most promising?

ROVE: Well, Indiana is no longer even considered a battleground state even though Barack Obama won it four years ago. I feel good about North Carolina and Virginia and increasingly good about Florida. New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado are absolutely up in the air. President Obama did an unusual thing and spent three days in Iowa. I think one of the tough spots for Governor Romney is going to be Ohio.

But the good news for him is there are a large number of states and I just mentioned them that are going to be tough spots for President Obama.

CROWLEY: All right, all very fluid. Karl, great to see you as always. Thank you.

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