A Candid Karl Rove Riffs on the 2016 GOP Presidential Field

"...Or, in the case of Donald Trump, they're complete idiots...."

"...the third tier is gonna be mostly entertaining, except for that guy Trump who's a complete moron..."

Karl Rove was the keynote speaker Monday evening at Missouri Boys State. He spoke for approximately twenty minutes and then took questions for over an hour.


Karl Rove speaking in Warrensburg, Missouri at Missouri Boys State in Hendricks Hall on the campus
of the University of Central Missouri - June 15, 2015.

In response to an audience question about the 2016 GOP presidential field:



The transcript:



Karl Rove: I love how you milked the audience for the applause there at the end. That is really good.

Uh, look, too early to tell. [audience reaction, laughter] It is. I think, I think they're two, they're two, look, I'm getting, I'm getting around to the answer, don't worry. [laughter] But it is early. We got seven or eight months yet to go.

We'll start getting our first sense of how effective these people are when they file their contribution reports in the middle of July and we'll be in a better place to see how they are when they get out there in, by August and September and we've seen and heard a lot more from them. But it's early.

I do think there are sort of three tiers of candidates. There are three candidates who, in reverse alphabetical order, Walker, Rubio, Bush, or alphabetical order, Bush, Rubio, Walker, or inside out order, Rubio, Walker, Bush, or Rubio Bush, Walker - that's the top tier. We're likely to see the nominee come out of that group.

We have a second tier which includes people like Ted Cruz and Governor [Rick] Perry and Ben Carson and maybe a couple of others. And one or two, you know, one or, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum. Maybe one of those gets into the top tier. But right now they're on the second tier.

And then we've got sort of the third tier which are people who really are unlikely to break through. They're good people, some of them, but they're unlikely to break through. Or, in the case of Donald Trump, they're complete idiots. [laughter, applause]    

So, but here, look, I want you to think about it this way. First of all, think about this, this is a marathon, not a sprint. It's an expensive marathon. Think about this. Normally you need to buy three or four weeks of TV to drive home an ad. Four weeks of TV. Let's say you're gonna try and buy for weeks of TV in the four states that are voting in February who represent five point four percent of the delegates at the national convention. But you gotta show in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada or you're out. You can't wait around for them to get around to Missouri or Pennsylvania or Texas or Florida. You gotta, you gotta be among the top finishers. maybe not number one, but you gotta be in the top one or two or three or four out of those primaries.

If you buy four weeks of television in those states it costs four million dollars a week. So it's gonna cost you sixteen million dollars plus what ever else you do besides TV, which is probably gonna be four or six or eight million more. Plus the cost of getting here to there. Because between here and there is seven or eight months during which you gotta move the candidate around the country and have a staff and do the press stuff and build a political organization and have the social media networks and do the micro targetting and all the data and analytics. And that's expensive, so you're talking about having to raise, to get through the first four contests, probably somewhere in the vicinity of forty million dollars. Try doing that at twenty-seven hundred dollars a whack. And it's difficult.

And then being able to organize a campaign so that it can act properly, sure, you can get a lot of people to maybe support you. But if you can't organize 'em and execute a battle plan then you're gonna lose.

So, it's early, but I think the first we're likely to see somebody win the nomination out of the first tier. And we're likely to see one or two surprises out of the second tier. And the third tier is gonna be mostly entertaining, except for that guy Trump who's a complete moron. [laughter]


It's probably safe to say that Karl Rove is not a fan of Donald Trump. It's also probably safe to say that if Donald Trump is the GOP's nominee Karl Rove will vote for him.


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