Transcript: White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe

AMANPOUR: Well, at the risk of being the "dump on Perry" table, which we don't want to be, but it did come up so often this week, and we have this sound bite about his un-shaky part of his debate performance on -- on "This Week." So let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of -- against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment? Was it -- was before he was before these social programs, from the standpoint of he was for standing up for Roe v. Wade, before he was against Roe v. Wade? He was for Race to the Top, he's for Obamacare, and now he's against it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Is that a pain that one can get through?

WILL: It's painful. Donna says it's still early. It could be late. It could be late, in the sense that we know the field we're going to pick from. And long before the Iowa caucuses, we may be down to one, effectively.

Tim Pawlenty got in trouble when he did not -- had a chance to attack Romney and didn't. Perry's in trouble because he attacked Romney and did it so incompetently.

There's also the problem that the Republican Party has been in recent years too southern. In the last five presidential cycles, they've got 79 percent of their electoral votes from the South. That's too much.

The Republican strategy for years has been carry the 11 states of the Confederacy, add Oklahoma and Kentucky, carry the eight states of Mountain West, Arizona, New Mexico, to the Canadian border, then spend a sum equal to the gross national product of Brazil to carry Ohio. And then you get to be president.

(LAUGHTER)

That won't work anymore, partly because Barack Obama did expand the battlefield, and that's another question about Governor Perry.

AMANPOUR: So what's going on, do you think, in the backrooms, as the Republicans look to really get a candidate that can beat Barack Obama? I mean, I just ask because of the whole establishment, non-establishment thing that we've talked about.

MATALIN: OK, the old adage was Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line. We've had primary (inaudible) modern politics. So now arranged marriage, if you will. So now this is like high school dating, and no one ever lives up to the expectations. There's no Republican Romeo.

So Perry, if -- particularly if you've come in as a frontrunner like that, when Romney was the frontrunner, there was -- there are all sorts of imperfections about him. Whoever's the frontrunner is going to be in that position.

So what we are doing is trying to get out of this notion of perfection being the enemy of good and go back to what the larger dynamic of this race is. The Republican generic has been beating the specific Barack Obama for weeks on end now. That's the bigger dynamic.

WALTER: And that's right. And guess who else is beating Barack Obama right now? That's Mitt Romney. I mean, in many ways, that's the biggest loser of all of this, is that we haven't even discussed the fact that, whether it was in Florida, the recent polling out of there, shows he's ahead of the president in Florida. USA Today-Gallup poll, he's tied with the president. Rick Perry is a little bit further behind. So they have a candidate right now who's winning independents, who's doing well among those voters that George was just talking about, and yet they're still looking for that high school sweetheart, and they're not going to find it.

AMANPOUR: So, why, quickly, if they have the candidate?

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