'This Week' Transcript: 2011 Year in Review

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And in a little more than a week, the deciders finally start deciding in the Iowa caucuses. So let's bring in our roundtable, George Will, Cokie Roberts, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and ABC News senior political correspondent Jon Karl.

Let me start with you, George. Republicans often rally around a top candidate early on, but this time it seemed like at least every month there's a new top candidate. What's been going on?

WILL: What's been going on is an astonishingly broad-based and persistent resistance to Mitt Romney. Now at the end of the day, they may settle on Mitt Romney, but they're going to shop around for a while yet.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Ed, that broad-based resistance has brought us now to Newt Gingrich being at the top of the pack. Is that something that gives you confidence that, should he be the nominee, your party will be able to regain the White House?

GILLESPIE: Oh, I think whoever emerges as the Republican nominee is going to be the odds-on favorite to win the White House in 2012.

When you look at President Obama's numbers, his reelect, his approval rating, the right direction-wrong track, whomever emerges as our nominee from a very tough competitive primary process, I think, is likely to be the next president.

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: But you know, Ed, now that there are Republicans up there nervous that if Gingrich wins, they're going to lose everything. I mean, I talked to some good friends of yours that tell me that, look, if Newt Gingrich is our nominee, we are in serious danger of losing the House.

GILLESPIE: Well, you know, Jon, I think we're going to have a very lengthy nominating process as I've been predicting for some time. And the fact is if Gingrich demonstrates the discipline necessary to win in that lengthy, contentious process, I suspect that would settle the nerves of a lot of those folks.

ROBERTS: Well, but the point you're making, that all things being equal, a Republican should win.

GILLESPIE: Yes.

ROBERTS: And the -- what's happening is all things are not equal because of the field of candidates. And that has really turned this thing into a real election, and it does have Republicans extremely nervous. I just keep thinking they're bound to settle on Romney at some point.

AMANPOUR: And nervous because -- spell it out, why nervous if Gingrich is the nominee?

ROBERTS: Well, because people, particularly on Capitol Hill, know him quite well and he is someone who just throws bombs and we've all seen him do that. And they're worried that some bomb is going to come, and it' s going to make it totally impossible for the majority of people to say I feel comfortable with him, with his hand on the button.

WILL: Newt Gingrich has made a central part of his campaign a frontal assault on the rule of law in the United States, an attack on the courts. He, in doing so, he has aligned himself with two saints of the Democratic Party, Andrew Jackson, in his defiance of John Marshall; and Franklin Roosevelt in packing the courts.

AMANPOUR: So not the conservative that he says he is and that primary voters want. Isn't this all...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Not sure primary voters are spending a lot of time thinking about Andrew Jackson.

AMANPOUR: No, but about conservative credentials.

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