'This Week' Transcript: Jon Huntsman, Plus Analysis of the ABC News Iowa Debate


Overall, I think that, you know, Gingrich, clearly, because this was the first time he was in the hot seat as the frontrunner, handling himself very well. It didn't feel like any of the attacks last night really drew some blood. And I think that overall, Mitt Romney actually had a pretty decent debate. Engaged very well with Gingrich on this whole issue of whether the Palestinians are an invented people. But and I think, you know, Diane and I were talking about this, everyone's been talking about it all night, the moment everybody is going to remember out of this debate is that $10,000 bet. And it's going to be interesting to see how the Romney team handles that.

SAWYER: And just a small note, our stage, from sitting right up there, you know, I could see Speaker Gingrich looking down and making his notes during Governor Romney's first adversarial challenge to him. Apparently he had on the podium notes from his grand kids, and the first one said, "smile" and the second one said "keep it short." So I'm thinking as he's looking down writing his notes, those were his two instructions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that was the most important thing for Speaker Gingrich last night. He knew that everybody was going to be watching to see if he would blow his top, at some point, to see if he would lose his cool, and that did not happen last night. And that's another reason that he had such a strong debate. In fact, at one moment, during one of the commercial breaks, he came up and talked to Diane and I. He was making a little bit of fun of us. He said, if you guys were better prepared, you wouldn't be doing your homework during the commercial breaks. But what he then said, next was most interesting. He said, listen, I think everybody is having a good debate tonight, everyone is having a solid debate tonight. And the fact that he could kind of pull back and get back to that statesman, I'm the senior Republican on the stage, feeling again, I think really helped him. And he showed during the debate.

AMANPOUR: And you could actually see, as you mentioned, you could see a lot of winks, a lot of sort of nods and smiles, particularly at you two, as well, as you were moderating there.


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Diane, about Michele Bachmann, because she did come out, you know, pretty powerfully. Her whole Newt Romney mantra was quite interesting. Do you think, you know, there are so few people that can actually emerge victorious from Iowa, did she do what she has to do? Does it matter any more for her?

SAWYER: As you know, she stays concerted. She stays on her point and she stays pretty fearless in these debates. I was struck actually by something else, on the question about the payroll tax cut, which if it lapses would ensure that most American working families have to pay an extra $1,000 in taxes, but she's in favor of letting it lapse because she says it doesn't work, blows a hole in Social Security. And instead of backing away from that and trying to couch it, she came right into it and defended her position as something that's untenable in these economic times. And you know, we're kind of used to the long-winded approach, and instead she went straight to --

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it was interesting, what she also did in that answer was try to tie those who were for the extension, Romney and Gingrich and Ron Paul, as allies of President Obama. Which is of course in the Republican party is pretty much the kiss of death.

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