'This Week' Transcript: Jon Huntsman, David Axelrod

LUNTZ: And I've looked at it through advertising, through the debates, and through the speeches. They look at Mitt Romney, and they say that he looks presidential and sounds presidential, but they're nervous about his taking different positions on issues over the years, and they're afraid that he might revert back to when he was governor of Massachusetts.

They look at Michele Bachmann and they appreciate the fact that she's a fighter, and she uses that word again and again and again. Republicans respond, well, but they want to know what the plan is, and they don't think that she's electable.

And then they look at Rick Perry, and they say this guy's got an incredible record in Texas, in terms of job creation and the economy. But they're wondering, has he said things or will he say things that -- that don't help him come November?

Remember -- and I say this to Governor Huntsman -- he is mainstream America in what he says, but he's not mainstream Republican. And this, after all, is a Republican primary.

TAPPER: Right. And that's why there is this opening and there is still a call for a Godot-like figure, a savior of the Republican Party to come. You have spoken in recent days to one of these possibilities -- Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin -- and to people around New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. These are two people that a lot of pundits are hoping will get into the race. Do you think either Ryan or Christie will get into the race? And is there an opening for either one of them, if not both of them?

LUNTZ: Well, because of the work that I do, I speak to almost all the presidential candidates from time to time, and I'm always focused on the language. Chris Christie has the advantage that he is basically a blue-collar Republican. He says what he means, means what he says, he's in-your-face, and Republicans love that. And they see that what he's doing in New Jersey -- they want to see that happen in Washington.

In Paul Ryan's case, they regard him as one of the smartest candidates, the intellectual capacity, and he's got a plan. Whether or not they run, I have no idea. But I would tell you that they would be very powerful entries into this Republican contest, because they've got all three P's. They've got plans; they've got principles; and they are seen as being electable.

TAPPER: Just one last note on Paul Ryan. I don't see a lot of Republican presidential candidates embracing the Ryan budget. I mean, you say he has a plan, but is that plan an asset or a liability?

LUNTZ: It's an asset. And you saw what happened with Newt Gingrich, when Gingrich challenged the plan, and everybody came after him. That actually the primary voters are saying to Washington, "Enough is enough."

And one last point. Those are two candidates who know how to talk positive. There's a lot of negative in what Jon Huntsman said. Republicans don't want to hear Republicans attacking other Republicans; they want to know how you're going to take on Barack Obama. I think there's too much negativity in this race so far.

TAPPER: OK, Frank, stay with us for the roundtable. We'll look at whether former Governor Sarah Palin will step off the sidelines and get into the race.

And joining us on the roundtable, George Will, Donna Brazile, Jeff Zeleny of the New York.



(UNKNOWN): The secret is out, it seems, within seconds...

(UNKNOWN): Sarah Palin was also at the fair today.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...