'This Week' Transcript: GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

And that's a much higher number than anybody was able to get in Iowa or New Hampshire among those voters. And so the risk that Romney is facing is that, even with Santorum in there peeling away a part of that vote, that you now have this kind of coalition, the downscale populist coalition that is mobilizing around Gingrich, Romney is still pretty strong in that managerial, upscale side of the party, but this is a race that could go a long way if Gingrich has the financial and organizational resources to harvest it.

WALTER: Right, and that's -- he has to have that. He also has to have the discipline. I mean, there is a reason that Rick Santorum came in and called him erratic and he called him a high-risk candidate, right? Because what we've seen -- while I think it's true that Mitt Romney has had a problem really being able to be consistent from -- from debate to debate, from primary to primary, so has his opponents. That's why we've had three different winners. And I think Newt has to do that, as well, if he's going to survive.

The other issue here, when we come to the issue of Bain Capital, and -- and the financial sector, and Mitt Romney's ability or inability to answer for it, you know, it reminds of -- it's not the crime, it's the cover-up, right? And that the issue isn't Bain. It's his believability, the believability on the tax issue, the believability that he can go up against Barack Obama and defend who he is. And that's where his real problem is, because...

(CROSSTALK)

WALTER: ... wishy-washy...

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think the issue is not Mitt Romney. I think, again, coming back to saying -- this campaign is giving us an MRI of the fundamental unfairness of the system in this country, and the impact of Occupy Wall Street and the 99 percent, and the idea that income inequality and fairness has emerged as a central theme has brought Romney's problems -- his father -- never forgets -- his father, who filed 12 tax returns in 1967, paid a 37 percent federal income tax rate. We see the dissent (inaudible) tax system and the unfairness. And even when Mayor Bloomberg said we should...

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: Let's go back to the debates and go back to what we see in this process to me. While there's been -- people have seen some troubling nature of it and some ways they've said -- I think there's actually -- in my vantage point, some great developments that we've seen in this process that we've not seen before.

First, debates matter. And that is a big difference in -- it used to be I'm going to buy a bunch of media, I'm going to pay a bunch of people, and therefore, I'm not going to have to have a conversation. So debates matter, because people are looking for an authentic conversation in this environment, which they don't feel they've had before.

Second, the idea that you can go and write checks to consultants and all that and hire media folks and pay for organizations.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Newt fired them all.

DOWD: Newt fired them all. And then we've seen the ones that have had the most of it haven't been the most successful in this. Rick Santorum wins Iowa with basically no paid organization and no money on television.

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