'This Week' Transcript: GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

WILL: But saying (inaudible) debates, however, deserves a minor dissent. Conservatives and Republicans generally are saying, let's nominate Newt because for four-and-a-half hours of debates with Barack Obama, he'd be the best. You're talking about giving a guy nuclear weapons for eight years perhaps.

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: Actually, I don't think that's why they're saying that. What -- what I think they're saying is -- what the voters want is a strong, decisive, authentic conservative. And what -- what Newt Gingrich has revealed -- and whether he's in -- his entirety of his life is true or not -- what he's revealed in the course of the debates and what Mitt Romney has shown is that Mitt Romney has shown is he's not a strong, decisive, authentic conservative, and Newt Gingrich feels and looks that way to the folks in the debate.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: What Gingrich has been is not ideologically consistent through his career, but he has been consistently a partisan warrior. The Gingrich you saw on stage this week was the Gingrich who called the Clintons the enemy of normal Americans in the '90s or the language he used about Jim Wright in the 1980s. And that is connecting with Republicans.

I will have a dissent, though, from Amy, because I think there is more -- it's not only Mitt Romney's answers that are causing him the problems. The Republican Party is changing. It is becoming more blue collar, more downscale. They're winning an awful lot of white working-class voters, and Romney has always had difficulty connecting with those -- even in the first two states when he was doing well, he did much better among better educated and more affluent voters than he did with...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So did Senator Barack Obama four years ago.

BROWNSTEIN: That's absolutely right. And as he moves forward...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: As he moves forward, that constituency is very challenging for him. Newt Gingrich beat him by a substantial margin, 18 points, among voters without a college education in South Carolina.

WILL: Ron is pointing to the Republican base. In the 2010 elections, whites without college education, Republicans got 63 percent of that vote.

BROWNSTEIN: Sixty-three percent, yeah.

WILL: And the question is -- now, it's not that Professor Obama is going to connect with those people any better than perhaps the man from Bain Capital, but the question is...

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: And that's the thing about this...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: ... by what he's saying...

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: ... oh, Newt Gingrich shouldn't be attacking Bain, he shouldn't be doing that, there's going to be a bad reaction to it. It's the people that still thought the Republican Party is based on Wall Street, when it's based in rural America.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: While we're talking here...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... Mitt Romney seems to believe that it is his tax returns that are part of the issue. He has just announced this morning that he is going to release two years of tax returns this Tuesday, following Jeb Bush's call for him to release them before Florida.

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