'This Week' Transcript: Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann

ROBINSON: Absolutely. I mean, this is the final snapshot. And I almost think this poll is more important because it might be a tiebreaker for a voter, where if you're truly undecided and you're trying to weigh between Gingrich and Perry or Santorum and Bachmann, you're going to probably lend to go with the person who's in the front instead of in the back.

And so the other important thing is, is that Santorum clearly broke away from the back of the pack. And so I think that means that Gingrich and Perry probably stay put and Santorum has all this momentum. And I think he's going to, you know, take all those votes and probably have a real shot at second place or even winning this thing.

TAPPER: Matt, put this all in perspective for us. What have we learned?

DOWD: Well, the interesting thing about this is, first, is Iowa is not known for picking the president, but they are known for picking the losers. And so if you don't survive the Iowa gauntlet, it's hard to keep going on. And so I think that's what we're going to see. We're going to see a number of candidates on either Wednesday morning or in the days after begin to say, "Our campaign is folding." They may not enunciate it. To me...

TAPPER: Predictions?

DOWD: Well, we will get there.



DOWD: To me, this whole thing...

TAPPER: I'm greedy.

DOWD: ... is an incredible -- and I know people have used this -- incredible circus atmosphere that we've watched over the last six months. It reminds me of the car that pulls in the ring of the circus and all the clowns start -- one after another start getting out. And we're like, OK, that's the last one to get out, and then all of a sudden the last one comes out of the trunk. And it's like, what's that? And Rick Santorum is getting out of the trunk today.

And I don't think Rick Santorum can sustain it. He has no national -- when Mike Huckabee rose last time, he was rising in Iowa, he was rising nationally. We still say Newt Gingrich has fallen, he's done, he's done, but Newt Gingrich is tied nationally still in this race. If Newt Gingrich can survive this in Iowa, get through New Hampshire, he still has a shot to do well in South Carolina and Florida, if he can get through this next 10 days.

But what Iowa will do, and then what New Hampshire will do is basically say this field has now gone from seven candidates to probably three or four. And that I think, Jake, is Mitt Romney's real test. When this race is no longer a seven-person race, can he get 35 percent, 40 percent of the vote in places other than New Hampshire? And he has not yet proved that he can do that.

TANDEN: I mean, Mitt Romney is -- may win with fewer votes on Tuesday than he got four years ago after running for six years.


TAPPER: He came in second against Mike Huckabee.

TANDEN: Right. And he's -- and he's been running -- he's been doing this a very long time. So, obviously, there's a lot of consternation in the party about it. And the question really is, when you're in a three-person race -- this was the same four years ago with Hillary -- when you're in a three-person race, who can be the alternative? And -- and will that person outgrow Romney...


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