DOWD: Why can't -- even though he performed better than probably ever candidate at a debate, he's got the best campaign organization, he has the most money, he seems the most electable, he can't close the deal, that they keep looking, no matter who it is, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and now Rick Santorum. They seem to keep wanting to find somebody else.
TAPPER: Ron Paul.
DOWD: I think -- and Ron Paul -- there's still another twist in this race.
DOWD: I think Mitt Romney still has to prove that he can exceed a level of support. When he's only running against one-on-one against somebody in South Carolina or Florida or one on two, can he make -- can he get past 30 percent or 40 percent of the poll? TAPPER: Neera, as a Democrat -- no offense -- as a Democrat...
TANDEN: No offense taken.
TAPPER: I just meant like (inaudible) about to ask you to be the official Democrat at the table, who do you least want President Obama to face? Who is the biggest threat?
TANDEN: That -- that is very hard. I mean, a lot of people will say Mitt Romney. But, you know, the challenge for Mitt Romney is that he so represents the 1 percent, Wall Street, so much of what Americans are angry and upset about. There's a strain of economic populism in both parties. It's a driving force. It's actually what's been helping the president over the last four or five months, who's, you know, I should say, doing better now than he's been doing in a long time, and he's in a stronger position. And I think the challenge for the president...
TAPPER: Relatively speaking. Let's not go crazy, right?
TANDEN: You know, the problem for Mitt Romney -- and the New Hampshire -- and Manchester newspaper did this in its endorsement of Gingrich -- is that Romney really represents all that people are angry about in -- in America. And so I think, after a year-long campaign, I think Romney is also going to be very vulnerable.
DOWD: To me, President Obama -- President Obama is -- President Obama cannot have this race be about him.
DOWD: If this race is about President Obama, he will lose. I remember very, very well in 2004, at this same point in time, when the Democrats were running for president, and John Kerry, everybody running -- all of the Democrats were running around saying how vulnerable President Bush was, and he can be beaten, and he can -- look how vulnerable he is, he can be beaten. President Obama's job approval rating is 8 to 10 points lower than President Bush was at the same time. The consumer confidence in this country is 30 points lower than it was when George Bush ran for re-election. And the wrong track number in this country is 40 points higher than it was in 2004.
And so, to me, this race -- if we are sitting where we are today and whoever the Republican nominee is, President Obama can't win under the circumstances that exist today, unless he decimates the Republican so badly that the alternative becomes I cannot -- like, I don't want President Obama, but that Republican is so bad I can't...
TAPPER: And we have to turn to predictions, but just to put a button on this last thought, who would be the most difficult person for him to decimate?