'This Week' Transcript: Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann

TAPPER: Up next, our first roundtable of 2012 lays odds on Iowa. And we'll ask Governor Terry Branstad who has the inside edge in his all-important state.


TAPPER: So we are just two days away from the Iowa caucuses, and that new Des Moines Register poll shows there's still time for a Tuesday upset. So let's go right to the roundtable, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent and Fox News contributor Byron York, Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, Craig Robinson, founder of the conservative blog The Iowa Republican, and ABC News contributor and former chief political strategist for George W. Bush, Matthew Dowd.

Thanks, one and all, for being here, for giving up your New Year's, and for being here today. I want to go through those Des Moines Register numbers -- Des Moines Register poll numbers again. The overall support numbers show Romney with 24 percent, Paul with 22 percent, Santorum with 15 percent. But as you political junkies know, this is a four-day poll. And in the last two days, just looking at the last two days, it's actually Romney with 24 percent, Santorum with 21 percent, Paul with 18 percent, indicating some Sant-mentum.

Byron, you have been somewhat bullish on Santorum for some time.

YORK: I have. Well, he is the one who has room to grow. When you look at what happened to all the other candidates, when you look at what happened to Bachmann, to Perry, to Cain, they all fell because voters began to realize that they weren't really prepared. They began to think they didn't have enough preparation or knowledge to be president.

Newt Gingrich, a lot of social conservatives still can't get over the three marriages parts. And he has fallen after all of these negative attack ads.

But when you asked them what the problem with Santorum was, they always said, "He can't get elected. I really like him, but I just don't think he can get elected."

TAPPER: Because he's at the bottom of the polls.

YORK: He's only 2 percent or 3 percent in the polls.

TAPPER: Right.

YORK: If you take away that problem -- and that is gone now in these new polls -- he has room to grow. So there are a few voters -- you know, Gingrich apparently is still falling. And there are some voters -- Paul appears to be falling -- there are voters who still can go to Santorum.

TAPPER: And, Neera, you worked for Hillary Clinton, who in the Des Moines Register poll right before the -- was it 2007 or 2008? Whenever it was, 2008...

TANDEN: We don't have to remember, actually.


TAPPER: But in any case, she was -- she was at second place neck and neck with John Edwards, and then ultimately at the end she came in third. What does a candidate have to do to be able to withstand a not such a great showing in Iowa to be able to continue to run a campaign like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did?

TANDEN: Well, I think this is the issue for Santorum, which is that he can't -- you know, whether he can really be the alternative to Romney, because -- does he really have the legs to go into South Carolina, Florida, to the rest of the races? I mean, I think that's why Romney is OK with Santorum coming up behind him, because it really an issue of, who can sustain? And Santorum does not seem like the threat that Newt Gingrich is, and that's probably why he's not withering -- under withering attacks right now.

TAPPER: And, Craig, you're the Iowan at the table here. The Des Moines Register poll is important.

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