'This Week' Transcript: Sen. Jim DeMint

PAGE: Actually, his written record, he's been very consistent about -- more consistent than his own press spokesman who told us in the media a week or so ago, don't take that book seriously. He wasn't planning on running for president then. And then Perry came out across Iowa, stopped saying, "Oh, yeah, read my book. That'll show you how I feel."

His book is very explicit. Dana's right. He wants to take Social Security out of the hands of federal government, put it in the hands of the states. As Michael wrote eloquently this week, he spoke with great admiration of a temporary program that for a couple of counties in Texas that were able to -- to opt out of Social Security program.

This will not go well with regular Americans. Now, with all due respect, the term grassroots, I had a city editor years ago who said never use the term grassroots, because it is meaningless. Everybody has their grassroots.

The fact is, most -- well, President George W. Bush went around campaigning for a program that would just offer us the option of investing part of our Social Security contribution in the stock market. The more he talked about it, the less popular it became. It died on Capitol Hill.

And Perry calls it a "Ponzi scheme." You know what a Ponzi scheme is? Bernie Madoff, wizard of Wall Street.

KARL: Well, he invokes Bernie Madoff in the book. But, you know, I've got to say...

PAGE: He wants to put more money -- well (inaudible) he wants us to put more money in Wall Street, where Bernie Madoff is. The average American I don't think right now is ready to go for that kind of a radical move.

KARL: But -- but -- but to Dana's point, I think that some of this rhetoric may actually help him with the base that he's trying to excite.

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: But -- but he's going to have some problems. You know, at some point during one of these debates, one of the candidates, maybe it'll be Mitt Romney, will stand up and say, there's only one candidate on the stage here who has voted for tax increases, including the biggest tax increase in the history of Texas. Now, that was Rick Perry. It was a long time ago. He was a Democrat. But this will be an issue. There will be issues that the Tea Party, that hard-right conservatives will go at Rick Perry over.

AMANPOUR: Well, you just mentioned Mitt Romney, who, of course, was the front-runner until Rick Perry jumped in. Where does he need to go now? He's sort of been coasting on his record and being the presumed front-runner. What does he need to do tomorrow and in the coming days and in these debates?

KARL: They know that they've got an issue here. Look, for three years, Christiane, Mitt Romney has been essentially the front-runner in this race. Before he officially declared, he has been the front-runner. He has been the guy, but suddenly this has changed.

And like I said, we'll see over the next month whether it really has changed, but they know that they're going to have to go after Rick Perry. They could sit back when Tim Pawlenty was the big threat. They could kind of let it play out. You can't do that when you're running against Rick Perry. And they know it.

AMANPOUR: And, Michael, I mean, again, let's get to primaries versus general election. Can Rick Perry -- or is it dangerous for the Republican Party to -- to sort of let Mitt Romney slip behind?

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