'This Week' Transcript: Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann

The second thing is, is the Republicans' establishment ability to control this race is extremely limited, extremely limited. The ability of Washington Republicans and the typical Republican standards (ph) to say, "This is who we want, and this is what's going to happen," when you had basically two candidates who were out of the mainstream of the Republican Party, one of which supports legalization of drugs and is anti-war as George McGovern, gets almost two-thirds of the vote at the straw poll...

TAPPER: Ron Paul, you're talking about.

DOWD: ... you don't have a Republican establishment that has great ability to control this raise.

INGRAHAM: We saw that with the rise of the Tea Party, though, right? I mean, the establishment has been on the run since the midterms last year, and it continues.

TAPPER: Kay, as our reporter, as our eyes and ears on the ground here in Iowa, Tim Pawlenty supposedly had the state wired, he had organization at the straw poll yesterday. I saw a lot of people in those green Tim Pawlenty T-shirts. What happened?

HENDERSON: They wore their green Tim Pawlenty t-shirt in and voted for Michele Bachmann. I talked to a number of people who went -- ate the barbecue, enjoyed the festivities at the T-Paw Tent, and then went in and voted for someone else.

I think I've sort of seen this movie before. It's the contest to be the not Romney. And what you saw yesterday was Michele Bachmann energizing what you mentioned, Mr. Will, as the folks who had supported Huckabee with another component, this group of Tea Party activists who started in the state being upset with the, quote, unquote, "establishment" way back in 2008. Her campaign is managed by a state legislator who won in 2008 without any party support whatsoever. So she's coalesced those forces and has really sort of ridden them to victory in the straw poll, and then it's fight night tonight in Waterloo.

TAPPER: George, there are a lot of Republicans in Washington, as you know, who are very worried about Michele Bachmann getting the nomination. They think she's not electable. They point to statistics, such as Tim Pawlenty did better in her district in 2006 than she did. John McCain did much better in her district in 2008 than she did. She had to spend $11 million to get re-elected last time. Do they have a point to make? Is she not electable on a national stage?

WILL: Barack Obama's best hope is the Republican nominating electorate. He does not want this to be a referendum on his record. He wants it to be a referendum on the fitness for office of the Republican nominee. "Should this person have control of nuclear weapons?" is the threshold question in any presidential race. And I think they're going to find that, in this question between Perry and Bachmann, that's an easy choice. Furthermore, Texas is to Republicans what California is to the Democrats, the largest reliable source of cash and electorate votes. In six of the late eight elections, there's been a Texan on the Republican ticket; 17 of the last 48 years there's been a Texan president. So this is not unusual.

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