Roundtable: Gingrich Groundswell

George Will, Ron Brownstein, Amy Walter, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and Matthew Dowd
13:56 | 01/22/12

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Transcript for Roundtable: Gingrich Groundswell
Let's get straight to our roundtable I am joined as always by George Will. Katrina then an -- of the nation magazine ABC's Matthew Dowd and any water over here on my right. Editorial director of the National Journal Ron Brownstein and let's get right to -- -- but what a difference. Believe -- -- -- Mitt Romney looking to do something never been done. Republican primaries get a clean -- three in a row this -- something else we haven't seen before three primaries and caucuses three winner. There's they'll slit the old pattern has -- been broken funds for five consecutive times Begin with Reagan in 1980. Candidate -- -- were candidate -- -- New Hampshire on either they -- being in South Carolina and the nomination that's over. Mitt Romney's going and trump card worth of electability. If you go back now to his 1994 sub prime. He's been 125 races his record six wins nineteen losses -- They're doing and Newt Gingrich -- seems at least 43 of 46 counties he carried won't. An evangelical. Conservative South Carolina. He carried evidently all seven congressional districts so here's what we now know. We all thought going on the big problem for Romney might be his mormonism that might be the Massachusetts Health Care plan that's not. Mitt Romney's problem -- somehow his -- us. That is the fact that people are just connecting -- them. Not just that he is the first candidate we've ever had from the financial sector which turns out to be a problem because finances a mysterious -- disliked. But -- something about him that does not connect. Look at but I think about that that the most consistent thing in this inconsistent race. Has spent the Mitt Romney's -- ability to sell himself in this race yeah. He came in this race is the establishment candidate he came in this race that most people thought was the odds on favorite. He can administration -- to present an argument the best organization best campaign and best money and as we've seen this entire process unfold. The problem has Ben -- -- has Romulus but maybe his witness. Is because it. That -- that he cannot sell himself as an authentic. Competent conservative in this field and now he's back to we felt they broke but what will live he's back to the 28% 25%. And that's a huge problem it's going to be here. Problem of Florida he's bleeding because he has not been able to deal. You would be. Tax issue. With the fundamental unfairness that he is an MRI of his and what we still amateurish but George mentioned. There were seen old patterns but we aren't singled out into. I think we're seeing some truly old patterns imagine this race if you think we now have. The surge of a street fighter with a history of poisonous politics. And we heard very clearly in these debates in South Carolina. A replay. Of a 2012 version of Nixon's. Southern strategy this plane on the racial grievances and resentments attacking a mythical liberal media. Attacking now Obama's other yes this is very dangerous for the country and I know some Democrats are cheering because Newt Gingrich has historically unfavorably high ratings. -- -- -- a party taking this country into an abyss of what poisonous grievances when this country desperate. We need to really Democrats including knowledge nice looking for problems. They put this country that you bring about a two points that really -- -- a big thing that led insurgency to debate moments and more -- than we can talk about the first one. When he got to that tell -- -- Juan Williams of fox after Williams suggested the news talk about food stamps was insulting to African Americans to. It sounds as if. You are seeking to belittle people. First of all wrong. The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president -- America. -- And have a lot of -- interview with his former wife Marianne Gingrich. Newt Gingrich and Thursday so -- goes right after John king of CNN. I think -- distracting. Vicious. Negative nature. Of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am -- Paul the -- would Begin a presidential debate. On a topic -- And around the -- lot about a -- Rhonda we also saw this week in South Carolina that debates matter need we saw a conservative opportunity Newt Gingrich from the 1970s was a -- venture at the far reaches of the house -- -- you know talking in very vitriolic language to get noticed what a formula that had been working for Mitt Romney until now was divide. And -- in Iowa new Hampshire national -- he was consolidating the center of the party behind him more than anyone was consolidating the right of the party against him. That has now broken down if you look at South Carolina. Evangelical Christians strong Tea Party supporters very conservative voters under 50000 and non college Republicans all strands -- to be called a populist wing of the Republican Party. Newt Gingrich got up to 40% among them by articulating. I think that kind of court anger they feel at both Washington and -- -- in general and that's a much higher number than anybody was able to get. In Iowa or New Hampshire among those voters as of the risk that Romney is facing is that he -- Santorum in their peeling away part of that vote. -- that you now have this kind of coalition. That downscale populist coalition -- mobilizing ranking which Romney is still pretty strongly that managerial upside upscale side of the party. But this is a race that could go a long way Gingrich has the financial organizational resources to harvest it. Right and that's yes -- have that he also stabbed the discipline him and there is a reason that. Rick Santorum came in and called him -- -- addict and he called them a high risk candidate and right because. From what we've seen it while I think it's true that Mitt Romney has had a problem really being able to be consistent. From -- Debate to debate from primary to primary -- -- his opponents of might have had three different winners and I think and it has to do that. As well -- he's gonna survive the other issue here. When we come to the issue of Bain Capital and in the financial sector. And and Mitt Romney's ability or inability to answer for it. No -- -- -- -- it's not the crime it's a cover up right and that. The issue isn't -- it's his believability the believability. On the tax issue the believability. That that he can go up against Barack Obama and defend. Who PA if you and that's where Israel -- look -- I think -- -- -- or any issue is not. Mitt Romney I think again coming back to -- this campaign is giving us an MRI of the fundamental unfairness. Of the system in this country and the impact of Occupy Wall Street in the 99%. And the idea that incoming equality and fairness. Has emerged as a central theme has brought company's problems. His father. Never forget. His father who filed twelve tax returns in 1967. Paid a 37%. Federal income tax rate. We CD dissent DES CE NT of our tax system and the unfairness. -- even when Mayor Bloomberg but says yeah. -- -- Go back to the debates -- go back to -- what we've seen in this process to me while there's been people seeing some troubling nature of it in some ways they've said that some I think there's actually my vantage point some great developments that we've seen in this process that we've not seen before. First. Debates matter and that is a big difference in a report used to be able to buy a bunch of media and pay a bunch of people and -- an America that a conversation -- debates matter because people. Are looking for an authentic conversation in this environment which they don't feel they've had before second he had -- -- write checks to consultants and all that -- media folks and do you pay for -- come home -- He fired at all and then that we were seeing the words that have been the most of it haven't been the most successful in this but hey Rick Santorum wins I what -- basically no pay organization. And no money on television. That sanguine view of the role of debates however deserves a minor dissent. We conservatives and Republicans generally are saying let's. Nominate -- because spore form a half hours of debate Swiss. Barack Obama he'd be the best to talk American -- nuclear weapons for eight years perhaps yeah. That's why they're seeing what that -- when I think they're saying is what what the voters want is a strong decisive authentic conservative and what. What Newt Gingrich is revealed and -- that whether he's in his entirety of his life it's true or not what he's revealed in the course of the debate. And what Mitt Romney is shown is that Mitt Romney has shown he's he's not a strong decisive authentic conservative and Newt Gingrich feels and looks that way to the public yeah yeah. Gingrich has been is not ideologically consistent through his career but he has been consistently a partisan warrior the Gingrich you saw on stage. This week was the Gingrich who called the clintons the enemy of normal Americans in the ninety's or the language -- used about Jim right. And the 1980s and that is connecting with Republicans. I will have a descent -- -- mainly because I think they're there is no it's not only Mitt Romney's answers that are causing him the problem Republican Party is changing it is becoming more blue collar more downscale their winning. An awful lot of white working class voters. And Romney has always had difficulty connecting with doesn't even in the first two states and is doing well he did much better among better educated and more affluent voters -- senator Barack. -- -- actually -- and as little chip already as he moves forward. That constituency is very challenging for Newt Gingrich beat him by substantial margin eighteen points among voters -- a college education in South Carolina. One is pointing to the Republican base at 2000 -- elections. Whites without college education. Republicans got 63600. -- And the question is now it's not the professor Obama's gonna connect those people any better than perhaps demand from Bain Capital but the question is who is against. And that's into the -- and that's the thing about this I wouldn't say the only this is. Is why am I cannot tell Newt Gingrich shouldn't be attacking Danish and even that didn't -- bad reaction to it at the people that still thought the Republican Party is based -- Wall Street and it's based in Portland or the other day. And is smaller type and a lot of Mitt Romney seems to believe that it is is tax returns that are part of the issue has just announced this morning that he's gonna release. Two years of tax returns. This Tuesday following Jeb Bush's call from -- before Florida -- and hitting the -- the question I think a lot of us were mystified you do this question is coming. All -- long you've seen a series of -- or five different answers from Mitt Romney now we know we can seat two years on Tuesday. That's right and -- to be able to answer for them confidently. I mean that seems to be the bigger issue here which has. He puts it out there and many backs up a little bit and that goes to the heart of the public think we're all getting out whether -- his -- -- has Romney has. The sense that there is not a -- there and people can't hold onto it. -- I think -- -- that he can defend himself and his record and his wealth and his his his record on Wall Street. But -- have to look confident doing it and -- have to look -- if he can do that with. -- Obama and not just let me -- last night. Mitt Romney abandoned the job creation -- -- it was really an argument for success -- the ability to make wealth in this country. His job creation numbers have been repudiated his tax figures will now be raked over he has offshore banking accounts via being. This is a moment not -- -- populist. -- -- because they all US tax. -- a but he has but he has now entered a moment which I think his team never anticipated there was a -- -- an arrogance about being inevitable candidate. That led them to sort of be aware of the mood in this country at this moment which is not a view that the elites. Carly it's in this country that the government is rigged against you have to and listening to find a way to open it up out of the stuff. -- interest money. How do you explain why Mitt Romney's having so much difficulty. With this issue what is it. That he's trying to hide where -- the discount for conference and on the taxes I don't know we'll know one when we get perhaps more than two years because. When -- you start from maybe I'll release for older than you say I'm -- -- -- -- the -- -- -- -- -- what's in the third year. If you release the third what's in the fourth. So there's going to have. -- a lot of I don't think I don't think it has anything I've been -- -- candidates George you've been reluctant to -- -- enough candidates I don't think -- today has something to hide I don't think that's at all. I don't think there's like whoa what's live what's all this when I think it is it's a typical candidate that decides they don't think they need to do it. And in 1994 he said I'm not doing it he never released in 2002 run for governor he never used him as governor -- never really stimulants for president never released and he gets his head. I don't need to release him and no matter what anybody tell here's where the problem here's where -- -- Activated an ominous shadow to one senior Romney supported South Carolina -- said to me Friday. He can release his taxes before or after he loses the South Carolina primary here. We believe that once you've lost that they are going to come out -- -- not -- before he does have a chance to win. Let you know I think the with -- Texas forward to a larger issue Romney isn't electability concerned -- is eroding. Performance on that measure because he has looked so unsteady on his feet in the last two weeks and we -- his bizarre period through the fall early winter. Where the other candidates -- really jostling to become the alternative to Romney was or focusing their fire on each other. Rather than -- starting next Sunday before that debate this on good -- Hampshire he has been in the cross hairs and he has not. -- well he had already detonated certainly George they have thanked him. Florida being the backstop big state money can work for him there already 200000 people voted he's been working the absentees to close primary but. Jeb Bush I think the run -- campaign of accounting and Jeb Bush giving them an endorsement he said last night he's gonna -- -- Well remember we're gonna go down the road real -- I think Newt's -- on the Virginia about the Jimenez is young Missouri I -- know. That is not on Missouri's who's not competitive everywhere. Here's a small sliver of the silver lining for the all across the country this morning people are waking up were running from their offices Republicans from dog catcher -- And -- good god -- Gingrich might be at the top of this ticket.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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