Roundtable: Political Roller Coaster

George Will, Cokie Roberts, Ed Gillespie, and Jonathan Karl.
12:52 | 12/25/11

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Transcript for Roundtable: Political Roller Coaster
And in little more than a week -- decided it's finally Scott deciding in the Iowa Caucuses so let's bring out roundtable. George Will Cokie Roberts former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie. And ABC news senior political correspondent John -- -- so when you George. Republicans often rowdy around the top candidate -- but this time -- -- in the beneath every mound visit -- top candidate what's been going well. What's been going on as an astonishingly broad based and persistent resistance Mitt Romney. The end of the day they may supplement -- -- -- they're going to shop around for a while yet. -- -- -- -- -- That broad based resistance has brought us now to Newt Gingrich being in the top of the pack. Is not something. That gives you confidence that should -- be the nominee -- apply to will be able to regain the White House. Well I think whoever emerges as the Republican nominee is going to be the odds on favorite to win the White House in 2012 when you look at. President Obama's numbers his reelect his approval rating. The right direction wrong track whomever emerges as our nominee from a very tough competitive. Primary process I think is is likely to be that yeah. Yeah. You know that there are Republicans up there are no stick it right Gingrich wins they're gonna lose everything and we don't talk that some good friends of yours tell me. That look at Newt Gingrich is our nominee we are in serious danger of losing that. Please don't tell I think we're gonna have a very lengthy nominating processes as I've been predicting for some time and the fact is if Gingrich demonstrates the discipline necessary to win in that lengthy contentious process. I suspect that would settle nerves -- -- those -- that the point you're making them. All things being equal a Republican should win. And then what's happening is all things are not equal because of the field of candidates. And and that is really -- this thing into of the election and and it does have Republicans extremely nervous I'm I just keep thinking. It -- to settle on Romney at some point. -- -- because spell -- out wide notice if Gingrich uses and on the topic is people particularly on Capitol Hill know him quite well and he is someone who just throws bombs and we've all seen him do that and and they're worried that some -- is -- common in school and make it totally impossible for me majority of people saying I feel comfortable with him. -- -- him on the button. Newt Gingrich has made a central part of his campaign frontal assault on the rule of law in the United States and attack on the courts. -- in doing so he is aligned himself with two cents of the Democratic Party Andrew Jackson in his defiance of John Marshall. And Franklin Roosevelt and packing the court. So not the conservatives that he -- is in the past primary voters want. Isn't as older partner companies are spending a lot of time thinking about anti Jacksonville. -- credentials. That yes they do care about conservative and obviously those are being attacked. But they chance can't. Yet themselves around to Mitt Romney made just doesn't get over 23%. -- 77%. Keep saying no you mentioned in annual report -- the Tea Party that resurgence. It won't surge of the tea party of the last year -- is just part of the problem is sort of battle between establishment Republican -- and the -- -- Well George Will -- there is no Republican establishment but I will tell you this could be wrong with holders fifty that the Tea Party. You know takeover of congress has utterly transformed the Republican Party it's fascinating this is a movement. That helped fuel the election win in 2010 Republicans. It was basically a reaction against Obama and Pelosi but the affected -- had. Is to transform the Republican Party and tie if you want to call the establishment not to tie the leadership of this party in congress not. So it has spent -- Pete. Do you think there on the -- windy UC this insurgent force that we've seen them. Well I think there is still very strong and I'm happy about it you know the notion in Washington DC among some -- the -- that the Tea Party -- problem for the Republican Party has been pretty laughable the fact is that and look I'm someone who's been in -- Republican Party trenches for years and -- good news -- well -- -- and suddenly you -- this and -- also -- -- view of the Tea -- focuses. Where you -- we're thrilled to have you here this is the fight we've been citing alleged. See them back to action various stages -- and think if he -- a real back list because of the way congressional lines are drawn the district lines drawn. If they were running against Democrats. They would have a problem perhaps. -- but they're not they're running now and very very safe districts and so the only problem they would never have Republican challenge them from the right and that's socket that mr. Democrats to not. Yeah. And biggest fears being absolutely so it is talk about that President Obama obviously seeing quite a lot of his core support is disappointed with him. There is this bad economy. What happens how does he turn that around -- -- in the twelve months also not quite until the next -- -- -- -- about the other guy. And and that's what he's in the process of doing right now is that a winning strategy -- can be mean look when people vote the president as they sit there and say. -- I trust more to do what I think is right in the next four years whatever issue comes up. And as do -- at least trust this guy more than the other guy and if he says he can't just the other guy and not the people believe that -- Georgia's largest presidential election of the C a lot of congress people it's also up for election. Is there any songs that anything will get on any time has come to you all -- see what we've seen over the last twelve -- so it's more -- with. Sure. Because the country's divided and this representative institution represents the country's division of the mind. Let's remember one thing we always talk about people running for office probably the most important man in 2012 -- justice Anthony Kennedy the traditional swing vote. Because some time probably by the end of June. The Supreme Court is -- -- rule on several aspects of the constitutionality. Of the president's signature achievement obamacare. No matter how they -- we'll bring it back to the forefront of the argument that cannot help the president. Well except that was beginning to happen is some aspects of -- that are quite popular when you look at the polling on on specifics in the bill are taking effect. And if enough of them start to take effect could be the start to like get that could change that dynamic. -- -- I mean look we we -- health care bill that was passed. Without a single Republican vote I mean this -- In a purely in the partisan vote reverse it. And we're gonna have a Supreme Court decision honest and in what what what's the betting via fire Ford. But he did so what are some of the new being battles -- -- ahead. Well we got it. -- all the battles are all stacked in the lame duck session so what ever wins control the presidency whichever party -- control. Of the of the congress is gonna have to wait -- -- -- -- and watch this lame duck congress and potentially lame duck president deal with things like the expiration of the bush tax cuts. The looming defense. Cuts under the that they the super committee's agreement and of course the fact that that's you remember that has to be raised again by the end of the year. So this go round the table do a little bit of ended year and and future of prognostication here. What was George -- -- the biggest political disappointment of this year. About 11 o'clock at night on Saturday may 21. Call from my friend the governor of India. Saying that the next morning he was an announcing what Mitch Daniels was not gonna run for president. And best suited by experience temperament and philosophy opted out. Coat of many of political disappointment is not you know partisan it's it's as a reporter have. Somebody -- doesn't run and I have no disappointments along those lines this has been great. So what's the biggest surprise he is the biggest surprise has been the Republican field up and down -- resigned giants these. It is -- you know it's not usually that way at all and the and the fact that they still haven't settled is really quite interest so what is it for you Ed Gillespie. Taking what could he said about the Republican Party the biggest sort of -- you would you say. -- -- -- But failure. -- I -- agree with George in terms of disappointment that -- didn't run I'd add to that Johnson and Haley -- well I think that had those three been in the field idea. You know more fulsome field right now and so I think that -- there is a sense of disappointment amongst many Republicans that those three in particular opted out rather than. So you said those involved do you think Mitt Romney the sort of targeted as anyone but it is actually going to be. Well I don't know it's been very fluid. And the fact is that's the question right now is is that -- you know isn't a ceiling that he he is facing -- it. At the end of the day people are gonna gravitate. Toward him you know we -- this a little bit with. John McCain in the last cycle that you know he was down and then and you know people resisted going to a woman at the -- the -- The they did I don't know that that's going to be the case. Republicans again do you. -- everybody would agree with some very tough environment. I don't think I think it's very tough environment for the president this. Do you think John that even at this late date -- of this anxiety could result in a third party candidate. Well look the conditions are practically perfect for a third party candidate especially. Newt Gingrich -- the Republican nominee. You have yet to candidates for the parties that have absolutely. -- -- almost no support among independents at this point I -- completely alienating independents and there's the apartment but. Who -- mean you know himself. -- -- successful third party candidates have three things a regional base George Wallace. A burning issue George Wallace or Ross Perot who got 19% -- And the vivid personality and Norton -- -- and -- had I don't see anyone with any of the three so quick. Lightning round and who do you think was the most influential politician of 2012 real -- on the president John Boehner. -- vein system they managed to -- caucus and that's to the president time after time. I'm not I can't say the president OK well I I'm afraid I have to agree with George them. I'm on the latest why the president -- isn't the president still the president and the heat and -- can set an agenda in the way that you know that others can't. All right who put forward a very concrete plan to reform entitlement spending -- stood an onslaught by the left in defense of it. And I think -- shape the debate and made clear to Republicans and conservatives that this is an an argument we can make -- make with confidence. Yeah -- -- Paul Ryan slightly different take and he put forth the that the -- the the idea. Did you can actually tackle entitlements. And survive politically and he got every single Republican in the house to sign on his plan. Now we'll see it works it's going to be a major factor in the election going forward able demonize Paul Ryan. He gave that the Democrats something -- to to really. Portray as the enemy but I think Paul -- Do you think undergoes we actually saw our own George -- -- -- run debasing he's very important issues last week on the great American debate. Do you can I get to ulta predicts. Who will be this time next year preparing. This inaugural address. Poll numbers say the president won't be but if the president carries the John Kerry states. It's 245 electoral votes he -- 25 more don't count the president. I think probably at this time next year would be -- -- -- of his disagreement. I'm not short -- neutral in in the Republican Party primary but like I said. Whomever emerges as the nominee is -- -- will be doing well I'm not I really got its -- fluid test can tell. Yeah I think. The caucuses. I really can't I mean I think you know Iowa voters -- are famously late in deciding and we're seeing an up and downs you know still today you know and. And so any influence at the caucus themselves and as a tremendous amount -- to come to -- -- Don't buy I had no idea is -- the next president I will say this I will say that we also none of us will have any idea. On midnight election it's going to be such a close race this country is so evenly divided. George mentioned and stated the Kerry map this is going to be a close election and we are going to be. A waiting until the following data. I would disagree with that case that we don't call it that pick -- direction -- will be the other way I think it's going to be decisively won all right. And it was this conversation will a -- Pennsylvania.

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

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