Roundtable: Sizing Up GOP Field

George Will, Mary Matalin, Ruth Marcus and Jonathan Karl.
16:27 | 10/16/11

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Transcript for Roundtable: Sizing Up GOP Field
That's the President Obama well Jonathan did mention that -- signature jobs plan failed his first big test in the senate. I sat down with the president's campaign strategist David Axelrod. To discuss can be. And take stock of his Republican challenges. This past week the president's jobs bill died in the senate. Well you -- it would take a setback it we're gonna keep that oh but is pretty much. Dead in the format in terms of being being approved as one as one entity but now we're gonna take it apart -- go piece by piece the American people support every single plank of that bill. And we're gonna vote on every single one. All right but you don't just last month He said about this bill that this is not an island -- -- -- And yet now as you've just announced yourself this is going to be an content while on yourself in this position we hope to assemble the entire plan. And we're gonna take vote. Votes on each one of them so what will be the first that you proposed that would be the payroll would -- -- the infrastructure what will be the first bits that you try to reassemble that of that of that news I'm not -- American. Discuss the legislative calendar here but -- will be done sequentially. And the sequences is is being discussed right now and you think that you can get -- -- reassembled and the -- is -- -- anything that's going to go through. Well we'll see is that a lot of opposition well not among the American people the American people strongly support in the American people going to be heard. On this legislation. I think so many Americans are just sitting there saying. Act to congress do something stop playing games so what about occupy Wall Street and is this something that -- Benefit to a party benefit the president goes into the -- well that remains to be seen obviously I don't think any American has impressed when they see. A governor Romney and all the Republican candidates have the first thing they do is roll back. Wall Street reforms and go back to where we were before the crisis and what Wall Street. Right its own rules I think that will be an issue. In this campaign -- beneficial to the president or is it detrimental to the president I -- awful some of them saying. You know the president himself has a lot of Wall Street in his cabinet -- You know I don't know and I don't know how to judge that and I don't know that anybody does and we -- in this business to try and treat everything as a kind of seminal event you see some of that around these. Wall Street. Protests now I do know this the American people want a financial system that works on the level they -- -- get a fair shake. And they want to know that the dealings that are made are done transparently so if there are problems such as the ones we saw before the crisis. Will be alerted to and we can stop the whole economy from being. From being turned over. If the president can't work with congress a congress can't work with the president to get these things done now. How would it be different in a second time when may -- both houses of congress will be Republican well first of all let's see what. Happens in the -- I think nineteen I think that there -- I do believe that when the president wins this election and I believe He will in this election I think there's going to be a an occasion for self reflection on the part of the Republican Party and they're gonna have to decide. -- wanna keep going down this road of obstruction keep going down this road of of non action or are they gonna work together to solve problem will would. Let me ask -- this. Mitt Romney -- had a conference -- this week basically highlighting what you want to see in the upcoming campaign. You saying that he's a flip flop you're talking about all sorts of of ways in which you hope to be able to -- into the post. Do you think that Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee who President Obama faces. I really don't know there was a poll out this week that showed him. And at the same 23%. He's been throughout the race now Herman Cain. Is leaving the primary the last poll Rick Perry was leading -- earlier Michelle Bachman was doing. -- but Romney's days as -- why because I think there's this question about what his core principles are he's been running for office for almost twenty years. For the senator and governor of Massachusetts that He was a pro choice pro gay rights pro environmental. Candidates for office. Then decided to run for president they don't want radeon all of that so time and time and time again He shifts and you get the feeling that there is no principle too large for him to throw over. In pursuit of a political office -- do you think is going to come down and -- that I don't know who gonna face but. You mentioned Bachmann and pairing -- -- Do you think. -- is going to stay at the top I think you know I'd I don't know I mean if you were if as a political professional you'd look at it and -- say. There are two candidates who are likely. To be competing at the and then one would be Perry and the other would be run religious based on the resources. That they have but this is a funny years I don't know you just mentioned the two man race between Perry and Romney -- yet Perry seems to be sliding in the polls -- you still think that He could be lug it around and Christiane I've been around this business a long time and I know that you know it's a very dynamic process. So. The candidates haven't fully engaged yet I mean governor Perry's -- less than impressive in these debates and I think there's a general consensus. About that He just introduced a aimed at what He called a jobs plan it was it was an energy plan that was basically a Xerox copy of via. Oil lobbies wish list for America. But. But nonetheless He has a lot of resources and He and his -- in his in his career is shown a penchant for going hard after. His opponents and and you know I think if -- -- governor around there are you worried about all of these changes in position and how that. How that what kind of message that sends to voters not just on the Republican side but on. Throughout the elect. President Obama's chief campaign strategist David Axelrod and you can find more of that interview -- abcnews.com. That this week. This -- in our roundtable with me today George Will. Republican strategist -- in math and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus an ABC's senior political correspondent Jonathan -- welcome -- what have you. So George you saw that axle rod when He came down on -- like a ton of -- Is this amended think is going to be the nominee -- -- and -- -- haven't come -- and Andy Warhol primary where everyone. Whose leader for fifteen moments. And it's -- -- today but it's not clear that -- has staying power he's not running for president in search growing for president without an infrastructure and it's pretty and cute nice but whether it works we can be doubtful. They've clearly decided the Romulus problem. And they -- problem -- -- because they're not going to run on the record because the record -- particularly. -- therefore there gonna run on the -- to us of the Republican candidate. And I think. Precisely because. It's published -- Romney assume certain versatility of conviction of the -- it's hard to nail him down this. Cynthia conviction -- that is quite -- -- they have. Saying what good is trying to say do you think the White House is right to be focusing on -- do you think that they've got the right man. I think they're doing everything to not. Focus on their own guy they don't want this to be with a natural re election is which is a referendum on the incumbent when axle -- doing -- Political algebra you things if He strikes core convictions from one -- he'll strike it from the other. Obama has no core convictions that when -- govern -- government as an unreconstructed liberal. The worst He can say about. Romney is conviction is that he's an accommodation which means He -- to political will I think people right now would rather see a president responsive. To the political will than this president who operated -- -- jam through things that were against the country's well. It would as a referendum on the president -- did you think that the candidate will be wrongly accusing -- -- the body. George makes a very good point we are any very. Sliver of a phase here on the debates if you go to the states go to the board. -- -- -- Perry's other strengths he's raised over seventeen million dollars and 150 days ago I was South Carolina He is very strong on the ground operations -- state senators state reps county chairman. He has fifty supporters. -- supporters -- Romney Pawlenty supporters he's solid on the ground in all the states even in New Hampshire is and the former. GOP state chairman. Yes there's there's the sense that -- -- Don that this thing is all inevitable certainly the White House leaves at the White House is going up on the right now. And watch this they will do this is that it's an unfair fight right now. Romney is defending himself against these attacks from his Republican opponents the White House sees this is the time to define Romney but it's crazy to count out Perry he's got more money in the bank right now. And Romney he's got formal organization and Herman Cain the national polls don't mean anything in those early states. With the exception of -- looking strong so. Will say. I'm sorry I had no good at -- angry if he's like Monty python's -- he's not dead yet. And for all the reasons that you said Romney's problem my -- is. First of all the versatility that George so nicely mentioned also He is the ultimate establishment candidate in -- very anti establishment year you see it -- The Wall Street protests -- see it from the Tea Party He by all rights should be really at the very least inching up in these called. And that's because he's way better candidate than He was four years ago and he's not. I suspect He eventually will but it really is telling you mentioned the Wall Street protests I tried -- David -- road is something that the president the Democratic Party can harness is it deems. I I agree with David that it's not quite -- yet I think that what -- I would. Last week I watch some focus groups of Wal-Mart moms they were not. At about to go to Wall Street protests but the thing that was fascinating was that they expressed a lot of the same anger and frustration that you're hearing these Wall Street protests. They hated the banks but they didn't understand why the banks -- getting bailouts and nothing was being done as they sought to help them. They were furious with politicians in Washington and to the extent and somebody that the Wall Street protests reflect that anger. And that somebody can harness that energy. It could be a political force -- Gonna go down two Colin Moynihan who works for the meal times and has been and is now down those protests calling you've been -- virtually every day since this began. How is this movement or is it sort of harnessing itself is it any hero is it still. Just people bit frustrated as we've been talking about. Well I think that many the purchasers would say that they -- mere presence is their message. And over the last couple weeks -- been more more folks joining and -- here. I think their sense of themselves is. Because I think -- becoming more confident about the fact that they're here and they're getting attention from others do you. -- -- Something that can benefit the republic cited Democratic Party President Obama or did they sort of some quarterbacks -- -- Wall Street as well. I think that they are resistance asserted being identified with either party. You know they've got out of their way to say that they don't consider themselves to be political party they're not forming a platform -- -- to anything like that. I think to the degree that they help one party or another they may be a little more beneficial at least at this point to the Democrats because their message is anti corporate. But there's no guarantee that that person you know people's perceptions that are gonna stay the same. And what are they saying now are -- -- -- for a long time I -- that was his whole. Struck out other possible clean up and evicting them temporarily it is still there what are they saying about how long -- prepared to stay that. Sure well they've been saying all on their -- is going to be indefinite. I mean they're trying to make plans to stay through the winter to prepare for cold weather and to make it into the spring I think there's no way of course know whether this is going to happen. But this appears to be what they're aiming for at this time and they show no signs of packing up their tents their sleeping bags and leaving -- around. -- thank you very much indeed for joining us from down there. Don't but the idea that that you know the anti Wall Street is going to be the centerpiece of -- Obama's campaign which is something that -- plot suggested recently. Is -- -- Axelrod didn't get -- and it's problematic think they know it's problematic I mean you know obviously the president supported the Wall Street -- first place this is. The administration of Tim Geithner does the administration that's been hammered by the left by -- the people at those protests as being. Basically a tool of Wall Street. This go back and told about -- -- some more. There have been. Again this and -- a disappointing debate performance this week they -- comments from his wife she says that they be -- lies partly because of his Christian faith. Do they did they have they fight to going to questions as to what -- -- wants to be president given his demeanor at the table. Dave Carney whose. -- the period campaigns the jail Friday -- Talkers had to poignant at critical points in this and -- -- -- today involved we have English since Jesus was a little boys who knows what -- states. Message -- chatter messages more apartment chatter. And these polls -- -- and that's that's what they're acting that. All of this chatter all of these. Suggestions. Or implications about -- debate performance playing them out. Into bigger. -- bigger finding doesn't it doesn't hold seventy over 70%. Of voters did not make up their minds in Iowa New Hampshire until the final month we're not even into that phase when He steps in boots on the go so what does governor Perry if you get hit again. Jessica little better debating his head as many important debates in this two months as a presidential candidate. Then they had in thirteen years in Texas politics Texas is such a red state. That you wind down -- by rallying conservatives you don't have to persuade is now on the persuasion -- take some getting used to. They do have money they do have some infrastructure and nature and the American -- -- of -- vacuum and they will not allow there to be could stroll for Romney. We -- money and another eyewitness told us just put out these these -- is. I didn't governor Perry has out about Romney. -- -- and follow the path that we pursued. We'll find the best. It's with the -- -- consistently working method. Would you apply for the rest of the country. -- -- -- -- of the nation it's taken a mandate for a lot of reasons not to let me. You -- by the way that at that video. Totally misrepresents what was set in that interview between you -- Tim Russert I mean it it did get a different answer. It -- that the Romney answers from a different question it is complete misrepresentation of what happened. But it shows that the Perry will go after Romney He will do everything came to destroy Romney is a very effective negative campaigner. But the problem -- -- so far is that He has done nothing to define himself. And what He would stand for. I would say it's actually bigger problem that He came in exposed on two flags He came in exposed. On the left -- with his comments about Social Security monstrous lie Ponzi scheme. And on the right flank. On immigration He was completely -- prepared this last debate performance at least was a sin of omission where He sort of sat there and look. Surprise -- passive not -- mission. But it was not a good week for him and He really needs to step up his game to stay in the game and -- what does He have to do to stay in the game as high as it is well you know He told us He was not the flavor of the week but I suspect and I'm a little bit stealing a line from bill -- the Republican -- that -- -- the supply of the month. -- 999. In the more you look at it Morgan a lot. Wrong wrong wrong it's a massive tax increase on -- people and middle income Americans and he's got. Lots of empty spaces and blank knowledge on other things outside 999 -- a big problem.

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

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