Roundtable: State of the Union

George Will, Ron Brownstein, Amy Walter, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and Matthew Dowd
16:03 | 01/22/12

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Transcript for Roundtable: State of the Union
You know about solar drive the White House emails the FBI raids Solyndra investors raise campaign money for Obama -- the government can Solyndra house of millions in taxpayer money politics as usual. Secret of oil billionaires attacking President Obama. With -- -- fact checkers they are not tethered to the facts -- independent watchdogs call this president's record on ethics unprecedented. And America's clean energy industry two point seven million jobs and expanding rapidly. President Obama. Kept his promise to toughen ethics rules and strengthen America's energy economy. In some -- the general election ads have already begun way to get to that in a moment but I'm back here right now with our roundtable still a lot of talk about on this Republican. Nomination -- any water want to go to you were just talking. About Florida this has become something I guess. Of a must win for Mitt Romney one of the reasons is so important unlike all these other states whoever wins Florida even if it's by one vote gets all the delegates. That's right although remember Stiller along way from the F 1044. That we need to get -- to -- when this nomination. Listen I think Florida -- model traditionally has been well it's a big state you spend a lot of money that's how you can win this state and so Mitt Romney then goes in with an advantage. There absentee ballots that he's been organizing he's doing all the things traditional front runners do except for the fact that we have two debates. Before those primary ballots are cast on the 31 we have one on Monday. We have another one on Thursday so we go back to where we started this whole conversation which is the role of debates in shaping. These elections of their you're coming off of the big win if -- Newt Gingrich but you -- I still think about them and this is another the issue here they're still a lot of baggage -- that Newt Gingrich has yet to deal what we're just think what -- -- work permit. Romney to win Florida at this point and he's goes ahead I think back to state the race will be tied in Florida by Tuesday. And if I did a little math last night people so -- Florida's different in South Carolina if you take the demographics and say Newt Gingrich gets exactly what he did. In South Carolina among the same demographics he wins by six -- eight points in Florida -- -- to order Mitt Romney has to change the dynamics illustrated by. Having said that I mean Florida is constituted more favorably to Romney disaster on the road apart you look at -- -- -- it divides about in half now between an upscale. Economically focused more secular pragmatic military -- the downscale populist evangelical. A week. South Carolina clearly tilted toward the populist side two thirds of the voters almost were. A born again Christians in the in Florida it's only two fifths about 60%. Are those not -- doubles and Romney did we should note still women in South Carolina non evangelicals despite what -- the worst weeks that anybody -- ever had. So there's still a foundation but clearly it's. -- -- -- these candidates who are all against entitlements and Mitt Romney's signature issues attacking Obama for his entitlement society. I think forget that social security and Medicare. Our entitlements I think the right don't coming -- to Florida where I suspect there are millions of Americans including Republicans as polls show. Who don't want their entitlements taking away and didn't get everything they wouldn't let you know what the debate -- they just -- -- said that because we've been having a spirited debate here about the importance of debates and I think. -- have mattered in this election which is great they would matter a lot more. If we didn't see those shadowy super pac kind of bad which on the second anniversary of Citizens United. Have to remember they have been unleashed on our landscape in a way that has taken. Elections out of the hands of ordinary people and. Put -- industry. It would happen if a player that's one of the things -- -- that Newt Gingrich got hurt by the super -- -- in -- -- But fought back in South Carolina and his super Baghdad's inside Carolina didn't listen. An entirely different view of this issue at the completely different view of this issue I think everybody likes to say while -- super pacs -- all this money out there and all these ads I think they're very little effect in this race. Advertising. Television advertising in presidential politics over the last fifteen years has diminished in importance and in general. In all. I'd argue it didn't matter in Iowa that I Barack Obama outspent Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania Ohio and Texas 321 on television ads and lost. Car sitting on the previous witnesses and -- hero -- for citizens we -- we're now looking at. This case you know you look at history. Every Republican news got the nomination every Democrat faces one. That we where they just getting trounced in the question is do they come back from when they start leading the way they can't control what do you think is happening. I think I think it's better have your badly about it later. It's good to have a bad week because you find out how tough you -- you can -- -- your advisors. And all of that. I think there's a reason you -- spring training games and this is still spring training. So I think this fund balances -- -- it is far from fatal probably will be looked back upon by the property as a toughening expertise to -- -- Yes -- diesel burning given all his assets but as I said it Gingrich can. And find the wherewithal to -- on his. The coalition that is around him that coalition is large enough to contest this for a long time because like Obama Clinton you have two wings of the party the scene now has the suit was settled on -- -- -- real quick. Your -- about Medicare I was -- a Newt Gingrich event Friday in Orangeburg South Carolina he was asked about Medicare when he was going to -- -- by an older woman. And at -- -- -- all the whites are also now over 6363%. Republican and 2010. And he went through an entire answer without once mentioning that he would convert the program into a premium support for voucher programs for which is is -- so I'm they're not entirely sold that they can sell. Aziz on everything attuned -- issues to two points about -- in his baggage the first dance. We asked this question in the last ABC Washington Post poll -- a week ago 23% of voters said they definitely won't vote for Newt Gingrich definitely won't vote for him. The only present a higher number than that was Ron Paul -- 26. Mitt Romney down at 8% so there is a core of Republican voters who are saying -- and -- 21% -- I also think that his past whether he's hit -- -- historian -- -- so it is a -- Take it one step within -- -- Begin to sort of say whether we're projecting forward and where we're gonna see in the general election to me and the state of the union I think it's the beginning of the start of the real general election campaign in this race to -- this Republican primary and Newt Gingrich as support. It's reflective of a broad anxiety going out of society which people have no idea what the future looks like and how to get there. And unless you present a vision of the future and how to get there which the president has not done well and he might do unless -- presented you're open to -- saying we need to go backwards and what Newt -- -- -- was a time in America that gives you comfort and gives you a sense of warmth. Let's go back because without -- vision particularly focus the question first on this. Congress -- you bring up all the points and elitist racist Newt Gingrich has a lot of baggage you talked to a lot of discussion province and think flat out he cannot. Be the nominee of the party yet Mitt Romney can't seem. To get the love so does that -- you kind of situation where is the former Republican Party chairman Michael Steele said just yesterday a 5050 chance. -- I think what actions I think that is a little bit about fiction. Because what's gonna happen is is Newt Gingrich and Mitt -- you're gonna pick up the vast majority of the delegates and it's not like somebody can come of the -- -- when you have Ron -- has taken together again thousands of delegates the elected delegates you don't deserve to be present process tends to -- -- in the process you know and Rick Santorum like many previous candidates with a third candidate in the race I think -- kind of like Bruce Willis in the six cents I mean they're kind of dead but -- the only -- -- doesn't realize it. It's very hard to see -- point you know it has had anyway I need to get his fifteen or 20% but it's hard to see what would allow him now to -- back over Gingrich. And become the dominant voice is currently. Bill Kristol weekly standard saying maybe a trap for someone -- that out of the question. Probably. We haven't had a second ballot that the Republican Convention banquet setting Sunnis to know that it first first particular 52. In 1976. You have something like a convention that was on its eve at least at the liberty of borrowing another Ronald Reagan not ratifying body. But with the proliferation of primaries it's very hard to believe someone who's going to get 1144. Delegates and. -- and -- surrender we've been talking about momentum in this and a baby and that fuel the oxygen for these candidates. Once -- once Florida's over. We go to Nevada Illinois and saying guess we have some caucuses in between -- but we have a big -- the month of January end -- the -- -- -- -- behind -- and only one other debates scheduled schedules. After yeah. Well I can't make up -- what you're saying that he had talked about the same even bring this to you Katrina the president and the -- we call the blueprint. A blueprint for how to get jobs it's also going to be the first blueprint. Of his presidential candidate what do you expect to hear what you want here. I expect to hear and I want to hear themes that he sounded in his speech at the end of western Kansas where he spoke about how this is a make or break moment. For the middle class in this country began to lay out a blueprint for how we build a different economy and -- vision for this country that is one -- is forward looking citizen. Tackling not just the fundamental in -- in income inequality that again movements and brought to the four. But lays out -- vision. Four and a different. Economy one that is not about crony capitalism -- is about a democratic capitalism. That lifts all boats and I think Matt is right that we're looking at a debate. And a campaign in an election that could be about to fundamentally different visions of this country. We have a Republican Party. That wants to take this country back. Literally peddling recycle policies that brought us to the financial crisis were still living to millions. Living in economic trouble and pain -- -- president needs to speak to that and lay out -- -- when Barack Obama comes out against crony capitalism he wouldn't will be what no more so than loosen people -- We need an industrial policy -- -- and -- -- oil companies but with great Green and -- Huge I would expect him to do several several things first I think you'll still -- -- -- Mitt Romney's campaign by attacking China as a as a currency manipulator. Second he has to choose sooner or later and might do it Tuesday night -- taxes on millionaires and billionaires his favorite pro. Begin with couples earning a quarter of a million dollars 250000. Dollars -- used various -- -- religions but most of all. He's going to campaign this year on his impatience with our constitutional system is gonna say we can't wait. We can't wait for concurrent majorities in the silent on the house and the president the Supreme Court. We have to somehow override the Madison and structure or -- Their vision is that enough for him be given the fact that this is probably the most unpopular congress in history of America award does that come back -- -- back kind of people blame him. From making for not making system worked well I think all indications are that the core the speech will be a kind of a follow up to the us a lot of became the speech and it -- It will be kind of beyond economic populism. That will contrast I think very sharply you'll have a general election which you'll have the core. Economic populist argument first the core cultural populist argument the Republicans like to make on steroids it's -- more muted in -- -- but nonetheless. You don't elites in Washington trying to run your life first economic elites who are giving you. The -- Iowa City you know I -- give -- a great. Fundamental view debate about the role of government but it will not decide the election in the -- to get those last 2% of voters who tipped his things tend not to see the world it was kind of. They're relatively -- -- -- -- -- -- successes -- -- in the course of his presidency has never -- can he give a great speech hitting the moment it's always been -- -- -- good speech adding that the right moment taking a project -- -- and then sticking with the message consistently for a period of time so the American public gets what he's saying what he normally is done. Give big speech. Give if you follow ups and he's on to something else they're doing this characteristic among us right now. You know one thing that gets lost in all of this is that the ball and chain -- on our economy remains the housing crisis and the president I hope will not. Cut a sweetheart deal with banks one hopes in -- speech -- -- that he will lay out the need for fair investigation. Of the bank fraud that contributed to this -- in crisis because without a revival. Of housing in the ten million more foreclosures -- mortgage that's -- -- -- down the. He needs to go together several. Latest on president's credibility on this is so diminished he's got a chief of staff that worked at Citibank he's got eight ten budget director that worked at Bain Capital he's taken more money from Goldman Sachs and any candidate in history United States and he's gonna give his nomination speech at I can make America -- yeah. We don't get it lineup that's what so many millions of people field. This government is rigged against and that's what we need to get the money out of the system from both -- -- -- -- walked on the other hand he's coming into the chamber at a time facing an unpopular congress. When there is a fair amount of good economic news and is back at -- the beginning site that. That is true but I do think that the frustration that most Americans are feeling goes back to the point that. They want to see somebody who's gonna do what he says he's going to do which is the final he can't just say that he's gonna transcend all of this they wanna see some actual. Something that's really coming back for them to them they want to see somebody who looks more like a commander in chief than a candidate and that's -- I think it. Ukraine import commander in chief listen we -- -- -- -- talk too much -- -- George -- President Obama on the cover of time magazine this -- -- -- foreign policy and if you're free to client. Says he can't wait for the debate with Republicans thinks their arguments. Are gonna go away isn't going to be much of a factor in the general election at all I don't think -- first place it is intermittent degree Americans in presidential politics really don't want to think about -- -- and must they're forced to buy bad news -- I think -- yeah -- -- talk about what they want out of Iraq is out of Iraq. What they want about Afghanistan is out of Afghanistan it's pretty hard to look at what the president's doing with drones and assassinating high value targets and call him. We come and it's not a plus for -- reassessment of -- -- -- it's not a plus for him but so sense 1968. The brightest Democratic Convention since the nomination -- -- 1972 the Democratic Party has been perceived as problematic on national security. I think he is largely immunized on that I. I didn't say that one thing we haven't talked about with these candidates there's very little daylight between Gingrich Romney Santorum they're all -- -- for -- war with Iran. And I think Bruce Lincoln who was held in the Iranian embassy in nineteen -- nine. Asks how could this country which is -- trying to extricate itself from too costly bloody misadventures in this region. Now contemplate heading into another war tree where there is no difference whatever between Romney's position on Iran Vivian Fernandez. I disagree -- and I disagree they -- you you have a well Romney. That neo cons who took us -- these what do you manager Rick Santorum I can't -- -- I -- I'm not. Nationally -- class and I think your point for a moment ago. -- worth more than in passing you know Waller also focus on the Republican race. The economic news that has come out in the last few months if -- sustained may be shifting the ground overall in this race a little bit. Barack Obama was not Jimmy Carter or George H. W. Bush -- never fell out of contention -- fell into the thirties for any lasting period it is a -- ready. He's hanging around the -- the number 454647. And if he does get a little economic uplift the terrain of November looks a lot of different are saying -- -- this reform. Policymakers and economics come together when you talk about Iran. If you continue to tighten sanctions oil prices go up in -- facing 56 dollar -- gallon gas. In the summer what is that well that's the -- that's the big problem the question mark we have for Barack Obama is your right he has got he's not. Dropped below please not at a level we can get reelected today the problem is it that we look at this summer and the trajectory is up he wins a projector is down he loses and it's all driven to a large -- in Europe. And what's going on -- global economy and that's what I think. About Obama folks are worried about as they have no control over what may happen this summer the question is does -- get a surprise like fifteen seconds you're innocent Saudi Arabia. Principals -- more diplomacy seems to be ready to supplement two million barrels a day to keep prices down. Arguably helped reelect mr. That's what this is a fantastic roundtable thank you all very much.

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

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