'This Week' Transcript: Rep. Paul Ryan

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AMANPOUR: So...

(CROSSTALK)

HUFFINGTON: But this is also something that's always happened in times of deep economic anxiety. Paranoid politics can thrive, and demagoguery can thrive, and people can believe things for which there's no evidence.

AMANPOUR: So, clearly, people have believed things for which there's no evidence, but, George, what does this mean now for the Republican field? I mean, is Donald Trump a serious candidate or has he been deflated, given the fact that Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi, has stepped out? Where does the Republican field look like it is right now?

WILL: The Republican field is perfectly fine. They lost in Haley Barbour a plausible president, and they lost it because he understands the Broder rule. The late David Broder said anyone who will do what you have to do to become president shouldn't be allowed to be president. And he said this requires a 10-year commitment; I'm not prepared to make it. That's not a moral failing. In some people, it's a sign of maturity. You have Romney, Pawlenty, perhaps Mitch Daniels -- I don't -- who am I leaving out?

FREELAND: Huckabee.

HUFFINGTON: Huntsman.

WILL: Huntsman.

FREELAND: Isn't this a good moment for Huckabee now?

WILL: It might be, but the fact is, we're actually fairly far along in this process. We've winnowed the field already. We know basically who the choice is going to be. The Republicans have to simply nominate someone who is a plausible president and then it becomes a referendum on Mr. Obama.

HUFFINGTON: But, actually, George has a point here. And Seth Meyers last night in a way made that point when he said the one person who can really beat you, Mr. President, is Obama '08, and don't you miss him, effectively? What happened to him?

And I was talking to a hard-core Democrat after the dinner who said to me that Obama is gone. He said he's not coming back. We just have to win. So this is what's happened, and it's a interesting dynamic. You know, hard-core Democrats are just about winning, but the problem for the White House is all the first-time voters who came out in large numbers and really got him to the White House in '08. Are they coming back? Because they're not just about winning. They were inspired. And that was the other thing that Seth Meyers said yesterday. What is will.i.am going to do this year? Is he going to find something to rhyme with debt ceiling? That's a big problem for...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Well, talking to that, what is the correct or the winnable economic strategy to be taking going into this election? Obviously -- and you've all been saying it -- it is about jobs. And I think you've been saying that all of this is obscuring the necessity to figure out jobs.

FREELAND: Well, I think especially for a Democrat, which the president is, I've been surprised that they haven't pushed much more on that. Maybe they're worried that they don't have a very strong jobs record, but I think that they really are letting the Republicans set the terms of the debate, and the debate right now is about cutting spending, maybe raising taxes. I think that a smart Democratic strategy would be to come out and say, "I am the guy who is going to focus on middle-class jobs. I care about that."

(CROSSTALK)

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