'This Week' Transcript: Roundtable 01-02-11

TAPPER: I'd like to briefly -- because we're running out of time -- switch to the presidential field for 2012, because believe it or not, four years ago this month, some Democratic presidential candidates had already declared their candidacies for the 2008 nomination. And, in fact, we were only days away from Hillary Clinton and a young senator named Barack Obama declaring their candidacies.

I want to get your guys' views on the Republican contenders. Here are some possible nominees: Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and John Thune. Very few of them household names, except for perhaps Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and -- and Mitt Romney.

Amy, the Iowa caucus is supposed to start in just over one year. None of these guys have declared. What's wrong with them?

WALTER: That's right. Come on. Don't they know that we're bored right now? And that's their point, which is, there is sort of a collective sense among Republicans that I talk to that 2008 started way too early. We don't want to start it this early, and we're not going to let people like you and these guys around, these news people, dictate to us.

TAPPER: Me, too.

WALTER: Yes, people like me, right, just because I'm bored doesn't mean that we have to start.

TAPPER: George, who do you like? Who -- who is the strongest nominee of the ones I mentioned or if there's one that I didn't mention?

WILL: How many people remember that Huckabee got more delegates than Mitt Romney got? Huckabee won Iowa. I believe the president's secret weapon may be the Republican nominating electorate, because there is one person high in the polls, Sarah Palin, who cannot be elected, because she cannot compete where elections are decided in the collar counties around Chicago, Montgomery County outside Philadelphia, just can't compete there.

The person who wins the White House usually wins a majority of the electoral votes in the Mississippi Valley. To me, that says Pawlenty, Thune, perhaps, Mitch Daniels, certainly.

TAPPER: The governor of Indiana?

WILL: Yes.

TAPPER: Major?

GARRETT: It will start later, but it will last longer. And there's a significant development in the Republican Party as the way it's going to apportion delegates that's going to make this process last longer and make it much more difficult for Sarah Palin to have any chance of securing the nomination, and here's why.

It 2008, Mike Huckabee won 270 delegates. He won 24 percent of the caucus vote, 20 percent of the primary vote, but he only got 12 percent of the delegates. Same thing with Mitt Romney, 38 percent of the caucus vote, 22 percent of the primary vote, 8.6 percent of the allocated delegates. Why? Because they were delegated -- or they were allocated, rather, on a winner-take-all basis. You win the primary, you win the caucus, you get all the delegates.

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