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

Now every contest up until April 1st for Republicans will be proportional distribution of delegates, which will keep all of these many contenders in the race longer and longer, make it much more difficult for Sarah Palin to run an inside straight in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, where she's the strongest in the early states, and run away with this, which means it's going to be a long-running contest, which means organization, discipline, and having done it before counts, so Huckabee and Romney, I think, start with an advantage.

TAPPER: Donna, do you see the same type of insurgent-versus-establishment tension playing out in the Republican presidential primaries that we saw in the midterm elections, not aimed just against Democrats, but against Republican establishment candidates, as well?

BRAZILE: I mean, you know what I witnessed at the Republican convention back in 2008, was a need to have an energizing campaign, and Sarah Palin was the energizer. She turned a four-car funeral into a real campaign. I mean, you know -- but I like this list of Republicans. I mean, it's going to give Democrats so much to think about, so much to -- to shout about, and clearly so much to organize about.

I think early on, Mitch Daniels, some of the governors will -- will be the -- you know, the talk of the town, but at the end of the day, it's all about Sarah Palin.

TAPPER: There is an unusual wild card that came out this weekend. In an interview with Newsweek, the former governor of Utah -- is that right...

GARRETT: Utah.

TAPPER: ... the former governor of Utah, who is now the U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, a story in Newsweek suggests that, even though he is a member of the Obama administration, he may consider running for president. How seriously do you take this?

WALTER: Well, I think a lot of people are taking it seriously, but then they look at the fact that he is a member of the Obama administration. There are a lot of Republicans who say, remember, that's not going to sit too well with the Republican electorate. And his views on a lot of issues, hot-button issues, especially on gay issues and cap and trade, are not going to sit well. He -- he -- he performed very well, as George points out, in those -- I could see him doing very well in collar counties. But in a Republican primary, it's a totally different story.

WILL: There were those, at the time that he was made ambassador to China, who said this was a farsighted Obama administration getting a potential rival out of the way.

TAPPER: Right, David Plouffe, the Obama campaign manager, said he was the only one that gave him the -- I don't...

GARRETT: Made him a bit queasy.

TAPPER: Made him queasy.

WILL: Well, I think they should take their seasickness pills, and I don't think he'll be the nominee.

TAPPER: We only have one minute left, Major.

GARRETT: It would be extremely difficult to imagine a scenario in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina where Jon Huntsman could do anything more than 5 percent or 6 percent or 7 percent, be a spoiler, a particularly a spoiler for Mitt Romney, possibly because he could divide Mormon organization, Mormon money, and the overall sense of someone with a governor clean-cut economic message, which Romney is trying and has been for a very long time trying to monopolize. That would be the one effect that he would have if he ran.

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