'This Week' Roundtable: Presidential Politics

ABC's George Will, Cokie Roberts, and Amy Walter analyze the week in politics

ByABC News
May 15, 2011, 12:20 PM


FORMER GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, R-ARK.: Only when I was alone, in quiet and reflective moments did I have not only clarity but an inexplicable inner peace, a peace that exceeds human understanding. All of the factors say, go. But my heart says no.


AMANPOUR: Mike Huckabee announcing that he will sit out 2012, and there's no shortage of Republicans clamoring for his endorsement now. Here with me to make sense of it all, ABC's George Will, Cokie Roberts and political director, Amy Walter.

So let's start, George. The fact that he's out, what does that say now about the Republican field?

GEORGE WILL, ABC NEWS: He was a potential first-tier candidate for the following reason. In every contested Republican nomination scramble since 1980, candidate A has won Iowa, candidate B has won New Hampshire, and either A or B has won South Carolina and the nomination. He won Iowa last time. He is ahead in the polls in South Carolina. In 2008, he won more convention delegates than Romney did. So this does open the field.

AMANPOUR: And how does it change it? I mean, it opens it, but is there a gaping hole now?

COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS: No, because the people who are right there are ready to fill the hole. Michele Bachmann is there ready to fill the hole. Newt Gingrich to some extent is there ready to fill it. I mean, the hole is the evangelical Christians who show up in huge numbers. 60 percent of the Iowa caucuses. And now where do they go? That's the question.

AMANPOUR: Where do they go? Michele Bachmann?

AMY WALTER, ABC NEWS: Maybe. Look, I think you have a whole lot of people who minutes after actually he dropped out, the press releases--


WALTER: That's true, the press releases started to go out. You know who was one of the first people to send out a thank-you for all that you've done? Donald Trump. Which he is actually going to South Carolina this week. He will be with Nikki Haley actually at a Tea Party rally.

So, look, Mike Huckabee's problem, though, has been that since 2008, a lot has happened. First of all, his record has gotten a little more scrutiny. And even for Tea Party conservatives, the ones who are real fiscal conservatives, his record in Arkansas does not really fit. He's not a small-government Republican. And then finally the money.

ROBERTS: Huckabee from a poor state.

WALTER: There you go. That's right. And that was not necessarily going to play well in a primary.

AMANPOUR: Let's talk about Mitt Romney. He gave a big speech on health care this week. He's having to run away from that program for obvious reasons. Nobody likes at least in the Republicans, Obama's health care. Many people expected him to apologize. Let me just play what he did say in this speech and then we'll discuss it.


ROMNEY: A lot of the pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say, this whole thing was a mistake, that it was just a bone-headed idea and I should just admit it, it was a mistake and walk away from it.

But there's only one problem with that. It wouldn't be honest. I in fact did what I believe was right for the people of my state.



ROBERTS: Well, of course the people of his state think it was right for the people of the state. So he's got that on his side, and