'This Week' Transcript: Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann

Plus the 'This Week' roundtable.

ByABC News
August 14, 2011, 1:14 PM

Aug. 14, 2011— -- TAPPER (voice-over): This week, decision time for Tim Pawlenty after a Bachmann blowout. The congresswoman wins the Ames straw poll, acing the first big test of the presidential campaign. And now her Minnesota rival faces a tough decision. And Congresswoman Bachmann joins me to discuss her straw poll victory. Will his third-place finish end Pawlenty's struggling campaign? We're live with him exclusively in Iowa to get the answer. But was the weekend's biggest winner the one that didn't compete?

PERRY: I declare to you today as a candidate for president of the United States.

TAPPER: Texas Governor Rick Perry shakes up the field, and Sarah Palin steals the spotlight again. But she's still...

PALIN: Not sure yet.

TAPPER (on-screen): So by next month?

(voice-over): On a rollercoaster week that has President Obama looking more vulnerable than ever before, our special Iowa roundtable tackles 2012: George Will, Laura Ingraham, Matthew Dowd, Kay Henderson, and Amy Walter, all here in the first-in-the-nation state.

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of "This Week with Christiane Amanpour." Live from Ames, Iowa, ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper.


TAPPER: Good morning. Christiane is off this week. We're coming to you live from the center of the political universe, Iowa. We'll have all the highlights for you from yesterday's straw poll, plus an interview with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who finished first in the straw poll. Plus, all eyes are on former Governor Tim Pawlenty, who came in a disappointing third. We'll have an exclusive interview with him.

But, first, here's the news since your morning papers.

Four people were killed and about 40 injured after a stage collapsed at the Indiana state fair. A powerful storm sent steel scaffolding tumbling into the panicked crowd awaiting a performance by the country band Sugarland. The state fair will close today.

Here in Iowa, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is taking a victory lap today. She won the Ames straw poll with 29 percent of the more than 16,000 votes cast. Congressman Ron Paul was nipping at her heels with 28 percent, while former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty placed a distant third, with just 14 percent.

As for the also-rans, former Senator Rick Santorum got 10 percent of the vote; pizza mogul Herman Cain 9 percent. Four percent of the straw poll attendees wrote in Rick Perry; that's 151 more than voted for Mitt Romney, whose name was on the ballot. Bringing up the rear, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman.

So today brings new momentum for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and some serious questions for former Governor Tim Pawlenty. He joins me now to address them.

Congressman, a disappointing -- I'm sorry, Governor, a disappointing finish for you. What went wrong?

PAWLENTY: Well, it was disappointing. But let me first say, Jake, this has been an incredible process. It's been a great honor for Mary and me and our team to convey the message of trying to get this country back on track -- and I think it is off-track -- but bringing my record forward as a two-term governor of a blue state, doing things like getting government spending under control, doing health care reform the right way, and much more.

But obviously that message didn't get the kind of traction or lift that we needed and hoped for coming into the and out of the Ames straw poll. We needed to get some lift to continue on and to have a pathway forward. That didn't happen.

So I'm announcing this morning on your show that I'm going to be ending my campaign for president, but I'm very, very grateful for the people of Iowa, the people of this country, who I had a chance to make my case to, and for my supporters and staff and friends who've been so loyal and helpful. I really appreciate all of them.

I wish it would have been different. But, obviously, the pathway forward for me doesn't really exist. And so we're going to end the campaign.

TAPPER: What do you think went wrong? You're a popular two-term governor from a neighboring state. You had a lot of organization. You had some money at one point. Why couldn't you sell the dog food here?

PAWLENTY: Well, I hope it's better than dog food, Jake. It's more...


TAPPER: The filet, why couldn't you sell it?

PAWLENTY: Well, there's a lot of factors that go into a successful campaign. Obviously, we had some success raising money, but we needed to continue that, and Ames was a benchmark for that. And if we didn't do well in Ames, we weren't going to have the fuel to keep the car going down the road. But also, there's a lot of other choices in the race. And for me, what I brought forward I thought was a rational, established, credible, strong record of results, based on experience governing -- a two-term governor of a blue state. But I think the audience, so to speak, was looking for something different.

TAPPER: Well, that is a question about the -- today's Republican Party. Do you think that they're not looking for somebody that has worked with Democrats? Do you think they're not looking for someone that has results? You've derided those people who are voting for entertainers as opposed to people who can lead. Is that just not what the Republican electorate is looking for right now?

PAWLENTY: Well, I congratulate Congresswoman Bachmann on her victory and, for that matter, Congressman Ron Paul's close second. I mean, those are very impressive numbers. They lapped the field almost. And so congratulations to them.

But, you know, this is a long journey. The party is going to be now more broadly discussing who they want for their candidate, not just in Iowa, but in other places around the country. So we don't know what this ultimately will look like, but what we do know, at least for Ames and for Iowa and for me, is my record of being a two-term governor in a blue state with all the record -- results that I had wasn't sufficient to get us to the next phase.

TAPPER: Well, you raise a good point. This is a long process. And other candidates in previous years have stuck it out, waited for other campaigns to implode or go away. I think that there are a lot of people who wonder if Rick Perry is really all that his -- the hype says he is, that wonder if Congresswoman Bachmann can go the distance. Why not stick it out?

PAWLENTY: Well, because we needed to get some lift. You know, I'm from a small state. I don't have a big national financial network or political network. And so -- I think the measure of us in this phase was really, can you get some lift out of Ames to get the ante, if you will, to get to the next round? And that didn't happen, unfortunately. I wish it would have; it didn't happen. But even at a minimal level, you need to make sure that you've got that kind of ability to continue on and hopefully get some momentum, but that pathway doesn't appear available to me.

TAPPER: This must be personally devastating. I mean, you've worked very hard for this for a long time. And as a young politician, it's everyone's dream to be president of the United States. What is -- what is it like personally? I mean, I realize you get to spend more time with your family now, and you actually mean that, because you actually have a family you want to spend time with. But -- but how -- how difficult is this?

PAWLENTY: Well, first of all, I'm not so young anymore. I've turned 50, and I'm feeling the years there. But beyond that, it's not that difficult. I'm doing this because I love this country and I want to defeat Barack Obama, because I think he's got it on the wrong course. But I don't get my identity or my sense of worth or my values or my faith from politics. I first get it from my personal faith in God. And then I believe in this country. I love this country. I believe I can make a contribution to it. I thought I would have been a great president, but, obviously, that pathway for now isn't there.

TAPPER: You've said in the past that the Republican Party needs to be careful in not being -- and not be reckless in choosing the nominee. Do you think Michele Bachmann would be a reckless pick? You can tell me now, because you're not running anymore...


PAWLENTY: Well, the -- this thing is going to unfold over the next six, eight months. And this is a long road, as you well know. So all of these candidates, whether it's Congresswoman Bachmann, you know, Governor Perry, all the others, they're going to be tested. And this -- as you know, it's a big, bright light that comes down on you, and we'll see.

But I do believe that we're going to have a very good candidate who's going to beat Barack Obama. But Barack Obama's numbers aren't very good nationally, and in the swing states that are going to decide the election, they're terrible.

TAPPER: Right, but the wrong nominee...


TAPPER: ... could still lead to Barack Obama winning.

PAWLENTY: Yeah, that wouldn't be helpful. But sometimes, you know, what looks certain this summer will look different next summer. We don't know what's the right or wrong nominee. And all of them are going to be tested, and somebody who can thrive in this process will have their meddle tested, and they'll be improved. And so a lot of times you see candidates start out weaker, they get stronger over time, or start out strong and fall by the wayside. So we just don't know, but I'm confident that our candidate will be a strong candidate. We've got these wonderful ex-governors in the race, people...

TAPPER: Are you going to endorse anyone?

PAWLENTY: Probably eventually, but not anytime soon.

TAPPER: Would you be willing to consider being a vice president to one of these nominees...


PAWLENTY: No, I've been down that road. That's not something I'm even going to consider.

TAPPER: Do you think Michele Bachmann is qualified to be president?

PAWLENTY: Well, I think she's qualified to be president.

TAPPER: You do?

PAWLENTY: I think now she's going to have to make her case to the American people about whether she's the best candidate and why she should be the Republican nominee and why she should be the next president against Barack Obama. And time will tell whether she can do that.

TAPPER: And what's next for you?

PAWLENTY: Well, what's next, I'm going to take my daughter to college over the next few days. And then I really don't know what the future holds for me. I have absolutely no plans, which is at the same time very liberating, but also a little concerning, so I've got to get to work.

TAPPER: All right. Well, Governor Tim Pawlenty, we thank you for joining us on this -- must be a difficult morning for you, and we wish you well.

PAWLENTY: Thank you, Jake. Appreciate you having me on.

TAPPER: So the Republican field gets smaller by one, with former Governor Tim Pawlenty dropping out, but Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the victor, still has a long road to the nomination. And she joins me now. Congresswoman, first of all, congratulations on your victory.

BACHMANN: Thank you, Jake. Thanks for having me on.

TAPPER: Now, do you have any reaction to Governor Pawlenty dropping out?

BACHMANN: Well, I wish him well. I have great respect for the governor. We've known each other for a long, long time. And he brought a really important voice into this race. And I'm grateful that he was in. He was a -- really a very good competitor.

TAPPER: You guys did have words during -- during the campaign, and one of the -- you seemed to represent a more uncompromising Republican. He seems to represent more of a compromising Republican, someone willing to make deals. One of the reasons you did so well in the straw poll was because your message resonated so much with Tea Party Republican, with Christian conservatives. I'm wondering, how do you expand beyond the Republican base? Why would a moderate Republican vote for you?

BACHMANN: Well, everywhere I've gone, all across Iowa, there isn't an event that I do that I don't have people come up who say that, "Michele, I'm a Democrat, and I'm voting for you," "I'm an independent, and I'm voting for you." They'll me, "I voted for Barack Obama, but I'm not voting for him again. I like you; I like what you say." And I think it's because I'm talking about what people really care about, and that's turning the economy around and job creation. And I've been there, and I've done that. I'm a former federal tax lawyer. And my husband and I also started our own successful company. I get it with job creation. And I think what people see in me is that I'm a real person. I'm authentic. And they want someone who's going to go to Washington and represent their values.

That's really what you saw here in Iowa in the straw poll yesterday. You saw a big message sent to Washington. People really saw kind of the punch to the gut that America got this last week, and they really want someone that they can trust that they believe in who's actually going to turn the economy around.

TAPPER: Governor Perry jumped into the race yesterday. And like you, he's a hero to the Tea Party and to social conservatives, but he's also the nation's longest-serving governor with a record of creating jobs. He's leading you in some national polls. He has great support among your base. He has the executive experience you do not have. Why should a Republican voter pick you over Governor Perry?

BACHMANN: Well, I've been in Washington fighting the fights for the last four or five years. And I've been at the tip of the spear on these fights, for instance, raising the debt ceiling. I was the leader for the last two months saying, "Let's not raise the debt ceiling." I had a plan for not going into default and not raising the debt ceiling. The president had no plan. I was the first member of Congress to introduce the full repeal of Obamacare and of the Dodd-Frank law. And I fought against the Obamacare bill and brought literally tens of thousands of Americans to fight it.