The other panelists for the political roundtable were former Bush 43 speechwriter Michael Gerson, Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page, and ABC News' own Jonathan Karl.
From the 09.04.2011 edition of ABC's This Week:
AMANPOUR: And we'll certainly be watching his candidate forum tomorrow. And so, no doubt, will our roundtable. With me today, Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and a columnist for the Washington Post; Clarence Page, who writes a column for the Chicago Tribune; Dana Loesch, editor at BigJournalism.com and a founder of the St. Louis Tea Party; and ABC's senior political correspondent Jon Karl.
Jon, let me turn to you first. You know, tried to get some sort of determination out of Senator DeMint, but keeping his powder dry. Given that, what do Governor Perry and Governor Romney have to do to break out of the current situation?
KARL: Well, frankly, you've seen the polls that show that Perry has just shot to the top. We don't know how real this is. This is the month we'll find out whether or not he is truly the front-runner.
We have three debates over the next three weeks. Perry has taken off because he's got this record as the jobs governor in Texas and he speaks the Tea Party language, but there is the biggest oppo file on Rick Perry than of all the other candidates. He's got the longest record. You alluded to his book. He's got the most that can be attacked. We'll see over the next three weeks whether or not he can survive it.
AMANPOUR: Well, you just alluded to polls. Let me just put them up. The latest Quinnipiac poll has Rick Perry six points ahead of Mitt Romney. The CNN poll shows an even wider gap.
Michael, good news for Rick Perry, but the Republican establishment, as Jon alluded to, because of all that oppo, must be quite worried about it.
GERSON: No, I think there are some worries. This is a remarkable rise. He has gotten support not just from the Tea Party, but actually from a lot of establishment Republicans in these polls.
But they're just getting to know him. The Tea Party people could have questions of their own. He supported TARP. You mentioned some of these other issues. And the establishment is already having questions about his book and other things, with views that seem odd or extreme. He opposes the direct election of senators, apparently, which is, you know, a interesting position to take.
KARL: Big populist issue, yes.
GERSON: Right, exactly. But I would say that every front-runner has to be wary of the Giuliani fate. Giuliani led in all the polls the last time. He ended up with one delegate at the convention. You know, this can change very quickly.
AMANPOUR: You said it's a remarkable sort of rise. Is it remarkable like Michele Bachmann was remarkable when she entered? Or is it beyond that?
GERSON: Well, I think it's a little bit beyond that. I think he has a serious governing record. I think his appeal on jobs is a real advantage in this case. I don't think this is necessarily a bubble. I think he's going to be serious.
And I think that Romney may want people like Palin getting in the race, in order to divide and create an inter-Tea Party rivalry, you know, going forward. But I think Perry's been very good at marginalizing Bachmann. It shows that he's a savvy politician. And, you know, that's a real achievement so far.
AMANPOUR: We'll get to Palin in a second, but, Dana, I wanted to ask you, again, alluding to some of the things that Governor Perry has said. And he is a Tea Party favorite, and yet he's talked about Social Security, he's talked about it as a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal. But we know and the polls show that 87 percent of Americans believe, of course, Social Security has been good for the country. Does that not put him completely out of step with the rest of the country on this major issue?
LOESCH: Not really, because I think that what he wants to do is reform Social Security and hopefully take it out of the hands of the government and allow people to be able to decide what they want to do with their own money.
And that's something that grassroots has always been supportive of. We trust ourselves more than we trust the government. And the government has done a horrible job. They said this money was supposed to be there for people who are my parents' age, who are my aunts' and uncles' age. This money was supposed to be there for them when they retired. It was supposedly put in some sort of lockbox. And then when you open the box, when these people hit retirement age, it's not there anymore.
So I think that this is something that grassroots has pushed for. I think Perry is beginning to speak to that. That's not to say, though, however, that there are other issues that I think that he, over the next -- the course of the next several weeks, he's going to have to answer to, to grassroots.
AMANPOUR: Such as?
LOESCH: Well, I think -- well, for one, his stance on immigration. He's spoken out against building a fence at the border. And I think there's also, too, a lot of people want to talk about Reagan during this political time, but some of Perry's stances on immigration, frankly, aren't all of that different from where Reagan stood on immigration.
We have to remember the immigration bill that was signed into law by Reagan in '86. Reagan was very proud of that, but the difference is, is that Reagan wanted to support a strong border, not just amnesty. And Perry doesn't match up on that. So he's got a lot of answering to do.
AMANPOUR: Clarence, you've written today's column on the Social Security issue. You just heard what Dana said, take it out of the hands of government, and it's just a way of Perry saying he wants to reform it. But how difficult do you think his record, his written record on what he thinks about Social Security is going to be for him?
PAGE: Actually, his written record, he's been very consistent about -- more consistent than his own press spokesman who told us in the media a week or so ago, don't take that book seriously. He wasn't planning on running for president then. And then Perry came out across Iowa, stopped saying, "Oh, yeah, read my book. That'll show you how I feel."
His book is very explicit. Dana's right. He wants to take Social Security out of the hands of federal government, put it in the hands of the states. As Michael wrote eloquently this week, he spoke with great admiration of a temporary program that for a couple of counties in Texas that were able to -- to opt out of Social Security program.
This will not go well with regular Americans. Now, with all due respect, the term grassroots, I had a city editor years ago who said never use the term grassroots, because it is meaningless. Everybody has their grassroots.
The fact is, most -- well, President George W. Bush went around campaigning for a program that would just offer us the option of investing part of our Social Security contribution in the stock market. The more he talked about it, the less popular it became. It died on Capitol Hill.
And Perry calls it a "Ponzi scheme." You know what a Ponzi scheme is? Bernie Madoff, wizard of Wall Street.
KARL: Well, he invokes Bernie Madoff in the book. But, you know, I've got to say...
PAGE: He wants to put more money -- well (inaudible) he wants us to put more money in Wall Street, where Bernie Madoff is. The average American I don't think right now is ready to go for that kind of a radical move.
KARL: But -- but -- but to Dana's point, I think that some of this rhetoric may actually help him with the base that he's trying to excite.
KARL: But -- but he's going to have some problems. You know, at some point during one of these debates, one of the candidates, maybe it'll be Mitt Romney, will stand up and say, there's only one candidate on the stage here who has voted for tax increases, including the biggest tax increase in the history of Texas. Now, that was Rick Perry. It was a long time ago. He was a Democrat. But this will be an issue. There will be issues that the Tea Party, that hard-right conservatives will go at Rick Perry over.
AMANPOUR: Well, you just mentioned Mitt Romney, who, of course, was the front-runner until Rick Perry jumped in. Where does he need to go now? He's sort of been coasting on his record and being the presumed front-runner. What does he need to do tomorrow and in the coming days and in these debates?
KARL: They know that they've got an issue here. Look, for three years, Christiane, Mitt Romney has been essentially the front-runner in this race. Before he officially declared, he has been the front-runner. He has been the guy, but suddenly this has changed.
And like I said, we'll see over the next month whether it really has changed, but they know that they're going to have to go after Rick Perry. They could sit back when Tim Pawlenty was the big threat. They could kind of let it play out. You can't do that when you're running against Rick Perry. And they know it.
AMANPOUR: And, Michael, I mean, again, let's get to primaries versus general election. Can Rick Perry -- or is it dangerous for the Republican Party to -- to sort of let Mitt Romney slip behind?
GERSON: Well, I think that there's a serious amount of discontent with the field. I don't think Republicans regard this as a strong field. So there is still talk of people getting in the race, not just Palin, but last week, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey was in Chicago, had two meetings with serious Republican groups from the Midwest.
AMANPOUR: Even though he's said no, no, no, no, no?
GERSON: He's actively, I think, considering getting in this race, which would throw things open once more. But the desire for that to happen, for people like Paul Ryan, who are pushing this to happen, it shows that they're not happy with the current field. They think that it needs to be filled out in important ways. But I don't know if that's going to happen, but the desire for many Republicans to expand this field shows that they're not content with the field.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, let's play something that Sarah Palin said at her rally in -- yesterday when she was out talking. Let's see what she said about this race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: The challenge is not simply to replace Obama in 2012, but the real challenge is who and what we will replace him with, because it's not enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Jon, conventional wisdom is that maybe she's left it too long, but you're hearing different, right? Do you think she's going to jump in?
KARL: I think it is more likely that she jumps in than most of us have thought for a long time. We really don't know.
But I will tell you this: For months and months and months, it has been accurate to say that Sarah Palin has been teasing publicly, but has done nothing behind the scenes to prepare for an actual presidential run. I do not believe that is still the case. I think that she is -- she is laying the groundwork to decide, yes.
AMANPOUR: Where do you see that?
KARL: I -- I -- I think that she's beginning to look at what she would have to do to staff up the campaign. I think she's looking at what she'd have to do to actually establish a campaign organization, which she has done absolutely nothing until now.
AMANPOUR: So would that bring you great hope if she jumps in? I mean, look at her negatives. They're very, very high.
LOESCH: I think that she does have a little bit to overcome, in terms of -- I know that there was the Fox News poll which came out, and there was also an independent study which was done in conjunction with that, that also looked at Republican voters to see who they would or would not choose.
I think -- but we're still -- I mean, we're still really early on into this race, so anything is possible. I mean, and when I say anything is possible, I mean, when you look at the polls right now, the last poll that was released showed generic Republican candidate was beating this president in the polls.
KARL: That's who they should nominate.
LOESCH: So I think that we do -- I think that we do have a strong field. I do really think that we do have a strong field. But whether or not we're going to end up with someone that is speaking to the base -- because I think not only is this election going to be a referendum on Obama's first term, but this is also going to be a referendum on the Republican Party.
This is the Republican Party's decision right now. Who are they going to put forward? Are they going to keep going with the same Bush policies that helped create the Tea Party? Or are they actually going to put forward a real conservative, real Republican candidate, and actually unite the right once and for all? That's the question.
AMANPOUR: We're going to get to President Obama in our next panel, but thank you all very much for joining us. And the roundtable will continue in the green room at abcnews.com.
She claimed that the "government is doing a horrible job about Social Security" and supports Rick Perry's effort to eliminate Social Security (which she endorses). She falsely claimed that Texas Governor Rick Perry panders to "illegal immigrants" and wants "amnesty."
She also was cheerleading for Palin.
She stated that "the generic Republican is beating Obama in a recent poll." That poll in question that Loesch was referring to came from the biased as hell Repubmussen. The most recent Pew and Gallup polls have Obama winning. And if she thinks that any old conservative can win the presidency (despite Obama's not-so-great approval ratings), she's sorely mistaken!
Later in the show, there was an economic panel, and as usual, Paul Krugman told the truth.