From the 09.27.2011 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
COOPER: So how is this for a pep talk? President Obama's chief campaign adviser, David Axelrod, said today it will be a titanic struggle to get his boss reelected. A titanic struggle. Over to -- on the Republican side they're going through a titanic struggle of their own in a different way. They're looking for a candidate that can win next year. It's obviously not unusual.
But this is -- this time around Republicans are also struggling and struggling titanically to find a candidate they actually want to win. We've seen Michele Bachmann rise and fall, Rick Perry enter, and now stumble. Now it's New Jersey Governor Chris Christie maybe, or then again maybe not.
He's been on a fund-raising swing through Missouri. Fund-raising for others not himself. Not yet. Perhaps not ever. Tonight he's in Southern California, speaking at the Ronald Reagan Library. Today his brother Todd tells the "New Jersey Star Ledger", quote, "I'm sure that he's not going to run. If he's lying to me, I will be as stunned as I have ever been in my life."
But the day after former New Jersey Governor Tom Cain told the "National Review" that Governor Christie was thinking about it. FOX News says no but a source tells "Politico" Christie is in fact considering it.
Make of that what you will. As for Christie himself, he's always been very clear about it. The answer, he says, is no.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I don't feel like I'm ready to be president, I don't want to run for president. I don't have the fire in the belly to run for president. I don't feel ready in my heart to be president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sounds pretty definitive. That's Chris Christie. And the "Star Ledger" is reporting that he once again said he is not running this afternoon to a group of influential fund-raisers at a steakhouse in Orange County, California.
There's also of course Sarah Palin. People have been waiting for months now for her to make some sort of decision. "The New York Times" today reporting the Palin announcement could come within days.
In just the last few days, her Facebook page has grown quiet. And she's been keeping a lower profile some believe getting ready for the moment.
Is she, will he, should they? Let's talk about it.
CNN contributor Ari Fleischer joins us, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, now on Twitter @AriFleischer. His latest column up on CNN. com, titled, "It's Too Late for Chris Christie to Run." Also, CNN contributor Dana Loesch, a Tea Party organizer in St. Louis and editor of BigJournalism.com. And Michele Bachmann's former chief of staff, Ron Carey.
So, Ari, let me start with you. You think it would be a mistake for Chris Christie to get in the race?
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY FOR PRESIDENT BUSH: I just think it's too late. Too much time has passed by. And it is so hard to build a successful presidential campaign. And the scrutiny he would be under, every little mistake he will make and every candidate makes mistakes, it's going to be a piling on.
Candidates need to have an on-ramp to get ready for the presidential especially in the instant era we live in with the Internet. I think it's too late for him.
COOPER: It's also interesting, Dana, because I mean a lot of people say, look, I'm not interested in running, and then they turn out running. But he's actually saying, I'm not ready to be president. That's pretty definitive.
What's -- what do you think is behind all this talk? Is it just wishful thinking on the part of some Republicans? DANA LOESCH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he's -- the word choice that Chris Christie uses is really interesting to me because he's always said, well, I'm not ready to be president yet. I'm not ready -- not yet. I think at some point it may be in the cards for Chris Christie, but not for 2012.
I don't look for him to do anything until 2016. I still think that he needs to fulfill his obligations to his constituents. And you know he said, I don't have the fire, I don't have the fire in my belly. And if there's one thing that we can count on from Chris Christie is not to mince words.
COOPER: That's true.
Ron Carey, in terms of Sarah Palin, we are still hearing, as we have been for, it feels like, forever now, that her decision is coming soon. Take a look, though, for our viewers, at this week's CNN/ORC poll. Palin is neck and neck with Herman Cain and Ron Paul at 7 percent. That's less than half the support she had a month ago.
RON CAREY, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, I think Sarah Palin is a very smart person. She has a plus, I agree with, but yet she has such high negatives in -- to the general electorate. She has a really image problem and I think she's going to look at those numbers and say, as much as I think I can offer to the debate, I am not going to be electable this year.
And the last thing we need as Republicans is to put a candidate forward who's very provocative and going to really ruin the chance we have to win with a candidate that's too provocative.
I look at Nevada in 2010 as an example where Harry Reid was behind and basically going to be a loser in every poll. But then Republicans put a very provocative candidate up and Harry Reid was able to make Sharron Angle into the issue, not Harry Reid. And the Obama campaign has said they're going to do the exact same thing to the Republican nominee.
That's where we need to have somebody who is experienced, seasoned and who doesn't have open wounds that the Obama campaign can really take advantage of.
COOPER: Dana Loesch, if Michele Bachmann has -- she's declined in the polls lately. Do you think that make it more likely for Sarah Palin to maybe think, OK, I have an opening?
LOESCH: Possibly. I mean I look at how the president does in the polls as well. And I mean some of the polls that they have released they haven't even bothered naming a Republican candidate. So at this point, quite honestly, I think it could be anyone's game for a number of the candidates.
As to what Palin is going to do, she said that she's going to make an announcement by the end of September. It's getting close. So we'll have to sort of sit back and wait and see. I know that it's kind of difficult to measure how she stands against other candidates because she hasn't really actively gotten out there and campaigned in the way that we would see other candidates do.
I know Ari mentioned an on-ramp to the presidential campaign. We haven't really seen her kind of use that. So there's a lot of stuff in play here, there's a lot of moving pieces, but a matter of days.
COOPER: But, Ari, I mean, Sarah Palin, you know, can kind of create her own on-ramp. It doesn't seem like she's going to be -- whatever she decides to do, she's not needing necessarily to go the traditional route. I mean she's been on various bus tours, although she says she's just on vacation. But clearly, you know, she just happens to be vacationing in spots where there's lots of media.
FLEISCHER: Right, but the fact is the -- because she did not have an on-ramp when she was named as John McCain's vice presidential candidate, she couldn't handle the scrutiny that came with all of a sudden she could be the United States' vice president.
Candidates need that time. Nothing is like a presidential race. The amount of scrutiny, the amount of work, the pressure you're under, the way you have to prove that you're capable of sitting in that chair in the Oval Office. People watch it and they judge you, and they're harsh in their judgments. You've got to be ready for it. That's what doomed her last time.
If she goes this time, frankly, and I'm neutral in this Republican primary, but it would be a dream come true for Mitt Romney. Because what would happen is many of the social conservatives and the base at the Sarah Palin Wing base of the Republican Party, which is an important powerful base, will really split.
They're going to have Bachmann, Santorum, Perry, Palin to choose from. And it really creates a bigger gap for Mitt Romney to run through as more or less the centrist businessman, more traditional Republican candidate. So it would set him up nicely at a time when things are breaking in Mitt Romney's direction at least in the last week.
COOPER: Ron, what do you make of Rick Perry's, I mean, stumble in the last debate? Do you think -- I mean who benefits from that? Is it just a temporary stumble or how bad is he hurt?
CAREY: Well, I think, you know, one thing we can be certain of is Mitt Romney is going to get to the finals. The question is who is going to get there with him? And we build these candidates up to be such the second coming of Ronald Reagan. But then as soon as it starts getting closer to scrutiny, their numbers start to come down.
And I think Rick Perry is going through that. He still very well may become the chief competitor to Mitt Romney. But I think Ari makes a very good point.
I remember back in 2008 how demoralized the Republican base was here in Minnesota when John McCain became the candidate. Because 82 percent of the base thought he was too - the Republican base thought he was too liberal. But yet our process can -- let somebody thread the needle if they do just the right things, and that's where Mitt Romney does want a fragmented field of conservatives.
And if conservatives want to have a conservative candidate run against Barack Obama they need to unite, you know, in the next three months behind the best candidate and not fragment our vote and open a door for a Mitt Romney to become our nominee.
COOPER: Dana, Ari, Ron, thanks very much.
So this segment had 3 Republicans to 0 Democrats. If someone says that "CNN is a Liberal, Lamestream 'news' network," you better think again. Liberal Media my ass.