This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," June 18, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," Michele Bachmann jumps into the presidential race, upending the Republican top tier. Can she or someone else knock Mitt Romney from his frontrunner pedestal?
Plus, the Lone Star State soars as others struggle, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. What has Texas done right? And could Governor Rick Perry ride the surge all the way to the White House?
As more colleges embrace co-ed or gender-neutral student housing, one university is bucking the trend and returning to the single-sex dorm. We'll tell you why.
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report," I'm Paul Gigot.
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann threw her hat into the 2012 presidential ring this week, upending the GOP field's top tier. Coming off a strong debate performance, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney appears to have solidified his frontrunner status, with 30 percent of likely Republican primary voters in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll saying they'd vote for him. Will Bachmann's announcement or others to come threaten that lead?
Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; editorial board member, Dorothy Rabinowitz; and senior economics writer, Steve Moore.
Dan, let's talk about Michele Bachmann first. What are the sources -- she's risen on the polls from her debate performance and announcement. What are the sources of her support?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: One source is that people know her. She's been on television a lot the last few years. But I think there's something more specific, Paul. I would say her support does lie with the Tea Party. Understand, I've always thought the Tea Party was more a metaphor than an actual organization. There are people --
HENNINGER: There are people beyond the Tea Party who are very upset, very angry and ready to be activists. And I think Michele Bachmann is going to literally attempt to corral these people and bring them into her organization. She's at a fundraising disadvantage right now and she's at an organizational disadvantage. And I would say she's in some ways, analogous, believe it or not, to Barack Obama in 2008, had this youth corps, the Internet-based things. And if she can get people to start to go to Iowa and New Hampshire and working on her behave, sending her small donations, I think she can reach critical mass and challenge these other more well-organized people.
GIGOT: So, Dorothy, the point Dan makes is that she's a new face and that she's an outsider, not part of the establishment. That's the source of her --
DOROTHY RABINOWITZ, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Oh, yes, she's really quite charming in an effective way. She's knowledgeable and it shows on camera. All of that plays very well. But lurking underneath it all, there's an understanding among people, who know elections, that she could threaten the rest of the nomination. But if she wins, there's a huge electability doubt. She has toxic statements in the past, which will immediately rise.
GIGOT: Because of their partisan nature and attacks? What do you mean toxic statements?
RABINOWITZ: No, no, it's simply positions. For example, her belief that we really would like to phase out Medicare and we'd like to phase out Social Security. Now, if you said, even if you stipulated we would do this in the year 4012, two centuries from now --
-- it's not going to be OK.
GIGOT: All right.
Steve, the -- what about the experience issue? She hasn't been in Congress that long and the question would be, does she -- if she could get the nomination, will she seem to be somebody who can go toe to toe with Barack Obama and looks like somebody the American people could put in the Oval Office?
STEVE MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMICS WRITER: Well, you know, I was very impressed with Michele Bachmann when I interviewed her last week for the paper, Paul. She's lightning in bottle, as we described her in our news story. She is someone who is incredibly dynamic. I was impressed with how knowledgeable she was in economic issues. What people paid attention to in our story was when we said she reads Ludwig van Mises on the beach.
GIGOT: Hold it. Holt it, Steve. I want to ask you that. The Austrian economist? Did you believe here when she said that?
MOORE: Yes. You know what?
I do believe her. She knew about his writings and she said, I really -- I love the stuff he writes about consumer sovereignty and so on. So she's knowledgeable about economics. I'll say this, also. I really believe, Paul, if she wins Iowa, which I believe she can do -- you know, she's from that area of the country -- it just puts total chaos on the whole race. So I think she's going to be a potential frontrunner, that is to say, top-tier candidate in the next few weeks.
GIGOT: Let's talk about Mitt Romney, Dan. He's the frontrunner. Looks like the other candidates are competing to be the not Romney, the alternative to Mitt Romney and that's benefiting him because the rest of the field is so fractured.
HENNINGER: Well, that's right. There is a phenomenon we're all familiar with it, that the most well-known candidate tends to do well in these early polls. It's basically name recognition. Admittedly, he held his own in that debate. But Michele Bachmann did very well, too. And it occurred to me that -- we are calling it the Twitter debate, this ridiculous CNN format, 30 seconds.
I look back at it, she did pretty well inside that 30-second format on the debt ceiling and gay marriage and the states and EPA. It's a little surprising. The others not so well, she did very well. But I think it does -- Romney's problem is that you sense a real desire for fresh faces and that's why Bachmann -- that's why you even hear people ask about Jon Huntsman, who hasn't even shown up yet. The people who have been around for a while, like Romney, I think could drop quickly if the others come on strong.
GIGOT: Who do you think has the best chance, Dorothy, of emerging as the challenger to Romney?
RABINOWITZ: In the current debate -- in the current one?
GIGOT: In the current field?
RABINOWITZ: In the current one? I actually think that Michele Bachmann does.
RABINOWITZ: Yes, I think she does. It will be, from the point of view from the Republican Party, an immense fatal blow.
And I don't think it's going to happen.