• With: Charles Krauthammer, A.B. Stoddard, Steve Hayes

    This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 20, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    BOB VANDER PLAATS, THE FAMILY LEADER CEO: Today, I as an individual am going to endorse Rick Santorum, I'm gonna mobilize whatever resources I have at any disposal to advocate for him.

    RICK SANTORUM, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those national polls don't mean anything. People aren't paying that close of attention to what is going on here. The people in Iowa are the ones paying attention.

    NEWT GINGRICH, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Part of what I'm still getting over, I used to be an analyst at Fox. Every once in a while a reporter will ask an analytical question and I'll forget I'm not an analyst. I'm a candidate. If I make a mistake I'll say to you that was a boo-boo.

    MITT ROMNEY, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's possible. I don't think it's terribly likely, but it's possible this will go a long way. We have built enough resources, and raised money to have a campaign that will go to the very, very end.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: A lot of action today on the 2012 campaign trail. First of all, Bob Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of the Family Leader, endorsing Rick Santorum. The organization did not, but Vander Plaats did.

    Let's take a look at the polls, new national poll, new poll out, ABC News/Washington Post. Again, you can see the tie there at the top, Ron Paul at 15 percent and the others below. Let's look at Iowa, American Research Group, this is the latest out, Gingrich at 22 percent, Ron Paul 17, Romney, 17, Perry at 13. And there you see the others. New Hampshire, ARG has a new poll out. And you see Ron Paul again inching up to 21 percent in that poll in New Hampshire. We're back with the panel. Steve, thoughts?

    STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think the Bob Vander Plaats endorsement is significant as far as endorsements are significant. I mean he is a big name in Iowa. He has a lot of people who are loyal to him. There was a split among the organization that led for him to make very clear that he was endorsing Rick Santorum as an individual.

    But in my experience, interviewing people in Iowa over the past week, there are a lot of people who will offer to you Rick Santorum as someone that they support or are supportive of and they raise the question, can he win here in Iowa? I don't want to waste my vote. But if I think he can win, I could cast a vote for him. Who knows whether the people I talk to representative of the state? But there were a lot of them, there were a good number of them who made that case.

    BAIER: What about, A.B., the fact that Vander Plaats apparently called Michele Bachmann to get out of race and endorse Rick Santorum?

    A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: This is so interesting. And she made the argument that she is right with the Family Leader on all of their issues, traditional marriage, all of them. And she said no, thank you very much. She is ahead of Rick Santorum, she told him in the polls. She is going to stay in the race.

    Look Rick Santorum's endorsement from Bob Vander Plaats and whatever mobilization he can provide for him is bad news for Newt Gingrich and it's good news for Mitt Romney because ultimately Iowa will be a divided vote. And any anti-Romney vote that Newt Gingrich loses at this point, he can't afford it.

    And Ron Paul continues to surge there. I will say again the governor called his organization second to none. Ron Paul has been on the ground there for a long time. Romney's prepared for a very long battle. Gingrich needs an early showing. He needs an early push. He needs to be popular in Iowa. He might not win. He could write off a Ron Paul victory but he needs to be second. He doesn't want Mitt Romney having a good percentage close to his and he doesn't want Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann taking votes from him.

    Iowa is important to Newt. He needs the momentum and the money to do this. And he needs to start acting like a frontrunner who's trying to win Iowa by the way. He is not spending enough time there. He doesn't have enough bodies on the ground. He's not spending enough money. And it's two weeks away.

    BAIER: Also trying to win Iowa, Governor Rick Perry. He has a new ad out, he said Iowans will choose what street to go down. Take a look.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney -- Wall Street. He made millions, buying companies and laying off workers. Newt Gingrich -- K Street, the lobbyist hangout in Washington. Newt got rich, made millions off of Freddie Mac. Or Rick Perry, Main Street, the outsider who sparked the creation of a million new jobs.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Standing up to the Washington machine guided by principle. Ron Paul the one with the plan to cut $1 trillion year one, eliminate the waste, balance the budget. Ron Paul, the one that we can trust, the one who will restore America.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    BAIER: OK, the first one obviously a Perry ad and then a Ron Paul ad. Two interesting messages there. Charles?

    CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, notice who Perry is attacking. He's attacking Gingrich. That was a positive Paul ad but he has had the single most devastating ad of all. He had one called serial hypocrisy, on Gingrich. Apparently, every 50 seconds if you watching TV in Iowa --

    BAIER: In Sioux City, I mean, we saw it nonstop.

    (CROSSTALK)

    KRAUTHAMMER: You were getting a negative Newt ad -- I mean an onslaught probably unseen in a long time.

    Of course, Newt has provided the material. There is a lot of money that's being used to accentuate his negatives. But he has a checkered history ideologically, so he's provided the fodder. What's interesting is if you look at the national polls is how all of this is affecting Gingrich. He is clearly in the decline. And in the two national polls, they have Gingrich and Romney tied at the top. Ron Paul with half of that. We have Perry and Bachmann with half of that, and then Santorum and Huntsman at half of that. So all of those tiers are quite starkly visible. And I think, what's going to happen -- you know Paul will do well in Iowa. Will anybody emerge in the third tier? That's the Bachmann and Perry, possibly Santorum. I think it's likely as A.B. said that the vote will be so split. And if Newt doesn't win, he is the loser objectively speaking.

    BAIER: Quickly, Steve. And this is not a quick question, unfortunately. But you have written about all the talk about a possible brokered convention and the fact that this goes a long way. Let's not even talk about the possibility of other people getting in but just the brokered convention aspect of things.

    HAYES: Well, there is a timing issue that I think makes this a possibility. I mean if you were to have Ron Paul keep a number of his delegates, he is going to be campaigning hard in Iowa. He's going to do what he can in the early state. The early states have already had half of their delegates stripped for violating Republican Party rules. So they have fewer delegates proportionally allocated. So the early states matter less this time around than the later states. You have basically February off. And then in March starts this sprint toward the nomination which may or may not be a sprint if - you know depending on the outcomes in the early states.

    BAIER: It's going to be fascinating. We are going to get a map and some numbers we're going to map it out for you.

    That is it for panel. But stay tuned for more issues on Capitol Hill.

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