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

    This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 2, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    DONALD TRUMP, CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: It's my honor, real honor and privilege to endorse Mitt Romney. Mitt is tough. He's smart. He's sharp. He's not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love. So Governor Romney, go out and get them. You can do it.

    (APPLAUSE)

    MITT ROMNEY, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm so honored and pleased to have his endorsement, and of course I'm looking for the endorsement of the people of Nevada.

    (APPLAUSE)

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Ahead of the Nevada caucuses Saturday, Mitt Romney with the endorsement of the Donald, Donald Trump. Some thought and some reported, actually, that Newt Gingrich was going to get Trump's endorsement. Gingrich had reaction to this today.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    NEWT GINGRICH, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm just watching in amazement.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is it amazing?

    GINGRICH: Because some people have this knack of gathering attention.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're talking about Donald Trump, perhaps?

    GINGRICH: The Donald is a force of his own.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to have that force on your side?

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    BAIER: That didn't get an answer. We're back with the panel. A.B., what about this development in the world of politics?

    A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, I don't know a lot of Republicans who really think that the Donald Trump endorsement is important or helpful for Mitt Romney. I think it was helpful for Mitt Romney, the campaign must have thought, for him to stand next to Donald Trump today to try to change the subject from his comments from yesterday, which are still news today, about his lack of concern for the very poor, because --

    BAIER: Which continues on in the full context that if --

    STODDARD: We all know the context, Bret.

    BAIER: Not all of us know the context if you look at some channels.

    STODDARD: OK, he did talk about how if there was a problem with the safety net for the poor, he would fix it and he want on to talk about why his campaign is about trying to improve economic growth for the middle class and provide opportunity to --

    However, there are Republicans who are very upset about his comments, worried that he is an ad maker's dream, a very fragile candidate on the stump, who is going to do this when he's up against Barack Obama. None of these gaffes have been about his flip flops as you guys have notice. They're never about whether or not he supports gay rights all of a sudden or [INAUDIBLE], or climate change or he's pro-choice or anything. It's always about this sort of gap and disconnect between his enormous wealth and the working poor or others, very poor.

    He is -- he knows that the Donald Trump endorsement doesn't really mean anything. He's going to win in Nevada. It is not going to be a pivotal contest for him. He has a great lead there. He needs to change the subject from Gingrich and Trump and the very poor and get back to a positive message about himself.

    BAIER: Steve, he told Hannity in an interview that will be on tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET, he's concerned about all citizens, but now and then you misspeak and you have to acknowledge that. He didn't intend to say it the way he did and he said this is part of the political process.

    Back to Trump. A Fox News poll earlier -- last month, I should say, more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Donald Trump, more likely 10 percent, less likely, 27 percent, no difference, 62 percent. But some say that this kind of shored up some of the doubts about the very conservative folks who like Donald Trump and what he says -- no? You're shaking your head.

    STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: No, I don't think that does it at all. The very conservative folks, the people have toiled for decades in the conservative movement, they do not care a whit what Donald Trump says, or thinks, or talks about. They do not care. There are some people who respect Donald Trump. I'm not one of them.

    I thought the most telling thing was the side shots though, of Mitt and Ann Romney as they watched this endorsement. When my kids are sick, I have to take them cough syrup and you give it to them in a vial and they take a shot of it. But before they do that, you see the expression on their face, and it's like anticipating pain. That's what you saw with Mitt and Ann Romney.

    I will say, I disagree with conservatives who suggested that Mitt Romney should have somehow rejected this endorsement and should have said no way, I don't want to be associated with Donald Trump. You can't do that. This is somebody who's entertained publicly the idea of running as a third party candidate. You have an opportunity to get his endorsement. You take it. You make it as short a speech a short of an event as possible -- this was five minutes -- and you move on. And I think that's exactly what they're going to do.

    BAIER: Charles?

    CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: You're all wrong. I think it matters. Even though as we saw in the poll and people say, well, the endorsement won't induce them to vote against the endorsee, I think it matters for this reason -- Newt had positioned himself as the insurgent, the outsider, the anti-establishment guy. And then you had all these endorsements of people who were the anti-Romneys who went ahead and who supported his narrative -- Cain, Perry, and then with a quasi-endorsement Sarah Palin.

    So all of these people who had a rise and a fall in the anti-establishment alternative are the ones who lined up and supported the Newt idea of him as the insurgent. Trump was one of those, and he's the only one who stepped out of that storyline and instead of endorsing Newt, which would have been the natural continuation of that storyline, switched over and supported Romney.

    Now, it's not a huge event. But I think it does interrupt and disrupt that storyline, and I think in that sense it matters. And it also took all the attention off the gaffe that Romney made yesterday.

    BAIER: One last thing, the Gingrich campaign, while Newt Gingrich seemed to not care, the Gingrich campaign put out a statement, including some quotes from Trump about Romney recently, told Greta back in August, quote, "I wasn't in love with the job he did in Massachusetts. He wasn't popular. He was a one-term governor. He didn't have high approval ratings." So they're putting out some quotes, A.B.

    STODDARD: And Donald Trump's own staff was saying a few days ago he might run on his own. I mean he wasn't endorsing Mitt -- he wasn't supporting Mitt Romney five days ago. That's why it just doesn't really carry that much weight.

    HAYES: Or today, I mean there was talk of him supporting Newt Gingrich as early as today. I think what happened is they had these negotiations down to the last minute and Trump finally said I'll pick you.

    BAIER: Well, some people on the ground said Newt Gingrich's camp was just trying to put it out there to say maybe it would happen. Who knows? You're shaking your head through the entire panel.

    HAYES: Charles is very, very smart and he's also very, very wrong.

    (LAUGHTER)