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Special Report

Republican Field Gets Bigger

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 21, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not just choosing new leaders. We are choosing whether we are to be yesterday's story or tomorrow's. Everything is at stake. This is the hour when we choose our future. I'm Jon Huntsman and I'm running for President of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": Would you characterize President Obama as a remarkable leader?

HUNTSMAN: No. I think he has failed in a number of ways, both in terms of economic governance and stewardship and also internationally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Jon Huntsman talking to Sean Hannity. You can see that full interview tonight 9:00 p.m. eastern time, saying -- he did refer to president Obama as a remarkable leader after being appointed ambassador to China, but talking to Sean Hannity about what he thinks about the president's job approval now and his job, the job he is doing.

What about Jon Huntsman as a candidate and rest of the field? We're back with the panel. Steve, the roll out in front of Lady Liberty. What did you think?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, a month ago, Jon Huntsman and his campaign told Politico that he'd be running a different kind of campaign, based on civility and a campaign devoid of attacks and in the time since, he has largely lived up to that except for the fact that his campaign manager continues to attack conservatives.

In one interview, he suggested that conservatives and Republicans were cranks. In another, in the campaign video that they posted on their website today, he worried that Republicans were just loud and angry and that Jon Huntsman was gonna do something different.

But I think conservatives are angry for a reason. They're angry about the stimulus, that wasted $814 billion. They're angry about Obamacare, they're angry about the EPA. They're angry about the double standard on Israel and Syria. They're angry about a lot of things. It doesn't mean they're uncivil; it doesn't mean that they're not making arguments. And by and large I think they're not bitter. But these are people who are concerned, and they've been concerned for a long time. They're concerned about what's happening in the country. That doesn't mean that they should be taken less seriously. And it certainly doesn't mean that John Huntsman should run a campaign seeking to sideline them.

BAIER: What about his prospects in a Republican primary environment? And he's already decided Karen, that Iowa is not going to be a focus for him. What about how he wins the nomination?

KAREN TUMULTY, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I've been out in the country. When you talk to Republicans, and say, what are you looking for in a nominee? Over and over again, the one thing I hear more than anything else is, we want someone who is gonna take the fight to Obama.

And that's why I was sort of -- first of all, it's hard to see the path to the nomination for a candidate who is running explicitly, sort of not to do that; to run on civility. But he also picked a spot -- I'm back to Ronald Reagan here. Where Ronald Reagan uttered one of the most memorable lines of 1980 campaign, which is that a recession is when your neighbor loses his job, a depression is when you lose yours, and a recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his. It was where Ronald Reagan laid down a marker. And I don't think we quite saw that today in that event.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think that's an understatement. I think the roll out today, the speech, was simply remarkably unremarkable. I mean, it was -- there was not much in it. I found it fairly shallow, was stringing together cliches. There wasn't a memorable line or an idea.

Now, he invoked Reagan, of course. The venue was a way to invoke Reagan, because that is where he unveiled his campaign 30 years ago in 1980. And then he said -- Huntsman said, that Reagan had also come in in troubled times and had revived the country through leadership. But the difference is that Reagan didn't revive America through naked leadership. He did it underpinned by a coherent set of ideas which in turn, informed a coherent set of policies.

You didn't hear any of that from Huntsman today. Now, I'm not saying he doesn't have them, but if he has an ideology and if he has policies, he has yet to display them.

BAIER: Meantime, Newt Gingrich has a few more troubles, apparently, on his campaign. Two big finance folks say that they are resigning from the campaign, stepping away. Steve, what is happening with the Gingrich campaign? They say officially, that they are moving on.

HAYES: Well, they have nothing else to say. I mean, I think this is a campaign in complete meltdown, it was in campaign in meltdown when his political staffers left, it's a campaign in meltdown when you lose two of your top finance staffers. And as somebody who generally thinks that those are the kind of people who can be replaced, it's never a good thing when you've got the media talking about this for a period of ten days.

BAIER: And Senator John Thune on set tonight. Do you think he is reconsidering his decision?

HAYES: I do think he is reconsidering. I mean you heard, in response to your questions, that he is getting encouragement from his colleagues, he was getting encouragement from his colleagues last fall. And he said, never say never. That said, he didn't seem to have sort of this burning desire to jump back in.

BAIER: Do you agree Karen?

TUMULTY: And the one thing that you keep hearing from people out in the field, Republicans, is that he's sitting on $7.5 million. Which gives him some options and also the luxury of time.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: He doesn't look, as you said Steve, like a man who's got the fire in the belly. He may have the millions, but I think you need the fire. And without it, he'll sit on the millions and he'll wait for 2016.

BAIER: Do you think someone is taking off, catching the fire?

(CROSSTALK)

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, the one who rose out of the pack was Bachmann. She is on a roll. Not every day and every night, but as a result of the debate, I think she is, has the most potential to be the Huckabee -- what Huckabee was in '08.

And I think -- the question is who's the anti-Romney? Right now it's probably between Bachmann; Pawlenty who's had a rough time; Huntsman looks like he's a contender, although I wasn't impressed today; or it could be a surprise outsider; or Perry, of course. That is who everybody is waiting for, the governor of Texas.

BAIER: We shall see.

That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for some newly uncovered video from this past weekend's golf summit here in Washington.

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