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Special Report

Which State Will Hold First 2012 Primary?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 29, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRSTEN KUKOWSKI, RNC SPOKESWOMAN: Right now we're just working with each state to mak e sure they're in compliance with the rules that quite frankly both the RNC and the DNC set forth. So I think right now, everything is going as planned and, ya know, we look forward to making sure every state is in compliance.

ANDY PALMER, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Florida has a critical role start to finish in this process. And I think that's really the logic behind putting us up earlier in the process in spite of what the RNC calendar looks like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHANNON BREAM, ANCHOR: Alright, Florida is one of the states asking about moving up. Now, before the break, we asked you, should Iowa and New Hampshire always go first in the presidential primary season? 56 percent of you say no, 44 percent say yes. So let's talk about it with our panel. Mara, what do you think?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Look, Iowa and New Hampshire are always going to go first regardless of what people -- whether people think they should. Iowa and New Hampshire have enshrined their first in the nation spot. So if everybody else moves up, they will go in 2011 if they have to --

BREAM: By state law.

LIASSON: By state law. So what we're really talking about is how early are the other states going to move up, because that will push Iowa and New Hampshire even earlier. And for most people who cover politics, we kind of like it the way the parties set it up. Where it happens in February and it's more or less orderly. But every so often, every couple of years, there are ideas for how to reform the primary process. One of my favorite is that after you have the first four guys - states - go first, you have a rotating series of four regional primaries --

BREAM: Super regionals.

LIASSON: -- like Super Tuesdays. But that didn't catch on. Everybody wants to get to the front of the line.

BREAM: Including, this time we know, Florida and Arizona are both talking about a bill. And Florida, I mean, they got docked half their delegates last time. They're still talking about doing it again. So is it really any deterrent?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I think they could threaten with greater deterrents. But the key is still Iowa and New Hampshire. Every four years there is this attempt by other states to horn in, but the fact is no one has won the nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire in either party when both were contested since the beginning of the modern system --

[CROSSTALK]

KRISTOL: -- and South Carolina is now the tie breaker.

So Florida feels bad because right now the odds are pretty high that if you when two of the three, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, you're gonna be the nominee. And Florida is sitting there saying what about us? And every other state's sitting there, what about us? And maybe this year'll be different. And I think it's quite possible maybe we'll have, ya know, a long spread out process, with candidates staying in, sort of like Obama and Clinton on the Democratic side in 2008. But it's still a good thing to be citizen of Iowa or a citizen of New Hampshire.

BREAM: Yeah, they're very powerful. Alright Charles, who do you think stands to gain or lose, as far as candidate are concerned, if we do a different schedule that's expedited?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it's hard to actually decide. Michigan is making noises about going early. And because Romney has a family history, the father was governor, that might help him. I'm not sure it's going to helps one candidate or the other.

But I think it's an amazing demonstration of how weak the national parties are in America compared to any other democracy. They have essentially one major function -- select the delegates to nominate a candidate, and they can't even control the calendar. I mean this is insurrection. This is 1861 all over again. I think if the parties want to exercise influence and deterrents, what they ought to do is to remove all the delegates. Not half -- all of it so that it becomes a beauty contest.

[CROSSTALK]

KRAUTHAMMER: Now of course people will count on in the fact that in the end with the winning candidate will extend a pardon to the state that disobeyed --

BREAM: Misbehaves.

KRAUTHAMMER: -- and will allow its delegates. But earlier on in the process, before you have an obvious winning candidate, it could be a factor. I'd strip them of all the delegates and see if that works.

BREAM: Alright, a stickler for the punishment.

KRAUTHAMMER: Like a stern parent.

BREAM: Task master that you are.

Alright, Mara, do you think also, as Charles suggested, if Michigan gets in with a change, I mean, possibly benefits Romney. But what do you think with the Arizona and Florida changes, does it benefit any particular --

LIASSON: Ya know I don't even know if Michigan benefits Romney anymore. I mean some of those polls have not shown him ahead there, which is kind of extraordinary. I think this is a race that is so close, it's really beginning to resemble 2008. You have two giants like Obama and Hillary were. You have Romney and Perry. This is a huge battle. And it's unclear what form it's going to take. Is it gonna be a kind of Tea Party insurrection, state rights, conservative against a moderate businessman, ya know establishment Republican? I don't know. But it's going to be a great battle.

BREAM: Bill, I see you shaking your head over there.

KRISTOL: No. I think it's a very interesting race. I would say what strikes me the most, the big develop in the past two, three weeks apart from all this primary nonsense is Rick Perry began his campaign, what, three weeks ago and is now comfortably ahead in the national Republican polls and is ahead in the polls in Iowa. If you were ahead in both the national polls and in the Iowa poll in the past you have won the nomination in either party.

If I were in the Romney campaign, I would be thinking hard about spending some of that money that he's raised, he's very effective at raising money, and beginning to nick at Rick Perry. And I would be thinking about competing in Iowa. I do not think Romney can just sit back, let Perry muscle aside the other conservatives in Iowa.

LIASSON: Michele Bachmann is one thing, but Rick Perry is another.

KRISTOL: Yeah, I think so. I think what Romney will decide. I think this will happen actually, I've talked to some people pretty close to the campaign. I think he will now compete in Iowa with Perry. If no one else gets into the race, this could become a very interesting two-person race.

BREAM: Alright, still a lot of time left, but panel, thanks for weighing in on that. That's it for panel. Stay tuned, though. It was a very busy weekend for reporters out in the elements braving Hurricane Irene to bring you the news. And some of them, well they had company out there.

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