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Talking Points

Eric Bolling: Could There Be a Dark Horse Candidate?

By Eric Bolling

Hi, everybody, I'm Eric Bolling, in tonight for Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us. We hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas.

Lots of political news to get to tonight beginning with polling in Iowa that shows Ron Paul with a slight lead over Mitt Romney while Newt Gingrich, is appearing to fade with just days to go before the Iowa caucuses.

But as the candidates begin to descend on the Hawkeye state, could there be a dark horse candidate?

Joining us now from Des Moines Iowa is Fox News Channel's chief political correspondent Carl Cameron. Carl, you are there. You are boots on the ground, my friend. What are you hearing, what do you see, what do you know?

CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the candidates are going to be arriving here actually today for the last sprint that will start tomorrow and take us through the caucuses on January 3rd; 7:00 a one-hour event where we will hear each of the candidates will have an opportunity to speak or a campaign representative will make a five minute speech.

Then Iowans will get a chance to make a write-in choice for who they prefer. And the thing to remember here Eric is that a record turnout will be about 120,000 Iowa caucus goers in this Republican contest and in a multicandidate field that means that one of them could win it with as few as 40,000 votes. And every single poll leading up to just before Christmas suggest that more than half of Iowa likely caucus goers have not firmly made up their minds. Which means in these last seven days the organizational quest to find those needles in the Iowa hay stacks will be ferocious. There is not a big turnout involved here. It's about getting those few people to give up their evenings the first Tuesday after the long three-day New Year's holiday and that's what's it's all about. Millions in ads, weeks and weeks of bussing across the state by the candidates.

It's all going to come down to just a very, very small portion of the electorate and it kicks off the entire nation's contest for nominating the Republicans.

Right now Rick Santorum who has been far, far back in the polls has a little bit of buzz because he's gotten some of the prominent evangelical conservatives in this state to throw their support behind him.

But he's well, well back. Ron Paul has surged in the final weeks of this race to the top of the polls but whether or not he has the organization to sustain that is questionable. Mitt Romney has been steady in the low 20's for the duration of this campaign in the polls he came in second with about that number four years ago. That was against Mike Huckabee.

There is no Huckabee organization in the campaign for him -- from Romney to compete against this time. So Romney could potentially pull off a win in Iowa even though he didn't campaign here aggressively this time.

And then the question of Newt Gingrich his lead in the poll seems to be rapidly plummeting to a third place position and he doesn't have a lot of organization admittedly so because he gotten started so late and he surged so late in the game.

As we head into this it is entirely possible, Eric, that we won't have the slightest idea until all the caucus ballots are cast and we could be looking at a three or four way photo finish --

BOLLING: Sure, sure. Hey Carl very quickly, why -- why Ron Paul. Why the strength in Ron Paul recently. And he really shot up like you pointed out, meteoric rise. But what do we contribute that to?

CAMERON: Sure. Well there is two things that we've got to remember. First of all Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are the only repeat candidates in the field. They have been around this track just four years ago so they have some organization that's still available for those runs. In the case of Ron Paul as a matter of fact he ran as a libertarian a long time ago. This will actually be his third race.

So they do have some establishment that he is still here from the last campaign. In the case of Ron Paul he has two key constituents. One, young people. It's often said that, well because the universities and colleges will be out for their winter break perhaps those folks won't be around. But the truth is most of those students at Iowa State or University of Iowa, et cetera they live here so they'll just go home. They won't caucus on campus they will go to their towns.

Then the median age of caucus goers in Iowa is 65. Seniors participate in this. And there -- Ron Paul isn't as strong as Mitt Romney who has that organization left over from the last time where he did quite well with seniors.

Ron Paul's buzz and his enthusiasm is really what makes him special in a low turnout campaign because of the devotion of his followers he could do quite well. If the numbers go north of 120 and set new records that might augur for Mitt Romney's success.

And don't rule out the possibility of Rick Santorum getting lots of headlines. Not because he wins or comes in second potentially but because he so far exceeds expectations coming from single digits in the polls potentially showing a 10 digit jump into the high teams in the caucuses would be a sign that Rick Santorum is now getting the interest from Republicans. That had for a short time been with Newt Gingrich, prior to that been with McCain and prior to that with Rick Perry. And then Michele Bachmann.

Eric, when we talk about how there's a frenzied chase for caucus goers in Iowa. It's important to note that for the last year and a half Republicans have been complaining about their field saying that they really want a stronger conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.

That lack of enthusiasm, that division amongst conservatives in the caucus process is part of why the enthusiasm is tempered here. Republicans desperately want to beat Barack Obama but they are still not entirely thrilled by their choices. So as we head into the last week, that's part of the reason so many are undecided. They really don't know who is best to go up against Obama yet.

BOLLING: Sure, sure. Hey Carl, very quickly, just a short period of time half a minute or so, there has been a lot of talk lately on the Internet about Sarah Palin. There is grass roots effort to get her somehow some -- some buzz in Iowa. Given this amount of time left before the caucuses, is there -- do you hear any of that first of all?

CAMERON: Well, listen, there is cocktail circuit conversations and sort of parlor whispering in Iowa, in Manchester, in New Hampshire, Colombia, South Carolina and on K Street in Washington D.C. Lots of Republicans still hoping that maybe somebody is going to come off the bench and run.

But now with a week before the caucuses and the process starting we've already seen the problems that late entries into the field have suffered. With their inability to get into the rhythm of this campaign; their inability sometimes to just manage their own rhetoric and their own personal histories in the way that's really sellable to the voting audience across the country.

To try to get into the middle of the stream now that the marathon has actually begun. Very, very difficulty. And frankly --

BOLLING: All right.

CAMERON: All of those candidates who've said no to this point it would be very hard to imagine it but Republicans all over this state and all over the campaign trail are still hoping against hope that that happens. For Mitt Romney who has been in the lead in the polls and watched all these candidates come up and challenge him for the lead, this is essentially what he had envisioned the entirety of this last year and a half campaign. Where he knew he would face these challenges and whether or not he could sustain it.

BOLLING: Sure, sure.

CAMERON: We're going to find out only now in eight days. Finally the voters will get their say instead of all of us and all the punditry.

BOLLING: Carl Cameron thank you very much.

Pinheads & Patriots

What many are calling the football play of the year or the century. Over the weekend, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson showed off extraordinary skills. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wide open. Right into the end zone by Jerome Simpson. Oh, goodness! You'll be seeing that the rest of the day, into tomorrow, and the entire week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLLING: Say now, he should have walked over and done one of these and then he would have been on every news channel.

For that incredible touchdown and for helping lead his team to victory, Jerome Simpson, a patriot.