This is a rush transcript from "The Five," December 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: So, lost in the tussle among Republican candidates is the big question -- which one can beat Obama?
I see the campaign as middle school. You got the jocks, the nerd, and the outsider from another school versus the teacher's pet, Obama. These are the teacher's pet because he is the favorite among the media. Protected because he is them, the perfect progressive at ease among academics and herbal tea.
So, who is the best challenger? Well, the outsider is cool. The loner pointing out how this school sucks. That's what Paul does. But just like outsiders, what he offers is often scary, probably weird.
The nerdy is good. He'd make a great lab partner, but you got to avoid him after class. But one thing you count on with nerds, they always study because they know they aren't the jock.
Speaking of, there's Mitt, with good looks and easy way. You get the sense he hasn't had to study at all.
So, what you are left with is the notion to beat the teacher's pet is to expose him for the coddle coaster he is. Or maybe the best person to beat Obama and someone who does what he does -- nothing.
Mouth platitudes, keep the rhetoric soaring. Really, it's a battle of hot air versus hot air, like a collision of two hot air balloons. And Romney is the best hot air balloon captain of Republicans that I see.
So, who gets my vote? I will probably put all of their names in a hat and then have a beer and put on the hat and forget I put the names in there.
That happened four years ago and look what happened.
Andrea, I go to you first.
We want to analyze the strength and weaknesses of the GOP frontrunners. Pick one and tell me their strengths and their weaknesses.
ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: OK, let's do Newt Gingrich.
TANTAROS: He has a record in D.C. of actually getting something done. He knows how to navigate the system, which Barack Obama does not know. He hasn't utilized that.
I think Newt is the toughest. I don't think he gets thrown off his game very easily. He is very shrewd and I think he'd obliterate the president in a debate.
I will say this, though, Greg, quickly -- I do think Romney has some strengths, too. I think he's got tremendous organization. And I do think he would be good in a debate as well.
But as you pointed out, he is going to play it safe. I really think he could -- he could not let the left get at him for personal things which Gingrich could.
TANTAROS: And I also think he probably just that family life. I mean, he and Barack Obama have a good clean slate behind him. So, it would be tough I think for Democrats to really hit Romney hard, particularly on his liberal flip-flop. They agree on some things.
GUTFELD: Not a skeleton --
TANTAROS: Yes, exactly.
GUTFELD: Eric, speaking of, you have many skeletons in your closet, but that's because you work at a medical college.
ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Right, exactly. Those plastic ones.
Who do I get?
GUTFELD: Yes, pick one. Who -- what do you think? Strengths and weaknesses for I'm going to give you Ron Paul because --
BOLLING: Of course you are going to give me Ron Paul, because you don't want to do Ron Paul, because every time one of us does Ron Paul, the Paulites go ballistic on the Internet with us.
Ron Paul's strengths -- clearly small government guy, hates the Fed. He's right on all his fiscal -- everything to do with money, he is spot on and perfect. I love him for that.
And his weakness, once again, it's blaring hole in the side. You can't survive, you can't be the nominee with the way you treat Israel. Your opinion on Israel that -- frankly, I think he's even said Israel shouldn't exist. And that and you will never become the nominee being pro-drug legalization. It just won't happen.
GUTFELD: I hope it happens one day when I'm still alive, which is about five years.
BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: Speaking of which --
GUTFELD: Yes. You are going to live forever.
GUTFELD: Because you are literally in formaldehyde.
BECKEL: I'm on formaldehyde, brother, every day.
GUTFELD: What -- who -- let's ask you about Mitt Romney, since he is the frontrunner basically.
BECKEL: First of all, Andrea said something right about Romney, is that he plays it safe. You don't beat sitting incumbent president playing it safe, number one. I mean, very rarely, if you look back in history to beat a sitting president who has enormous advantages.
BECKEL: And will have an enormous advantage for -- because he is the nominee, right? So, if the Republicans had a fight for any length of time, it helps Obama. They may not.
But Romney advantage is he's done it.
BECKEL: It's his second run. Generally, a second time around if you stay, you know how to do it. You can survive. He'll probably an OK debater. He does look like a presidential candidate.
But here's his fundamental problem, it's not Barack Obama. It's the base of the Republican Party. That -- yes, Andrea so well put it. They have been spoon-fed, you know, Romney now. Everybody is sort of accepting it.
But the fervor that would have been around Newt Gingrich, for example, I think at the base of the Republican Party won't be there. This is why that matters. In Ohio, southern Ohio, for example, the key swing precincts are conservative-based Republican voters. If they don't turn out --
BOLLING: I want to clarify this, Bob, you keep saying, "base." And I want to disagree with you that the base, the Republican base, is splintered. There are two factions --
BECKEL: No, no --
BOLLING: -- in the Republican base, establishment and conservative. And Romney clearly goes to the establishment.
BECKEL: What I mean by the base is conservative activist people who will get up and go to the caucus.
BOLLING: He doesn't have any of them, though.
BECKEL: Well, he is going to get them -- look, there is -- one thing he has going for him for a guy that is not exciting, is such a fervor to defeat Barack Obama that they might actually get up and go to polls.
TANTAROS: They will fall in line, though. I do think some of the supporters will fall in line. But agree, though, he does have an issue with weakness and enthusiasm. McCain is the same thing.
BECKEL: I'm not sure as a debater he will stand up either of --
GUTFELD: Kimberly, I want to get to you in here before you --
GUILFOYLE: Before the commercial?
GUTFELD: Yes, before the commercial.
Looking at the front runner, who do you see is the strongest -- the strongest candidate out there?
GUILFOYLE: Well, right now, I do think the strongest candidate out there is Romney. But, again, you know, anything can happen. We're going to see what's going to turn around in Iowa, see how the numbers reflect there. And then we've got to go into the South. And I think that's going to be significant. We'll see how they do in South Carolina.
I mean, if you look at somebody like Romney, of course, he has tremendous business acumen. He's strong on the economy. He has an unbelievable campaign structure comprised of a lot of people from Bush's former campaign. I think that's going to help them a lot. And he knows how to raise money.
Perry on the other hand has got a war chest as well. He's very likable. He's personable. I think he's going to soar in the numbers after the interview "On the Record."
BECKEL: One thing we ought to keep him out here, the days of accepting federal money for campaigns presidential is $50 million or $60 million are over. It will be self-financed. Barack Obama's campaign will raise and spend $700 million to $1 billion.
I guess the advantage that Romney has he is willing to go in his own pocket to do it and he probably will have to, because if not, if you don't have that kind of money to compete against the Obama camp, you are going to have to put it together.
BECKEL: Because I'll tell you, the one thing about the Obama people is they know how to play this game.
GUTFELD: OK, that's the Obama strength. We all know the Obama strength is that he is an amazing campaign with a lot of money.
GUTFELD: What's his weakness? What do you go for?
GUILFOYLE: Hello. Look at the economy, OK? It's no longer the day in the '80s, every family gets two VCRs. People don't feel as prosperous. And that's the problem.
Unless he is able to see the job numbers that work in his favor, the economy improve, I think he has considerable problems and weaknesses coming from the majority of Americans. But his base is strong.
TANTAROS: Yes, economy definitely number one. Deficit, definitely number two, because that matters a lot to independents.
But also remember, he promised to bring the country together to get things done. People want to get things done. They are sick and tired of both parties arguing.
And the candidate that actually has the best record is Newt Gingrich. Welfare reform, balancing the budget -- he's done all of that stuff. So, he could say, I have been there, I did it as speaker. What have you done, Mr. President, when you had Democratic Congress?
BOLLING: You know what else? Clearly, Obamanomics failed. I get it. That's a huge issue for him.
But if things start to turn around, there's one thing, a little caveat that could happen late next year.
BOLLING: The Supreme Court is going to hear Obamacare. If it gets somehow, if they break it up and they say it's unconstitutional going into the election, if I'm on the right, I'd go, look at this, even -- I couldn't even get this done.
GUILFOYLE: That's coming down in June as well.
BECKEL: Except that will be one of the great hack decisions of the court.
TANTAROS: If it happens, the whole thing falls apart.
BECKEL: In some ways, it's not bad to happen to him. I think he wins either way because if the Republicans beat him, then he's going to say, what's your answer? We still got a problem here. Medical costs are going through the ceiling. What's your answer?
The other thing about Obama is, you know, you say the economy, you say the economy -- look how much better it's gotten just 30 days. As I've said before, expectations are so low for him that -- on the economy that rebounds --
BOLLING: Isn't that pathetic?
GUILFOYLE: Bob, he's got to peak at the right time, though.
BOLLING: That is what we have to look forward to.
BECKEL: That's what happened with Reagan in '84. We went up against him. His expectations were so low coming off of a 10 percent unemployment that he actually cleaned us.
TANTAROS: If Obamacare gets repealed, I think Republicans will step up like they have already done and say, you know what? Rather than reform the entire system, let's do the small ball. Let's take it on piece by piece instead of this massive takeover.
Anything is better than what we have now.
BOLLING: He cleaned your clock because he was turning things around, because he was bringing inflation down and unemployment down at the fastest rate of any U.S. presidents.
BECKEL: And if I could make one point about things not bringing the country together, it is singularly and entirely the responsibility of this government of the House Republicans that over and over again they refuse to go along. Their Senate counterpart had to force feed them to go along with the most obviously in the world, give people payroll tax cut.
GUTFELD: But what was going on before that?
GUTFELD: Before the Republicans were in control?
GUTFELD: They are not having anything done was actually an achievement.
BECKEL: How do you -- whether you like it or not, getting universal health care is a big deal.
GUILFOYLE: It's a big F-ing deal as Biden says. But guess what? People don't like it.
BECKEL: People don't know enough about it.
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