This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 3, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK PERRY, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a powerful moment in America's history and you are on the front lines.
NEWT GINGRICH, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to do well enough to clearly be in the competition, and I think that it's very possible that the top four are going to be very, very close by this evening.
MITT ROMNEY, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's all tied up, so you know, so we'll see what happens, but at this stage, you know, I think I'll be one of the three.
RON PAUL, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The change is not complicated. The change is just restoring what was, those principles that made America great.
MICHELE BACHMANN, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've bought our tickets already for South Carolina. We're going, we're moving forward.
RICK SANTORUM, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got a good team we're going to expand it in Florida we're adding staff in Florida and other places.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Alright, some of the sights and sounds from candidates making their final pitches. Some counties are particularly interesting tonight because of the past history. Six of them individually will be watching the results to see if we can tell where it goes, Dallas County, Dubuque County -- Dubuque is actually heavily catholic, pro-life, Senator Santorum expected to do well there and that race against Romney in that county, it'll be interesting, Johnson County, home of University of Iowa, this is a big county for Ron Paul, if he's to win, Polk County, Sioux County and Woodbury County. And in Woodbury, a lot of people comparing what happened four years ago with Mitt Romney and his votes in those. You see how it's spread across the state.
Jeff, when you look at all of these different places you see the comparison to what Romney got vote-wise back in 2008. A lot of people will be looking at just that, to see how he's doing stacking up.
JEFF ZELENY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Exactly, and the one big ditches between now a Polk County in Des Moines and all of central Iowa. He did very poorly four years ago, largely because of a conservative radio host who no longer works on the biggest radio station in the state who relentlessly attacked Mitt Romney's conservative credentials four years ago. That has not happened. So, he believes that Polk County is a strength for him this time. So I would say for Governor Romney that's the biggest difference.
And he still, he wrapped up his campaign in the eastern part of the state yesterday where there's a lot of Republicans along the Mississippi River, so his campaign is pretty confident of a strong showing in that part of the state.
BAIER: Steve, what about the tickets out? We hear the three tickets out, the governor said it today, others have said it, but, boy, those other campaigns are really making a case that South Carolina is the be all end all.
STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think it's hard to say that there will be three tickets out. You have Newt Gingrich who clearly wants to continue even if he comes in fourth or fifth in part because he's so angry about what Mitt Romney has done to him and Ron Paul to a lesser extent. And it sounds like he wants to carry out what could be a campaign of vengeance even if he doesn't do well here.
Rick Perry, I think there are real questions about how much of the money that he raised, that eye popping last quarter, how much of that is still remaining and available to him. He's done a lot of ads, he's done a lot of production here and purchased some ads in South Carolina, and that indicates that he's clearly going to South Carolina. I'm told he has a good ground game there. So I think he's likely to end up going to South Carolina. But what was interesting, I talked to a senior South Carolina Republican Party official today and asked, you know, what does the ground game look like for the people coming out of here. And he said that the candidate that has been to South Carolina more than any other candidate is Rick Santorum. Which was surprising, somewhere between 26 and 28 appearances. So he may actually have, his argument has been, he made it on "Center Seat" with us, he's trying to set up a campaign that if he catches fire the days before the Iowa caucuses allows him to continue to go, and he may be able to take advantage of that.
BAIER: Ya know and Kirsten, a lot of people say, well he just doesn't have the money, even if the money was coming in, it wouldn't come fast enough. But with the advent of super PACs, big money supporters could help a Santorum campaign continue on if he's the chosen conservative alternative?
KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Yeah, I mean, look, if he won in Iowa that would be a huge boon. And, yes, people could decide that he is -- if he wins it will mean probably that he got the evangelicals and social conservatives to rally around him, which makes him the anti-Romney. And there are a lot of people who want to support an anti-Romney. If they decide that he can actually go the distance, a lot of people would step up. But that's the issue. I think that most people if they look at the polls, they say Romney is the most electable. We don't love him, but he's the most electable.
BAIER: Jeff, we've learned that Governor Perry's campaign is buying ad time in South Carolina, so before you find out where he is here, they're planning ahead. Michele Bachmann says she has tickets to South Carolina. There's debates this weekend. I mean, even if someone performs really poorly, they're likely not going to get out right away, right?
ZELENY: I think that's right. If we're going to see the same thing that happened at the beginning of the campaign, all of these debates are still going to allow a venue for these candidates to air their points of view. And there's a debate on Saturday, again on Sunday. I think, after New Hampshire it might be a little bit more difficult to sort of go the distance here, but I don't think that the old adage of three tickets out of Iowa is true this year.
HAYES: I definitely agree with that. You know what's interesting is will we see New Hampshire be less important this year than it has in other years. Mitt Romney in some of the polls have 30 point leads. He's going to be spending some time in South Carolina, not as much time in New Hampshire. Other candidates are going to New Hampshire but with the expectation that Romney is going to win and win so big, and that there could be a real scrum in South Carolina featuring the winner from here, potentially some of these other candidates, will South Carolina almost displace New Hampshire as the real determinative of who is going to be the nominee?
BAIER: And coming out of here there could be multiple storylines, not just the winner, but second and third. It often happens, so it will be interesting. I'm not going to force predictions just because people are sick of predictions.
BAIER: We're going to let them vote. Thank you very much. That's it for the panel and we'll talk about what is coming up later tonight after this break.
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