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Krauthammer evaluates Myrtle Beach GOP debate

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY: Continuing now with the lead story: the Republican Debate last night on the Fox News Channel. Joining us from Washington, Fox News analyst, Charles Krauthammer. All right, after all my bloviating, Charles, did I make any mistakes?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS ANALYST: I think astonishingly not. I think -- Gingrich obviously won the night. He won big. Ron Paul lost really big. Romney came out sort of so-so, nicked slightly. He played defense. He is sitting on a lead. He played prevent defense. He will add a couple of field goals.

I mean, there are two things I not quite understand, how could he not have been prepared for a question on his tax returns? And how could he not have prepared a nice short succinct human and humane answer about how -- what he did at Bain, private capital really helps the economy and helps individual workers in the end. He didn't really have that he kind of stumbled around.

I thought Santorum did well. But remember, because he is in competition with Gingrich, the fact that Gingrich did so well means that Santorum actually I think lost ground.

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: Yes there's no doubt he overshadowed.

KRAUTHAMMER: Actually I think he lost ground.

O'REILLY: Right he overshadowed him.

KRAUTHAMMER: He lost ground.

O'REILLY: But Gingrich, you know we're going to have Juan Williams on tomorrow night. And one thing I noticed that very, very few people picked up is that Juan Williams' question about Gingrich's statements on poor people was basically challenging the Speaker to say do you believe that the poor in America don't have a work ethic? Don't have a work ethic, that's where Juan was going.

But Gingrich very shrewdly avoided that. He didn't have -- he didn't have anything to do with that. And he went right into the failed liberal policies of enabling. He doesn't want to enable. And that just played to the Republican crew big time.

But I think that -- that in a general -- look, what Gingrich does very well is he plays to the choir. But in a general election, I don't know whether Americans can get behind a guy like Newt Gingrich because he is so blunt. What do you think?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, on this particular question, the way he answered would have played to any kind of audience. What he did and the reason that was such a winning answer, it actually got a standing ovation, which is fairly unusual in a debate like this, was because he was able to frame in a minute, in 60 seconds, the fundamental difference between the understanding of compassion on the left versus understanding of what compassion is on the right.

And he pointed out that the liberal view is handouts and dependency and paternalism. That's ever since the great society. And the view on the right is it's a job. It's independence, it's dignity. And it's a person standing on his own. He did that in a very deft way and that's why he hit it out of the park.

I think that will play to a conservative audience or to an independent audience which is where the election would be won or lost.

O'REILLY: Ok so with the vote being divided between Gingrich and Santorum it looks like Romney will prevail. There is one more debate. And Romney has to step it up. He can't be waffling around with the tax question or the Bain question. He's got to come out and be stronger. If he has too bad -- I think if Romney has a bad debate performance on Thursday, he's going to, he might lose South Carolina. He might lose.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think you're -- look, this is a very crucial debate coming up. If Gingrich can repeat the performance he had which was a smart one and Romney again sort of sits on his heels. He's good at deflecting attacks but he didn't have any sort of inspiring, even one inspiring moment. If that happens again, it is possible, despite the big lead that we see in the polls now.

But there for Monday and Sunday and Saturday, it is possible you could get a Gingrich surge at the end. And if he wins South Carolina --

O'REILLY: There's no doubt. South Carolina is that kind of place, right.

KRAUTHAMMER: -- well that means, I still think that Romney is odds on to win the nomination.

O'REILLY: Yes. I do too.

KRAUTHAMMER: However, however it ends the short circuit.

O'REILLY: That's right.

KRAUTHAMMER: It means that it's not going to be over on January 31.

O'REILLY: But this is the last hurrah for Rick Perry, I believe, he'll be out after South Carolina. Because even though he has a lot of money it's pretty much running low. He's not going to get any to go to Florida. You need a lot of money there.

KRAUTHAMMER: Right.

O'REILLY: So he's done. Ron Paul he can hang around but he's not you know forget it. I mean, it's just his fanatics; that's 11 percent, 10 percent, so he is done.

So you've got -- you've got three left.

But I don't understand, you know, when I said in the "Talking Points," Governor Romney, he is paying 15 percent on his cap gains, ok. That's a law. And there is a reason that law is there. It's not to help rich fat cats. It's to encourage people to put money into the system.

And why don't you just explain that? Why don't you say here is my tax return. Here is my 15 percent that I pay because I don't have a salary now. I'm living off my investment income. This is why it's there.

I would even make it lower. I think Romney even wants it lower. And this is why. You get money in. You get expansion of the economy. Everybody works. I don't know what they are afraid of. I think they are intimidated by the press. I really think the press intimidates Romney and some of the others.

KRAUTHAMMER: I don't know if it's the press. But he doesn't -- he simply doesn't have the capacity to explain with some color and sort of force conservative ideas. He is a businessman. He you know, he looks like he's a -- he's chairing a meeting of the board. He's a competent guy.

But for example, when he gets hit on the private equity stuff, why doesn't he just say why didn't he say in the debate last night? Look, when the Democrats, the ones who supposedly are the ones who are the champion of the middle class and the working class took control of GM, and Chrysler, hundreds, thousands of people lost their jobs, dealerships were shut down, the Pontiac and other lines were shut down. You had to do it to save the company to enable it to survive and then to grow it as it is now beginning to grow and restore the jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: Right. You make a logical point.

KRAUTHAMMER: If he had just explained that and took the playbook out of what the Democrats have done, he would have had a forceful answer. But for some reason he simply deflected it.

O'REILLY: I don't think his preppers -- I don't think the guys prepping him are the best. I think that's what it's got to be. But he should be smart enough to know it himself.

Charles thanks very much we appreciate it.

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