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Special Report

What happens after the Sunshine State?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 30, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Governor Romney is extraordinarily insensitive to religious freedom in America. And the Obama administration is clearly engaged in a war on religion.

MITT ROMNEY, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has been flailing around a bit trying to go after me for one thing or the other. And you just watch it and you shake your head. It's been kind of painfully revealing to watch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The two major candidates in Florida today battling it out ahead of tomorrow's big primary as you take a look at the Real Clear Average of polls. Now this incorporates all of the recent polls. There are many different polls out there. One has Romney up 20 points, one has Romney up only five points, seven, nine. There are lot of new polls all factored into the Real Clear Politics average, and there you see Romney at 41.6, Gingrich at 29.1, and Santorum and Paul trailing. Also as you take a look at the spending here, this is an interesting statistic. The amount of money that has been spent, the Romney campaign spent roughly $7 million. A super PAC supporting Romney almost $11 million -- there you see $17,791,710. Then the Gingrich campaign --$1.2 million, the super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, roughly $4,250,000, there you have $5.4 million, a lot of money, and the disparity between the two candidates great. Let's bring in our national panel first, Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Charles, first to you, what you heard today on the trail from the two main candidates, here, who are battling it out, and your thoughts on this battle?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I thought what Newt said to you just a few minutes ago was very interesting. He is talking about hanging in there. Presumably he is going to lose in Florida, but he says he will remain undaunted and will go all the way to Tampa, the convention. And I don't think it's a bluff. It's not just because, as he said, from here on out, most of the races are proportional. So it's extremely unlikely unless everybody else drops out that Romney would have an absolute majority.

But there is also a rule that -- it's a new rule by the Republicans -- if you have a plurality of delegates in just five of the states, meaning he has already has one in South Carolina, would have one in Georgia obviously, it could be in Guam, and the Virgin Islands, and D.C. Then you have your name put in nomination at the convention. And that wouldn't just be a thumb in the eye at presumably if Romney is the nominee, it would be way to vindicate his campaign. And also would keep alive the idea if there is a fractured meeting in Tampa, that somehow the delegates decided, when they're release after a ballot they want a conservative candidate, it could be him. So I think he is in it. I think it's going to get much more nasty. And I don't see him dropping out along the way.

BAIER: A.B., your thoughts on this battle? You know, each of these candidates, now because it's so negative down here, the unfavorables are actually going up for both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: I know. And it is really becoming a problem for the ultimate nominee for the very divided Republican party. I think what Newt Gingrich is finding -- he is the frontrunner today. As you know he has more delegates than Mitt Romney right now. He won the last contest. He defied history in South Carolina. But in 10 days he has become too toxic a choice for the establishment, and obviously polls showing it's going to be wipeout for him in Florida.

I think Charles is right that he stays on and makes this very uncomfortable for the party, continuing to criticize Mitt Romney and sort of chip away at his electability along the way. But the opportunities begin to diminish for him after Florida. And I think we'll see Mitt Romney, should he win tomorrow night with a big margin, sort of enjoy his first kind of uninterrupted, solid, stable momentum, so far. And I think that he goes into contests like Nevada, he has more money, more endorsements from the establishment and more support, and Newt Gingrich becomes even more unpopular than he might be tonight.

BAIER: Well Bill, you are not surprised to hear that the campaign doesn't focus on the big spread polls. They focus on the ones that are tight. And the northern part of Florida with a heavy Tea Party presence could surprise people even and even if they lose, it could be tighter than we think it is. That is the Gingrich campaign.

Also, as you look as the calendar going forward, Bill, you have February, which is kind of spread out. You have the 4th, which is the Nevada caucuses and then you have Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri on the 7th; Maine caucuses on the 11; Arizona and Michigan on the 28. Then in March it is really delegate bonanza, and the Gingrich campaign is saying, hey listen, we could pick up a lot of delegates, more than the 50 delegates here in Florida. What about that scenario?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: First of all, Bret, on Florida, I think Mitch Daniels has a good chance to win tomorrow. Paul Ryan will be close second. Marco Rubio will win a strong third. I'm enjoying my fantasy primary more than the actual Florida primary, I've got to say.

Going forward, on the other hand, assuming these fantasy candidates don't get in, obviously Mitt Romney will be in strong shape, assuming he wins tomorrow and I think he'll win -- probably pretty handily, it's hard to tell actually whether the race has closed a little bit at the very end or whether it's going to keep opening up a little bit and he'll win by 15 or 18 points. But you know, these caucuses are unpredictable. Ron Paul will do well I'm told in some of these states; Santorum. Chuck Laudner, who did -- who ran Santorum's race in Iowa very successfully. And that [INAUDIBLE] in Minnesota organizing for Santorum. I don't think one should minimize the effect of what might happen in these caucuses and primaries in February; Arizona and Michigan at the end of February. Obviously if Mitt Romney sweeps them all or takes the preponderance of them he'll be really in driver's seat, but upsets can happen, I think.

BAIER: Charles, we should point out the other two candidates were not campaigning here in Florida, but they were campaigning elsewhere. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We want someone who has a record of standing up and fighting for the principles that made this country great. We want someone who is going to take the high road and talk about the issues that are important to this country and quit getting down in the gutter.

RON PAUL, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to stay in and see what comes of it. And who knows what will come of the other two candidates? There has been lots of ups and downs. So maybe there will be some downs and we might be able to pick up the pieces.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: That seems like a common theme here. That there may be downs and these other two candidates, Santorum and Paul, will be able to pick up some states, as Bill mentioned, some of those caucus states.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think the real sleeper event could be in Missouri. Missouri doesn't have any delegates. It's only a beauty contest. But Gingrich isn't on the ballot. And I think for Santorum, this is his great opportunity. He'd be essentially one on one with Romney. Of course, Ron Paul will get his share of the vote as he always does.

But it would be a place where he could say, assuming he were to win, he could say, look, if Gingrich is the one that drops out and not me, I'm the one who can unite the non-establishment, the ones who are more of the regular party, the one more in touch with the grassroots against Romney and win in the general election.

I think this is his one opportunity, particularly because he has tried to take the high road as we saw in the debate last week, where he said it is OK that Newt worked in Washington and it's OK if Romney is a rich guy, he earned it. He is the one who is probably the least toxic as the compromise nominee if you're either in the Romney camp or the Newt camp. And I think he could present himself that way and that will be his one big shot.

BAIER: Bill, A.B., Charles, thanks for the Brady Bunch panel tonight, appreciate it. Next up next, a panel of Florida political experts on what we may expect in Tuesday's primary.

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