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Special Report

All-Star Panel: Setting the GOP table for 2016

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 1, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

GEORGE PATAKI, R-FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Well, I'm thinking about it because it really comes down on the future of the country. I am, like I think most Americans, very discouraged by the course of our government. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you are considering?

CARLY FIORINA, FORMER HEWLETT-PACKARD CEO: Well, when people ask you over and over again you have to pause and reflect. So I'll pause and reflect at the right time.

GOV. SUSANA MARTINEZ, R-N.M.: Growing up, I never imagined a little girl from a border town could one day become a governor. But this is America. In America todo es posible.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, HOST: New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, Carly Fiorina, and former New York Governor George Pataki, names you may not have heard about as possible -- considering running for president, but they are being talked about, or at least they are talking about it.

Take a long look at this graphic. There are 24 heads on this graphic. All of them are people who have talked about running, said they were considering it, or some people think they are considering running for president in 2016, 24 of them. And this does not include all of them.  This is the Republican potential field.

We are going to introduce to you it a number of them in our presidential profile series that continues this week. We're back with the panel. Mara, when you look at that and you see all these names -- and I think there are that aren't in there -- it's really amazing.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: It is really amazing. This is a huge, huge field, and it's a substantial field. It's about a lot of senators, a lot of governors.  These are real, serious people. This is not, you know, talk show hosts running for president.

And there is no clear frontrunner. I think if Jeb Bush decides to get in, which is a big if, he would be at the top of the heap. He generally polls a little bit better than the rest of them who are all bunched up together.

But the Republican Party in the past has been very hierarchical. They like to give the nomination to the guy whose turn it is, who came in second last time. And that's not really the case this time. It's very wide open. I think it will be a great debate. There are governors, senators, Tea Party people, evangelicals, mainstream establishment conservatives. And I think this will be a great debate about the future of the Republican Party.

BAIER: George? 

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, anything can happen. We have seen this before. George McGovern was at three percent in January 1972 when everyone knew that Edmund Muskie was going to be the nominee. Didn't happen. All the entitlements in our entitlement society, there's none as rock solid as the entitlement of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, with 3.8 percent of the American population to get this head start. And there is a good side to that, which is that with retail campaigning, a really dark horse can break loose. Is that to happen? No.

BAIER: We'll put up that 24 shot again, Charles. As you look at those head boxes, do you see people who stand the out right now?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I see you in the first debate sweating it.

BAIER: Well, how do you get on the stage?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think you have got to have the debate in shifts. That will be the only way to do it.

No, there are people who stand out. I think when you look at the polls you get five or six or seven who are that much well known. The one advantage here is that there is going to be -- there is not going to be any negative advertising or attacks in the beginning because it would be idiotic to waste your time, effort, or money on attacking when you have a field of 21 or 26 people opposing you.  

Look, I do think it's going to shake out quickly. You are going to have a first debate unless somebody figures out a criterion for deciding who gets in and who doesn't. Obviously it will have to be something like a percentage where you are in the polls. There aren't a lot of criteria other than being arbitrary about it. But I think after one or two debates, it will be pretty clear. There will be a field of eight or nine or 10.   What's encouraging here is if you compare this to the field last time around, 2012, this is infinitely superior, stronger. There are a lot of people in that graphic who are plausibly chief executives. That was not true last time around. And I think one of the reasons that the field is so large, people have a sense that the Democrats are vastly overestimating the popularity in a general election of Hillary Clinton.

BAIER: And just so can I answer the email, you are definitively not going to run?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, if nominated I won't run. But if elected I will serve. 

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: Thanks for clearing that up. Mara, Mitt Romney, is he going to get back in this race?

LIASSON: I think not. He has had a nice flattering couple of months where he is at the top of the polls in a lot of these states, and there is a feeling that he would have made a good president in the Republican Party and people have been clamoring him to try again. But I don't think so.

BAIER: Buy that?

WILL: I do buy that. If the Republicans want to win, and I think they really want to win this time, they are going to ask one question. Tell me the blue states you are going to flip? Can you campaign in suburban Philadelphia? Do you have a chance of carrying Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado? If they ask that question seriously it will whittle that field very fast.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think one of the reasons he is so high in the polls, particularly, even among independents and even some Democrats, is buyer's remorse about reelecting Obama. I think it's more -- the pro-Romney vote is more of an anti-Obama vote, like I wish I had a second shot of that one and how did I get it so wrong? I don't think it really is an endorsement of him. And it obviously is a lot of it is name recognition. I think he would make a good president but I don't think he would be any stronger a candidate this time around than he was in 2012.

BAIER: Jeb Bush in or out?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think he's in.

LIASSON: I really don't know. That's the big question though, the number one question.

WILL: I deeply hope he runs. He is he a talented man. I doubt that he runs.

BAIER: You heard it here. Something tells me we will be putting up that that 24 picture many times and maybe more. The tough part is getting on one stage in the first debate.

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