OTR Interviews

Krauthammer's take: Is a crowded 2016 field bad for the GOP?

Syndicated columnist and Fox News analyst on whether 14 presidential candidates (and counting) is bad for the GOP and hurts its chances of taking back the White House.


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 10, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: As you know, the race to the White House is on already. And already 14 Republicans -- yes, 14 of them -- vying for the nomination, but that's not all. Even more are expected to jump in the race very soon. 

So, is it too crowded for the GOP or is it a good thing to have so many candidates in the race? Author of the very, very, very best selling book, "Things that Matter," Charles Krauthammer, joins us. Nice to see you, Charles.


VAN SUSTEREN: Charles, why the huge GOP field? Who wins and who loses out of that?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I do think the GOP loses in the sense that it's going to take longer than normal to win all the field to a manageable number from whom people can choose and each of them can then distinguish his or herself in a way that will make them attractive to the electorate. So I think the number hurts. But here is one irony. This is the biggest field anybody can remember, but I think it is also the highest quality field that the Republicans have had, perhaps either party has had, since at least 1980. 

I mean, you have in this field at least six accomplished governors, four senators all distinguished one way or another, the former head of Hewlett Packard, a distinguished high executive. I mean if you were to put this together, you could almost pick randomly and you could find a dozen of them who would be able to fill a cabinet that would be one of the highest quality cabinets of our lifetime. That's a very strong field, but they have to start winnowing.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then, of course, you have Governor Walker who is planning to throw his hat in the ring soon and then you have Governor Kasich of Ohio who not only is governor but he was the House -- he's in the House and chairman of the budget committee. So, he's got a long resume.

KRAUTHAMMER: We've got the governors of Wisconsin, Louisiana, Ohio, the former Florida, governor of New Jersey. You have got quite a talented field, and this is pretty rare comparing to 2012. When you looked at the stage in 2012 there was really only one plausible presidential candidate of the group and that's who the nominee was.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it going -- I mean, it's so hard to sort of distinguish between any of them. Of course some are -- some are very obviously, out of the big group, have very strong views that may be different. But for the most part, they are not profoundly different. Is it going to boil down to sort of who do you like?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it's going to boil down to who is the best on the playing field. This is one where, you know, I don't think the money determines. I'm not sure the resume will determine. This is -- especially when you have a field as large as this, nobody having a lead that goes out of the margin of error, everybody at 15 percent or less. This is going to depend on who plays the best, who does the best in the debates, who makes the smallest number of gaffes, who comes out with a policy that's particularly attractive. 

Think of 2008, Mike Huckabee, nobody ever heard of the guy. He distinguished himself in the debates and all of the sudden he was in the top rank and I think that's possible. I think you have got the three heavyweights, the ones who come in, Rubio, Walker, and Bush. Then you have got all the others who are trying to jump into the top tier. I think it's quite possible by what they do on the playing field. You can get one or two who jump in at the top.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about  -- why hasn't Secretary Clinton been able to bury Senator Bernie Sanders so far? I mean he is devout socialist with some, you know, rather old views that are quite shocking?

KRAUTHAMMER: Because she is a terrible candidate. I mean, how long does it take the Democrats to understand that? She will, of course, win the nomination because her only challenger is a 73-year-old socialist. He has no chance. But if she has to struggle against him, he is now in the 30s against her and clearly has the enthusiasm, it tells you she does not exactly have enthusiastic following even among her party.

VAN SUSTEREN: Charles, always nice to see you. Thank you for joining us.

KRAUTHAMMER: My pleasure.