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FORMER GOV. JEB BUSH, R - FLORIDA: We have a lot of problems that could be solved if we fix a few big things and immigration is one of them so, long story short, if I was to run, I would try persuade people. I'm not going to change what I believe and my beliefs, I think, are good, solid, mainstream conservative thought.
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BAIER: Jeb Bush announcing today that he is officially exploring a run for president. But that does do a couple of big things in this race. As you take a look at the new Fox News poll out tonight.
It's obviously early and all these early polls, you know, they are what they are, but here it is. Mitt Romney atop and there you see Bush at 10 percent and the rest of the field you can keep strolling through, Christie, Huckabee, Paul and Walker, Carson, Ryan, Cruz, Rubio. Keep going. One more page, there you go.
We're back with the panel. Mara, a big deal.
LIASSON: It's a big deal. I think it's the single biggest decision, so far, of the Republican field. And even though you see everybody kind of bunched up there, and just double digits or high single digits, there is a first among equals and his name is Jeb Bush.
Because, I think that he will solidify Republican establishment him behind him. He has an instant network. He can raise a tremendous amount of money. This throws a huge monkey wrench into Marco Rubio's plans because he has the same network from Florida.
And, Jeb Bush has pretty much said how he would run, which is lose the primary, win the general election strategy. He is not going to backtrack on his support for immigration reform, which includes legalization or a path to citizenship. He is sticking with common core. I think it's pretty interesting. I think what he is figuring is that the rest of the candidates are going to split the anti-establishment vote, split the Tea Party vote and the Republicans will do what they always do, which is nominate the establishment guy.
BAIER: But, boy, Steve, you look at the conservative push back today on social media, talk radio, obviously you knew it was coming, but it was pretty loud.
HAYES: It was loud. I think that's one of the reasons why Jeb Bush made the announcement at the time that he made it going into the holidays. He will get this sort of ferocious push back at a time when a lot of people aren't paying as close attention to politic as they might otherwise be paying.
Look, let me just disagree with Mara. I don't think this is that big of a deal, I mean, I think it's a big deal in the fact that it gives us a sense that Jeb Bush is no longer musing about the possibility of running.
He has taken an active step that allows him to make different kind of phone call to perspective donors than he would have made a week ago, but if money determined everything in the Republican primaries, I think we would have had a very different series of events in the 2012 Republican primaries.
Remember, you had different candidates. Virtually everybody in the entire field at one point or another led. I mean, I don't remember the exact dollar amount.
BAIER: Because we were in the anti-Mitt Romney anybody but Mitt Romney.
HAYES: We were in the anti-Mitt Romney, but if any of those other candidates had proven to be a viable candidate, had proven to have any kind of staying power, it's entirely conceivable that they would have won. It's no longer a given that the candidate with the most money is the candidate that automatically wins.
I think he has name recognition, which is both good and bad. But I think that his primary advantage is that he would be the establishment choice.
HAYES: I think the grass roots conservatives will have a lot to say about this before this is over.
BAIER: Right. But also how does it affect the other people who are maybe in his sphere, which is the Mitt RomneyS, the Chris Christies, others who might fit that that ideological bin, if you will.
KRAUTHAMMER: No. I think it is a big deal because those who would be on his -- let's say wing of the spectrum have to rethink whether they want to going to go up against Jeb Bush and how good of a chance they will have. I think it will clear out some of his wing, if you like.
As for the others, there are other people who would otherwise be on the fringe. It would look like a free for all. Look like the most open seat in the history of the presidency. So why not throw in your hat.
And I think it will, because it creates an instant frontrunner for good or for ill, it will discourage some of the fringe candidates. I think it will make your job on the first debate a little easier because it won't be a four score and seven candidates.
BAIER: You put this up before, the full screen of all the potential presidential…
KRAUTHAMMER: Some of those potentials are going to think Bush is in the race...
HAYES: Who is not going to run because Jeb Bush is running, maybe Mitt Romney. I don't think this affects Marco Rubio's decision one way or another. I think Rubio is going to run if he's going to run, and he's not if he's not regardless of what Jeb Bush does. I don't it affects Christie, certainly doesn't affect Scott Walker. I just have a hard time seeing who this really scares away particularly at this early stage.
BAIER: Maybe --
LIASSON: I don't know if it scares them away, but I think Jeb Bush sucks up the oxygen out the room in that wing of the field. How can there be enough money to support and establishment to support for all of those governors?
I just don't think there is going to be that. I think the establishment wants to rally around somebody. I think they see a Hillary Clinton as completely beatable. They really want to win. I think you will see a coalescing around Bush over time.
BAIER: There will be a rise of some conservative candidate.
HAYES: Probably more than one.
BAIER: Maybe more than one. Quickly, I want to give you time. You saw the Senator Cruz interview. Obviously, I referenced your panel remarks and his explanation of what happened on the Hill. Just some thoughts.
KRAUTHAMMER: My critique of Cruz is not that he isn't a team player. There is no virtue in being a team player and I admire people who act on their own and I admire his courage in many ways.
On the other hand, I do think that what he has done, standing up on principle or making these statements has hurt the cause. He can make a lot of statements. You can stand up.
But if you do things as he did in October of last year, and as he did now, in which he enabled the Democrats today, the Democrats approved, I think, 21 judicial nominees. You gave Harry Reid time to do all this. If you are practical effects are negative, don't do it. Make your statement somewhere else.
BAIER: It sounds like is he running though. That's it for the panel but stay tuned for an energetic young reporter with the Christmas spirit.