All-Star Panel: Looking ahead at 2016 contenders

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 15, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DR. BEN CARSON, FORMER PEDIATRIC NEUROSURGEON: We really have two different camps in this country right now. We have those who believe that this is a nation that is for, of, and by the people. And we have those who believe that this is a nation that is for, of, and by the government.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Dr. Ben Carson out in San Diego looking like he is gearing up for a presidential run. Meantime, you have governors out there, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also looking at it, saying, quote, "I think the best way to counter something from the past is with something new. [Americans] don't want the worn-out, tired views of the past." I wonder what he is talking about.


BAIER: We're back with the panel. Juan, it's interesting to see how these dynamics are changing in 2016 as Republicans meet in San Diego with Mitt Romney looking like he is running and Jeb Bush looking like you he is running and how that changes the dynamics in the field.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, start your engines, gentlemen. And start them early, Bret. This is what is shocking everybody is it's so early and you have these two establishment titans in conflict.

I must tell you that among the donor class, people are still in shock over the Romney thing. They don't get it. Romney is, in fact, a better and more successful fundraiser than Jeb Bush has ever been. And Romney's people will remind you that, you know, Jeb Bush hasn't run a race in more than a dozen years. But, the fact that Romney is serious I think has sent tremors through the Republican establishment and the donor class, and meanwhile, separated out from what you heard from Carl Cameron earlier that in terms of the grassroots, there is a great dissatisfaction with both Romney and Bush. They want somebody is else.

So Scott Walker is of course self-serving, somebody new, picking up on this Obama thing about the new car smell. But the fact is Scott Walker is speaking a truth for many conservative activists.

BAIER: I was out in Ohio today, talked to John Kasich. He may be considering a run as well, the governor of Ohio.


BAIER: Well, he is definitely kicking the tires. We're going to have that piece next week. You know, we did the piece about Rick Perry, former governor now of Texas. You have the list. And we will put up again our full screen head boxes, minus Paul Ryan who just got out. It's quite a possibility.

NAPOLITANO: I agree substantially with what Juan just said. However, Jeb Bush's early maneuverings have sent tremors not only among these folks whose faces we are seeing now but amongst the donor class. The donor class, they are not going to give to more than one candidate. Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, they are basically going to appeal to the same class of donors, and I think Jeb forced Mitt and Mitt is probably going to force Chris Christie to move earlier than he planned on it.

But let me say this. I think that the mini failed revolution we saw in the House of Representatives against John Boehner is the tip of the iceberg. I think there is a substantial appetite amongst the Republican base that votes in primaries for a human being more conservative than the middle of the road represented by Romney, Christie, and Jeb.

BAIER: Speaking to that, Senator Rand Paul recently. This is what he said.


SEN. RAND PAUL, R - KY: Some say if you are a moderate you will attract people in the middle. But do you lose some people on the grassroots side that lose their enthusiasm and stay at home? And so that is a debate back and forth. I think the last time around we had less Republicans vote in 2012 than voted in 2008, so some have made an argument that we lost some enthusiasm from the grassroots.


BAIER: You know, a lot of people e-mail, Charles, and tweet and text and Facebook message that we are spending too much time talking 2016 now. But the thing is that these maneuvers are happening now.

KRAUTHAMMER: 2016 is almost over.


CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: These guys have decided -- I mean, obviously it was the Bush move. It always happens two years ahead of time. It's happened a little bit early because Bush emerged. He obviously is running. But we are in the middle of this. This is not that we are looking way out into the future. This is going to get sorted out, who gets the staff, who gets the money, who gets the frontrunner status.

I think we were hearing from Rand Paul about the establishment and, of course, people on the right. That's why I think there is going to be a push to get one of these new young faces, governors who are extremely conservative and nonetheless have done stuff in the real world. I think Scott Walker is a good example of someone who took on the government unions, hardly a moderate position. He did it well. He sustained about five elections as a result of that that he won against union and Democratic money that tried to unseat him. I think there is going to be a push for that. I think there is a lot to be -- to this argument about old and new faces. It's going to be a real hunger for new.

BAIER: So do you buy this narrative of the clash of the titans between Romney and Bush and somebody shoots the gap there?

KRAUTHAMMER: Yeah. They may also cancel each other out, or I do think that Romney's prominence in the polls is an example of buyer's remorse. People think, you know, I wish it had been Romney and not Obama. However, Obama is not running again. So I'm not sure it applies.

BAIER: I will say one thing. I did get an e-mail today with a poster, and I will just put it up very quickly before we go to break. It said send the judge to Washington. Draft Judge Napolitano, so officially, are you running?

NAPOLITANO: I am not running. I love my job.


BAIER: All right. Those rumors are out there. I want you to know that.

That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see what happens when you combine a heavy accent with some heavy snow.

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