This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 6, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


HERMAN CAIN: I'm proud of the fact, quite frank ly, that I haven't held public office before, because I asked people, most of the people that are in elective office in Washington, D.C., they have held public office before. How is that working for you?

RICH SANTORUM, R-FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: I think anybody that would suggest that we call a truce on the moral issues doesn't understand what America is all about.


BRET BAIER: Well, the big debate in Greenville, South Carolina, the first debate of the presidential campaign season. Those two candidates, judging by folks who reviewed the debate, seemed to do pretty well in the viewers' response. Of course all five in play, as you see Governor Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Gary Johnson, and Congressman Ron Paul.

Lightning round here back with the panel. Let's start with favorite moment of the debate. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I think you just played mine with Herman Cain. I mean the way that he answered questions, he was short and to the point. And professional politicians don't do that very often. They always try to use the whole time allotted to them. I think it actually makes some sense to be that close. And he drew a contrast there with himself and the people in Washington, which is a good contrast to be drawing right now.

BAIER: Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Well, I'm gonna give a little shout out to Chris Wallace for tapping into his inner feminist and asking the question to Rick Santorum about what he'd written about working women, because it's something that, I think, doesn't normally happen at these debates. You don't usually get those kind of questions, and I just thought it was a remarkable moment.

BAIER: Inner feminist, Chris Wallace -- I might e-mail him right now. I might. Charles?


CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Mine was also a question, rather than answer your question to Gary Johnson on what would be -- if he had a reality show what would it be? I have never seen a politician so at sea on a question, he just didn't know where to turn.

BAIER: He eventually got there.

KRAUTHAMMER: He did, it took him a while, but I think you helped him along a little bit.

It was one serious note, that I thought about Santorum's point, that Obama's success, particularly in the war on terror, have all been as a result of the continuation and even the acceleration of policy that had begun with the Bush administration. I thought it was extremely important and he made it well.

BAIER: What is the sense about the candidates who did not show? And whether it hurts them or doesn't hurt them?

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm not sure that it really hurt any of the frontrunners. I think Romney, Huckabee if he runs did well to stay away because they would obviously have been the targets. That is what you do if you are an unknown and you want to make a name for yourself, you shoot arrows at the guy in front.

Pawlenty I think did reasonably well. The one who was obviously there, he was the one frontrunner. Gingrich I think might have done well because he is a good debater. And he might have shone; and he just didn't show up.

BAIER: Kirsten?

POWERS: Yeah, I don't think in the end it really matters because it's so early. And this is gonna be forgotten. It would have been dangerous for Romney to have been there especially to contrast him with Pawlenty who really came out on the cap-and-trade issue and just said, you know what, I made a mistake, I'm sorry, let's move on. We know that what Romney would have been pressured to do the same thing and he's refused to do that so far.

BAIER: Although South Carolina wanted him there?


BAIER: I mean, Nikki Haley said it would have been a good thing. Steve?

HAYES: If it hurts anyone, I think it does hurt Newt Gingrich. He needs to reintroduce himself to the American people, to Republican primary voters in a way that makes him saleable as presidential candidate, not as this sort of back-bencher who became House speaker. I think that's gonna take a lot of time, he missed an opportunity.

BAIER: All right, before the break, we asked you, do you think the economy is getting better or worse? The vote is a little lopsided here -- 96 percent think it's getting worse four percent say it's getting better. This has we have some new numbers out today, jobs numbers. The U.S. gained 244,000 jobs in April. That is the largest monthly gain since May of 2010. But, 700,000 jobs added in all of this year, the unemployment rate, the rate increased to nine percent. And that is the first rise since November. What about this and how does it play? Steve?

HAYES: Well, I think the expectation is that the unemployment rate is going to rise as discouraged workers rejoin the workforce, so you expect the rate to go up. It probably wasn't going to stay at 8.8 percent. But in this case, that is not really what happened in a large way. The unemployment numbers, the rate rose, the unemployment numbers were better and not at level they need to be to really see signs of a recovery.

BAIER: And we should point out, the underemployment number is always a lot higher, into the high teens depending which poll you look at. Those are the folks who have either given up looking for work or are taking a part- time job going forward. Kirsten?

POWERS: Well, the administration says that they are pleased, because it's the third month in a row where they have seen gains, the private sector gains above 200K. And I think that they see that as being sort of the baseline.

Now it's not an amazing report but it's a good report. It exceeded expectations, it was broad-based, it was across pretty much all sectors where you saw loses were in government jobs. And so I think that politically they're gonna need this to pick up more definitely. And in terms of us really seeing the economy turn around we're gonna need more than 200, that being the range, 200-300.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: The two main reports are contradictory. The unemployment rate rises and then the employment, and the actual number of newly employed goes up as well. The reason is they are based on completely different polling surveys. One households, the other on employers, on businesses. So you are not sure which number is right. They often contradict.

I think the way to adjudicate which number is closer to reality would be the growth rate, which was very slow in the first quarter, 1.8 percent, which would indicate, probably the up-tick in unemployment is probably the more real number here, and that does not bode well.

It's also the only one that matters politically. Nobody counts how many extra employed. It's that rate, it went -- it ticked up. It's not even the absolute rate that is important. It's the trajectory and the reversal. And it's rising again. I think it's gonna have, if that doesn't stop, it's really gonna hurt Obama.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for a dramatic moment in news.

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