Jon Huntsman's Campaign Struggling to Gain Traction

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JON HUNTSMAN, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People have had it. They're fed up with w here we are financially, $14.3 trillion in debt. The cancer has to be cut out. And one of the most important and powerful tools we have in getting us there is a balanced budget amendment.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Former Obama administration ambassador to China and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman after an interview with Greta Van Susteren was mobbed by adoring Chinese tourists in Washington, D.C. He is not getting mobbed by adoring voters in polls, at least not yet, still in singing digits.

He shook up his campaign two weeks ago. His campaign manager left. Today word that another four staffers have quit over what Huntsman described himself as drama over his chief strategist John Weaver, who may be familiar to some, running the John McCain campaigns in 2000 and 2008 before a fall-out with McCain.

What about the Huntsman campaign and the rest of the GOP field as we are one week away from the debate in Ames, Iowa, on Fox. Back with the panel. Susan?

FSUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: I think one of the most interesting revelations today wasn't so much there was infighting in the campaign but that one of the campaign workers that said he is unwilling to put his own money in the campaign beyond what he has already contributed. That means he could be in real trouble financially because he is going to start running out of money. He will need additional funds. And if he is not willing to put his own funds in and he is still doing this poorly in the polls, it's over for him.

BAIER: He had a lot of attention on a number of different media outlets. But as far as getting traction in the places where he needed to get traction, he is not. He is going to take part in the debate. He does qualify of now. But he is not really taking part in Iowa. His big fight is in New Hampshire. There is a sense his campaign needs to do something.

FERRECHIO: It's sputtering now. Iowa is not a place he can do well. He opposes the ethanol subsidiaries and he's already admitted to bailing out of Iowa to some degree. And so he really needs to focus on one big place right now in New Hampshire. And so if he tries to stick it out through the New Hampshire primary, we'll see how he does. It's a small state and he can find a connection with the voters there. But he needs the money to get there. It looks like right now with the poll numbers how does he get from here to there?

BAIER: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I think his campaign is not sputtering, it's stalled. I looks to me it's done for the moment. You get a lot of attention as you were saying from people who think, oh, well, he is running to the middle and he is going to challenge Romney. There has been no evidence that money, fundraising has been sufficient to sustain any kind of effort now to make him a challenger, a substantial challenger to Romney.

The other person who would be a challenger to Mitt Romney is Tim Pawlenty. Tim Pawlenty needs to do well in Iowa when he is on the stage debating with you as a moderator and he needs in that context to defeat Michele Bachmann to make it clear that he is the lead challenger, not Michele Bachmann, that he can win the conservative, right wing votes in Iowa.

But guess what, he is pulling ads off the air right now in Iowa to invest in ground, you know, operations. It just doesn't look good for him Tim Pawlenty. That's another big surprise to me.

BAIER: Although anecdotally you talk the people in Iowa and he seems to be doing better than the polls are showing. We'll see. We'll see if it pays off.

Charles, what about the other person who is not in the race yet? Rick Perry, the governor of Texas said this to CBN, Christian Broadcasting Network.


GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS: I think Americans are looking for someone who has the experience of running a big state, in particular.


BAIER: OK. So how many do you think that is? California, Texas, what other big states? Florida?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think things are larger than life in Texas. I think that's what he was referring to. He doesn't look like a man who lacks self-confidence.

He is obviously in the race. He is sort of waiting in the wings now, but he will be in it. Supposedly if the polls are to be believed he will come in as a major heavyweight, a Romney level, and presumably, a third candidate of that level will come out of these debates.

We were talk about who it might be. I would say about Huntsman, he is not on the radar. In fact, that I think ironically helps him with all of this going on inside his campaign, because unlike Gingrich who was known by everybody, where it was a big story about all the stuff happening inside his campaign, he is not high enough on the radar that anybody outside of us in Washington would notice.

But for a candidate like him, it all hinges on the debates. He's not going to run or win in Iowa. But a debate is broadcast nationally. That is the one place you can do it. The way Huckabee did in 2008, and I would say that Bachmann who down there in the, among all the others at the bottom until she did well in the first debate to make her a first tier candidate.

And that is his only hope.

BAIER: And Bachmann is running ads in Iowa now. Herman Cain said today he needs to finish in the top three in the Ames straw poll, he believes, to have a fighting chance. And obviously, Ron Paul, usually does well in straw polls and he has organization on the ground as well. For those folks, Susan, can you explain to people how important the Ames straw poll is in Iowa?

FERRECHIO: This is the opening shot for all the candidates. It's going to weed some people out, show who the front runner is, who the strong ones are moving to the Iowa caucus in the winter and the primary. This is really, this is the event that identifies what is important about each candidate and who is strong and who the weak are.

BAIER: Susan will be on the panel asking questions on debate night as well. Along with Byron York and Chris Wallace, I'll be moderating. It will be fun.

talk about debt. On the other hand, he's accumulated a lot of debt. I think he loses on that argument as well.

Content and Programming Copyright 2011 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.