Krauthammer on how the GOP field is shaping up for 2016

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," April 9, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: Back now to our big story tonight on a big shift in the polls as the Republican field start to take shape for the 2016 White House run.

Senator Cruz, Senator Paul, and Senator Rubio are all expected to have declared their candidacy by this time Monday. And the rest are likely not far behind. Just a short time ago, I spoke with Charles Krauthammer, syndicated columnist, Fox News contributor and author of "Things that Matter" which is sold more than a million copies.


All right, Charles. So, we've got Rand is in, Ted Cruz is in, Rubio is about to get in. So, where do you think things stand? How did they done so far?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, we are waiting of course for Rubio to jump in. The one thing that the unfortunate characteristic that the three of them share, is that they're all first term senators. And we have an unfortunate experience with the current president, who is the same, so I think that works against all of them. I don't think it is fatal by any means, but you have a little bit of advantage if you're a former governor or a current governor, which is why I think right now the front runners in polls at the top are Jeb Bush, who was a successful governor in Florida, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin whose taken on the unions prevailed, won three reelections, and in fact five if you count the two proxy elections. So, I think you have to have them in the top tier, and my analysis --

KELLY: Let me just ask you before you get to that, let me just ask you because sounds like Rand Paul gave a sort of a preview of how he is going to respond to that this week by saying, governors are not always what they're cracked up to be. Does anyone remember Jimmy Carter, he said.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I honestly remember Ronald Reagan, so, you know, Jimmy Carter, it is not as if that is kind of guarantee a successful presidency. But I just think, you know, people in any election, you sort of reacting to the last president, it's inevitable. You know, after Eisenhower who was successful, people wanted young, vigorous, because he was old, had a couple of heart attacks. There's always a reaction against which you just had, and I think that's just one factor working against them.

KELLY: Uh-mm.

KRAUTHAMMER: But again, it is not insurmountable at all. And Cruz has been very impressive in the fact that -- he's reported, I don't know if it is true -- but if he did raised $30 million in a week, that shows some seriousness.

KELLY: Uh-mm. And I know, you know, obviously Rand Paul had some issues over the past 48 hours with the roll out of his campaign, and how he dealt with the media became a distraction that he created, but what is his, you know, as you see it, what is his greatest strength and weakness?

KRAUTHAMMER: His strength is the freshness, his strength is the fact that libertarianism has a lot to offer, particularly as a critique of conservatism. I am not sure it is applicable as a governing philosophy, but its ideas are new and fresh, particularly on domestic affairs. His real problem is that the world has changed over the last several years and that our position abroad has cratered. And when before this happened, because the Obama retreat began in '09, but it doesn't have its effect immediately, it took half a decade. But now the impact is being seen everywhere, as a former defense secretary, his own defense secretary said, the world is exploding all over.

So for Rand Paul who was on the noninterventionist side of the GOP before all this, that was an advantage, at a time when we were reacting to the fatigue of the Iraq war and the Afghan war. But now that we are seeing the results of the retreat, I think that's working against him in a very serious way. And that's why you see the testiness and the problems he had.  I don't think it is just a media problem or a personality problem, that is a policy problem. He's got to tack back from the positions he took.

To give you one example, he rose to prominence with an 11 hour speech on the floor of the Senate, denouncing drone attack on Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen, who is an American citizen, behind some of the bombings attempted against the U.S. I don't think Rand Paul would make that same speech today, because it would be received very negatively.

KELLY: So, you got, in the top tier in your views, you've got Walker, you've got Jeb Bush, you've got Marco Rubio. And then in the next tier beneath them, Cruz, Rand Paul, anybody else?

KRAUTHAMMER: Cruz, Rand Paul, Huckabee, and as an outsider, I mean, outside chance, Chris Christie. I think of those four you are likely to get one who is catapulted into the top tier, the way Huckabee, the way he performed in the debates in '08 ended up in the top tier. So, I think there could be one more entry into the top tier, likely coming out of that pool.

KELLY: Not Ben Carson? Because he polls pretty well.

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm afraid he is a good man, he's a great doctor, he's a great patriot, but it is impossible to go from citizen to president overnight unless you won the Second World War like Eisenhower.


KELLY: That bar is very high.

KRAUTHAMMER: It is a pretty high bar and it really hasn't been matched.  So I know he's a popular guy, but I don't see him as a candidate who lasts.

KELLY: Last question, on the question of Jeb Bush, you know, so many people will stop me on the street and say oh, can you imagine a Bush-Clinton match-up. And they seem to express a fatigue at just the thought of this. How big a factor will that be for Jeb in particular because Hillary seemed, you know, the presumed nominee on the Democratic side.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think unfortunately for Jeb it will be a major factor and it is not in any way his fault. You know, he could have been Jeb Smith.  Now, he has advantages of being a Bush. He has the donor base, well known, successful and great family in which he grew up, but it is a big liability.

Look, one of the great advantages that the GOP has running against Hillary is Clinton fatigue. People watch her on the e-mails, they watch her on the foundation, they watch where all the shifting is, the inauthenticity and they say oh, no, are we going to go through all of this again. So, what would you want to run if you're a GOP strategist, you want to run someone young and fresh, new, and who sort of projects to the future. When you go to Bush, unfortunately for him, and again it's not his fault, it brings back the memories, and then you've negated the factor that you had in the fact that people really don't want a Clinton again.

KELLY: Interesting. It is going to be one of the challenges he will have to overcome. Great to see you, Charles Krauthammer.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's a pleasure.


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