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

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Before the break we asked you how much money will be raised for the 2012 presidential race, 70 percent of you said the price tag will exceed $1 billion. Lot of people agree with that. Today was the day the White House launched the re-election effort.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: This really is about you. We are focused on re-election. But we're first and foremost focused on dealing with the problems, opportunities and crisis that are in our path. And that's gonna take a lot of, particularly, the president's time and a fair amount of my time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the grassroots levels, it's individuals talking to other individuals and making a difference.


BAIER: Last part is from launch video today. As you can imagine, Republicans were quick with a response.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hope and you hope.

BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: My hope is -- my hope is -- my hope is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But hope isn't hiring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a question for you -- how can America win the future when we are losing the present? In order for America to take a new direction, it's gonna take a new president.


BAIER: There's a lot of dramatic music going on, isn't there? We are back with the panel. Steve, what about this? The launch, the day and the response.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Does anybody give a speech anymore? I mean, it's like all video, all the time, I actually thought that the president -- that the way that the president did his video was effective. Because he wasn't in it. It was average people talking, talking about the concerns. He didn't get much into the substantive issues. He didn't try to mount a defense, in this two-minute video, of the things that he's done, I think for some reason, he's got a lot to answer for. But I thought the video was effective.

Whether this translates it into the sort of boomlet that people think, you know, you have political strategist in Washington, Republicans to some extent talking about him as unbeatable, as invincible. I don't see the field that way, I don't see the dynamics that way, and this is just the beginning.

BAIER: Mara, I mean really this was about unleashing the fund raising hounds --

MARA: Sure

BAIER: -- and starting the money.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Sure. You have to be a candidate and he's gonna be a candidate, probably, officially, as of today, which means he can fundraise and he has tremendous advantages as an incumbent. He is not going to face a primary challenger, he's gonna have all this time to raise tremendous amounts of money while the Republicans are A, lining up in the starting gate, they haven't even begun their race, and they're going to have an extremely long drawn out process.

What people forget is the Republicans party is changing the rules so that it's not winner take all in these states. That means you could have a stronger nominee at the other end But it means much longer, hard fought campaign just like the Democrats had last year, and all of that time Barack Obama's gonna be out there raking in the money.

BAIER: But for perspective, Democrats started earlier in 2007. I mean the first debate was in March of 2007.

LIASSON: That's right, so they started earlier, but still, one of the great advantages that the incumbent has, is that he can raise money and he can do it in ease, ya know flying around on Air Force One. There are tremendous problems, I mean he's got high unemployment, it's gonna be harder to energize that grass roots network. That's why he started the video with these volunteers because that's the key to success is having that kind of grass roots army, again, working for him. And he's got a record now to defend. He is not the change candidate, he's the status quo candidate.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, in the end the key to success will be the unemployment rate and the price of gasoline, above all else. But I think he's smart to have done a low key announcement, it wasn't exactly Lincolnesque. The idea is all about the money. It allows him now, as an official candidate to do all of the things you have to do.

Now he wants to go ahead and raise $1 billion. And you remember, in the last cycle he raised three-quarters of a billion, which is quite a lot of money. I think this time he'll suffer from the enthusiasm gap. Last time he was historic, charismatic, newcomer, and this time, he'll have none of the buzz, the enthusiasm, the swooning in the aisles and augmented by a media fueling throws up their legs. That's not going to happen.

On the other hand, he is the incumbent. So what he gives up in enthusiasm he makes up in rent seeking. People have a sense that he's probably going to win, incumbents have an advantage inherently. And if you want to be an ambassador, if you want an appointment or if you're going to do business with the federal government, which is increasing its intrusiveness into everything, health care, finances, et cetera, you want to be on the good side of the president, so you may want to bundle on his behalf.

So this is all about the money, I think he will raise a lot. And I think Mara is right, he's got a huge advantage in time because the Republicans don't have a front runner, don't even have a field, don't even have a bracket. Nobody knows who's going to be in the field. And they're going to be spending it on primaries.

BAIER: Ya know, in 2008, Steve, independents swung dramatically to Democrats. In 2010, they swung back the other way to Republicans 15 percent, according to the polls. Will there be a real effort to go after independents and possibly portray a different first few years of this administration?

HAYES: Well, I think there has to be a real effort, for both sides obviously, to go after independents. I think where the president faces problems is that the things that he's done, his quote unquote accomplishments, haven't been popular with independents. If you look simply at health care, 36 percent approval overall, on what he's done on healthcare. The stimulus project that he launched at the very beginning of the administration, widely thought of as a failure. So you have all of these things that if you look back on the president's economic policy, not to mention gas prices, not to mention what's taking place in the Middle East, you have growing skepticism not only from Republicans but from independents. And it's reflected in the polls. He's going to have to fight that.

LIASSON: And that's why, if he can get bipartisan agreements with Republicans on some of these fiscal issues it's gonna help him with independents. That video to me was so revelatory today. Every ethnic group that he's going after was represented, and so are independents. There was a white male guy from North Carolina named Ed who in this video said "I don't agree with the president on all those things, but I trust him and respect him." That's their goal for independents.

BAIER: That is it for the panel, but stay stayed for some surprising additions to Moammar Qaddafi's list of advisers.

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