Religion in spotlight as GOP candidates head to Southern states

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 1, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MITT ROMNEY, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, what we need in leadership is individuals who will tell the truth. And who will live with integrity. I will not embarrass you in White House.

RICK SANTORUM, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Washington State is going to be this weekend, same thing. I'm sure it will be a couple of candidates, the other candidates way behind. Although we think we're going to do really, really well in Washington State. You just watch.

NEWT GINGRICH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to win Georgia I think to be creditable in the race. If I win Georgia, the following week we go to Alabama and Mississippi. I think I'll win both of those. And we have a good opportunity to win in Kansas.


BRET BAIER, HOST: Three of the four candidates today. Ron Paul was not campaigning today.

We're back with the panel. We have the caucuses Saturday in Washington and then obviously, the big super Tuesday events on Tuesday.

Steve, a little bit of interesting development out of Michigan in that, they decided Romney would get 16 delegates and Santorum would get 14. Instead of what the Santorum campaign believed was going to be a 15-15 tie. There was a change in Michigan GOP just last night that they voted to give the additional delegate to Romney.

STEVE HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes. This is just bizarre. I mean, nobody has actually known. We were talking about this Tuesday night before we went on air. There have been -- if you ask a question what happens to the two at-large delegates to anybody in sort of the broad Republican world on national or state level, chances are good you would get different answers.

I think it was settled, reasonably settled as of Tuesday night that those are going to split proportionally based on candidates who had got more than 15 percent of the popular vote. That was certainly the Santorum's campaign understanding and understanding of most people reporting on this. This change, I don't know where it comes from. I don't know exactly what the explanation is. But it certainly has the Santorum campaign up in arms at this point.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: And it seems like that there is an effort being made to spare Romney from more embarrassment in his home state. Because what the Santorum folks were trumpeting was we tied them in the delegates. But I think the big deal now is Super Tuesday and mostly Ohio, which is just like Michigan without the home state advantage for Romney.

BAIER: We will be in Ohio by the way on Monday for "Special Report" in Cincinnati. We'll be traveling all around the state on Sunday and Monday. Go ahead Charles.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I just want to say the side story here is what is the level of incompetence of state Republican parties? We know how they screwed up in Iowa. They screwed up in Maine, in Nevada. And now they can't even agree on a simple rule of how to allocate two delegates in Michigan. Doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

BAIER: Steve, what about the issue of religion? As we head to southern states, and perhaps a bigger evangelical group in some of the states much like Iowa early on. You are starting to see some interesting reaction from media folks. Column saying Santorum's "Jesus-eating cult of Rick Santorum." Some tweets about Mormonism and some -- not a lot of apologies. What about religion and this campaign?

HAYES: Well, I mean. It seems to me given what you just cited there is a tremendous double standard in the media about which religions are OK to criticize and which aren't. I mean, imagine the kind of comments you had gotten if a Republican candidate had been a Muslim. Certainly, you couldn't say the kind of things that had been said, particularly the comment from Charles, blow-up the New York Times. I mean, it took him a while to back off the statements.

More broadly, you know, has religious played a role in the way people voted? I think the record there is mixed. If you look at exit polls, people tell, volunteer to exit pollsters they care, that they wanted a candidate to share their values. But then in very specific ways and very specific states, those, it doesn't track.

I mean, Rick Santorum was supposed to get a big boost because there were lots of, 38 percent I believe of New Hampshire voters were Catholic. And it didn't happen that way. And we've seen that sort of state after state after state.

BAIER: I want to wrap up this panel by getting some reflections about Andrew Breitbart. His career, his life, perhaps his legacy. Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: First of all, a terrible tragedy. A man so young, a wife and four young kids left behind. I didn't know him. But I knew, I watched him and knew of him. He is a man of incredible passion and commitment. And courage. He is the guy that brought down ACORN. One of the great corrupt institutions that nobody in the media wanted to go after.

And you know when people die, you say they are irreplaceable as a cliché. But I think in his case it's true. A guy that was pursuing the truth with utter fearlessness, that is not easy to find in our business.

BAIER: Mara.

LIASSON: Yes, look. He was definitely somebody who changed the way politics and the media are practiced. Not all of his tactics were on the level. Sometimes he put out things that turned out to be heavily edited, but he had an impact. There's no doubt about it. He was a provocateur, he used social media and he used the Internet in a brand new way. And he did have a big impact. And it's an incredibly tragedy for a guy that young.

BAIER: And I saw some tweets today from folks who are clearly left, who seem to respect him no matter the ideological differences.

LIASSON: Yes. That is as it should be on a day like today. I saw some tweets that were pretty awful, too. But yes, I think he was considered a real warrior for his side. He was willing to use almost any means to promote it. But he was a true believer.

BAIER: Steve.

HAYES: Well, he was a good friend. You couldn't know him personally without liking him. And I think that's why some of the people that you are talking about, you know, said the things they said. I think he sort of defined the phrase "happy warrior." That's what he did. And he fought on the big issues. He wasn't into the presidential campaign and back and forth and the tactics. He was about big issues and the role of government and the life of American citizens and returning it to what he thought the framers wanted.

At last word, you know, he cared deeply about his wife Suzie and their four kids. And I talked to him at length on Saturday about that and trying to find the balance between travelling around the country the way we all do, and spending time with his family.

BAIER: Our condolences to his family. His wife and four children. A lot of people at Fox News Channel knew him well and will miss him greatly. I'm not going to tease here. Let's just put up a full screen. Andrew Breitbart dead at the age of 43.

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