"Face the Nation" transcript: December 4, 2011

Reince Priebus and Robert Gibbs
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Below is a rush transcript of "Face the Nation" on December 4, 2011, hosted by CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer. The guests are RNC chair Reince Priebus, Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs and a roundtable analysis from CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Norah O'Donnell, CBS News Political Director John Dickerson, CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes, and Politico's Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, the Republican roller coaster claims another victim. He broke the hearts of the late night comics.

JON STEWART: I've already lost Trump. I can't lose you too.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But Jon Stewart will just have to get over it. Herman Cain made it official yesterday.

HERMAN CAIN: I am suspending my presidential campaign.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The one-time front-runner is out, so who knows what's next in a week, when Donald Trump signed on to moderate an upcoming debate, a new poll shows Newt Gingrich has surged into the lead in Iowa.

NEWT GINGRICH: I'm going to be the nominee.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And that's just the half of it. Ron Paul is running ahead of Mitt Romney who for all his problems with his own party remains the object of most of the criticism from the Obama campaign.

MITT ROMNEY: I don't know what they're afraid of.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Many Republicans seem to be asking the same question to the point that Time magazine's cover poses the question: why don't they like me? We'll ask the head of the Republican Party Reince Priebus the same question and get the other side from Robert Gibbs, a key advisor to the Obama re-election campaign.

Then we'll get analysis from Politico's Mike Allen and our CBS News political team, Jan Crawford, Norah O'Donnell, Nancy Cordes, and political director John Dickerson.


ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Key players from both sides in the campaign with us this morning at the table. Reince Priebus who is the Republican National Committee chairman and then we will also be talking to Robert Gibbs who is now a top consultant to the President's re-election campaign.

Well, Mister Chairman, a brand new Des Moines Register Iowa poll is out. Newt Gingrich has now jumped into the lead with twenty-five percent. Congressman Ron Paul is now running second. He has eighteen percent. Mitt Romney follows with sixteen percent and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former candidate Herman Cain, he got eight percent and the rest of the field is behind them.

And that poll, Mister Chairman, of course, was before Herman Cain announced yesterday that he was dropping out. But I guess it showed what we all suspected and that is his campaign was actually imploding. So now he's gone. Were his problems becoming a distraction that took attention away from the other candidates?

REINCE PRIEBUS (Chairman, Republican National Committee): Well, I don't-- I don't know if they took attention away from the other candidates. I mean he had to make a decision for himself which is, look, the polling isn't going in the right direction.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Are you glad he did?

REINCE PRIEBUS: I can't-- I can't raise any money. I'm-- I'm indifferent. I-- I really don't care whether he stayed in or he-- he-- he got out. It didn't bother me at all. I think the real issue here facing America is how we're going to get our country back on track and how we're going to get a President in the White House who actually makes a promise and keeps a promise. And I think that is what Americans in this country are starving for.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you this and this kind of sums up this whole business. One week it's Herman Cain, before that it was Rick Perry, before that it was Michele Bachmann and now here's Newt Gingrich in the lead. Isn't it really about what's on the cover of Time magazine this week? Here's a picture of Mitt Romney and the question is, why don't they like me?

REINCE PRIEBUS (overlapping): Well, listen--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Why do you think they don't like him?

REINCE PRIEBUS: Well I don't'-- I don't-- I don't accept the premise of the question, Bob. And Time magazine can type up whatever magazine covers they want.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But I mean he's never gotten above twenty-five percent. That means the majority of the Republican Party--

REINCE PRIEBUS (overlapping): This is nothing--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): --doesn't care for him.

REINCE PRIEBUS (overlapping): This is nothing peculiar. This is not peculiar as when Dukakis was the nominee back in '88 or when Bill Clinton was the nominee in 1992. Hey, listen, I think primaries are pretty tough but primaries work. You look at all these Republican governors across the Midwest, Walker, Snyder, Kasich, Christy, Corbett--every one of these guys in blue states came through very difficult primaries. And guess what and they won. Look at the President in the White House. He and Hillary Clinton nearly gouged each other's eyes out in a primary before June, before their convention, before they had a nominee. And guess what the President won pretty easily. He took a super majority in Congress with him. Sixty votes in the Senate. And guess what we're all living with the policies of that crowd. And it's not going so well.