"Face the Nation" transcript: January 1, 2012

Mike Allen, John Dickerson and David Yepsen on Face the Nation, Jan. 1, 2012

Below is a rush transcript of "Face the Nation" on January 1, 2012, hosted by CBS News chief Washington correspondent and "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer. The guests are: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., (Ron Paul Supporter); Former Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., (Newt Gingrich supporter); Former Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo. (Mitt Romney supporter); David Yepsen, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute; Mike Allen, Politico chief White House correspondent; Norah O'Donnell, CBS News chief White House correspondent; and John Dickerson, CBS News political director.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, we knew you real political junkies would be up to join us this morning. And we're watching what you're watching.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-New Jersey): Listen, America-- America is watching Iowa.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And Iowans are watching ads, negative ads.

NEWT GINGRICH (Republican Presidential Candidate; Political Ad): I made a mistake.

I've made mistakes at times.

MAN (political ad): Serial hypocrites and flip floppers.

WOMAN (political ad): Newt Gingrich's baggage. Newt has more baggage than the airlines.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Nearly half of all the negative ads have been dumped on Newt Gingrich. Remember when he was leading the polls? Not anymore.

NEWT GINGRICH: We're learning a lot about what our opponents will do. They are-- they are nastier and more dishonest than I expected.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The new front-runner is the old front-runner in the national polls: Mitt Romney. And he's sounding more and more like a nominee.

MITT ROMNEY (Republican Presidential Candidate): We will win Iowa and take back the White House with the support of this great state.

BOB SCHIEFFER: In the new Des Moines Register poll Ron Paul is within the margin of error for first and Rick Santorum is also moving up.

RICK SANTORUM (Republican Presidential Candidate): Seven days ago I was being asked the question, are you-- are you thinking about quitting?

BOB SCHIEFFER: But can any of them beat Barack Obama? We'll hear from Ron Paul's son, Senator Rand Paul; Gingrich supporter and former congressman JC Watts; and Romney surrogate and former Missouri Senator Jim Talent. Then we'll get analysis from the legendary Iowa political reporter David Yepsen, Politico's Mike Allen; and our own Norah O'Donnell and John Dickerson.

Plus, all the candidates' New Year's resolutions.


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

BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Happy New Year. Well, the Des Moines Register is out today with a new poll as we're just hours away now from the Iowa caucuses in the top spot Mitt Romney is at twenty-four percent followed closely behind by Congressman Ron Paul at twenty-two and now former Senator Rick Santorum at fifteen. And he is closing fast. Rounding out the rest of the field, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and John Huntsman.

This morning we are joined by supporters from three of the top candidates: Senator Rand Paul, the son of Ron Paul, he's in Bowling Green, Kentucky; Romney supporter, former Senator Jim Talent In St. Louis; and former congressman J.C. Watts who is the surrogate for Newt Gingrich. He's in Oklahoma City.

Let's go first to Senator Paul. Senator Paul, your dad obviously has a shot at winning Iowa now. But the pollsters out there seem to think that Rick Santorum has-- has really caught the momentum. And he's been closing fast here in the last two days. They say if you measure just the last two days he's actually in second place. What do you think happened? I-- I thought your dad was the darling of the Evangelical Christian vote, which is such a big vote out there and-- and a lot of conservatives. What-- what's happening?

SENATOR RAND PAUL (R-Kentucky, Ron Paul Supporter): Well, I think if you look at it, we've had several front-runners. We've had several people surge to the top. And I think this is the best time to be surging to the top. And Ron Paul has surged probably as much as anyone in the last two to three weeks and has been the front-runner or near being the front-runner in Iowa. He's closing the gap in New Hampshire. So I think he's surging at precisely the right time.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, if Rick Santorum does wind up either winning out there or running ahead of your dad, will he be the sort of anybody but Romney candidate going into New Hampshire?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Well, I think he has a lot of things to overcome. I mean he was in his last election defeated by over twenty points. He was a big supporter of Arlen Specter against Pat Toomey. He's really been a big government type of moderate. And a lot of people don't know that because he hasn't surged to the top yet. So, he hasn't had much scrutiny. When he has the scrutiny, I think he's going to have some of the same problems that some of the other fair-weather conservatives have had.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this. I mean your father is a very polite and decent man. He's-- he's very nice to deal with. Everybody seems to like him. But I don't know a single impartial observer who thinks that he could wind up getting the nomination, let alone winning in a general election. Does he think he could win?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Well, you know, the interesting thing is when people say that, when you actually look at the numbers and the polls, who's scoring the best with independents and Democrats among Republicans? Ron Paul's the only one getting significant independent vote and Democrat vote. And every year, I watched the elections and people say, you need independent vote to win the election. You can't win with just Republicans. So I actually see Ron Paul as the one Republican who could reach across the boundaries of party, collect a lot of people who don't vote normally and really energize the party. Look at the crowds. He says his crowds are growing by the hundreds. And then you interview someone like Santorum who's got five people and they're telling him to be quiet. They're watching a football game. So I mean Ron Paul is having these big huge crowds in Iowa and really exciting a lot of young people and new people. So I think there is a lot of momentum. And I think he could win by bringing in the independents.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But you would have to concede he is far beyond the mainstream in the Republican Party in his--


BOB SCHIEFFER: Is he even a Republican or is he--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --a Libertarian?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: I would say he's different in the sense that he believes with foreign policy, we should only go to war if Congress declares war. And because he believes that way, he has a reluctance to go to war. But I think there are a lot of Americans who are tired after ten years. We lost five thousand soldiers or nearly five thousand soldiers in Iraq. The rest of the Republican field is beating the drums and jumping up and down and saying, oh, no, I'll bomb Iran first.

Well, beginning a new war should be something that is done very reluctantly in consultation with Congress. And I think we don't want people who are eager to go to war. And I think many Republicans also understand that. That's why his crowds are growing. But also you're seeing Democrats and independents want someone who is wise, who is not reckless. Someone who will control our nuclear weapons should not be someone who is trigger-happy and wants to start a war every moment.