"Face the Nation" transcript: January 1, 2012

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let me talk to J.C. Watts because he is and I-- I have to state this, you are one of the few people, Congressman Watts, who-- who served with Newt Gingrich when he was in the Congress, who have been out campaigning for him. I want to ask you about some of what Rand Paul just said. But why is that? Why are we seeing so few who knew Newt Gingrich when he was in the Congress out working for him right now?

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE J.C. WATTS (Newt Gingrich Supporter/R-Oklahoma): Well, you--you-- Bob, you would have to ask them. But I can tell you why I'm supporting Newt Gingrich. Because I think Newt Gingrich has a proven track record of changing Washington and getting results. All the things we're talking about on the national level today, balanced budgets, tax relief, paying down our national debt, entitlement reform. When Newt was speaker, he did those things. We had balanced budgets. We-- the only time we've had balanced budgets in my lifetime. And I'm-- I'm fifty-four. We-- we had entitlement reform with welfare. We-- we paid our four hundred and fifty billion dollars toward our national debt. And-- and I believe, I am-- I am one of the people that believes that Newt Gingrich creates I-- I think, the kind of Republican Party that-- that I want. He recreate-- recreates a Republican Party. He's looking to create a Republican Party not that looks like--


FORMER REPRESENTATIVE J.C. WATTS: --J.C. Watts and Newt Gingrich but one that looks like heaven. And we're going to have red, yellow, brown, black and white in heaven. And I-- I-- I don't see that in-- in Mitt Romney or Ron Paul or-- or-- or the other candidates that--


FORMER REPRESENTATIVE J.C. WATTS: --that I paid close attention to.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Why do you think that his campaign now seems to have cratered after-- I mean he suddenly zoomed to the top and he was the front-runner out there in Iowa. And now, he's dropped fifteen or twenty points and he's down there running fourth in the second tier. What-- what happened?

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE J.C. WATTS: Well, Bob, you said it at-- at the-- at the outset you know you've had almost fifty percent of the negative ads in Iowa run against Newt Gingrich, almost nine, ten million dollars. But the fact that he even registered when you-- when -- that he still registers considering the negative ads that he's had run against him, I think shows his stability, shows his strength. I think the polls, I-- I think you'll see that it's still pretty fluid. I've seen Newt-- I've seen polls just in the last forty-eight to seventy-two hours that has him either tied for first or fourth. So-- so it's still pretty fluid. And-- and no one knows what's going to happen on Tuesday. And as the old saying goes, we'll get the real poll next Tuesday night.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I-- I would just have to say I haven't seen that one that shows him tied for first. But you may be right.



FORMER REPRESENTATIVE J.C. WATTS: --that was had him--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me--

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE J.C. WATTS: --it was seventeen percent with Romney, Paul and-- and Gingrich, all three at about seventeen percent.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me-- let me go Senator Talent. Let's talk about these ads.

FORMER SENATOR JIM TALENT (Mitt Romney Supporter): Mm-Hm.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor Romney gets up and says he's against these super PACs. He said we ought to just do away with them, the ones that are running all these ads. And yet, there's the super PAC run by his friends. Obviously, he doesn't have anything. He says, "I-- I obviously don't have anything to do with it because it's against the law." But it's all his people that are running. And they are running these vicious ads. If he wants to get rid of these things, why doesn't he just tell his friends to stop the ones that they're running now? That would be a good example on how to--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --clean this up.

FORMER SENATOR JIM TALENT: The governor believes-- the campaign believes in contrast. And we have contrast. We have Governor Romney's record. This is a trusted leader with vast experience in the private sector--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah, but let me--

FORMER SENATOR JIM TALENT: --who knows how to turn around enterprises.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Senator, Senator, let me interrupt.

FORMER SENATOR JIM TALENT: (overlapping): And we-- well, I mean--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, may I just interrupt? We-- we kind of make it--

FORMER SENATOR JIM TALENT (overlapping): Sure. Your show.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --a practice here that we-- we ask people to answer the questions that we ask them. Could you address the question that I just asked you?

FORMER SENATOR JIM TALENT: Well, I mean, look, the governor has said that he doesn't support those-- those PAC ads or he doesn't support the idea of the PACs but he does support the idea of contrasting. And people are going to do what they're going to do. Now, he's-- these ads have been fair contrasts of the record of the various candidates. We have Governor Romney's record, trusted, strong leader with experience in the private sector. The guy who can beat Barack Obama, that's what the polls show. And that's the logic of his candidacy is what he's running on.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator-- Congressman Watts, what-- what would you say in response to that? Do you think that Newt-- I mean do you think that Governor Romney could stop those ads if he wanted to?

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE J.C. WATTS: Well, Bob, he could. But super PACs, they are what they are. And I-- I-- I'm not going to sit here and try to say that if-- if the Gingrich campaign or the Santorum campaign or the Paul, any other candidate had a super PAC, that they wouldn't be doing the same thing. I-- I-- I think that's the reality that we're dealing with in campaigns these days. People buy into negative ads. You-- we see what has happened to Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry. Anybody that's been out front that's been leading the pack-- we-- we've seen the Romney folks go after them pretty-- pretty good. So it is what it is. But again, I think my candidate is still standing. And the fact that he still registers, that he's still getting votes with fifty percent of the negative ads being run against him I think it speaks well--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah, okay.

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE J.C. WATTS: --of the stability of Newt Gingrich.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator Talent, let me ask you this.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Yes. Go ahead.

FORMER SENATOR JIM TALENT: Yeah, if I could say, look, Governor Romney's had a strong consistent support across all segments of the party, really, at all times in this campaign, and it is because of the logic of his candidacy and his record. And that's what's driving these poll numbers in Iowa. That's what's driving not just the Des Moines Register poll but the Des Moines Register endorsement which accepted the logic of a candidacy that said, look, this is the guy who can beat Obama and turn around the federal government. I think that's the underlying rationale for the race.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, it's an interesting thing and-- and you're right. He has stayed between twenty and twenty-five percent. But that means seventy-five percent don't particularly like him. Why do you think that is? Why is there such a large segment of the Republican Party that simply does not seem to like Mitt Romney? What's wrong with him?

FORMER SENATOR JIM TALENT: I think-- I-- I agree with what J.C. said before. I think the-- the race is fluid. There's a lot of people who're undecided, and they park in one place or another place. But again see, I would turn that around, Bob. I think this is the candidate in a very heavily fractionalized field who's had the strong support all across the party campaigning in a number of different states. And where he's campaigned the most, he's the strongest which is in New Hampshire. So when people find out more about him, then they decide that they like him. So again, this is the candidate that can beat Obama, turn around the federal government. That's the reason he's running so well.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we'll find out on-- on caucus night who finally winds up ahead.

We'll be back in just a minute. Thanks to both of you all. But as Andy Rooney might have asked, did you ever wonder what the candidates' New Year's resolutions are?