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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY
Interview with Jon Huntsman; Interview with Bob Walker, John Sununu; Interview with Nancy Pelosi
Aired January 8, 2012 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Good morning from New Hampshire. Suppose they held two do-or-die debates and everyone survived? Well then, advantage Mitt Romney, the guy with double-digit leads in New Hampshire and the next up primary state of South Carolina.
Today, Jon Huntsman on whether his underdog pitch can change up the race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN (R), UTAH: Show big. We have to show big.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Then Newt bites back: the battle is joined with Romney surrogate John Sununu and Gingrich adviser Bob Walker.
Plus, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on the president's re- election campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF), MINORITY LEADER: I think he should run against this do-nothing Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: And off the trail to give us a primary preview -- Phil Rucker of the Washington Post" and Neil King of the Wall Street Journal.
I'm Candy Crowley, and this is State of the Union.
Ignoring the Iowa caucuses, Jon Huntsman planted himself here in the Granite State holding events, answering questions, signing autographs, shaking thousands of hands -- the works. Huntsman hopes to pull a Santorum in New Hampshire, that was the plan anyway when we talk to him three weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNTSMAN: I'm putting you on early notice that we're going to win the New Hampshire primary. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: At the moment, the best poll for Jon Huntsman shows him in a race for third. I spoke with him just before last night's debate and his prediction has changed slightly.
HUNTSMAN: We're going to do well. You try to forecast to the best of your ability based on the information you have. What holds true is the fact that we're going to beat market expectations. We don't have to win...
CROWLEY: Can I just stop you? Because I don't understand. I've heard you say that. Tell me what the market expectations are.
HUNTSMAN: I don't know what they will be because you will set them. The pundits who are following the race, they will determine what the bar is that we must clear on Tuesday. And wherever that political marketplace is set -- and everyone will know that, Huntsman has to do thus and such to move on, we have to clear that hurdle when we wake up on Wednesday.
CROWLEY: Do you know that?
HUNTSMAN: I don't yet know what that is going to be.
CROWLEY: But surely you must have -- what I mean is do you know what your market expectation is?
HUNTSMAN: I know what I think we're capable of doing.
CROWLEY: Which is?
HUNTSMAN: Well, I can feel it on the ground. All you can do is your very best. We've been to all ten counties multiple times. We've got a terrific grassroots organization in place. We've got a message that is connecting with people. I feel the energy.
You can look at the polls but you know they are a snapshot of various factors at a particular moment. You get one that says 8 percent, one that says 16 percent, all I can tell you is there is something on the ground that tells me that all of the work we've done -- 160-plus individual public events -- is going to pay off in the end and we're going to prove the point, Candy, that grassroots politics still matters in a state like New Hampshire.
CROWLEY: Would it be safe to say that your motto at this point has to be either show big or go home?
HUNTSMAN: We have to show big.
CROWLEY: Is that fair?
HUNTSMAN: We have to show big. You've got to move a market, you know what I mean? You've got to make something happen one of the early states to prove the point that you are electable, that the math can line up in your favor. And I believe that's going to happen right here.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you about electability. You came home from your job as ambassador to China. Boy, you were the "it" person. Jon Huntsman, he's going to come in and he will be so great. Is this the Republican Party that you expected to be courting?
HUNTSMAN: I've always been a constant Republican. I've worked for three Republican presidents. I haven't varied or wavered. The Republican Party as a backdrop is going to change every now and again. We've had Abraham Lincoln's party. We've had Teddy Roosevelt's party. We've had Eisenhower's party, Nixon's party, Reagan's party and beyond.
It is always remaking itself based upon leadership. And we don't have a whole lot of leadership right now today and I think that's part of the problem. So you get the Ron Paul foreign policy based on complete isolationism, you get the Mitt Romney foreign policy based upon the Cold War mentality. I'm not sure either one of them is the way forward and that's the reason this selection is so critically important, not only for the high stakes for the American people, but for the definition of the Republican Party going forward.
CROWLEY: There is a saying there is no greater burden than high expectations. Do you feel frustrated at all?
HUNTSMAN: No. Because all you can do is your best. I have a message that I believe deeply in about the two deficits that plague us most -- the economic deficit, the debt we're about to hand down to the next generation, which is toxic. It is a national security problem. And the trust deficit, because people no longer trust their institutions of power or their elected officials. And I say that's probably as corrosive and the economic deficit we face.
I feel deeply about it. I've worked every single angle. My wife Mary Kay has worked every angle. Our kids are in it. Everyone's having a great time. We feel that we've worked every possible angle and approach to being honest and sincere at who we are.
CROWLEY: Are you completely comfortable in this Republican Party in its current permutation? And by that I mean the Tea Party conservatives and the Ron Paul faction. Are you completely comfortable?
HUNTSMAN: I am comfortable that I'm at the center of gravity for the Republican Party. I proved that when I was governor of a very conservative state. I was re-elected with almost 80 percent of the vote. And it proved to me that it isn't as much about party, it is about leadership. We got Republicans, we got independents. I won more Democratic votes than my Democratic opponent, not because I'm...
CROWLEY: That's not a huge selling point by the way, as you know, in the primaries.
HUNTSMAN: But here's the point. People want leadership. They don't want party orthodoxy exclusively. That's got to drive the core of somebody, that consistency. But leadership at the end of the day that's going to prove to people that we can have a new and a better tomorrow, that's what's important. I think that's not only what's lacking in Washington and why there's no trust in the system, but right now I fear it is lacking in politics generally.
CROWLEY: Governor Huntsman, I'm going to ask you to stick with me for a minute. We're going to take a quick break, and when we come back we're going to try to get the governor's take on his competition. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CROWLEY: Welcome back.
Governor, you want to end corporate subsidies, cut regulations, lower taxes, do more on energy development, repeal President Obama's health care plan. Differentiate yourself from Mitt Romney. What is the single biggest policy difference you have with the front-runner?
CROWLEY: You don't think he's trustworthy?
HUNTSMAN: I didn't say that. I said he's morphed himself so many times that for many of the voters I think they're going to find during an election that is based on trust that they're going to have a hard time getting a bead on where his core is.
You run for the senate as a liberal. You run for governor as a moderate. You run for president as a conservative. Where are you at the end of the day? That's a legitimate question that people have.
CROWLEY: If Mitt Romney should win this, would you be able to trust him as the Republican candidate?
HUNTSMAN: Oh, sure, I'll support the Republican nominee. You'll do everything you can. That's what you do when all is said and done.
CROWLEY: I want you to look at some of the other folks that are -- you shared the stage with them since this summer, had a chance kind of to size up their policies and their personalities. Newt Gingrich, is -- does he have what it takes to become president? And differentiate yourself from him.
HUNTSMAN: I'm not a Washington insider. He would carry some baggage because of his K Street affiliation. And, again, at a point in time where trust is so critically important, I believe the American people are looking at somebody -- for somebody who can stand up to Congress, who isn't from that culture. And I think that...
CROWLEY: He's pretty tough.
HUNTSMAN: ... that's a liability. Other than that, Newt is a thoughtful, smart man. I respect the revolution that he left -- that he led as speaker of the house. It was a big part of my generation growing up. I mean, he was the most prominent Republican in the country and one of the top leaders anywhere in the nation at the time. He led it by force of ideas. And I have high regard for where he has been and what he has done.
CROWLEY: Do you think he's too tainted to become president?
HUNTSMAN: We'll let the voters decide.
CROWLEY: You don't want to take a position on that?
HUNTSMAN: I don't want to take a position on that because I tend to see the good in people. And Newt, to me, is a distinguished public servant. He has made his fair share of enemies, even within the very institution in which he served. But I have to say, when you look back at his track record, he was bold and he was revolutionary and at a time when this nation needed it, he led out.
CROWLEY: What about Rick Santorum?
HUNTSMAN: I don't know Rick well, but I give him high marks for being consistent in his approach to infusing a moral ethic into ordinary economic policy. Most people don't take that approach. I respect his consistency there.
CROWLEY: And Ron Paul.
HUNTSMAN: Ron Paul is another one who has been consistent, although I believe his ideology is not where the American people are at all. I think the idea that you can be an isolationist...
CROWLEY: Why is he doing so well?
HUNTSMAN: You do well with 15 percent for three election cycles running. He has done very well with 15 percent consistently over and over again. It is breaking out of the 15 percent that I believe are at the extreme ends of the political spectrum.
It is interesting how he brings them both together, whether it is a sense of isolationism or whether it is legalizing drugs, he brings a lot of the extreme ends of the political spectrum together, which to my mind means that he is not electable in the end.
That doesn't mean I don't like him. I respect him for what he has done. He has led a charge that he believes in and anyone who's willing to do that, I have high regard for.
CROWLEY: But you would vote for him if it were him versus President Obama?
HUNTSMAN: His isolationism during a time when Iran is on the ascent, during a time when the world is more in need of America's values, of liberty and democracy and human rights and free markets, I would have a very, very tough time with.
CROWLEY: So you might -- you could pull the lever for a Democrat.
HUNTSMAN: Well, I don't think that will even be a possibility.
CROWLEY: You want to pull it for yourself, I understand.
HUNTSMAN: That's tired rhetoric. I'm not even going to try that one. But, you know, these are all hypotheticals. And to say that Ron Paul will get to the finish line is just not a reality.
CROWLEY: What about Rick Perry? What's your take on him?
HUNTSMAN: Rick is a good man and he's a personal friend. We worked together as governors. He has a lot to add to this nation because of his economic development track record and his ability to manage fairly effectively a large and complicated state.
I think he's in it for another state or two to see how things go in South Carolina. His base is going to be split by Santorum. There is no doubt about that. But I think he wants to give it one last shot to see how things go. And then we'll have to see.
CROWLEY: You're -- nary a discouraging word for you except on Ron Paul, which is interesting to me. HUNTSMAN: Well, the isolationism is a part that I, and I think a lot of other Americans have hard time with. We agree on Afghanistan. I want to get out of Afghanistan. I think we've done everything that we can do in Afghanistan. I want to recognize it for what it is as a counter- terror challenge, not a counterinsurgency opportunity.
But other than that, we part company on most other international issues.
CROWLEY: Governor Huntsman, are we going to see you in South Carolina?
HUNTSMAN: I fully intend to be in South Carolina with a head of steam.
CROWLEY: Thank you so much.
HUNTSMAN: Thanks, Candy.
CROWLEY: Appreciate it.
HUNTSMAN: It is a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.
CROWLEY: Next, front-runner Mitt Romney emerges from last night's debate as -- well, as the front-runner. We'll bring you the highlights.
And later, Nancy Pelosi on her former House colleague, Newt Gingrich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: Read the public record and that's all you need to do about Newt Gingrich...
CROWLEY: And so you think that disqualifies him or should disqualify him?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: It turns out front-runner Mitt Romney was not the main target in last night's ABC debate. Instead, the event had the feel of a semi-final, a fight for the right to take on Romney. Ron Paul went at just about everyone, including Iowa's almost-winner Rick Santorum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it was a quote somebody did make a survey. And I think he came out as one of the top corrupt officials because he took so much money from the lobbyists. But really what the whole -- there it goes again.
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It caught you not telling the truth, Ron.
PAUL: What really counts is his record. I mean, he's a big government, big spending individual.
SANTORUM: The group that called me corrupt was a group called CREW. If you haven't been sued by CREW, you're not a conservative. It is a ridiculous charge. And you should know better than to cite George Soros-like organizations to say that they are corrupt.
PAUL: I think people who don't serve when they could and they get three or four, even five deferments aren't -- they have no right to send our kids off to war and not be even against the wars that we have.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My father was in fact serving in Vietnam in the Mekong Delta at the time he's referring to. I think I have a pretty good idea of what it is like as a family to worry about your father getting killed and I personally resent the kind of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information and then just slurs people with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Unscathed and pretty much unbothered, Romney was able to pick and choose his own fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: We have a president that does not understand in his heart, in his bones, the nature of American entrepreneurialism, innovation and work.
GINGRICH: I think that's a good message and I agree with him. A little bit harsh on President Obama, who I'm sure in his desperate efforts to create a radical European socialist model, is sincere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: When we come back, surrogates for the Romney and Gingrich campaigns join us with a debate review and their expectations for Tuesday.
CROWLEY: Joining me here in Manchester, John Sununu, former governor of New Hampshire and a Romney supporter, and Bob Walker, a former U.S. congressman who's advising the Gingrich campaign.
Thank you, both, gentlemen.
Big debate last night. Not a lot of fireworks aimed at Mitt Romney, so it seems to me that this is a nod in the direction of he really is the front-runner and this is all about can anybody challenge him? Would you agree with that summation of what happened?
FORMER GOV. JOHN SUNUNU, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, I think they're all challenging him. And that's what the process is all about. Mitt Romney's going a step at a time, recognizing it's going to be a long slog, although, of course, New Hampshire is the most important step in that long slog.
CROWLEY: Thank you, Governor.
SUNUNU: But -- but really and truly, anyone who thinks this is going to end quickly and early is -- is mistaken.
FORMER REP. BOB WALKER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I would agree with that, that I think that, in New Hampshire, that Mitt Romney is certainly the front-runner. I think that there are a lot of people vying for the number two and three slots, again, in -- in New Hampshire. But clearly, there are high expectations for Governor Romney here in New Hampshire, and so part of this selection is going to be measured by those expectations.
SUNUNU: Let me talk...
SUNUNU: Let me talk about this spin that's coming out. Whenever you're losing badly, you move from saying I'm trying to win to lowering expectations.
To me, the reference point for what you can do in a New Hampshire primary was the Bush-Dole campaign. I ran the Bush campaign in '88. Bush beats Dole 38-29. It was virtually a two-man race.
And -- and we had a great campaign, got up to 38 percent. This is six or seven people -- actually eight or nine major ones -- still on the ballot, including the ones that dropped out. That's the reference point, that you're going to get somewhere, I think, in the middle 30s and you're going to win hopefully by eight, nine...
CROWLEY: ... lowering expectations...
SUNUNU: But -- but why should it be any better? Why should it be any significantly different than the Bush-Dole margin structure that occurred then?
WALKER: But the fact is -- the fact is that the expectations of a lot of the New Hampshire polls that I'm talking to is that he should be in the 40s in New Hampshire. And the other fact is that, right now, we see, for instance, Newt Gingrich moving up in the latest poll and we see Romney moving down a little bit. It's closing up. And that will be a factor in what the final determination will be.
SUNUNU: It -- it always closes up and that's the whole point. And what you're getting is the spin of the losers trying to salvage something out of the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary.
WALKER: Well, the fact is -- the fact is that everybody came into New Hampshire recognizing that, if Mitt Romney would happen to finish second in New Hampshire, it would be a disaster for his campaign. And so everybody else is in fact finding a way to jockey for position. We'll see when we move from here. John believes that this is going to be a long slog. I believe this is going to be a long slog.
CROWLEY: I believe it's going to end in Florida. Do you all say you think it's going to be a long -- I mean, I understand that the delegates, getting the delegates out there is going to take a while because every state has delegates and has a different process. But the fact of the matter is, if somebody's going to come out of here looking fairly strong as the not-Romney candidate -- correct?
WALKER: That could be. It's not -- it's not clear exactly how that will sort out because some of that is already sorting out on the ground in -- in South Carolina.
CROWLEY: In South Carolina. So South Carolina then becomes the next battlefield and you -- you go there and you find the conservative alternative to Mitt. And then it's solved in Florida. What's wrong with that scenario?
SUNUNU: You're right. It -- it's going to be a long slog. It's going to go well past Florida.
(LAUGHTER) WALKER: Well, we think...
... but I'm not certain that it isn't going to go a good ways past Florida, because I think that there is an opportunity in both South Carolina and Florida to have fairly close races in both of those places, which carries the campaign forward for some time.
SUNUNU: Isn't it -- isn't it really a representation of, you know, people trying to overspin this process that we're spending all this time talking about how important a small margin differential might be?
We ought to be talking about issues. We ought to be talking about the fact that -- that the Republican Party has got a bunch of fairly good candidates, very good candidates, campaigning, debating, talking about how to fix America, and Mitt Romney is putting out a message that, right now, has him at the top of the pack. He won Iowa; he's going to win New Hampshire; and he's going to move into South Carolina and Florida, and we're going to see different parts of the country participate in the process. And I'm positive Mitt Romney's going to do well.
WALKER: ... we are talking about process, because the issues that the American people want to hear about is not where the individual candidates are in percentages. What they want to hear is how we're going to produce the jobs of the future, how we're going to make this economy grow, how we are going to deal with a foreign policy crisis that's enormous in places like the Middle East.
CROWLEY: So let me talk about the latest ad from Newt Gingrich talking about economic policy. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Romney's economic plan? Timid, parts of it virtually identical to Obama's failed policy. Timid won't create jobs, and timid certainly won't defeat Barack Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So, Romney's plan is timid and very much like Barack Obama's. So let's talk policy.
SUNUNU: Look, the most important thing that you have to do to create jobs in this country is to create a climate that attracts investment. Investment wants to come back to America but most of the private sector is holding cash today because they're scared to death of this administration.
You need to flatten the tax; you need to cut corporate taxes. You have to reduce regulations; you have to modernize regulations, and you have to recognize that we are truly in a competitive climate, not a public-sector perspective like Obama has, but a competitive private- sector set of experiences that Mitt Romney can bring to creating the public sector policies that we...
WALKER: But just so we understand -- just so we understand, it was not Newt Gingrich calling the plan that Governor Romney has put forward timid. It was The Wall Street Journal. it was The Wall Street Journal that has said that it is a plan that is closer to Obama's than certainly the rest of the people in the field.
Newt Gingrich believes that by going to a zero capital gains tax, by lowering the corporate tax to 12.5 percent, that you will get exactly the investment that we need in this country and we will produce new jobs. Moreover, the one-year expensing of equipment for manufacturers and for others will assure that we invest in the most modern technologies and put the workers in the field that will be the most productive.
SUNUNU: Candy, what America wants to know: who is going to cut spending, reduce spending so you can go to a flatter tax, so you can reduce capital gains tax, and so you can reduce regulations.
WALKER: You have to have growth in order to do those things. You have to...
WALKER: You have to grow the economy in order to do it.
CROWLEY: I'll have you both back, I promise.
Governor Sununu, Congressman Walker, thanks for being here.
WALKER: Thank you. It's good to be with you.
CROWLEY: After the break, an exclusive interview with Nancy Pelosi on the Republican 2012 race and her biting non-opinion of the front-runner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Have you ever met Mitt Romney?
PELOSI: I don't think so. It wasn't memorable if I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: It has been a year since former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lost the gavel to John Boehner. She held a presser this week marking the event, using it as an opportunity to attack Republicans for not being in session. I spoke to the House Democratic leader on Capitol Hill late last week.
CROWLEY: Madam Leader, thank you for joining us.
PELOSI: My pleasure.
CROWLEY: You and your fellow Democrats have spent the week taunting Republicans, saying, come on back, come on, get to work, why are we in recess? The question is, if they were at work, what would they be working on?
PELOSI: What we want them to come back to do is to get to work to pass the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans, extend unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who are out of work through no fault of their own, and also to pass the legislation that guarantees seniors the ability to see their doctors under Medicare.
This is what they passed for two months in December under great duress. We want to get rolling with that. We want the committee, the Conference Committee, to come -- they kept asking, appoint conferees, appoint conferees. Well, we appointed conferees, let's call them together to meet.
CROWLEY: They have until the end of February to do this. You know Congress always works up to its deadline. It is just the nature of the beast. The Senate isn't in. So why doesn't this look sort of like an election year stunt?
PELOSI: Republicans keep telling us that we're not in recess. They say to the president, we're not in recess, you can't make a recess appointment, we are in session. But yet when we went to the floor, the very distinguished gentleman, our assistant leader, Mr. Clyburn, from South Carolina, was gaveled down the minute he started to speak after the pledge to the flag.
CROWLEY: Don't you think people looking at this will go, you know what, these people -- and I don't mean Democrats, I mean Congress, are playing games again, they're gaveling each other down, they're taunting each other about why they're not in session, that this is what people hate so much about Congress, it looks like games?
PELOSI: I don't think they hate us calling people back to work. I think that they wonder why we're not at work. Here the American people, many of them are out of work, others are uncertain about their jobs, they want to work, and we're taking a month off in January? I think that's what aggravates -- it certainly aggravates me.
CROWLEY: You brought up the president and I wanted to play something for our audience and for you. The president, just talking about his relationship with Congress. This was probably something you heard. He was in Ohio the other day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Are you totally comfortable as a former speaker and now the head of the Democrats, majority (ph) leader of the Democrats, with the president running against Congress?
CROWLEY: Because that's you.
PELOSI: It's not me. It's the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
CROWLEY: He doesn't always make that distinction.
PELOSI: He doesn't always.
CROWLEY: He does say at times, well, there is -- you know, the Democrats are working against the Republicans, but, I mean, he doesn't always make that distinction. And he -- I wanted to read you one other thing. This was from his deputy press secretary, Joshua Earnest, who said: "In terms of the president's relationship with Congress, the president is no longer tied to Washington, D.C., winning a full-year extension of the cut in payroll taxes is the last must-do piece of legislation for the White House."
This is a president who really doesn't want to deal with you.
CROWLEY: Well, it is not a question of wanting to deal with me. He doesn't want to deal with the obstructionism of the Republicans in Congress. But to answer your question, I have no problem with the president's statement. I think he should run against this do-nothing Congress. For the past year there's been very little -- there has been a missed opportunity for building the infrastructure of America, making it in America with manufacturing initiatives for our country.
We have missed an opportunity and much of it because they want to obstruct the initiatives of the president or to work in a bipartisan way with him, with us, to get the job done. So I think what the president -- and for the good of the country, forget Democrats, Republicans, for the good of the country, I think it is really important for the president to make the race that he is running against a do-nothing Congress. He says Republicans...
CROWLEY: That's like no coat-tails, no nothing. It's like, every man for himself out there for House Democrats.
PELOSI: Well, campaigns are always that way. We have -- we will be running in states where the president is not running because he will either be winning those states or not taking on the state because it is not a good state for him, that's where a lot of our races are.
Our races are about the House of Representatives, one district at a time. We think we are in good shape. We want the president to run the race that is important for the country and this do-nothing Congress must be defeated.
CROWLEY: So if people say he's throwing you under the bus.
PELOSI: No, we don't feel that way. We don't feel that way. We are very proud of our president. We believe that his getting out there and -- I always say, President Abraham Lincoln said public sentiment is everything. And it is very important for the president to make it clear to the public what the choices have been and will be for the future. And I completely subscribe to his approach.
I do like that he says Republican from time to time.
CROWLEY: Do you think these separate campaigns -- we've had some redistricting so you have some members running against each other in primaries. You need a 25-seat pick-up if you...
PELOSI: Drive for 25.
CROWLEY: Drive for 25, if the Democrats are to retake the majority. And yet you, yourself wrote a letter to your members saying, you guys need to pony up some money...
PELOSI: Yes, they do.
CROWLEY: ... out of your campaigns to put into the overall congressional campaign because it is lower -- the contribution rate is lower than it has been. Is that a reflection of, hey, get out there and win whatever you can and they need every dime they can get?
PELOSI: Well, I think it is a reflection of this as a redistricting year. And we were just wanting them to make sure they were budgeting after they are finished with redistricting in their state. So some of them don't even have a district yet, don't even know if they're going to be running against each other, much less if they're going to have a serious general election. CROWLEY: Let me turn you to a couple of your former colleagues. Newt Gingrich has said out on the campaign trail that the single dumbest thing he ever did was sit down on that couch and make an ad with you...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: I'm Nancy Pelosi. Life-long Democrat and speaker of the house.
GINGRICH: And I'm Newt Gingrich, life-long Republican and I used to be speaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: ... about climate change.
PELOSI: Well, I don't want to make any comments about Newt Gingrich, he who has been fined $300,000 by the Ethics Committee, you think he'd consider that a big mistake.
CROWLEY: Surely. But I'm encouraged only because you had said, well, we'll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich later. So I'm hoping later is now.
PELOSI: No, no, no. Well, I mean, what I said is, read the public record. Read the public record. And that's all you need to do about Newt Gingrich's...
CROWLEY: And so you think that disqualifies him or should disqualify him?
PELOSI: Well, the nomination for president is up to the Republican Party. I respectfully watch how they are making their choices. But it is -- since you brought up my name in association with him as the dumbest thing he ever did, I think there's plenty of stiff competition for that honor as far as his activities are concerned.
CROWLEY: Do you regret that ad?
PELOSI: No. I'm not turning my back on the need for us to address the climate crisis in the world. I hope he isn't either.
CROWLEY: How about Ron Paul? You've worked with him for a long time. What kind of guy is he? What kind of president would he be?
PELOSI: Well, you know, again, when we get to the nomination, when they have somebody, we can talk about that. But I have a great deal of respect for Ron Paul. He acts upon his convictions and he's a nice fellow in the Congress of the United States.
He's a gentleman.
CROWLEY: He is indeed. Have you ever met Mitt Romney?
PELOSI: I don't think so. It wasn't memorable, if I did.
CROWLEY: Let me move you on to a different subject, and that is your own re-election. Are you committed, if re-elected this November, to serving out that full term, whether you are the majority or the minority?
PELOSI: Yes. There's no greater honor for me than to be the representative for San Francisco. You've been there. You know how great it is.
CROWLEY: It's a great place, yes. PELOSI: The people are wonderful. And no honor that my colleagues could ever bestow on me is as -- as great as being representative from San Francisco.
CROWLEY: So you are in for the next two years, come what may?
PELOSI: Come what may, yes.
CROWLEY: Give me a one-word answer. How many seats you going to pick up in November?
PELOSI: I think enough. We're very confident. Today I believe that we would be successful, but, you know, we take it one day at a time. But by the fact that we have excellent candidates, a strong response from the grassroots and support around the country and lots of enthusiasm. We -- under the leadership of Steve Israel, our chairman, we're way beyond where we thought we would be at this point.
CROWLEY: Do you look forward to going out on the campaign trail?
PELOSI: I look forward to that.
CROWLEY: Thank you so much...
PELOSI: My pleasure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: A final word here: Newt Gingrich says he was not fined by the House Ethics Committee, as Pelosi and others have charged. He notes the $300,000 he paid was a reimbursement for some of the costs of the congressional investigation.
Coming up, while you can't be at every campaign stop, CNN can. And we will bring you the best of what you missed on the campaign trail, next.
CROWLEY: The campaign trail is a curious place, the same thing over and over, and yet somehow constantly changing, often surprising. It's the kind of place where the little-noticed can suddenly blast into the headlines and a former campaign rival can show up as a friend. Here's this week's taste of 2012.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: By the way, we forgot to congratulate him on his landslide victory last night.
ROMNEY: I know that -- that in the process of the primary process, we'll be going after each other. We'll be going back and forth. And then when it's all over, we ought to be able to hug and go to work to get one of us elected president of the United States.
SANTORUM: Marriage is not a right. Not everybody can marry everybody else. I mean, it's not an inalienable right. It's a privilege that is given to society by society for a reason.
GINGRICH: I'm very prepared to stand on the same platform with the president and say, you know, A, you're a radical; B, you're incompetent; C, we don't want four more years that are this painful.
FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN JR., R-UTAH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The establishment will come in and say, here's your guy, Romney, and they think the universe is perfectly made ahead of time. And then the people of New Hampshire step up, and it's a different reality. You always, always up-end conventional wisdom.
REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS: Those people that tend to interview us and try to embarrass always come up, "All right, Congressman Paul, you're so out of step with Republicans and you have this foreign policy that seems so strange."
Oh, yeah, very strange, strong national defense; mind our own business and take care of ourselves.
QUESTION: What's the biggest mistake you've ever made?
SANTORUM: Oh, wow. Good question.
Well, there are -- there are so many things.
CROWLEY: Up next, our reporter panel, fresh off the trail.
CROWLEY: Joining me here in Manchester, Neil King of The Wall Street Journal and Phil Rucker of The Washington Post.
We had two back-to-back debates here in Manchester, one last night and one this morning. And it was like night and day.
RUCKER: That's right. The debate last night, the -- the five opponents to Mitt Romney really didn't hit him very hard and it surprised a lot of the viewers last night. But then this morning, from the very beginning, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum went after Mitt Romney very aggressively, talking about the races that he lost in 1994, the Senate race against Ted Kennedy, questioning his conservative credentials throughout his political career. And it was really tough.
CROWLEY: They've -- they've tried to challenge his conservative credentials before. Was this more effective?
KING: I think it was. You know, it's funny; it makes me wonder whether last night all of us who were watching it and writing about it were, kind of, flabbergasted. It was like what are they doing?
But this morning I thought, you know, maybe that was a devious plan. They didn't want to give him the chance this morning to, kind of, come back. They wanted to hit him the last outing there was going into the Tuesday primary. And maybe this was all, sort of, their plan.
But, yeah, they definitely hit him hard, particularly at the beginning. And Huntsman got some real licks in, which he hasn't for a long time. I don't know whether it's going to effect things dramatically, but it's been pretty dramatic.
CROWLEY: Alternately, perhaps they read all the reviews overnight, with everyone going, "Why aren't the candidates hitting Romney," and came out this morning looking for blood.
But let me -- will it alter anything, I think, is the big question.
I want to show you this new American Research Group poll for New Hampshire. It shows Romney at 37 percent, and I think surprisingly, Huntsman -- and it's do or die here in New Hampshire for him -- at 19 percent; Paul, 18 percent -- so that's a tie -- Santorum and Gingrich on down the line. What do you expect?
RUCKER: Well, there's really a battle here for second place. It seems like Mitt Romney has the New Hampshire win fairly well locked up if they can turn out their supporters here. But there is a very tight race for second place and that's going to decide which candidate can go into South Carolina with the momentum as the Romney alternative and really make it a fight there.
CROWLEY: But really, suppose Huntsman, who spent all this time here, didn't play in Iowa, suppose he comes in second. Doesn't that just mean more people move to South Carolina? I mean, he can't just emerge as, hey, I'm number two, and everybody else drops?
KING: Well, everybody's going to go to South Carolina. South Carolina's the big leveler, that where they're all pouring money in right now.
Huntsman, if he were to come out of here somewhere around 20 percent and actually be in second place would be a big thing. He has also a lot of liabilities already. I mean, he's not on the Virginia ballot down the road. He didn't get on the Illinois ballot which is the fifth largest state in the country. He's -- his total investment here has left him vulnerable in states down the road including in South Carolina where he's barely been at all.
CROWLEY: So South Carolina, I want to take a look at what we're seeing here. This is a CNN/Time/ORC poll, which shows Romney now at 37 percent. He's up 17 points since last month. Santorum, 19 percent. He's up, as well. Gingrich, 18 percent, Paul, 12. That's where the battle is, right?
KING: Yeah, I think you're seeing -- and everybody's been sort saying South Carolina is a little bit more like Iowa, a lot of evangelicals, more conservatives. I think there's a certain pragmatic streak that we're seeing in South Carolina.
You know, McCain won there the last time. McCain certainly bears more of a resemblance to Mitt Romney. I mean, I think in the end, he could be a lot stronger there than people think.
RUCKER: And the Romney campaign is really stepping up its efforts in South Carolina. They have two statewide endorsement including Governor Nikki Haley. He was down there for about 24 hours this week. They're on the air all across the state. They're adding staff, some of his Iowa staffers have moved there. So they're really competing hard. They'd like to win there and win in Florida and try to lock this thing up by the end of the month.
KING: And it's a much bigger state. And you need money. And who has got the most money at this point?
KING: Romney basically.
CROWLEY: Let me play you something that Jon Huntsman said about Mitt Romney and then ask you a question on the other side of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNTSMAN: I think they're going to find during an election that is based on trust that they're going to have a hard time getting a bead on where his core is. You run for the senate as a liberal, you run for governor as a moderate, you run for president as a conservative. Where are you at the end of the day? That's a legitimate question that people have. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: OK, so the question is, is this really a battle for the heart and the soul of the Republican Party? Because it's not -- Mitt Romney's not a Republican, it's Mitt Romney's not a conservative.
So is it -- is there the Mitt Romney/John McCain wing? And then the -- although I'm not sure how Huntsman fits into this. Is there a different wing? And are we really seeing a battle for, you know, the answer to what's the Republican Party all about?
KING: Yeah. I mean, we saw this huge Tea Party eruption, you know, in '09 that went into the 2010 election. And people -- and that whole part of the Republican Party wants to be reflected also the evangelical wing, there's a big libertarian movement now. And all of these various factions are looking at Mitt Romney and saying, is this really our standard bearer going in up against Barack Obama?
And Huntsman did a good job of encapsulating it right there I think, because people are very like, OK, he's electable maybe, he looks good, he talks a good game, but is who we want to embody us. RUCKER: And there's a yearning among Republican voters for somebody they can get passionate about. And right now the only thing they seem to be passionate about is defeating Barack Obama, which is where Mitt Romney gets some of his strength. But he needs to be able to make a case and really convince Republicans that they can rally around him as their standard bearer.
CROWLEY: In our last minute or so, want to ask you about what I think was probably the most important election news of this week. Iowa was great, but I think come September we will look back and say 8.5 percent unemployment rate this week. That -- that has got to have them cheering in Chicago at re-election headquarters.
KING: You know, an interesting quick stat -- when Ronald Reagan in 1981 took office, unemployment was 7.5. It shot up. At this point, it was, I think, 8.3. When Obama came in, it was 7.8. And at this point it's 8.5. So they're running on a similar sort of trajectory. We know what happened to Ronald Reagan in 1984. He won by a landslide.
I'm not saying it's a similar economy or that that's what will happen, but the Republicans are looking at this going, uh oh, we don't like that.
CROWLEY: In a certain sense they have to change their message a little bit if this continues.
RUCKER: A little bit. The trajectory matters. So even if the unemployment rate is high, if it's going down steadily heading into the re-election, Obama can use that as momentum and really gain some credit. And it really hurts somebody like Mitt Romney whose central argument is the economy.
CROWLEY: Phil Rucker, Washington Post, Neil King of the Wall Street Journal. Thank you guys for coming by.
KING: Sure. RUCKER: Thanks for having us.
CROWLEY: Up next, top stories. And then on Fareed Zakaria GPS, an interview with former senator Alan Simpson. That's at the top of the hour.
CROWLEY: Now time for a check of today's top stories.
Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will attend a vigil today marking the one-year anniversary of the massacre that wounded her and killed six others. She and her husband, retired astronaut and navy captain Mark Kelly, visited a memorial for Gabe Zimmerman, an aide of Giffords who was killed in the attack. 23-year-old Jared Loughner is charged with the shooting.
Nearly 100 soldiers are confined to a Seattle base following a report of missing sensitive military equipment that includes scopes and night lasers. The unit of soldiers returned home from Iraq in 2010. Authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the missing equipment.
Arab League officials are meeting in Cairo today to discuss their mission in Syria amid unrest that has killed thousands. In today's clashes, in Daraa at least 11 Syrians were killed and 20 were injured. The League says suspending monitors in Syria is not an option that's being considered, and they may ask the United Nations for help.
Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf is expected today to announce plans to return to Pakistan. The country's official says if he does come back, Musharraf will be arrested in connection with the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Thanks for watching State of the Union. I'm Candy Crowley in New Hampshire.
You can find today's interviews as well as analysis, web exclusives and much more at our web site cnn.com/sotu.
Up next for viewers here in the United States, Fareed Zakaria GPS.