tv CNN Newsroom CNN January 1, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm EST
anything? no. ♪ how about now? nope. ♪ [ dog barking ] ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] the chevy silverado. ♪ [ male announcer ] with best-in-class 4x4 available v8 fuel economy. finally! ♪ [ male announcer ] from getting there... to getting away from there. chevy runs deep. hello, thanks for joining us. i'm fredricka whitfield. iran may be one step closer to being a nuclear nation. the country cess's semiofficial news agency reports that scientists successfully built and tested iran's first nuclear
fuel rod. the rod contains natural uranium, used to fuel nuclear reactors. the number of suspected arson fires in the los angeles area has risen to 39. investigators say seven of them were set last night. a $60,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest. most of the fires targeted cars that spread to nearby homes and buildings. the new year is off to a sad start for the atlanta braves baseball team. the wife of a team trainer was killed yesterday after a georgia state patrol cruiser struck the family's suv. our affiliate ws television says the trooper was responding to a police chase at the time. and civil unions for same sex couples are now legal in hawaii. this is just one of thousands of new laws that take effect today. the bill grants same sex couples many of the same rights that married couples receive. hawaii's governor signed the bill back in february.
five, four, three, two, one! >> and tens of thousands of revelers rang in the new year in new york city's times square early this morning. more than a million others watched the festivities on television as the famous crystal ball dropped to signal the start of 2012. and, of course, we're following the republican contenders live in iowa today as they crisscross the state. the contenders 2012 continues right now with candy crowley. thanks, fredricka. welcome back to "the contenders 2012," our final hour here for today. we are bringing you these candidates as they campaign across the state of iowa, those caucuses on this tuesday. so there is not much time left. we're trying to give you a sense of what iowans hear and have heard for about the last year. we have jim acosta in marshall
town, iowa, with newt gingrich. we have joe johns available as well in atlantic, iowa, with romney. what we expect in this coming hour is two live events. one a press availability with newt gingrich, those are always interesting. and a press availability with mitt romney. another interesting event. so we're going to bring you both of those live, provided they don't all begin at the same time. but right now what we want to do is while you're watching rick santorum, newt gingrich was talking and we want to bring you some of what he had to say to his audience. >> and try to get them to turn out. i thought it was very revealing in the des moines poll this morning that 41% of the voters are still undecided and i think the final argument is going to make a big difference. the only two points i would make when you get to that discussion point is that iowa has an opportunity to really change
american politics by proving that negative ads don't work. and i think to the degree -- [ applause ] to the degree you can convince your friends and neighbors not to vote for the people who have been running the negative ads, you really help america move to a better political process. we cannot change the negativity and the divisiveness of washington by having people who run negative and divisive campaigns. and i've done everything i could to run a positive campaign. you've seen me do it in the debates. you've seen me do it in my tv commercials and i'm going to continue to do it. we need help from the american people to say to the folks who are prepared to be negative and dishonest that it will not work and that frankly if you are will be to be dishonest to get to try to be president, why would we think you would be honest once you were president? [ applause ]
the only other case i would make is that we have very large problems and i am the only candidate in the race who has had actual experience in washington, once with ronald reagan, and once as speaker of the house, and actually solving very large problems. and from the tax cuts of 1981, which led to a seven-year boom, to defeating the soviet empire, to welfare reform, to four consecutive balanced budgets, again and again i think i've proven that i can actually make washington work to the advantage the american people, we got unemployment down to 4.2%. if we could do that again, that would truly be remarkable, which is why i made jobs and economic growth the centerpiece of our closing, commercials and my closing talks.
so calista and i are thrilled to be here. i have to confess, everywhere we go right now we're getting crowds like this. it is very encouraging and very exciting. i think this is a very winnable caucus. and i hope all of you will take the time to talk to your friends and neighbors, either e-mail them, tweet them, facebook them, call them, actually see them, whichever technique works better, and let them know that they should go out tuesday night and they should participate. and we thought we would set up right here, many of you who would like to get a picture, can come on by and we'll work out getting a picture of meeting every single person that is here. i must say th, think is a very, very impressive turnout for what on our schedule said casual drop by for about 30 people. we're thrilled you would take part of sunday to come out and do this. thank you, all, very, very much. >> newt gingrich and his wife calista in marshall town, iowa, where i am assuming jim acosta,
who is also in marshall town, with gingrich, they are still signing those autographs. i know you are expecting at some point press availability with him. so let us know when we have to stop talking. but in the totality of the pitch that newt gingrich gave to those folks, is it still the upbeat positive newt gingrich or is it the one who said, you know, we're taking a second look at our strategy? >> you know, i think there was a slightly sharper tone than we heard from the former speaker a few moments ago during his remarks. i don't know if you picked up on it, candy, but he said during his comments here in this little room outside the sports bar, it was basically a jab at mitt romney. he said if you cannot trust -- i'm paraphrasing, if you cannot trust what is in some candidates' ads, didn't mention romney by name, how can you trust what they're going to do when they're president of the united states. that was a clear shot at mitt
romney. he didn't mention the former massachusetts governor by name. i suppose on some level that is still keeping it positive somewhat, but this just kind of goes to the box that newt gingrich is in right now, the box that he created for himself, by declaring weeks ago he would have a positive campaign, that he would not get in the mud with the other candidates. he sort of set a bar for himself, but, you know, he had to clear the final weeks before the caucuses. and so we're finally starting to hear newt gingrich try to, you know, not necessarily draw contra contrast, but take shots at mitt romney. there were some reporters chasing the former speaker this morning, here in iowa, where he made the comment to the effect that mitt romney is trying to buy an election. now, i tried a few moments ago to ask the former speaker about that, what did you mean when you said that, and he sort of walked right past me. to go to your comment yesterday, candy, when sometimes the candidates will walk up to you and give you an interview, that wasn't the case. he kept on walking and went into the other room and started signing autographs.
so sometimes the trail giveth and sometimes the trail taketh away, candy. >> it does, but you always keep trying. jim, one thing that i think did strike me, first part that we heard here, was newt gingrich mentioning that 41% that haven't made up their minds yet. >> that's right. that's the poll number he likes, candy, the 41% who haven't made up their minds. that means he still has a shot at this. let's remind our viewers, who may be tuning in now, that this des moines register poll that everybody is making a big deal out of it, let's mack a big deal out of it, that's fine, but folks are talking about the santorum surge. the surge is real, but if you look at theof error in that poll, there is a three-way tie. he has a shot at this. i have to tell you i was at a rick santorum event yesterday, and it was a very sparse crowd.
you hear that from the other reporters through the covering his campaign. sometimes it is a big room, sometimes it is a sparse crowd. they tried to squish everyone into this room at this sports bar, but it was a zoo, it was a chaotic mess. there are so many people here. he clearly has some support, why that is being measured as a significant dropoff from where he was, you know, we can attribute that to the negative advertising campaign he's been essentially the victim of over the last several weeks, that he hasn't really responded to. as we were talking earlier, throughout the show, candy, a lot of this is contrary in the minds of republicans to his own branding. this is a politician who has excelled at the art of political combat and heading into the iowa caucuses, he's decided to stay
positive. in the end, when the caucus happens on tuesday night, when everything is tallied up and we get results, we'll be able to look back and decide whether or not newt gingrich did the right thing. >> it is interesting, jim. i know sports bars are probably a good place to go if you're looking for a crowd on new year's day. nonetheless, when you look at that room and see the number of people who were there to listen to newt gingrich, i think it is impressive. even if ten people showed up, it is new year's day. this is the group that takes it the most seriously. these are the groups that these candidates are looking at saying, you know, these people probably will turn out, if they'll come listen to me on new year's day. >> that's right. and this was a big crowd in here. i mean, he had to dish don't know how he got -- it was parting the red seas trying to get through, you know, trying to get through the sports bar. earlier there were people watching sunday nfl football, and i can tell you that that is a risky thing to do out here on
the campaign trail, on friday night, rick santorum got himself into hot water at an event where there was a bowl game being watched where iowa state was being played, he went into a sports bar and blocked it with the media entourage behind him, blocked the view of 50 people trying to watch the iowa state football game and it got a lot of people upset. i was watching the coverage on the local newscast and someone even said, you know, to a local reporter that, hey, that might have cost my vote on caucus night as absurd as that sounds. so they are -- i think at this stage, they are just trying to do the best that they can with what they have. and, candy, i have to tell you, it is extraordinary the weather that these campaigns are dealing with today. we haven't really talked about that very much. but i'm coming to you from a satellite phone connection now because our satellite truck, which is parked outside of this hotel, cannot get its dish up because it is so windy outside now, like tropical storm force winds now. that's the climate that newt
gingrich often finds himself in when he's out on the campaign trail. there is always stuff swirling around newt gingrich. maybe this is the kind of climate that is going to jump start his campaign. >> all right. well, iowans will brave wind and snow but do not get between iowans and their football games. having lived here and as the mother of a hawkeye, i can tell you they're very serious about their sports teams. thanks so much. we'll take a quick break here and when we get back, we're awaiting news conferences from both newt gingrich and mitt romney. we'll be right back. you tell us what you want to pay, and we give you a range of coverages to choose from. who is she? that's flobot. she's this new robot we're trying out, mostly for, like, small stuff. wow! look at her go!
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aspercreme breaks the grip, with maximum-strength medicine and no embarrassing odor. break the grip of pain with aspercreme. as promised, the front runner in iowa and in new hampshire, mitt romney in atlantic, iowa. >> it is being driven by message, connection with the voters, debates, experience, and i think those are the features that are driving the campaign so far. i think they probably will be through the entire process. we'll do better this quarter than any other quarter so far. but i don't have a final figure for you. and when we do, we'll let you know.
>> what is your argument? >> i don't think i've spent a lot of time trying to describe differences on policy. but instead i focused on the things i believe and the choices that americans have to make. senator santorum was kind enough to endorse me last time around. i appreciate that. and we have been friends. i can tell you that our backgrounds are quite different. like speaker gingrich, senator santorum has spent his career in government, in washington, nothing wrong with that, but it is a very different background than i have and i think the people of this country recognize that with our economy as the major issue we face right now that it would be helpful to have someone who understands the economy firsthand. who spent the bulk of his career working in the private sector. so, you know, senator santorum is a good guy, he worked hard, i wouldn't be surprised if we see him do well on tuesday night. and i think a good deal of him.
>> how would you characterize how you're feeling now about today's performance? how do you feel? do you feel confident? >> i don't know you can look at a poll and project from that what is going to happen on caucus night. i think it is so hard for the pollsters and the caucus state where people can show up in different numbers than what the pollsters might have imagined. but i'm encouraged that i'm thought of positively by the people they called on the phone to take the polls. i'm even more encouraged by the people i see at the rallies and the events and the kind of enthusiasm they have and their willingness to show up on new year's day and their commitment to go to the caucuses. so i'm -- i'm pleased we're doing well. i can't tell you who is going to win this thing. but i do believe that i'm going to have a great deal of support and that will give me the kind of boost i need as i go into a season of a number of other states. >> -- conservatives here say you didn't spend enough time reaching out to them. do you have any regrets,
especially given the santorum surge? >> i've had the privilege of going across state and meeting people across iowa and built a lot of friendships and soccers then and a lot of those people continue to support me. i've also gone to some of the other states and raise the the organization i need to do make sure the vote of iowa ends up being a vote for a person that could become a nominee. this is a process that begins here. it is a big boost here. but it goes on across the nation. and it has been a important to me to make sure that i have a team and a capability to go the full distance to get the nomination and have the people in iowa who caucus for me proud that they were on that team from the very beginning. >> governor, senator santorum described himself as a more true conservative who speaks more authentic than you. do you concede that? >> i'm pleased to point people
to my record as the governor of massachusetts and the record that i have there. balanced the budget with the help of the legislature, all four years i was in office, put in place a -- restored in place a $2 billion ready day fund by the time i left, empowered our state police to help enforce federal immigration laws, fought for and was successful in having english immersion in our schools and a whole host of other principals that i think people would determine are good, solid conservative principles. i'm proud of this record. i'll let people make their own assessment of our respective records, but i'm a conservative, i'm proud to be a conservative businessman. and what distinguishes me from the others in the field is that i understand the economy firsthand, having lived in it. and look forward to a spirited campaign, a lot of debates to go. and hopefully have a good night on tuesday night. i'm confident we'll have a good night. i don't know who will win. but i think we'll have good support and then on to new
hampshire, south carolina, florida, nevada, it is going to be a terrific race and i'm looking forward it a great sendoff to the candidates, not just me, but to the others as well, that go on from here after tuesday night. thanks, you guys. >> thanks, everyone. >> thank you. >> that was mitt romney, he's in atlant atlanti atlantic, iowa. he had a more cautious campaign than i've ever seen. it seems to be paying off for him. he's back doing some interviews, doing these kind of press availabilities that most candidates do after they have events. he is sitting pretty in iowa, although he's not sitting certain in iowa because there are a lot of folks close to him, in particular ron paul and perhaps rick santorum in new hampshire, looking a little bit more like a blow away. but whatever happens in iowa tends to affect what happens in new hampshire.
we can never sew this up until the caucuses have happened, until the votes have arrived from the straw polls in those caucuses. we're going to take a quit break from here in "the contenders 2012." we'll be right back. nyquil: you know i relieve coughs, sneezing, fevers? tylenol: me, too. and nasal congestion.
said this morning it appear governor romney is trying to buy an election? >> i was struck by the politico analysis that the sheer volume of anti-gingrich ads run by romney's pac, i'll let you decide how you would describe it. it is pretty -- if they decide to spend that number of dollars in negative ads for one candidate, it is pretty amazing. >> there are two days until the iowa caucuses. you worked hard all week -- >> two and a half. >> over the course of the last month -- [ inaudible ] >> who knows. yeah, if i could have done anything different, i would have pulled the plug on romney's pac. i probably should have responded faster and more aggressive than that. >> mr. speaker, michele bachmann and rick perry are going to
south carolina. are you committed to campaigning in new hampshire? >> yes, absolutely. but probably -- we haven't decided, but probably. >> you're not bypassing new hampshire? >> no, no. i think -- i think new hampshire is the first perfect state to have a debate over romney care. and to have a debate about tax paid abortions, which he signed and to have a debate about putting planned parenthood and the government board which he signed and to have a debate about appointing liberal judges, which he did. i think new hampshire is a great place to start the debate for south carolina. >> did you see a doctor for your flu? does you receive any medications? >> i've been very big on gatorade. [ inaudible ] >> same thing we have been doing. i'll talk positively. we'll do two more telephone conference calls and as i've said before, we had 22,000 on the saturday telephone
conversation and that's reasonably good reach to spend 45 minutes to an hour with people. we'll do two more tomorrow and tuesday. we'll keep campaigning both days so we have ads up. but, look, i think this is a volatile environment where people are going to walk in, undecided or semi-decided and maybe as many as 50% could switch during the course of the caucus. so i think it is going to be wide open. i've -- it is frankly more wide open than i would have guessed than it would be at this stage. >> i talked to a lot of people saying exactly that, they're not going to decide -- >> right. think i i think it becomes a gut call at the very end. who do they want to have be president of the united states? and if they say, who can debate barack obama, it will probably pick me. if they can say, you know, who most perfectly fits my views on a certain issue, maybe somebody
else. >> but if they're consumed by negative ads in the last couple of days, couldn't that have affected their final -- >> it could. i sort of think we might have done an ad that more explicitly repudiated the freddie mac distortions. but other than that, i don't think the rest -- i'm not going to -- you can't run around and chase everything that creative consultants can invent. you burn yourself out. i frankly like the gamble we have taken. if you look at our ads, they're very positive. if you look at what news max is doing, it is very positive. if you look at the new video we have released about music education, it is totally positive. i got a picture at the last stop of the new project. part of this is a deliberate contrast. people say they're sick of negative politic, they're sick of washington being bitterly
divided, fine. here is a chance to repudiate it. if that become a theme tuesday night and people take it seriously, you might get a very surprising result. >> how is your fund-raising situation? >> good. we're about the same as mccain was in the fourth quarter. i have no idea. i'm not running the campaign. >> -- points of contrast that you'll start to draw or continue to draw in new hampshire with governor romney, are we going to see those contrasts drawn in advertisements as well. >> probably. but they'll be contrast and based on facts. they'll be quoted. yes. yes. yes. >> why the change? >> if somebody spends $3.5 million lying about you, you have some obligation to come back and set the record straight. >> are you -- do you think you're better -- are you not -- do you not feel threatened by him? >> i don't feel threatened by anyone. rick santorum is a good friend of mine. i can't imagine being threatened
by rick santorum. [ inaudible ] >> i think one of the great ironies of this year is that they have much longer period of proportional representation. and so you get conservative delegates picked in overwhelming numbers where as if it was a first past the post romney might be able to eek out a victory because the conservatives are split. when the conservatives aren't split, we will have already gotten beyond that point. >> will you be running a more aggressive ad? >> i would not want them to run an ad that is factually false and not want them to run an ad that was a gut ad. you can draw legitimate contrast. romney called himself a moderate as governor. this is not like going back 25 years. romney did register as a democrat to vote for paul tsongas. these things are not, you know, you don't have to go out and
select things out to distort them and you don't have to get into his career and do any of the things that would get into negative advertising. say, look, here is his public record, here is my public record, you choose. >> his ads aren't really -- it is not about distorting the facts. [ inaudible ] fact driven websites, it is really about the tone, the aggressiveness that the -- >> yeah, yeah, i think frankly i think you can do very calm, very pleasant ads that the nation of the republican party is such that a calm and pleasant ad that says he was for tax paid abortions, i'm against it, you can say it happily, pleasantly, it works just by the nature of the data. >> he quotes america the beautiful while his ads show -- >> right. >> is that the future? >> no more than it has been in the past. this is always -- [ inaudible ]
>> he says how great he is and -- >> sure. >> his ads are trashing you constantly. >> right. so part of the question you have to ask yourself is, he's assuming the american people are stupid. i don't think the american people are stupid. i am sure -- i am sure -- i am sure within a few weeks every american will know this is his pac with his staff. sure. of course they did. [ inaudible ] by the way, all i did was guarantee some other conservative merged and didn't help romney at all. [ inaudible ] well, then -- and he didn't get rid of me, he just slowed me down. we will make it increasingly clear that these are his ads that this -- [ inaudible ] no, all you have to do is list his former staff and his donors and then he can go around the
country and say he's not responsible for this. it makes him look like -- here is my simple tag line. somebody who will lie to you to get to be president will lie to you when they are president. >> you didn't have any problem with -- you have no problem with the big donors. >> look, i have every problem -- no. i have every problem. first of all, no ads are being run by any of my friends that are attacking anybody. second, my solution will be to eliminate all the election laws and allow people to give unlimited personal money after tax and file every night and let the candidates run the campaigns and have the candidate be responsible. i think the current mess is a disgrace. i think it debilitates politics. i think it strengthens millionaires. and it weakens middle class candidates. >> are you talking about putting it on the air, something that -- [ inaudible ] >> probably. eventually. you have to be on the air to -- i shouldn't say this to a print reporter. you have to be on the air to
penetrate everywhere. >> any local reporters that feel intimidated by the large national presence that would like to -- >> wait, you had a press gaggle with no local reporters? this is -- i have to talk to him later. when robert was here, as your assistant, it worked better. that's all i got to say. >> by ceding now you're willing to get more aggressive, aren't you also acknowledging you should have done it sooner? >> no. i think we're running a very interesting experiment. this is the first of many contests. i don't know what the result will be tuesday night. you have people here. i think people genuinely are disgusted with the negative ads. i think it will be interesting to see what happens tuesday nig night. >> you've been getting hit a lot here in iowa is mailboxes. >> we might. i'm not -- i think that's less
effective than television and radio. >> even though people were getting five mailers a day. >> i think they throw them out. i think if you think about your own life, how many unsolicited mailer can you slow out without noticing them? [ inaudible ] if you tell the truth, it sounds negative. >> people say it is all part of the process, this is a historical part of the process, negative ads. >> for romney to take responsibility -- [ inaudible ] >> so are you prepared to go negative against barack obama? >> no, i'm just prepared to tell the truth. telling the truth will sound negative. >> what are you going to do to fight -- >> that's why this is a good experiment. learning through the cycle will help us to figure out how to defeat obama's ads. >> are you saying that -- >> no. yeah, i'm saying this was a very
legitimate effort to see could you run a positive campaign and stay positive despite the negative ads and could you -- first of all, could you sustain your vote and i agree with chris' analysis. he drove us down from the 30 -- he didn't drive us down to two. if i had spent $3.5 million defining romney, he would have been at three. there is a big difference. no, no. [ inaudible ] . no, he's in a position to come in very, very weak first in a field where he ought to be -- go ahe ahead. >> was it driven in part by a fear that if you were aggressive, that would imbibe images that people have of you from your speakership days? >> no, it was actually driven by our supporters. the number of supporters who said to us, you know, from the middle of the tsunami of
negativity, i'm so proud, and you hear this if you walk near me, when people walk up to me, i'm so proud you're positive. i'm so proud that you're sticking to us. i mean, we -- what happened was we were temporarily driven down to our base and our base really liked being positive. now, maybe that's because it is a good government base, maybe because it is a base of people who read books. i don't know what the reasons were, but the people who didn't leave even after $3 million or $4 million of negative ads were people who said i'm really proud that you're staying positive. and so we decided, you know, that we would in fact try to figure out could you do well enough remaining positive to survive? i think the answer is we're going to do well enough to survive and we'll decide what to do from that point on. >> can you explain or can you answer and explain to people who are considering or abdicating that mr. santorum is the person
that deserves support, can you tell us what you would say to those people? >> sure. i would say rick is a terrific person but i'm in fact the only conservative with a nationwide campaign, i'm the only conservative who has actually led a national achievement on the scale of the 1994 campaign. and i'm the only person that worked with reagan in '80-'81 to pull off the scale of change. so i'm not going to say anything negative about rick santorum. he's a great guy. i think i'm a more experienced national leader with a greater ability to actually change washington. and that's what i would make the final argument. thank you, all. >> thanks, guys. thanks, guys. hey, guys, it is snowing. for those of you not on the bus, please drive safely. >> there you have it, newt gingrich and so much to digest and what he said, clearly he has set his sights on mitt romney, the front-runner, the problem is
welcome back to "the contenders 2012" where for last couple of hours we have been able to bring you some unedited raw versions of what people are hearing on the campaign trail here in iowa, making a very important decision on tuesday in the iowa caucuses. we're going to get to jim acosta and joe johns later to talk over some of what we heard. but i want to now bring in our dana bash.
dana, through this whole newt gingrich news conference, which i'm sure you heard, i kept thinking, actually the man who did a lot of damage to newt gingrich was ron paul, who has deep pockets, who has an ardent following and who immediately put up ads when gingrich started to go up in the polls calling him a serial hypocrite. it reminded me how much ron paul has been a huge power in this iowa caucus. i spoke with him this morning. he said, well, i expect i'll come in first or second. i'm not going to come in third. it will be first or second. so he has -- if he doesn't win the nomination, he certainly is in a place to become a power broker. >> oh, there is no question about it that he absolutely, i mean, we'll see how he does on tuesday. but just the fact that he has been consistently doing so well in very reliable polls here, like the des moines register poll that came out last night, the fact he's in a statistical dead heat with mitt romney says
it all. the whole idea of whether or not he would be a power broker, candy, you know, because you covered him in congress as well as i have, question is whether he wants to be a power broker. you talked a little bit about this with him this morning, the fact that he's a republican, but so many of his views and so many of his positions really draw support from democrats because they tend to be maybe on the foreign policy side, less interventionist, of course, and on the domestic side, he draws libertarians. so that gets him independent votes. so he could be a power broker but he doesn't seem to be the kind of guy that wants to be. >> exactly. and i think -- i just mean if he can collect some delegates along the way, because he talks like a man who is in this for the long haul. you collect those delegates, you can start to bargain a little. i think what is funny is whenever i talk to ron paul, i think a little bit about that musical sound, the sound of music, where the nuns all get together and sing this song about a novice saying how do you
solve a problem like maria and i feel like that's where the republicans are, because here is a man, who, you know, how do you solve a problem like ron paul? here is a man that does draw from a party that wants a smaller government, when we did our poll, 22%, the highest number of those responding, 22% agreed with ron paul on the issues. when asked how do you most agree with, he was at the top. so they have a bit of a problem here. >> oh, definitely. and even the des moines register poll that came out last night, i think the top five issues people said, like, reducing spending, reducing the size of government, the debt, things like that, he, by far, was the most likable candidate. the problem for him is his negatives are getting higher and higher because that's what happens. you know this better than anybody, that when somebody who is previously not, you know, let's face it kind of ignored by the mainstream media gets scrutiny, especially somebody
like ron paul who has some very interesting writings in former books and other places, the negatives start to soar and that has been happening and that's why he definitely is doing well, he has an unbelievable base of support here in iowa. and if you believe them going on to new hampshire and they're even running ads in south carolina, he definitely is -- says he's in it for the long haul but the question is how he really welfare here given the fact that the negatives seem to be hurting him and the attacks and the scrutiny seem to be hurting him here in iowa in the final days. >> yes, they have. there is some personality things inside the poll, he was very high on the list of least likable. he was pretty high on the list of not likely to be able to beat president obama or not electable question. but nonetheless, he is drawing votes, some votes at least, the democrats and the independents have -- but he's drawing some
republican votes away from these guys and newt gingrich in some way has to get around this, as does rick perry, as does michele bachmann, as does rick santorum. >> absolutely. and, look, he was talking about tea party-like ideals before they were cool,paid attention t idea you want to shrink government, the government is too big, and that the debt is too big. he's very black and white about that, obviously. that's the kind of people he attracts. when people listen to what he says about the fact that government doesn't work, the fact that he thinks that federal income tax should be abolished, the fact that for some people he says that drugs should be legalized, those kinds of things really do play for some true libertarians and, again, for the economic conservatives, people who really, again, followed the tea party credo, he is their guy. he's one of the originals. and so if that is the reason why
you're voting and especially if you're a voter here in iowa and there are a lot of them who want to vote to send a message to iowa, to washington rather, rather than vote for somebody who could potentially beat barack obama, there is no reason you wouldn't want to vote for ron paul. >> and it is a good place for ron paul in iowa where they list the debt, the federal debt as the biggest problem in the economy. so it will be an interesting night for him on tuesday night. and interesting night for all of us. dana, so good to be talking to you again. welcome to iowa. we'll talk to you later. we'll take a quick break and we'll be right back. ♪ [ female announcer ] you use the healing power of touch every day. the healing power of touch can be even more powerful. with precise from the makers of tylenol.
welcome back to "the contenders 2012". we're in our final lap here for our new year's day edition of "the contenders." i want to bring in my colleagues, joe johns, who has been with romney, jim acosta who has been with newt gingrich and john king joining us live from atlanta this afternoon. joe, i want to sort of wrap things up with you, talking about mitt romney. i'm not sure that six months ago any of us would have thought that romney would be in as good a position as he appears to be in iowa and yet i think we saw in that news conference of his that he's tempering or trying to temper the expectations here.
>> absolutely. and playing it very safe once again. you know, you can look at romney early on two ways. the conventional way has always been that he really didn't plan to do a lot in iowa, and so he got forced into it and now he's here, all in. there is another way to look at it too. if you talk to people connected to the campaign, they'll suggest to you now that mitt romney was running a stealth campaign, if you will, a sort of quietly under the radar making contact with people to try to come in at the last moment and make a good showing. so there is that. he was here just a few moments ago and we watched that right here on cnn. one of the interesting things he did today was point out that four years ago in his run for president, rick santorum who is surging and doing so well in the polls here in iowa right now, actually endorsed him.
can we listen to that sound bite? >> senator santorum was kind enough to endorse me last time around. i appreciate that. and we have been friends. i can tell you our backgrounds are quite different. >> so santorum's got some questions about that today, given the fact that he is posing himself as the true conservative choice in the race right now. so why did you endorse this candidate four years ago? santorum's point is, look, he didn't want john mccain to win and it was very late in the game, just about a week before mitt romney actually got out of the race. so that will be something to talk about going forward. but, candy, you're absolutely right, he's playing it very safe now, trying very hard not to make any news. he's riding slightly at the top of the polls. everybody else wants to try to walk into tuesday like that. back to you. >> i think the name of the game,
joe, for the romney campaign has always been try not to make news no matter what, for about the past year and a half and they kind of have done that by not doing a lot of interviews. they stepped it up recently when there were -- began to build this sort of why isn't romney out there, is he passionate about this debate? but you're perfectly right that that 2008 structure that he put in place with his $10 million that he sunk into the iowa caucuses and then placed a disappointing second was still there. and so he kind of superimposed on to that and now it looks like a strategy, a careful strategy that is working well for him. do you get any sense from the romney people what they would consider victory? i know romney said, well, fist place. but it seems to me that if a ron paul or rick santorum is in the -- round out the top three as they do in the polling and we don't know what will happen in the caucuses that that would be okay with mitt romney.
>> yeah. he's been very careful. he's been very careful now. he's not predicting victory. he said as much here, but he would like to see a strong showing. so if that means number one, i'm sure they'll take it. but it is pretty clear that they're looking at this like they're going to get one of the three tickets out of iowa and expect to do very well in new hampshire and from there it is game on. >> absolutely. jim acosta. speaking of game on, i thought that newt gingrich press conference was pretty revealing. first of all, he overlooks everybody else in the race and is going straight at mitt romney, even though as dana and i just talked about, ron paul is the one that day lot of negative advertising against gingrich. >> that's right. that's absolutely right. you know, though newt gingrich, you talk to him on the campaign trail about ron paul, up until this point, before he started going after mitt romney today, newt gingrich was all too eager to talk about ron paul. so he has -- he has talked about
the texas congressman here or there. i think the dramatic thing that happened at this media availability that just wrapped up a few moments ago is that newt gingrich signaled he's not going after mitt romney. he made no mistake about it dure his media availability. he was complaining about all of the negative ads that have come his way. i asked him at one point, were you swift boated and he said i've been romney boated. so clearly newt gingrich feels like he's ready to go on the attack here and he listed a number of things that are in mitt romney's record, that he plans to highlight and he said he's going to do that in new hampshire. he said, yes, we didn't do it here in iowa, but we're going to do it in new hampshire. i asked him, does that signal that perhaps you had a tactical error here and the fact that you allowed the romney forces to defind you here in the days before the iowa caucuses but you didn't fire back? he said, well, this was an experiment. i said, well, should you be experimenting your okay throuwa
the iowa caucuss? he wouldn't budge. he said, look, the romney tactics worked, they knocked our poll numbers down from the mid 30s to the teens but didn't take us down to two. if i had done the same to mitt romney, i would have been knocked down to 2% or 3%. the questions people are asking are why didn't you do that then. >> jim acosta, to atlanta where our coverage is headquartered and talk to john king, host of "john king usa." i want to remind our viewers in our final moments here about the des moines register poll at the bottom. santorum, 15. gingrich, 12. perry, 11. bachmann, 7. they're all bunched up. anybody could get that third ticket out including rick perry. >> anybody could, candy. you may have candidates who are fourth saying because if it is bunched up at the top that there should be four tickets out. the calculation will be if you come in fourth in iowa, you go
to new hampshire. if you're governor rick perry, you go to south carolina and say i'm in the -- not going to win. if you're mitt romney, he would like the more candidates to stay in the race. he believes he can win new hampshire. this is a fascinating period, candy. you've been through this in many cycles. the candidates have 24 hours left in iowa. the vote is 48 hours from now. they have one more news cycle to change their case. i thought that was fascinating listening to newt gingrich there. he knows the risks if he goes negative. the risks are higher than the other candidates. this is an interesting moment. iowa votes first. the candidates will recalculate overnight, have their closing pitch tomorrow and then we'll see who survives. it is a fascinating. this is why we do this. people get to vote now. >> absolutely. and, john king, a big interview on tuesday with rick perry. a lot at stake for the texas governor here. we will all there be listening