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UYGUR: Congressman Ryan`s budget puts 2012 Republicans hopefuls in a sticky situation. They can`t come out against the mother of all budget cutting plans, but they also can`t afford to alienate senior citizens by supporting a proposal to destroy Medicare. Look, 59 percent of seniors voted republican in 2010. They need those votes in 2012, but unfortunately this plan cuts a huge chunk out of Medicare. So, that`s the bad idea. So, where are the republican presidential candidates come out? They say, well, we really applaud his leadership, that was excellent leadership, which is a little ironic. If he`s the leader, why are you guys running for president?
And then second of all, about the actual pendulant, well, I`m still saying, which was the wind is blowing. I`m not going to give a direct answer to that. Classic politicians. By the way, Tim Pawlenty who did whole spiel, his book is called “Courage to Stand.” “Courage to Stand,” a little later when I find out which way things are going.
All right. Now, to talk about this, we`ve got Ed Rollins, he`s joining me, he`s a longtime republican strategist, who is also a political director for President Ronald Reagan. Ed, great to have you back.
ED ROLLINS, FORMER REAGAN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: My pleasure. Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Ed, I get the sense you`re not buying this. You think this might be a political trouble for the Republicans.
ROLLINS: Well, it`s not a political bill. It is a public policy bill, and I applaud Congressman Ryan for putting something on the table. It`s a long way to go in this process, but is it politically astute at this point in time, probably not. I think one of these things that you`ve got to do is educate the public which comes over a period of time. And right today, you can`t scare the elderly, basically who are on Medicare basically. There`s a lot in this bill that a most people don`t understand yet, and I think they — in the course of a campaign, some people will take sides, some people won`t.
UYGUR: All right. Now, I want to get back to the politics through this, and how is going — in a second. But you said as you keep the public. But, you know, you guys have been trying to do that for a long time. I mean, that`s what — that`s what Newt Gingrich said back in the mid 1990s, we`ve got to educate the public.
ROLLINS: I guess he would then do a very good job.
UYGUR: All right. But is it possible the public is educated and they just don`t like your plan.
ROLLINS: Well, I think the bottom-line is that people can`t be confused, can`t be scared. And I think at the end of the day, no one who is on Medicare today is going to lose Medicare. And that`s in the provision. It`s for.
UYGUR: But they get a massive cut.
ROLLINS: They basically, the cuts come down below. And I`m not going to argue the details. I`m not — the bill came out yesterday, and unlike Democrats, I don`t want to take 1,000-page bill and explain it until I know something more about it. Right at this point in time, if you`re one of 100 members of Congress who live in very safe republican districts, I would vote for this in a heartbeat. If I`m in a marginal district or in some other states or not quite so, I would be more careful.
UYGUR: See, and that`s what we`re discussing here, the politics of it, right? So, for the republican presidential candidates, this could be an albatross around their neck. I mean, if they come out and they said, oh yes, I`d loved the cut — then that would come back to.
ROLLINS: No one is going to say that. I think first of all, we don`t have any candidates out there announced yet. And obviously we have a year and a half to go before this thing becomes prevalent. I think they have to offer an alternative if they don`t accept this one. Most of them will, and here`s their plan of how they basically try and reduce the deficits. The president hasn`t offered his plan, and I think to a certain extent, any candidate who runs has to have their own plan.
UYGUR: But if they get behind this bill, that could be political trouble. Because you got the cut in food stamps, you got the cut in Medicaid, I mean, look, we can argue about whether it`s a real cut Medicare. But the CBO is in, you know, I don`t want to get into that policy debate, but it seems pretty clear, you see the political damage that could happen to them, especially in a general election.
ROLLINS: Well, I think the key thing is we`re in a general election, we`re in the beginning of a process. And, you know, Democrats didn`t even pass a resolution last time. So, I think at the end of the day, this is Ryan`s plan. It may very well be the House republican plan, it`s not going to get the law of the land, and I think at certain extent that candidates when they get in this race, most of them have been governors, most of them are smart, they understand deficit, reduction and what have you, I think they`ll be careful in some of the items here, and they have to come up with their own plan if they don`t like this one.
UYGUR: All right. Now, I want to move on to something else, a new NBC poll just came out, right?
UYGUR: And I want to run some of the numbers by you. First, among the primary voters, when you have everybody included, it`s interesting, it`s a tight race. You`ve Mitt Romney up top with 21 percent. Huckabee is at 17, Trump is at 17 which I`m shocked by. Newt Gingrich had11. Palin at 10, Pawlenty is down at six, Bachmann is at five. Santorum is irrelevant at three. And Haley Barbour even more irrelevant at one. So, but here`s the interesting part, before we discuss that, if you take out the people who probably will not run or have not voiced an interest in running, right? Huckabee, Trump`s not really going to run, so they take him out. Palin, Santorum.
ROLLINS: Huckabee may very well.
UYGUR: No, I think Huckabee might, too. And that`s why this gets to how relevant he is, right?
UYGUR: And I think Santorum is going to run, but he`s irrelevant anyway. All right. So, Mitt Romney then becomes 40 percent, Newt Gingrich which at 20 percent, Pawlenty at 12, Michele Bachmann, 11, Haley Barbour at three. What I`m getting out of that is if Huckabee leaves the race, Mitt Romney looks like he`s in great shape, doesn`t he?
ROLLINS: He certainly does at the start. You know, he was, he and Huckabee were second and third, last time, I`m just reminded, having done this for five decades now. I`m reminded of President Giuliani that led in all 50 states last time and then you had President Thompson who jumped in at 31, 32 percent. Right now, polls are about name idea, Donald Trump who is not a serious candidate, everybody knows who he is, some people are form, some people, but when you get down to real debates, you get down to real candidates, and they have to make real choices, Donald Trump is not going to be in the fact.
UYGUR: Did Giuliani have the worst idea of saving his candidacy to Florida that you`ve ever seen in.
ROLLINS: Absolutely, by far. And the fact that you could skip Iowa and New Hampshire when everybody starts there and the media is there, it was nuts.
UYGUR: Even skipped South Carolina. It`s crazy. Why you just skip the whole thing?
ROLLINS: It would be like skipping Staten Island in a mayor`s race in New York. You won`t win if you`re republican.
UYGUR: All right. Ed Rollins, thank you very much.
ROLLINS: My pleasure.
UYGUR: We really appreciate it.