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Special Report Roundtable: The GOP Field

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume

BAIER: And we are back with our panel.

The GOP horse race is on for the 2008 election. And let's look at some of the latest polls. The Fox News Opinion dynamics poll, the latest one, shows some movement there. Giuliani making a move up four percent, Thompson going up seven percent there in September, and McCain taking a jump as well, while Romney slips.

The latest poll--L.A. Times-Bloomberg in Iowa has Mitt Romney holding on to a lead there. But there you see Fred Thompson tying Rudy Giuliani in second place.

Now let's take a look at New Hampshire. And, again, the latest poll there--Mitt Romney holding a slim lead over Giuliani. And John McCain making a move up to 12 percent in that poll.

So what about this? Is John McCain making a surge, Fred, and is it really tied to news about the war?

BARNES: It is his issue. It is the only one he has. Right now he is on his no surrender tour. He is talking about not surrendering in Iraq. He knows more about the issue, he has been there longer than anybody else. The plan that Petraeus is following is one he has advocated, everybody knows that. He expressed it in the Republican debate in New Hampshire very ably a week or so ago.

But you have to remember, these are primary polls. They do not reflect necessarily a deep commitment to a candidate. And when I talk to Republicans, I find that they may have some lean toward a candidate, but they really are up in the air, they are not committed.

But I think the most important polls are the ones in Iowa and New Hampshire. You win in Iowa and New Hampshire, you are going to be a rocket heading into the other primaries. And that is where Romney leads

BAIER: Charles, when you look at these polls, what is the picture you see?

KRAUTHAMMER: That McCain and Thompson and Giuliani all had good weeks. McCain, obviously, if the war news is good, he improves, and he improved dramatically. Also as the memory of immigration fades--he was on the wrong side of that--it helps him.

Thompson launched reasonably well, and he rose in the polls. Giuliani, of course, had his attack dog week in which he did well.

But what is interesting is the dynamic between the front runners, Giuliani and Thompson. Thompson is playing the laid back old country lawyer, calm, in some ways quietly charismatic.

Giuliani is the tough guy. And he is running, essentially, he is saying "there are bad guys out there in the world--bin Laden, Hillary, and a few others, and who do you want to punch in the nose on your behalf? Me or the other guys?"

He is a guy who relished arresting all the guys who jumped fares in New York, and who relished slapping handcuffs on Wall Street big guys, innocent or guilty. He really did not care on that. And he is a guy who is tough, and that is how he is running.

If Republicans are energized, if the demoralization which they experienced in 2006 as the result of the slide in the war wears off, and they have some hope and energy and optimism, I think he is going to be extremely attractive.

Thompson, of course, has it over him on the social issues, is more conservative. But Giuliani has the ferocity factor, and I think that is going to help him a lot.

BAIER: Mort, we always talk about how early it is to be talking about the horse race here. But what is the storyline? Is there a storyline developing?

KONDRAKE: Frankly, the story line is muddled, still. We have got to wait to see whether Fred Thompson actually can deliver something in terms of policy, in terms of strength, in terms of--

BAIER: But wasn't it the feeling of the panel that he was imploding at the beginning?

KONDRAKE: It was that he wasn't meeting expectations, that he didn't raise as much money as he anticipated. Now he is in. I think he had a boffo launch. He did it the right way. Everybody else was up in New Hampshire with Brit Hume and he was on Jay Leno with double the viewership.

Not to take anything away from the Brit, of course.

KRAUTHAMMER: I take issue with that.

BAIER: And he has roared upwards for one week. We will have to see where it goes.

He has narrowed the gap with Rudy Giuliani. Our poll gives Giuliani a 12 point lead. But the average of all the polls that have been taken recently, it shows Giuliani now nationally with only four-and-a-half percent.

And Charles is right, and Fred is right, too, about the importance of Iowa and New Hampshire, where Romney is ahead.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

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