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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Newt Gingrich on the Eve of Iowa; Cain's Mission; Interview with Governor Branstad; Interview with Governor Daniels

Aired January 2, 2012 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, make or break on the eve of Iowa.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think I'm going to win. I think if you look at the numbers, I think that volume of negativity has done enough damage.

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich giving up already? Tonight I'll ask him. Plus taking their case to the voters.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Get out there and vote tomorrow. I need every vote.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are not looking for a chief executive officer for this country. We're looking for a commander in chief.

REP. RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to change things today and bring back the traditions of America, which means liberty, peace and prosperity.

MORGAN: How important is Iowa really? And who will drop out? Will negative campaigning make the real difference? I'll talk to a man who knows all about that, Herman Cain. He's a former candidate and a force to be reckoned with.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. While most of Americans are celebrating the holidays, most of Iowa has been inundated with presidential candidates, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann have been swarming the state. Today alone they've had more than two dozen events and innumerable interviews. All in an effort to sway the 43 percent of likely caucuses participants who say they might still change their minds.

Jon Huntsman, meanwhile, says forget Iowa. I'm going to concentrate on New Hampshire.

The man with the most on the line in Iowa may well be Newt Gingrich. The former frontrunner actually did something pretty unusual today. He told voters he will probably lose tomorrow's caucuses, which is a pretty revolutionary strategy in politics called honesty. Joining me now is Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, how are you?

GINGRICH: I'm doing great. How you are?

MORGAN: I'm good. It seems like all the focus has been on you, good, bad and ugly in the last few weeks. How are you faring with the battle so far?

GINGRICH: Well, I think pretty well. I enjoy being with the people of Iowa. I enjoy talking about ideas and solutions and where we are as a country. We've had huge crowds. We've also done telephone conference calls with up to 22,000 people at a time. So it's been fun. It's been very exciting. And things are coming along. And as you point out, up to 41 percent of the folks telling "The Des Moines Register" they might switch -- they might change their position, who knows what's going to happen tomorrow night.

I think I'd probably come in somewhere between first and fourth. But I have no -- I honestly have no idea where we'll be on that list. But to me a very exciting time.

MORGAN: They say if you don't come in the top three in Iowa, you may as well pack your bags and get out of the campaign. Do you see it like that this time?

GINGRICH: Well, they said that to John McCain and he went on to win the nomination. So I think probably that rule doesn't totally apply. I think that we'll do well enough in Iowa to go to New Hampshire. We'll do well enough in New Hampshire to go to South Carolina. We'll win South Carolina. And then we'll win Florida.

I think the -- Governor Romney has to win New Hampshire. It's basically his home base. It's one of his three best states. And the fact is tomorrow night I suspect after having spent $20 million in five years, Governor Romney will prove that he has a ceiling of somewhere between 23 and 25 percent.

He simply can't break out of the moderate wing of the party. He can't attract any conservatives. And a party that is basically conservative, that bodes pretty badly for his long-term prospects. So I think I'll actually leave here strategically in better position than Governor Romney.

MORGAN: I mean what Mitt Romney has done is spent a lot of money and been very, very negative against you because he saw you as a threat.

GINGRICH: Yes, he has.

MORGAN: And American politics historically has, as you well know -- you've been in this game for 40, 50 years -- has always basically been about money and aggression particularly towards opponents. You took this fascinating tactical switch to try and be Mr. Nice Guy. And it doesn't seem to have worked. With hindsight, wouldn't it have been better for you not to be negative but to be more aggressive?

GINGRICH: Look, don't be so sure it hasn't worked. I mean everywhere I go in the last four or five days every single audience has been large. Every single audience has applauded the fact that we run a positive campaign. Every single audience has applauded condemning negative campaigns. People are sick of the tsunami of negatives out here.

Somebody did an analysis that 45 percent of all the ads in Iowa were attacks on me. Now that's an astonishing number. Think of this as the opening three minutes of the Super Bowl. Now we came on the field and said, we're going to run a totally positive campaign. Governor Romney knew he couldn't afford for the conversation to get around to his record, so he threw every negativity he could find, $3.5 or $4 million worth in a small state, which is an astonishing number.

And I'm still standing. That strikes me that that's a pretty good starting point for the campaign and let's just go to New Hampshire with a much better understanding of what he have to answer and how we have to deal with Romney's negative style of campaigning.

MORGAN: I mean the negativity has been pretty vicious. I want to play you one of the ads and just get your reaction to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As speaker, Gingrich even supported taxpayer funding of some abortions. And Newt is the only speaker in history to be reprimanded. He was fined $300,000 for ethics violations by a Republican Congress.

As conservative "National Review" says, his weakness for half- baked and not especially conservative ideas, made him a poor speaker of the House. He appears unable to transform or even govern himself.

Newt Gingrich, too much baggage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Now that's an ad paid for by Restore Our Future, I think, one of the numerous PACs that have been hammering you. It's clearly --

GINGRICH: It's the Romney --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: It's not directly from Mitt Romney.

GINGRICH: That's a -- well, come on, Piers. It is Romney's staff using money from Romney's millionaire friends. It's false about the abortion issue. Every single pro life candidate in this race voted for the Hyde Amendment. That's what it referred to. We eliminated every single abortion except in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother. Henry Hyde was the leading right-to-life activist in the Congress. I have a 98.6 percent right-to-life record. This is by the way from Governor Romney who has tax-paid abortions in Romney-care and who put Planned Parenthood in Romney-care and he has the gall to run this kind of an ad?

I was not -- did not have a $300,000 fine. I paid $300,000 expenses for a letter my lawyers wrote that was technically wrong. Every single violation was overturned by the court and I was -- and I was found to be correct and innocent. They know that. It's simply wrong. You go through item by item.

The fact is, as speaker of the House, I reformed welfare, cut taxes and balanced the budget for four straight years. If that's not effective conservatism, I'd be curious to get somebody's definition of what an effective conservative is.

MORGAN: Tell me this, Newt, because, you know, as somebody who has been incredibly impressed by the way you came back from the dead and I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing you and getting to know you better, isn't the American -- isn't the American way that if somebody gives you a smack on the nose, you eventually have to smack them back?

And isn't it time now for you to accept that this negativity has pounded you into a position where, much as you would like to keep it positive, isn't it time you got the old Gingrich fist out and gave Romney a good old smack?

GINGRICH: You know, Harry Truman, in his great re-election campaign, when he was so far behind that Gallup quit-taking polls in mid-September, went after Dewey and the crowd would yell out give them hell, Harry. And he would yell back, no, I just tell them the truth and it hurts like hell.

I think with Governor Romney, his record is so bad, he is such so clearly a moderate. He's done so many things that are indefensible in a Republican primary, it would be OK in a Democratic primary, but in a Republican primary it would be indefensible. All I have to do is tell the truth. I'm not going to have to go negative. All I have to do is point out facts.

And I think the next few weeks are going to be a lot of fun. They'll be very interesting. My only request of Mitt is that he be honest with the country. This attack ad, which is already running in Florida, already running in South Carolina, already running in New Hampshire, this is from a PAC run by his former staff paid for by his millionaire friends. Now if he'd be just man enough to get up and say, you know, this is my negative campaign and I admit it, I'd be a lot happier.

What I find really frustrating and, frankly irritating, as a man who wants to run for president of the United States who can't be honest with the American people. If he can't level with the American people about these ads, why should we expect him to level about anything if he's president?

MORGAN: This whole PAC system seems to me to be inherently flawed, isn't it? I mean everybody knows --

GINGRICH: Yes.

MORGAN: -- what's going on here, everybody politician knows. The public aren't stupid either. I mean is it time to completely reform this kind of thing so that you can't have --

GINGRICH: Yes.

MORGAN: -- buddies and friends of politicians doing this?

GINGRICH: Look, we'd be so much healthier to eliminate all of the complicated election bureaucracy. And go to a very simple law that says any American can give any amount of after-tax money as long as they report it that night on the Internet, and then if Romney wants to have a gigantic campaign and he wants to pay for the ads and he wants to come on and say, I'm Mitt Romney and I approve of this negative ad, it'll be a much healthier system.

And by the way, it would take about 70 percent of the poison out of the system because candidates couldn't run the kind of dishonest ads that these PACs run. I think it would make for a much healthier system to have the candidates actually responsible and to have the candidates actually controlling the money.

MORGAN: Tell me this, Newt. Why is it that you're prepared to be so critical of Mitt Romney now in this interview but you're not prepared to do it in television advertising? I'm confused by that apparent contradiction.

GINGRICH: It's not a contradiction. We're discussing where we're going. And I'm prepared to be relatively critical in advertising when necessary, but I'm also trying to respond to the reality that came as, frankly, a surprise to me. When I saw the analysis that said 45 percent of the money spent in Iowa was on negative ads attacking me, I was astounded.

When I started looking at the ads and realized how dishonest they were, it has been a surprise. When you and I did the show a while back, you'll remember, I was very positive about everybody. I was very happy to have a clean, positive campaign. I thought it would be great to actually have folks run recognizing that our only real opponent is Barack Obama. And in that sense, this has been very disappointing to see somebody of the caliber of Governor Romney stoop to this because, you know, he's a smart guy and he could have done better.

But all I'm prepared to do is say clearly, and I'll say it in advertising in New Hampshire and beyond, what I think is facts are. But I'll say it in a way that I'm responsible for it, you'll know it's coming from me. It will be direct and straightforward and you'll be able to see anything I say will be verified and will be accurate.

MORGAN: Well, Iowa is the warm-up, if you like. Let's have a break and come back and talk about the main event, the main course, which will be New Hampshire and beyond. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I should win the Iowa caucuses because I am the only candidate who could successfully debate Obama in the fall and I'm the only candidate who has an actual track record twice with Reagan and then as speaker of actually changing Washington. Everybody else would be an amateur in the Obama tradition who would not know what they were doing or how to do it if they won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was Newt Gingrich in Independence, Iowa today. And he's back with me now.

Speaker, when you look at what may happen over the next few weeks, it is a possibility that you could see different candidates winning in three or four of the first few votes. Ron Paul could win one, you could win one, Mitt Romney could win one and the race could actually go on quite a long time.

GINGRICH: It could. And I don't think we have any idea how this will evolve in terms of whether it's fast or short because this year for the first time we have a very long period of proportional delegates where winning doesn't mean that you get everything. It means you get to share the vote.

We'll see what happens. We designed our campaign for the long run. We always thought that it would be essential to be able to compete in the whole country, and we're prepared to go all the way to the convention in order to win the nomination. We don't think we have to win early or get in trouble, but I do think the race will clarify itself and things like "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board on Saturday describing the dramatic difference between my jobs and economic tax plan as a full growth very robust plan and Romney's plan as a very weak plan more like Obama's, I think those kind of differences as they sink in will make it easier for us to stay the course and to ultimately win the nomination.

MORGAN: You've hinted that if you do win the nomination, that Sarah Palin could be a good running mate. Other people like Herman Cain, I'm interviewing him after you today, their endorsement may well not be unhelpful to candidates right now. Tell me about these two things, and one, how important the choice of running mate is, and any further thoughts you have about endorsements are right now from key figures in the party?

GINGRICH: Well, let me start with Governor Palin, who I think has been greatly underestimated in the national news media, whose record as governor, as a reformer, was very formidable. You know one of her major strengths is in the area of energy. If you were trying to maximize the development of energy for the United States, particularly oil and gas, she might well have a significant role to play in that kind of an effort under way. I think in terms of a running mate, which I wouldn't think about before June or July in terms of individuals, you really ask three questions. Is it somebody who could be president? Because this is, after all, not a game. Vice presidents do sometimes show up as presidents. Second, is it somebody who is in agreement with the core principles I'm campaigning on? Is it somebody dedicated to really changing Washington. Somebody willing to take on the bureaucracy, the liberal establishment and willing to take the heat?

And then third, is it somebody who might help you win the election? But I think you ask them in that order.

MORGAN: And what about endorsements? I mean is it important to candidates such as yourself to get the endorsement of people like Herman Cain?

GINGRICH: Well, it's very helpful to get endorsements. I was helped last week, for example, when our (INAUDIBLE) endorsement. I was helped when very, very significant radio host in the social conservative, Steve Day's endorsement. Certainly helped when Thomas Saul, who was a great conservative intellectual wrote a column endorsing me. So we'd like to have the maximum number of supporters across the whole country and we're working very hard to attract them.

MORGAN: What's been fascinating about, say, Rick Santorum's surging poll success in Iowa -- and not just because he's really putting the groundwork in and going to 360-odd rallies in 99 counties is worthy of something at the very least. What's been interesting is the battleground that he's been waging very much on traditional family value conservative issues.

There is a concern amongst members of the party that if somebody like Rick Santorum continues to gather heat, that it will inevitably push the party too far to the right when the battle comes to take on Barack Obama that is not a good thing.

GINGRICH: Well, I don't agree with that. First of all, Rick Santorum is a very courageous, hard working and dedicated person. I've known him for years. I feel very good for Rick. He's very fortunate in that he didn't get any of the negative ads. So to some extent he's been the beneficiary of the $3.5 million of negative ads that Romney threw at me.

But he's a good person. He is very knowledgeable on Iran. And as you point out, he's very strong on social issues. I think he would do reasonably well here. And I think he'll go on from here and there will be places where he'll do pretty well.

You know Rick is a good friend of ours and will be competing in a positive way. And I think saying nice things about each other, my hope is in the long run that the breadth of my experience and my ability to point to having worked with Reagan and as speaker of the House, having actually organized the scale of change we did, will give me a net advantage in becoming the conservative alternative to Romney.

MORGAN: And finally, Mitt Romney has tried everything to financially and politically kill you in the last three weeks, which is a kind of form of flattery, really.

GINGRICH: It is.

MORGAN: Clearly you're still standing. What is your message directly to Mitt Romney on the eve of this crucial vote tomorrow?

GINGRICH: You know, reminds me of Abraham Lincoln who once said he was reminded of the man who has offered a chance to be tarred and feathered and carried out down the rail, and said, he would decline the honor even though he appreciated the way it was offered.

You're right, Governor Romney has done everything he could to negatively wipe me out. All I want to say is, Mitt, we're going to have a very honest, direct campaign. We're going to contrast a southern conservative with a long history of working with Reagan and others with a Massachusetts moderate. And I think it will be very exciting.

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich, all the very best. Thank you very much.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you. Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up a man who had his own moment in the Republican spotlight, Herman Cain. Who will he endorse and what's his big announcement?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So as of today, with a lot of prayer and sole searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was the Cain train hitting the bumpers on December 3rd. But is Herman Cain about to make a big announcement about his future? Well, let's find out because he joins me now live.

Herman Cain, how are you?

CAIN: I am great, Piers. Thank you.

MORGAN: Can I say on behalf of probably every media figure in America right now, we have missed you.

CAIN: Well --

MORGAN: You brought some wonderfully entertaining stardust and glamour to proceedings.

CAIN: Well, I wish you had got them to have that sentiment before they played that part in driving me out of the campaign. OK? I'm not saying that it was all the fault of the media, but you know exactly what I mean, but thank you. MORGAN: Well, you weren't expected to agree with all of that, Herman, I mean, in the end the media are like dogs with bones. If they don't have the bones to gnaw on, you can't go anywhere.

CAIN: They make them up. Yes. But I tell you what -- I tell you what I don't miss, Piers, I don't miss the pain that all of the false accusations was causing my family. That part of this whole process has been a relief. And during the campaign, yes, I was seeking a position, the position of president.

That's what's -- that's when you call it a campaign. And the big announcement that you referred to, I would still be on a mission. And that's what I call a movement. Because I am not giving up on all of the critical issues as well as the bold solutions that I talked about during my campaign.

MORGAN: What is this big announcement, Herman?

CAIN: The big announcement is going to be a national movement. The national movement is going to be unconventional because remember, I had been the unconventional candidate. I did many things that were unconventional and they were successful. So the big announcement is that I'm going to go from a campaign to a movement.

And the only difference is these issues that I have talked about passionately, they're not going away. The solutions are not going away. We have an economic crisis. I have a solution on the table. We have an energy crisis. Newt Gingrich referred to that. I have a solution for that. We have a national security crisis. We've got an immigration crisis.

See, the American people still have a hunger for solutions. That's what I am going to create a national movement around in order to be able to continue to keep the American people and particularly my supporters informed, involved and inspired. Because all of the negative attacks that you talked earlier with Newt about has caused a lot of people to be skeptical. And skepticism causes indecisiveness. And that's what you're seeing in what's going on in Iowa and to some extent what's happening in some of the national polls.

MORGAN: And tell me this, Herman. I mean given everything that happened to you leading up to December 3rd, given all the knowledge you now have about everything that came out, good, you know, bad, true, not so true, you know, whatever the real truth lies, we may never even find out. But given everything that happened to you and to your family and the toll that it clearly took, would you, knowing all that, have entered the race?

CAIN: First of all, Piers, I know the truth. So there's no ambiguity in my mind or in my family's mind what the truth is. But to answer your question, yes, I would have still done it. And here's why. You can't expect the unexpected. Some things were expected and they happened. But then some things happened that were not expected, but I still happen to believe that I have impacted positively the discussion in this presidential race. One of my biggest disappointments is now that much of the discussion is deteriorating back down to politicalese, back down to the negative attacks that Newt talked about. And I happen to believe that the American people are looking for something more than the same old political rhetoric, and they're looking for something more than the same continued negative attacks even though negative attacks, to a large degree, if you have enough money, help to bring down your opponent rather than using that money to highlight what you're going to bring to the party.

MORGAN: In the end, though, Herman, I mean isn't it true that no one told you to resign in the sense that it was your decision? I mean couldn't you have just played this out? If, as you say, the vast majority of these allegations were untrue and that all these claims were not correct, why didn't you stand your ground and fight it out?

You were a different kind of candidate. You brought a different kind of feel to politics. You kept saying, I'm not like the others.

CAIN: Exactly.

MORGAN: Why couldn't you have played it differently to the way politicians always play in scandals, which is to eventually hold up their hands up and get out of the race.

CAIN: Two simple words, Piers, and I've said this repeatedly: family first. Nobody had to hear my wife's voice when these false accusations were played over and over and over. The fact that you're continuing to talk about it, this is an example of what I'm talking about.

So I did not want to continue to see it spun and spun and spun. Look, it's family first.

Let me tell you something else about 2012, which is why I'm going to be announcing this national movement. My family and I -- my wife and I had the absolute blessed honor that on New Year's Day, our fourth grandchild was born on New Year's Day. So 2012 has gotten off to a great start, because I have --

MORGAN: Congratulations.

CAIN: Thank you. I have always put family first.

Now, one of the things that I said throughout my campaign for the position of president was that this is not about us. It's about the grandchildren. And so the birth of our fourth grandchild on New Year's Day 2012 has reinvigorated me and inspired me to be on this mission to start this national movement that I'm going to announce later this week, and not give up, because it's about the grandkids.

MORGAN: Your wife seems a remarkable lady --

CAIN: She is.

MORGAN: -- in many ways. I thought those scenes on December the 3rd were terrific, with people chanting her name and she stood by her man. It was impressive stuff. Has she come to terms with the fact that you're going to continue in public life in this way? Is she happy about that?

CAIN: Absolutely. In fact, in her own words, when I was describing to her about moving forward with this national movement that I'm going to be announcing, she was very encouraging. And she said, in effect, that would be great, because you can't give up on the mission. And I'm not.

And so no, she is very supportive of the fact that, yes, I'll still be out in public life. But she also truly understands and is truly supportive of the mission that I am on, to address putting solutions on the table for the crises we face.

Piers, this country is in crisis. And people like me cannot sit back and not do whatever I can do, with the skills and the talents and the opportunities that I have been blessed with, not to try and do something about it. I may not have been in a position to change Washington, D.C., from the inside, but I have now been inspired to do something else, to help bring about change from the outside in an unconventional way.

Remember, I'm that unconventional candidate. And this will be an unconventional approach to bringing about bold change.

MORGAN: OK. Well, that sounds typically unconventional. I look forward to it. After the break, Herman, let's talk about the Republican race that's still going, which candidates you prefer, and whether you're ready to give an endorsement? And if so, will you give it to me, please?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back now with my guest, the former presidential candidate Herman Cain. Come on, Herman. You've seen all the runners and riders. You know them all personally. You can see the way the polls and the mood is going. Where is your endorsement?

CAIN: My endorsement is going to come later. And it's going to be an unconventional endorsement for the following reasons: I was very fortunate to have a large base of supporters. And my number one mission isn't to help select the nominee. My number one mission is to defeat Barack Obama.

And in order to do that, I want to leave my voice and myself in a position to keep my supporters and other supporters that we may pick up when we announce this national movement, keep them informed, to keep them involved and to keep them inspired.

MORGAN: Let's try and trim down the list, though, Herman. Who would you chuck out of the -- out of the airplane at this stage? You have GOP plane flying along state by state. Who should get out? Who should be in the injector seat?

CAIN: Well, you know, that would be against the law to push somebody out of an airplane. But I do understand your metaphor. Look, Newt Gingrich said it best during one of our debates. Everybody on that stage would be a better president than Barack Obama. I absolutely agree with that.

However, I do believe that there are some that would be better than others. And you're not going to get me to say which ones are my preference because of the following dynamics that are very different than we've seen before. Number one, look at what's going on in Iowa; 41 percent of the people aren't sure yet.

Why? Because of the impact of negative advertising. Because of the overly high influence of money on campaigns. Romney has a money advantage. Newt has tried to run a very positive campaign. You all are calling it a Santorum surge.

I still happen to believe it is because people are skeptical. Skepticism leads to indecision.

Secondly, Iowa nor New Hampshire have been total predictors of who the ultimate nominee is going to be. What they have done is that they have narrowed the field. That's really going to be the important thing that's coming out of Iowa and the important thing coming out of New Hampshire. Because what I want people to start to focus on -- and this is what I wish more of the candidates would do.

Now, maybe they're talking about solutions, but they're not being reported. Let's talk about what's important: solving America's problems. We don't hear enough about that. We hear way too much about the negative --

MORGAN: Herman, Herman, let me jump in. I mean, at the moment, I mean, you have to remember, you're not a candidate anymore. You're allowed to be honest here. You are a guy who keeps telling everyone you're not like other politicians, but you're beginning to sound like one.

Take the gloves off and get stuck in. You've run a big business before and you've hired and fired people. Who should go through to the next round and who should be kicked out?

CAIN: Piers, it's not going to work. The voters will select the nominee, but the people are going to set the priorities. That's what my movement is about. It is less important of the top tier candidates, and that has continued to change. And it will change some more before we get to South Carolina and Florida.

That's not as important as saying, who do I think ought to be the nominee because the American people. What I'm simply saying is, no --

MORGAN: Let me ask you this question, Herman. Let me ask you this question: if Mitt Romney wins in Iowa and wins in New Hampshire, is that game over?

CAIN: No. It is not game over. All have you to do is look at what happened in 2008 because he struggled in the southern states. And I happen to believe that the dynamics within the southern states might be changing, but the question we will not know until after the southern states have their primaries is whether or not Mitt Romney can break above a certain threshold that he has constantly held in many of the polls for many of the southern states.

So, no, game is not over.

MORGAN: Who do you think, of all these candidates, if they were fighting Obama tomorrow on strict policy, would win? Best -- would win best. I know you say they'd all beat him. But which has the best chance right now, do you think, of beating him?

CAIN: I happen to believe that every one of the candidates in the race right now could beat Barack Obama. The reason is Barack Obama has no depth. He cannot debate any of the issues to any level below his teleprompter talking points.

So, no, I happen to believe that Newt Gingrich is stronger, relative to some things, because of his background. Mitt Romney is stronger relative to some, because of his business background and combination of being governor. Look, let's go back to something that Ronald Reagan said that I would like to remind people of. If you find someone that you can agree with 80 percent of the time, you found a friend and a candidate that you ought to vote for.

The difference is only in which 20 percent you don't agree with. So, there is no --

MORGAN: Herman, would you serve under whoever the Republican nominee turns out to be in a future cabinet?

CAIN: It depends upon who the person is. Secondly, it would depend upon what they would ask me to do. I can't do a job that I wouldn't be excited about. Third --

MORGAN: Which job would you most like?

CAIN: The job I would most like would be secretary of defense, because I happen to believe that national security is one of our biggest threats. If you look at what has happened during the Obama administration, defense spending has gone down every year under his administration. We pulled out of Iraq too soon, in my opinion.

Many of us predicted, I included, that by pulling out of Iraq too soon, we were going to have a power vacuum and we're already seeing that. Thirdly, the reason that I would say that I would want to be secretary of defense is not that you have to be a defense expert. It's because I would want to be in a position to try and influence the president on one of our most critical crises, and that's our national security crisis. That's would I would select that position.

MORGAN: OK. But you will guarantee one thing, the gold ties will continue, whatever job you get?

CAIN: Yes. You want to know why, Piers? Because even you noticed it. You almost got me to endorse you for that. MORGAN: Herman, it's great to see you back. I'm glad to see nothing has removed that smile because it's one of the more engaging smiles in politics. So good luck.

CAIN: Thank you. Stay tuned for the big announcement.

MORGAN: I'm ready for the movement. Thanks a lot, Herman Cain.

When we come back, I talk to the Republican governor of Iowa about tomorrow's caucuses and Jon Huntsman's Iowa's diss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: The GOP candidates fighting hard to win in Iowa. One goal has been the support of the state's enormously popular Republican governor. And Terry Branstad has steadfastly refused to endorse anybody. He join me now to explain why. Hello, governor. Tell me this: why don't you personally endorse any of the candidates?

GOV. TERRY BRANSTAD (R), IOWA: Well, I want to be a good host. And I want to do all I can to encourage candidates to come to Iowa, meet the people and aggressively campaign here. I think they certainly have done that.

MORGAN: Two of the more striking aspects of the Iowa campaign, I think, have been the surging approval rating for Rick Santorum, which many are putting down to the fact he visited all 99 counties, a pretty staggering investment in your state. Secondly, that Mitt Romney, having not really shown much interest, certainly in recent weeks has been piling into Iowa like his life depends on it.

What do you make of those two events?

BRANSTAD: Well, first and foremost, Rick Santorum followed my advice and just what I've done every that I've been -- I've been elected governor five times. I go to every county every year, whether it's an election year or not. I suggested he go to every county, meet with people. And he's had, I think, over 700 meetings all across the state.

He's put a tremendous amount of time and energy into it. A lot of people said, that's not going to make any difference. Personal contact doesn't matter anymore. But it shows, again, even if you don't have a lot of financial resources, personal campaigning makes a difference in Iowa.

Iowans like to get to know the candidates and ask them the tough questions. Another thing about this election cycle is the debates. People are more -- more people are following debates than ever before. They've had more than ever before. And the performance of the candidates in the debates has had an impact on their response from the voters.

MORGAN: What about Mitt Romney? He's clearly taking a lot more seriously in Iowa than he was. What do you make of that politically? BRANSTAD: Well, I think he made the decision early on, because four years ago he spent a lot of time and a lot of effort and resources here, and came in second. So, he's concerned about lowering expectations. He certainly did that.

But I felt he waited too long. Now I think he certainly has taken my advice and he's come to Iowa. He's got a headquarters opened. He's got an aggressive campaign going on. And he and his wife are going to be here on caucus night. They've been on a bus tour of the state. He's getting an enthusiastic response.

I think he's going to help turn out a great vote here for the Republican precinct caucuses.

MORGAN: The one person who's steadfastly ignored Iowa is Jon Huntsman. Let's play a little clip from what he said about your state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nothing against the good voters in Iowa, but I believe that the Iowa caucus will be soon forgotten after a day or two. And then the bright light will be on New Hampshire.

They pick corn in Iowa. They actually pick presidents here in New Hampshire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So, you pick corn in Iowa, not presidents. What did you make of that?

BRANSTAD: Well, first of all, we're proud of the fact that we have record-high corn prices and the Iowa economy is stronger than the rest of the country because of agriculture. But he's made a tragic mistake by attacking Iowa, attacking corn. What he's going to find out is it's going to be the people that have done well in Iowa versus Romney in New Hampshire. And he's going to be forgotten.

You may think of the fact that four years ago, Rudy Giuliani thought he could skip Iowa as well. It didn't work for him. It's not going to work for Huntsman. Huntsman is not nearly as known as Giuliani. And he's not going to be known at all after Iowa and New Hampshire, because he's not going to get any attention.

He has made a tragic mistake. I actually went to the National Governors Meeting in Salt Lake City, and sat down with him and told him that he ought to come and actively campaign in Iowa. I think he made a mistake by ignoring that experience and advice.

MORGAN: Well, attack corn at your peril is the message there. Governor, thank you very much.

BRANSTAD: You're welcome. Thank you very much. MORGAN: When we come back, the governor of Indiana -- he almost ran for the GOP nomination. Could he joins somebody else's ticket now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Indiana's Mitch Daniels was heavily recruited to run for president. He said no. But he's still keeping a close eye on what's happening in nearby Iowa. He joins me now. Governor, welcome.

GOV. MITCH DANIELS (R), INDIANA: I should have got dressed up for you tonight, Piers. But the first grandchild arrived earlier this evening. I came straight from the hospital. I hope you'll understand.

MORGAN: Oh, congratulations. It's obviously in the air, because I spoke to Herman Cain just now. And he's just become a grandfather as well. I wonder if you could differ from him in this way, in the sense that almost every question I asked him, he managed to wriggle out of any kind of answer.

So I thought that you're in the perfect position, really, to assess where the GOP party is right now, who you think will emerge victorious, and what you think of the debate generally?

DANIELS: I don't know the answer to the second question. And I -- but the answer to the first question is I think the Republican party is poised for a victory this year, based, first of all, on the fact that the failure of the president's policies is so manifest to us all. I think that our party has to shoulder the responsibility to offer a constructive alternative and the prospect of a much brighter future. I think we're going to do that.

So, I'm excited about the year ahead. I think tomorrow in Iowa marks a corner that we'll be turning away from the microscopic differences between our candidates, and to more of a focus on the real issue, which is a better direction for America.

MORGAN: How healthy is it for the Republicans, though, to have these super PACS running around, apparently nothing do to do with Mitt Romney -- although everybody knows that they are -- ripping people like Newt Gingrich's hearts out? Is that healthy for the Republican nominee process? Or is it just reaffirming to the public that the kind of Washington in-fighting, squabbling, so on is alive and kicking in the GOP?

DANIELS: I think it is a sad reality of our time. Frankly, I do hope that our party and our eventual nominee will decline to take part in that sort of thing. It's perfectly Constitutional and right for people to have their say. But it needn't always be a negative one.

Now it has to be noted that the president and his allies are the most skilled practitioners we've seen at this politics of slam and smear. But I don't believe that you have to fight that fire with fire of your own. I hope that if there are independent expenditures on behalf of our nominee this year, they will emphasize his or her best qualities and emphasize the new direction that we ought to take as a people to re-establish opportunity for all, and to avoid a debt catastrophe in our near future.

MORGAN: Are you a betting man?

DANIELS: Yeah, I am, from time to time. I'm probably not going to bet with you, but try me.

MORGAN: Well, let's assume metaphorically we're heading down to Vegas and we have a few bucks in our pocket. Right now, would you be putting any money at all on anybody outside of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, possibly Rick Santorum, getting the nomination?

DANIELS: Well, I think these appear to be the front-runners tomorrow. Although as others have pointed out, Iowa's not generally been predictive of what happens later. For horse race questions, Piers, you're better to ask almost anybody else but me.

My own view is that, as others have said, that the early preliminaries of spring training that we've gone through so far will be a memory soon. What will really matter is what kind of a positive set of proposals the Republican nominee, whoever that is, puts forward.

MORGAN: Do you think anybody who comes out of the top three in Iowa tomorrow should pull out of the race?

DANIELS: No, I don't necessarily think so. It's been an interesting phenomenon to me that we've had such a vigorous, multi- candidate race so far. Many of these candidates, as I understand it, have not raised a lot of money. I think that's great. They've had a chance to have their say.

There's been a real diversity of personalities and views, without amassing large amounts of money. As far as I can tell, that could continue on.

MORGAN: I've got to leave it there, governor. I'm sorry. We've run out of time. But thank you very much, as always.

And tomorrow, I'll be back with the results of the Iowa caucuses. That's "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT", a special time tomorrow, live at midnight Eastern. Right now, "AC 360."