(CNN) – David Axelord, senior strategist for President' Obama's re-election campaign, sat down with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King to sound off on the Republican field of presidential contenders ahead of the 2012 GOP presidential debate Monday night. Below is some of what he had to say. Watch the full interview on CNN's "John King, USA" at 7 p.m. ET and tune in for the presidential debate at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann: "I think that she obviously has tremendous amount of appeal to the grassroots of her party. She raised a fantastic amount of money last year for her congressional race so she's got a following. I think she'll, she's got great appeal in the state of Iowa, which is where this process begins. And if she wins there, she could go far in the process."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: "Well it's interesting to hear him say that he wants, he's running because he's the guy who can change Washington. He's been such an interesting and sometimes polarizing figure in this town for the last 20 years. And I think what people are looking for is actually leaders who will rise above those kinds of partisan divisions and fierce partisan warfare at all times and look for places where we agree."
Texas Rep. Ron Paul: "He's an interesting guy. I will say this, he has, he has distinctive views and he's been consistent in those views. And he, too, has a following."
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: "Well you know again he, he is new to the national scene. I did hear his speech on the economy … There was a question of standing. Can you leave your state with a $6.2 billion deficit and then moralize about fiscal responsibility. And I think you know everyone who runs for president learns that they have to end up confronting their own, their own statements, their own record, and so on."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: "Well I do think that the experience of having run before matters and you know he's been running for president for what six seven years now so that's a lot of experience, and a lot of contacts generated, familiarity and that's all his benefit. There too though it's not what you say, it's what you've done and when he was governor of Massachusetts, Massachusetts was 47th in the nation in job creation. I don't know that that qualifies you as an oracle on how to revive the economy and so he'll have to explain why that was and why Massachusetts lagged the nation when he was governor in job creation."
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum: "He has to go and present that case to the American people [responding to his criticism of the president's domestic and economic policies]. I think the American people look at this president and they see a guy with very strong personal values, a good father, a good family man, someone who's caring and I don't think that they think that at all. Now there may be some small faction within the Republican Party that will respond to that and that may be his play in this. But as a matter of winning a national election I don't see that as a very constructive or successful message."