THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' ON February 14, 2016 and it will be updated.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I plan to nominate a successor.
ANNOUNCER: As both sides dig in, will the presidential election become a referendum on the court?
Plus, Trump targeted in the nastiest debate yet. The billionaire businessman under fire.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am sick and tired of him going after my family.
ANNOUNCER: And, firing back.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You are...
TRUMP: You're the single biggest liar.
ANNOUNCER: This morning, Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, all here live.
From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: The news that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died swept across the country Saturday afternoon.
A towering figure, the court's longest serving justice, Scalia's powerful pen made him a pillar of the conservative movement, inspired a generation of legal thought.
His death leaves a divided court for a divided country, sets up an epic battle for a successor, and strikes right at the heart of this already chaotic presidential campaign.
We're going to hear from the candidates this morning, break down what Scalia's death means for the court and the country. And we begin with ABC's senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas. Good morning, Pierre.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George. Flags here at the Supreme Court and across the nation at half staff as the court mourns the loss of Justice Scalia.
A giant here in Washington, his death has enormous legal and political ramifications.
Justice Scalia apparently died in his sleep in a quail hunting trip at a West Texas resort. His body was discovered after he failed to appear for a breakfast gathering.
U.S. marshals came to the scene and the FBI is assisting, but Scalia was not known to have any health problems. And law enforcement officials say there appears to be no foul play.
The longest serving justice on the court, Scalia was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986.
An astute legal mind, he became a champion of conservative causes, respected even by adversaries.
President Obama called Scalia's son to offer condolences and interrupted a trip to California to address the nation.
OBAMA: He influenced a generation of judges, lawyers, and students, and profoundly shaped the legal landscape.
THOMAS: Scalia's body has arrived in El Paso. No word this morning on memorial services, but tributes will surely come as a colorful, larger-than-life figure is gone. All of official Washington stunned -- George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Pierre Thomas at the court. Thanks very much.
We have the battle now over who comes next. President Obama promised to nominate a successor. Senate Republicans say they're going to block his choice.
So much at stake. And Jon Karl joins us from the White House with more on that side of the story.
Good morning, Jon.
JON KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George. The battle lines on this were drawn even before the Supreme Court officially confirmed that Scalia had died, setting up a titanic fight here in Washington and on the campaign trail.
KARL: News of Justice Scalia's death hit Washington like a thunderbolt. And in an unprecedented move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately released a statement saying this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.
But when President Obama came before the cameras to mark Scalia's passing, he made it clear he would not be taking McConnell's advice.
OBAMA: I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time.
KARL: At the debate in South Carolina last night, the Republican candidates hoping to replace Obama called on congress to block the president.
TRUMP: I think it's up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it. It's called delay, delay, delay.
CRUZ: We're not going to give up the U.S. Supreme Court for a generation by allowing Barack Obama to make one more liberal appointee.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Someone on this stage will get to choose the balance of the Supreme Court.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We ought to let the next president of the United States decide who is going to run that Supreme Court with a vote by the people of the United States of America.
KARL: None of that will deter President Obama from moving forward in nominating a replacement for Scalia. The short-list will likely include circuit court judges Sri Srinivasan and Jane Kelly and Merrick Garland with Sri Srinivasan almost certainly the frontrunner in that group, George. He's somebody that Republicans actually like. He was a clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. He served in the administration of George W. Bush and was confirmed 97-0 for his current post.
But of course that is a far cry from confirming him to replace Scalia.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, unlikely to make much difference in a future vote.
Meantime, Jon, this sets up the prospect -- you have a 4-4 lineup on the Supreme Court for maybe well over a year.
KARL: Yeah, and that could mean a lot of tying votes on the Supreme Court, because nearly 30 percent of the decisions in their most recent term were 5-4. And in about a third of those, Scalia was the fifth justice in the majority.
So, you could have a situation where you have many tie votes. And in that case, the lower court's decision simply stands.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A huge impact.
OK, Jon Karl, thanks very much.
Now to last night's GOP debate in South Carolina.
It started out with a moment of silence for Justice Scalia. It quickly became the nastiest debate of this campaign.
And ABC's Mary Bruce was there.
MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are fireworks and then there's this...
CRUZ: And I'll tell you...
TRUMP: -- biggest liar. You probably are worse than Jeb Bush.
CRUZ: That is ab...
CRUZ: -- people...
RUBIO: He's lying about all sorts of things but now he makes things up.
TRUMP: -- that we don't even know who they are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me finish, though.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just nuts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE: With just one week until the South Carolina primary...
CRUZ: God bless the great state of South Carolina.
BRUCE: -- the Republican candidates ripped each other to shreds. The make or break state living up to its reputation for rough and tumble politics.
Donald Trump's heatedly took on Jeb Bush.
TRUMP: Jeb is so wrong.
TRUMP: You know who that is?
That's Jeb's special interests and lobbyists talking.
BRUCE: But Bush punched back, seeming to get under Trump's skin.
BUSH: This is the standard operating procedure, to disparage me.
You want to talk about weakness?
It's weak to disparage women.
TRUMP: I don't do that.
BUSH: It's weak to disparage Hispanics.
BRUCE: And the blood fest got personal.
BUSH: -- sick and tired of him going after my family.
BUSH: While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I'm proud of what he did.
TRUMP: The World Trade Center came down...
TRUMP: -- during your brother's reign.
BUSH: -- go after my mother.
TRUMP: Remember that.
Hold on, let me finish.
TRUMP: They lied.
TRUMP: They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none.
BRUCE: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio sparred over immigration in English and Spanish.
CRUZ: Marco went on Univision in Spanish and said he would not rescind President Obama's illegal executive amnesty on his first day in office.
RUBIO: First of all...
RUBIO: -- I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision, because he doesn't speak Spanish.
And second of all...
RUBIO: -- the other point that I would make...
CRUZ: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
En espanol. Tu quieres.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BRUCE: And, George, the candidates are pulling out all the stops here. Tomorrow, former President George W. Bush making his first appearance here on the campaign trail for his brother. But after last night's debate, Jeb Bush joked that Donald Trump is no longer invited. In fact, after the debate, they didn't even shake hands -- George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Mary Bruce, thanks very much.
Let's get to the candidates right now, starting with Senator Ted Cruz.
He joins us from South Carolina this morning.
Senator Cruz, thank you for joining us this morning.
Let's begin with that news about Justice Scalia.
You've said that President Obama should wait to name a successor, but Ronald Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy with 13 months left in his term. He was confirmed in February, 1988.
President Obama has more than 10 months left in his term.
Why isn't it his right to nominate a justice and the Senate's responsibility to give that nominee an up or down vote?
CRUZ: George, the Senate has not confirmed a nominee that was named in the final year, an election year, in 80 years. This is a lame duck president. And, by the way, the only reason Anthony Kennedy was nominated that late is that Democrats in the Senate had gone after and defeated two previous nominees, Robert Bork, which set a new standard for partisan attacks on a nominee, and Doug Ginsburg.
So it was the Democrats that had dragged it out for many months to make it that late.
And -- and right now, the court is exquisitely balanced. Justice Scalia, someone I've known for over 20 years, who was an extraordinary man, a principled jurist, faithful to "The Constitution," his impact on the court was incomparable. As Ronald Reagan was to the presidency, so Justice Scalia was to the court.
And this is a 5-4 court. This next selection needs to be a referendum on the court. The people need to decide. And -- and I'm very glad that the Senate is agreeing with what I called for, that we should not allow a lame duck president to essentially capture the Supreme Court in the waning months of his presidency. This is a decision...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But does -- does that mean...
CRUZ: -- for the people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- does that mean that you're going to filibuster anyone -- anyone that President Obama nominates?
CRUZ: Absolutely. This should be a decision for the people, George. We've got an election. And, you know, Democrats -- I cannot wait to stand on that stage with Hillary Clinton or with Bernie Sanders and take the case to the people, what vision of the Supreme Court do you want?
Let the election decide it. If the Democrats want to replace this nominee, they need to win the election.
But you know what, I don't think the American people want a court that will strip our religious liberties. I don't think the American people want a court that will mandate unlimited abortion on demand, partial birth abortion with taxpayer funding and no parental notification. And I don't think the American people want a court that will write the Second Amendment out of "The Constitution."
All of those are 5-4 issues that are hanging in the balance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But -- but the people elected...
CRUZ: And I'll tell you, you know, the consequence of...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- President Obama, didn't they?
CRUZ: They did, but -- but that -- that was three years ago. And elections have consequences. The people also gave us a Republican Senate this last election because they were fed up with Barack Obama's lawlessness.
But Justice Scalia's passing also has a profound impact on this primary. It underscores the stakes for the people of South Carolina. They're looking at the individuals on that stage.
They're asking, who can I trust?
Who do I know will defend "The Constitution" and will defend "The Bill of Rights?"
Because the pattern we've seen, George -- and you're a veteran of these battles for many years. Democrats understand the stakes and they fight tooth and nail for left-wing judicial activists.
Far too many Republicans don't care about the court, don't invest political capital in it. And it's why so many Republican nominees have turned out to be disasters.
And let me say something...
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of them that...
CRUZ: -- in particular to the veterans of the state of South Carolina.
To the veterans in South Carolina, your Second Amendment rights are hanging in the balance. Justice Scalia, one of his biggest opinions was the "Heller" decision. It was 5-4, upholding the individual right to keep and bear arms. If an additional liberal justice goes to the court, we're one justice away from the Second Amendment being written out.
And if Donald Trump becomes president, the Second Amendment will be written out of the Constitution because it is abundantly clear that Donald Trump is not a conservative. He will not invest the capital to confirm a conservative.
And so the result would be the same --
STEPHANOPOULOS: He says he will.
CRUZ: -- whether it's Hillary, Bernie or Donald Trump. The Second Amendment will go away.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He says you're wrong. He says he will and he says your judgment should be questioned because you supported John Roberts.
CRUZ: Listen, number one, I did not appoint John Roberts. George W. Bush did.
Now once the president made the appointment, I supported that nomination. That was a mistake.
But I would have -- I would have appointed Mike Luttig, my former boss, Scalia's very first law clerk. And more broadly, you've got to look at Donald Trump's history. This is a man who, for four decades, has supported liberal Democrats.
Donald Trump supported Jimmy Carter over Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump gave money to Chuck Schumer, to Harry Reid, to Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump supported John Kerry over George W. Bush.
Now, let me tell you, George, anyone that writes checks to Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid and Jimmy Carter and Hillary Clinton does not care about conservative justices on the court.
Donald Trump himself -- you know, the one person he has suggested that would make a good justice is his sister, who is a court of appeals judge appointed by Bill Clinton. She is a hardcore pro-abortion liberal judge. And he said she would make a terrific justice.
So the people of --
STEPHANOPOULOS: He has also said --
CRUZ: -- South Carolina need to know --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- conflict of interest there --
CRUZ: -- if you -- if you vote --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- and he would not appoint her.
CRUZ: -- it -- but it gives you an example of the type of people he would be looking to, the type of people he would be looking to. Donald Trump is not a conservative. For his entire life, he has been, self-described, very, very pro-choice. He supported partial birth abortion.
You know, yesterday, he defended Planned Parenthood and federal taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood on the debate stage.
George, have you ever seen a Republican on a Republican debate stage defending taking federal taxpayer money and giving it to Planned Parenthood?
He said he thinks they do terrific things.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It certainly has --
CRUZ: I don't think Planned Parenthood does terrific things. And I don't think the conservatives of South Carolina do, either.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It certainly has been a long time. I have -- I have never seen you unload on Donald Trump like you just have in the last couple of minutes.
Is that because you're concerned that, if he wins South Carolina, he can't be stopped?
CRUZ: What I'm concerned about, George, is our country is in balance. I've devoted my entire life to fighting to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Heller decision, I represented 31 states in Heller defending the Second Amendment. We won that case.
You know, we've talked about abortion restrictions. I represented a coalition of states defending the federal ban on partial birth abortion. We won that case 5-4.
I don't want to see our liberties taken away. You know, my daughters, Caroline and Catherine, are 7 and 5. I don't want to have to look at my daughters and say the freedoms that America has had for two centuries, you don't get because we didn't step up and pull it back.
And Justice Scalia's passing, I think, really changes the entire contours of this race. The time for the circus and the reality show is over. This is a serious choice and we are talking about losing our basic liberty if we get this wrong.
And it's way I have so much faith in the people of South Carolina that they value liberty, they value the Constitution.
And I'll tell you one final point, which is we're also choosing a commander-in-chief. This is a dangerous world and it doesn't make any sense to appoint someone -- to elect someone as commander in chief who doesn't understand the nature of our enemy.
You know, last night, Donald Trump defended his calling for George W. Bush to be impeached. That is not consistent with the Constitution and it -- and those are the views of the fever swamps of the Left. That's where Donald comes from is the fever --
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is --
CRUZ: -- swamps of the Left. He's supporting John Kerry and saying let's impeach George W. Bush. That is not a commander in chief fit to keep this country safe.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Cruz, you put a lot on the table there.
Thanks for joining us this morning.
CRUZ: Thank you for having me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's take that right to Donald Trump. He joins us now by phone.
And, Mr. Trump, you just heard Senator Cruz right there. He says you’re part of the fevered swamps of the Left.
TRUMP: Well, that’s absolutely false. And this country’s made a lot of mistakes and the war in Iraq was one of them. And a guy like Cruz wouldn’t even understand what a mistake is.
He stands on the Senate floor; he’s got no support from one senator. You look at his colleagues, he has absolutely no endorsements. He has no support. He’s a lone wolf and he’s going to get nothing done. He’s not a leader.
Never employed anybody, never created a job. This is the wrong guy, I will tell you. And he’s a nasty guy, no matter how you figure it. He’s a nasty guy. So -- and what he did to Ben Carson was disgraceful in Iowa, when he made the fraudulent voter violation manuscript, where he sent it out to voters, was a fraud.
You know, he holds up the Bible and, believe me, he might hold up the Bible but this is not a man that, in my opinion, should be president. I think he’s really done a great -- I think he’s done a great disservice to himself and to the Republican Party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On that last point he raised, you did say back in October 2008 that impeaching President Bush would be a wonderful thing.
Do you still believe that?
TRUMP: I didn’t endorse anything. I think he did a terrible thing when he went into Iraq and we can all be nice and we can be politically correct and we can say how wonderful -- and Jeb Bush, his brother, took him five days before he even understood how to answer the question.
And then his pollsters ultimately gave an answer five days late. He was mumbling back and forth, you remember that fiasco. He was gone by the time he started. When he announced, he was practically done. He couldn’t even answer whether Iraq was a good thing or a bad thing. Ultimately, he determined that the Iraq War was a bad thing.
Well, his brother’s the one that got us into that war. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There were no anything. We got into a war, we’ve destabilized the entire Middle East and, by the way, Obama got us out of the war the wrong way, because the way he did it, by announcing a specific date and by not leaving people in, was, frankly, disgusting and very, very foolish.
And I will tell you, you go back to 2003, 2004, I’m the only one on the stage who said don’t go into Iraq; you’re going to destabilize the Middle East. I was against the war even though I’m the most militaristic person there is.
I said, don’t go on the stage, don’t go on the -- don’t do this war. If you do this war, you’re going to destabilize the entire Middle East. That’s exactly what happened. That’s why we have the migration and all of the other problems that we have right now in the Middle East.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But in 2008, you did say that impeachment would be a wonderful thing, on tape to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Just seemed like he as we said going to really look to impeach Bush and get him out of office, which, I personally, I think would’ve been a wonderful thing.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Impeaching him?
TRUMP: Absolutely, for the war, for the war.
BLITZER: Because of the conduct --
TRUMP: Well, he lied. He got us into the war with lies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: What evidence do you have that President Bush knowingly lied?
And I’ll ask the question again: do you still believe that impeachment would be a wonderful thing?
TRUMP: I don’t even think about it. It’s past time. He was -- he made a horrible mistake; we all make mistakes. His was a beauty. His was about as big a mistake as you can think of.
I see all the soldiers that died, I see the wounded warriors all over, who I love, who I work with and, I’ll tell you what, it was a horrible mistake. We spent $2 trillion on that war and we have nothing.
And you know what’s happening now?
Iran is taking over Iraq with the second largest oil reserves in the world. And when we got out, I said, on your show, George and on many other shows, I said, keep the oil. Don’t leave, keep the oil.
Well, guess what?
ISIS has the oil and Iran will have the oil and that oil, the value and the tremendous wealth, fueled ISIS.
Then I said recently, bomb the oil -- not recently, over the last three years. Bomb the oil. Don’t let them have the oil. But nobody wants to listen.
We have politicians, all talk, no action, and a guy like Ted Cruz would be an absolute disaster. And he’s not a leader.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s turn to the Supreme Court right now. You also heard Senator Cruz right there say that you can’t be trusted to make a Supreme Court pick, that you would pick liberals on the court. He cited your praise of your sister, saying she would be a phenomenal Supreme Court justice.
TRUMP: Well, look, just so you understand, I said it jokingly. My sister’s a brilliant person, known as a brilliant person, but it’s obviously a conflict. And I said, oh, how about my sister? Kiddingly. My sister, also she -- she also happens to have a little bit different views than me, but I said in that in a very joking matter, and it was all lots of fun and everything else. I would say total conflict of interest as far as my sister.
Somebody like a Diane Sikes from Wisconsin I think would be very good. There’s some great people out there. But my sister obviously would not be the right person; it’s a conflict of interest for me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How will you convince conservatives that your appointees will be conservative?
TRUMP: Well, let me just tell you about appointees. Justice John Roberts gave us Obamacare twice. He could’ve -- he could’ve foiled, he could’ve ended Obamacare twice. He had two votes, he went up shockingly, he voted in favor of Obamacare. He got there because Ted Cruz pushed him like wild. And by the way, Jeb Bush pushed him through the brother. They were close. And Jeb Bush and -- and Cruz pushed Justice John Roberts, that now we have Justice John Roberts. What we happened is he, twice, could have Obamacare and he didn’t do it. So Cruz shouldn’t be talking, because that was among the worst appointments I’ve ever seen.
We have Obamacare because of Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and George Bush.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you a final question, the same question I asked Ted Cruz. They really seem to be piling on you last night. You heard those boos from the crowd as well. You think this is all happening because the other Republicans have figured out that if you win South Carolina, you may not be stopped?
TRUMP: Well, the reason it happens is because I’m self-funding. I’m putting up my own money. I’ve built a tremendous business, I don’t need anybody’s money, and I’m going to do what’s right for the people of the country.
In that room were many people that I know very well. They’re all lobbyists and they’re special interests and they gave a lot of money to Jeb Bush. This guy’s wasted $140 million running a failed campaign. I mean, the guy spent $43 million in New Hampshire and he came in fourth or fifth. I spent $3 million and I came in first by a lot. I mean, this is the kind of a guy you want a president?
So between him and Cruz, I’ll tell you what, the Republicans are in trouble and they will never beat Hillary Clinton. I’m the only one that’s going to beat Hillary Clinton. Believe me, they will never beat Hillary Clinton.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Trump, thanks very much for your time this morning.
TRUMP: OK, thank you very much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we have much more ahead. Senator Marco Rubio and Governor John Kasich going to join us. The powerhouse roundtable as a well, and a look back at the legacy of Justice Scalia.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Much more ahead on Justice Scalia and that gloves off GOP debate in South Carolina. Marco Rubio and John Kasich are next. Plus, our powerhouse roundtable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we're back now with Senator Marco Rubio, coming off that debate last night in South Carolina.
Thanks for joining us this morning, Senator Rubio.
And let's begin...
RUBIO: Thanks, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ...with that debate. Getting pretty nasty out there.
You think, as Governor Kasich suggest -- suggested, that you all might be hurting each other and helping the Democrats?
RUBIO: Well, sure. I said that before. I mean I -- I always try to avoid that sort of engagement. It got me into trouble a week ago, unfortunately. I had a bad moment because I chose not to go after Governor Christie and instead kind of respond by pivoting back to the central issues in this campaign.
So it's kind of a catch-22.
But in the end, I'm not running against any of these other Republicans, I'm running because I want to be president of the United States. And -- but if you're attacked, I think it's important to respond. And, uh, so if I'm attacked at a debate, I'm going to respond. And last night, as you saw, an exchange with Ted Cruz, you know, there is a situation happening now where Ted is literally saying things that aren't true habitually now in this campaign on issue after issue.
You know, he's -- just in the last week, he hasn't told the truth about my position on Planned Parenthood, on marriage. He didn't tell the truth about his previous stance on immigration.
So these things have to be clarified and -- and they need to be addressed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He said earlier this morning that he would filibuster any choice that President Obama made.
Are you taking the same position?
RUBIO: Yes, but he won't have to because, uh, Mitch McConnell has already made it very clear that we're not going to move forward until there is an election. And I think that's the right decision. The court can function with eight justices. In the last year, within the last few months of the president's term, we should not be appointing Supreme Court justices.
Now, the president can go ahead and nominate whoever he wants, the Senate shouldn't move forward on it until after the election.
We're going to have an election...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But so if you're...
RUBIO: ...in November. One of the key -- go ahead.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you're elected president, will you promise not to make an appointment in your final year?
RUBIO: Yes. Well, I'm not saying the president can't make an appointment. I'm saying we're not going to move forward on it in the Senate. And that has been the practice now...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're saying he should?
RUBIO: ...for over 80 years.
He -- well, he's done. I'm not -- he has the legal right to do it, but -- and -- and as president, I would recognize that precedent and the precedent that's been set over the last 80 years has been that in the last year of a president's term, and in a second term especially, there should not be Supreme Court nominees put into lifetime positions for a president that you're not going to be able to hold accountable at the ballot box. There's going to be an election in November. This is going to be an issue in the election. The voters are going to choose a new president.
And that new president, who I believe will be me, should then fill that vacancy for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We also just heard Donald Trump say he doesn't think about impeachment of George W. Bush anymore, but he's not backing off those comments he made last night that President Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Given those statements, is -- is Donald Trump still a -- a nominee you could support if Republicans choose him for the nomination?
RUBIO: Well, I would have hoped that Donald, last night, would have repudiated those comments and just said that's what he said then, he doesn't believe it anymore. I mean his unwillingness to walk away from that is disturbing.
He's not going to be the nominee. I'm going to be the nominee, so we're not going to have to worry about that.
But it is a disturbing comment. I don't -- of course, I don't believe George W. Bush lied. I think George W. Bush acted based on the information provided to him, that, by the way, was also shown to Congressional leaders like Nancy Pelosi and others, and they, too, agreed with that assessment.
Now, it turned out not to be accurate, and that's unfortunate. That being the case, he didn't lie. A lie is when you know what's true and yet you say something different.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you hope that you're going to defeat Donald Trump, but my question is very simple, will you support him if he's the nominee?
RUBIO: I'm going to support the Republican nominee. And I think the Repub -- and I know the Republican nominee is going to be someone that holds views like mine. I -- I don't share all the views that Donald Trump has, and I think, ultimately, he won't be the nominee. But I'll support the Republican nominee, because the Republican nominee, no matter who it is on that stage, is still going to be a better choice than Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Marco Rubio, thanks for joining us this morning.
RUBIO: Thanks, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor John Kasich joins us now. Thanks for joining us this morning, Governor Kasich.
Boy, quite a night last night. It doesn't sound -- from the sound of that debate that anybody is going to take your suggestion to bring down all the negative ads.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what, George, it was like a demolition derby, but the good news is my car's still going around the circuit.
You know, I tell you what I found, George. I had a rally at this barbecue joint out here. It was about 500 people, it was stunning. And people were just -- and they were coming up taking pictures, grabbing onto me, wanting me to sign things. They said please stay positive. Please stay positive.
So I kind of get my fuel from ideas. I don't get my fuel from the negative side.
I don't disagree with Rubio. I mean if you're going to be attacked, you've got to defend yourself. You know, but I want to climb out of that as quickly as I can to tell people what I'm for rather than spend my time prolonging a back and forth in a debate like that.
But either way, I think these debates are ridiculous. This is not a way to pick a president. If you really want to pick a president, come to a town hall. Watch an interaction between a candidate and the public for 30 minutes or 40 minutes.
I mean this whole business of who's got the best sound bite, who has the most clever thing they said, I mean that's just silly, George. I don't think Harry Truman could become president through this process. But it's what we've got and we'll deal with it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's talk about who you're for, then, for the Supreme Court.
What kind of justice would you appoint?
And do you agree with -- with Senator Clinton and Donald Trump there on their pretty severe criticism of the chief justice, John Roberts?
KASICH: No, I'm not here to criticize John Roberts. Looked, I've picked well over 100 judges to the court in Ohio. I've even picked an Ohio Supreme Court justice. She's turned out to be a great justice. I would look for a conservative, somebody who doesn't make law, but somebody who will interpret the law. And we'd pick somebody who's, you know, sort of above reproach, you know, what's their record, what's their history?
And that's how I've done it in my state. So, you know, this is not an unfamiliar process to me.
So it would obviously be somebody who, you know, is a constitutionalist and is not interested in making law.
You know, what I said about the president -- and look, he's going to send somebody. The Senate is going to do nothing, George. You know, my -- my sense is, you're going to have a president -- a presidential election here. People will, in a very unusual way, indirectly sort of pick the next judge of -- justice of the Supreme Court. It's pretty interesting.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is pretty interesting, but this sounds like a new rule now, a rule that a president can't pick a Supreme Court justice in his or her final year?
KASICH: Well, George, you know, I -- look, you know how polarized everything is. We've got to be real about things. And what I don't want to see is more fighting and more recrimination, which is exactly what we're going to see. Let's -- let's just face up to this.
We are very divided between President Obama and the Congress.
KASICH: And it's -- it, you know, and -- and look, when you have that kind of division, it's really hard to get this done.
If I were president of the United States, you know, and I could keep the Congress together, of course I would send somebody. But it probably would be a different situation.
But right now, I mean just looking at it, it's one of the reasons I'm running for president. You know, they're Republicans and Democrats really, in most cases, before they're Americans. And but the divisions are real.
So let's just wait for an election, move beyond it and then whoever we pick as a justice and gets confirmed, we'll have broad consensus across the country and can start the healing process.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The divisions are pretty real inside your party from the look of that debate stage last night, as well.
This nomination fight is going to take a long time, isn't it?
KASICH: Well, you know, I think it's going to take a long time, George. You know, my daughter Emma said to my wife, after we did so well in New Hampshire, well, we're -- I'm really happy about the -- about daddy doing so well, but when is he coming home?
And I'm actually going to go home for Valentine's Day.
But it's going to take a long time. I mean I'm headed to Michigan tomorrow. I -- I think we're going to -- I know we're going to be back here in South Carolina. We're, you know, preparing all across the country.
So I think it is going to take a long time, George. And -- and it's going to be interesting. And I hope we can raise it, raise the bar and have a little higher brow conversation about what we want to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Kasich, thanks very much for your time this morning.
KASICH: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, we're going to hear from the Democrats, Hillary Clinton.
Bernie Sanders is going to join us, as well.
Plus, Senator Chuck Schumer, the number two Democrat in the Senate, a member of the Judiciary Committee, and all the political fallout with our powerhouse roundtable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is outrageous that Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail have already pledged to block any replacement that President Obama nominates.
Barack Obama is President of the United States until January 20th, 2017.
CLINTON: That is a fact, my friends, whether the Republicans like it or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hillary Clinton weighing in on the battle to replace Justice Scalia. This as she writes into the top of the campaign agenda. And just after the news broke yesterday, my THIS WEEK colleague, Martha Raddatz, sat down with Bernie Sanders and started by asking him to respond to the Republican claim to block any nominee from President Obama.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think that Mitch McConnell has it right on this issue. The constitution is pretty clear and that is it is the job of the President of the United States to appoint, nominate members to the Supreme Court and the Senate confirms.
President Obama, in my view, should make that nomination. I hope he does it as soon as possible. And I hope that the Senate confirms and begins deliberations as soon as possible.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you imagine that will happen?
SANDERS: I surely hope so. I just don’t think it looks good that, for very overtly political reasons, that the Republicans would deny this president the right to exercise his constitutional responsibility, which is to appointment members to the Supreme Court.
I don't think the public would look kindly on Republican actions to try to thwart what he is supposed to be able to do.
RADDATZ: You've talked about Supreme Court nominees a bit on the campaign trail.
What would you look for in a Supreme Court nominee?
SANDERS: What I have talked about on the campaign trail is one litmus test -- not a great fan of litmus tests but there is one for me -- and that I think our campaign finance system today is so corrupt as a result of this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision of six years ago that I would never nominate anybody to the Supreme Court who is not prepared to overturn that disastrous decision, which is allowing billionaires to buy elections and which is undermining American democracy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Martha and Senator Sanders there. And let's get more on this now from the number two Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, also member of the Judiciary Committee.
So let's look at the math right here. You heard Senator Cruz say he's going to filibuster. Mitch McConnell says it's not going to happen.
You only have 46 votes in the Senate so there's not going to be a nominee here.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, the job, first and foremost, is for the president to nominate and for the Senate to hold hearings and go through the process. You know, the Constitution, Ted Cruz holds the Constitution, you know, when he walks through the halls of Congress. Let him show me the clause that says president's only president for three years.
Does this mean we don't hold hearings on anything?
The president shouldn't nominate Cabinet ministers?
It certainly might mean the Republicans shouldn't repeal Obamacare in the fourth year.
And so our job is to go forward with the process and then we'll see what happens. That's what Democrats --
SCHUMER: Well, no, I'm not sure that's true. You know, the kind of obstructionism that Mitch McConnell's talking about, he's harking back to his old days, you know, he recently he said, well, I want regular order.
But in 2010, right after the election or right during the election, he said, "My number one job is to defeat Barack Obama," without even knowing what Barack Obama was going to propose. Here, he doesn’t even know who the president's going to propose and he said, no, we're not having hearings; we're not going to go forward to lead the Supreme Court vacant at 300 days in a divided time.
This kind of obstructionism isn't going to last. And you know, we Democrats didn't do this. When in the -- we nominated -- we voted 97-0 for Justice Kennedy in the last year of Reagan's term.
STEPHANOPOULOS: After voting down Justice (INAUDIBLE) and Justice --
SCHUMER: Yes. Well, but we had nominations. And that's the point here. The president's going to nominate. I believe that many of the mainstream Republicans, when the president nominates a mainstream nominee, will not want to follow Mitch McConnell over the cliff --
STEPHANOPOULOS: So that's what you think the president should do, send someone who he thinks can credibly get Republican support rather than send someone who will send a powerful message about the direction he wants to take supporting (ph)?
SCHUMER: I think he -- I think first the American people don't like this obstruction. When you go right off the bat and say, I don't care who he nominates, I am going to oppose him, that's not going to fly.
A lot of the mainstream Republicans are going to say I may not follow this.
But second, I think the president, past is prologue, will nominate someone who is mainstream. Look --
SCHUMER: -- nominees have -- no (INAUDIBLE).
His nominees in the past have gotten Republican votes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Senator Schumer, thanks very much for joining us this morning.
SCHUMER: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be right back with the roundtable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we have so much to talk about this morning. Let's do it. Let's bring it now Matt Dowd, our political analyst, along with Cokie Roberts and Bill Kristol, editor of "The Weekly Standard."
And, Matt, let me begin with you.
In a campaign of surprises, this may be one of the biggest ones yet.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And we've talked now for almost 24 hours. It throws a huge wrench into the entire system, only in the system in Washington, D.C., where they're going to have to decide what they're going to do, but the entire presidential campaign.
I actually think the Republicans have made a mistake in their reaction to this, the initial reaction to this.
I think a better tack would have been, listen, the president has a constitutional duty to nominate somebody to the Supreme Court. And the U.S. Senate has a constitutional duty to decide whether or not they approve that person.
Now the Senate may not approve that person; they'll probably won't approve that person.. But they shouldn't actually say the president shouldn't nominate. I think their tact should be the president has a duty, he should nominate, and the Republicans have a duty to decide in the Senate what they want to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bill Kristol, does Matt have a point there?
BILL KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Not really. I mean, first of all, it's such terrible news about Nino Scalia, who was such a giant of the Supreme Court and a conservative hero and -- and I knew him reasonably well. A wonderful man, really.
No, the Democrats destroyed Bob Bork's chances of being -- they defeated Bob Bork in a totally scurrilous campaign in 1987. When President Bush nominated Miguel Estrada for the DC Circuit Court early in his presidency, Democrats filibustered it and wouldn't let it come to a vote because they knew that he might be in line to be a Supreme Court nominee and he might be the first Hispanic put on the Supreme Court by President Bush.
So honestly, turnabout is fair play. Maybe Mitch McConnell should have been more coy. But I give him credit for directness.
President Obama is entitled to nominate whoever he wants. He's entitled to take his case to the public. Republicans in the Senate will have to be effective, I agree with that, on this. But they need to make the -- they need to explain why we do not want the Supreme Court going in the direction President Obama wants it going in.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Cokie, I mean the Senate debate is likely to be a bit of kabuki theater right now. Hard to imagine how the president...
COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- it's not impossible, but hard to imagine he's going to get someone. So meantime, this is going to make the Supreme Court right at the center of the presidential campaign and it could be one of the first times ever.
ROBERTS: Absolutely. It really raises the stakes in the presidential campaign, George, because it focuses the mind. People realize wait, we're voting for someone who could name a court justice that will be there for decades. Keep in mind, Gerald Ford was president of the United States for about two and a half years. John Paul Stevens, his nominee, was on the Supreme Court for decades afterward.
Antonin Scalia, a Reagan appointee.
So you have a very important message being sent to the voters that whomever you vote for this time, it will have an effect for many, many years to come. And I think...
ROBERTS: -- that one of the effects of that will be that the question of electability becomes much more important j
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me...
ROBERTS: -- in the voter's mind.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- I want to -- I want to bring that to Matt...
ROBERTS: I think then that has, of course, been Hillary Clinton's strong point in the -- in her debates, in her election so far (INAUDIBLE).
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring -- let me bring that to Matthew Dowd.
So Hillary -- so Cokie is suggesting this could help Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side.
Do you agree with that?
And what about on the Republican side?
Does this fall to any candidate's benefit?
DOWD: Well, I think when these Supreme Court nominations, which I absolutely agree is going to be part of the conversation, it really is a -- a conversation that goes on with the very left and the very right. Most of middle America is going to look at this and not get the whole nuance of who's more electable, who's not, what's happening. It's a very left and a very right, huge argument in the course of this.
But I have to say, on the electability concern, that if Hillary Clinton makes that, right now, Bernie Sanders is more electable than Hillary Clinton. She -- he has a higher favorability rating. He is more trusted. He just won the New Hampshire primary by 22 points. He won among younger voters. He won among women voters.
I think in the course of time, if Hillary Clinton keeps pursuing the electability argument on her side, then it's actually problematic against Bernie Sanders.
I think it's going to effect the Republican side in this -- the course of this. The only time in that debate last night, George, as you know, where there seemed to be any agreement was -- was lauding Justice Scalia in the course of this and paying homage to him and saying that we're going to -- we want to put a -- a conservative on the court. That was the only consistency across that stage last night.
After that, it devolved into something...
STEPHANOPOULOS: It sure was. And...
DOWD: -- akin to a...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Bill Kristol...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- let me go to you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ted Cruz just said -- Ted Cruz said this is time for the circus, I think, is over right now.
Does it make the debate on the Republican side somewhat more serious, help any particular candidate?
KRISTOL: Yes, look, there are two things a president does that he does uniquely. He nominates judges and is commander-in-chief. Health care, education policy, tax policy, Congress plays a huge role.
I think the president -- the presidential debate on the Republican side, the choice will now focus much more on who will put good judges on the Supreme Court, who has the knowledge and -- and the temperament and the -- and the background where voters can be confident that they'll get good conservative constitutional judges.
And the commander-in-chief issue, which Donald Trump raised central -- squarely last night by saying that George Bush knowingly lied us into the war in Iraq. The Republican primary -- it's one thing to say the war was a mistake, knowingly lied us into the war in Iraq?
KRISTOL: Are Republican primary voters going to accept this?
I believe that Donald Trump's candidacy was dealt -- and I said this before and I've been wrong -- but I really do believe last night could be a moment where finally Republican voters say enough -- enough with the being in, you know, engaged. Trump's interesting. He's saying some things I like. He's sticking it to those politicians.
And finally, maybe people will focus on can and should he be president of the United States?
And I think Republican primary voters...
KRISTOL: -- will say no.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Cokie, those...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- those predictions have imperiled people before...
ROBERTS: Right. And what you're seeing -- but it is true, what you're seeing here in South Carolina is an awful lot of ads against him. And that is something that has not been as prevalent before. And whether that makes a difference -- it's just next Saturday in that primary, we'll see.
But he -- last night's debate was really remarkable and it's a -- it's childishness, really. I mean it was basically everybody calling -- saying liar, liar, pants on fire. And a -- and I'm not sure that after the entertainment value of that, that voters feel tremendously comfortable...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mean...
ROBERTS: -- seeing those candidates go after each other that way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Meantime, Matthew Dowd, we are going to see President George W. Bush on the campaign trail tomorrow, really, for the first time.
What difference does that make in South Carolina?
DOWD: Well, he's very popular in South Carolina. He won the state after that big loss in 2000 in New Hampshire. He came back, won the state and carried it on. He's very popular there.
I don't know how much of that transfers to Jeb Bush. I think part of the problem is you can have a popular president, a former president. Bill Clinton went to New Hampshire, a very popular president. It didn't seem to help Hillary Clinton in the course of that race in New Hampshire.
And so I don't know how much impact. It could have some impact on the margins, 1 or 2 or 3 percent, possibly.
I think when we look at Donald Trump in South Carolina right now and Bill may be right, though he's predicted Trump's fall along the way in the course of this -- if Donald Trump, after last night, wins South Carolina and all of the ads and he wins that South Carolina, after attacking Lindsey Graham and after he was attacking George W. Bush and actually saying George W. has lied about the war, if he wins South Carolina, how does one stop Donald Trump?
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is an excellent question.
ROBERTS: That is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to all of you.
We will come back, more...
ROBERTS: That is really the question.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It -- it certainly is.
When we come back, more on the life and legacy of Antonin Scalia after this from our ABC stations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIN SCALIA, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: My "Constitution" is a very flexible "Constitution."
You think the death penalty is a good idea, persuade your fellow citizens and adopt it.
You think it's a bad idea, persuade them the other way and eliminate it.
I have my rules that -- that confine me. I know what I'm looking for. When I find it, the original meaning of "The Constitution," I am handcuffed. If I believe that the First Amendment meant, when it was adopted, that you are entitled to burn the American flag, I have to come out that way, even though I don't like to come out that way.
Though I'm a law and order type, I cannot do all of the mean, conservative things I would love to do to this society. You've got me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Justice Scalia setting out his philosophy of the constitution right there.
Let's talk to some guests now who know him well. Paul Clement, former solicitor general, also clerk for Justice Scalia; Kate Shaw, our Supreme Court analyst; Terry Moran, who has covered the Supreme Court for us as well.
And Mr. Clement, let me begin with you. You clerked for Justice Scalia, you argued before him. How will you remember him?
PAUL CLEMENT, FORMER SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, I'll remember him just like in that clip. I mean, he really believed in the constitution. He believed that the constitution had to be interpreted in a way that constrained the justices so they couldn't just impose their own personal policy preferences.
I'll remember him from oral argument. He completely changed the way that the Supreme Court handled cases and handled oral arguments. Before he came to the court, it was quite common for advocates to make their argument and not get a single question from the justices, or at most maybe a handful. He got there. He started asking questions from day one. And even the colleagues who had been there awhile started saying, well, we're not going to let this new guy ask all the questions. They got involved in it and it fundamentally changed the way that the court holds arguments. And it fundamentally changed the way that frankly the court approaches statutes of constitutionally law as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just ask you quickly as well. You know, he has such a unique pen. What was it like to write a draft for him?
CLEMENT: Well, we used to joke in the chambers that the only reason he asks for drafts from his law clerks is because he wasn't quite sure how to format a Word Perfect document on the computer. Because that voice you see in those opinions, that is all him. And he just had a gift. And it's changed the way I think students in law school looked at the constitution and the court, because left or right most students, the first thing they do is pick up the Scalia decision before they even -- even if it's a dissent before they read the majority opinion. He's that -- he was that gifted a writer.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's where his impact is.
Less impact in moving his justices behind the scenes.
KATE SHAW, NBC SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Yeah. I think there's no question that he was the intellectual leader of the conservative wing of the court for essentially the whole time he sat on it.
But, you're right, he wasn't always victorious in advancing his position. I don't know if it was the views he was espousing, which were extreme. I don't know if it was a question of sometimes abrasive style. So -- but he didn't always win in particular cases. And nonetheless he had a transformational effect on the law, just in terms of how the court approaches legal questions.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Terry Moran, his biggest victory?
TERRY MORAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would think his most memorable victory, and it's a piece with his whole judicial philosophy, is the great second amendment triumph in the Chicago gun rights case where Justice Scalia, writing for a majority in the court, said the Second Amendment is an individual right, that well regulated militia clause, that doesn't interfere, he said, with the individual right to bear arms. And that was of in keeping with (inaudible) that the federal government's powers needed to be limited, needed to be checked, get back to the original intent.
And you know, George, a lot of people in society have great big grand ideas. Very few of them make them as contagious as Antonin Scalia made his. Through his writing, through his personality, through the fights he picked, the fights he loved to pick, as Dahlia Lithwick, one of our colleagues put it, he made the founders cool again. And in many ways, his influence goes outside of the law into a whole way of looking at the kind of country we are.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well said. Thanks to all of you. That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.