Powerhouse Roundtable: This Week in Politics

George Will, Matthew Dowd, Jeff Zeleny, Soledad O'Brien and Neera Tanden.
13:03 | 08/04/13

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Transcript for Powerhouse Roundtable: This Week in Politics
Anthony weiner still in the spotlight showing no sign of dropping out of the new york city mayor's race insisting this weekend he and his wife are having fun on the campaign trail. Our powerhouse roundtable is here to dive into all of that, but first abc's linsey davis joins us with the latest. Good morning, linsey. Reporter: Good morning, martha. It's been another rough week for anthony weiner, but he believes he can rebound. It's been nearly two weeks since his bombshell admission, but he's still answering more questions about his sexting than his city's ideas for new york. Anthony weiner finished out the week with a massive local media push. I've been embarrassed by things in my background. Reporter: Sitting down with interviews with the local new york networks coming clean and insisting he is 100% not sexting right now. These things are behind me 100%. There's not any kind of online relationship now? Nothing now. Reporter: The embattled politician has slid from first place in the polls for mayor of new york mayor to fourth. Despite weiner's efforts to get his campaign back on message, the former congressman continues to be confronted. You lied to the people of new york. Reporter: To the pundits and politicians who insist he should drop out of the race, he responded with this online ad. You don't know new york. You certainly don't know me. Quit isn't the way we roll in new york city. Reporter: Friday weiner announced the campaign manager who quit in the wake of the sexting scandal would be replaced by this woman, camille joseph, formerly the campaign's political director. As for his communications director, barbara morgan, who went on a curse-filled rant to a reporter about a tell-all article in a newspaper by a former weiner intern, she made headlines of her own with this tweet of a swear jar stuffed with hundred dollar bills. The photo captioned, "should have known better. Been better, gotta pay up." His wife, huma has taken extended vacation from her job with hillary clinton, but weiner promises we will see her back by his side again on the campaign trail between now and primary DAY, WHICH IS SEPTEMBER 10th. Martha? Thanks to you, linsey. The roundtable is here now to weigh in. George will, ceo of starfish media, soledad o'brien, abc's senior washington correspondent jeff zeleny. Neera tanden from the center for american progress and abc's own matthew dowd, and, george will, I'm going to start with you on anthony weiner. Why are we and maybe I shouldn't say we still following this so closely? And what I hope are the last words I'm ever required to utter about this man, say this, in his brief but not brief enough congressional career, he was 1/435 of 1/2 of one of our three branches of government during which tenure he made no discernible mark on the national life. We're doing this because he's peculiar and because it's august. And because it's like a car wreck I think you told me and can't take your eyes off. It's a guilty pleasure. Jeff zeleny, how does he stay in? We hear it over and over he's staying in. It's all behind him. He's staying because he has nothing else to do. I mean, he is trying to sort of rehabilitate his career, trying to rehabilitate his public life here, but george is right. I mean we are not going to be talking about anthony weiner for that much longer. THE PRIMARY IS SEPTEMBER 10th, So he'll stay in till then probably, but he's out of money. That ad we saw is online, internet only. He is no longer or soon to be no longer a serious major candidate for the mayor of new york. The other people in the race actually have benefited from him. And huma is going on vacation. I know you're a friend of huma's. What does that tell us, if anything? I don't think it tells us very much. I mean, huma is a friend of mine, but I think really jeff is right. This race is in a few weeks. It's going to be over soon. New yorkers are very discerning. They're going to be able to tell, you know, they're going to kick the tires on the mayoral candidacy and I don't expect much to change over the next couple of weeks. Soledad, any help? It's missing, though. We're all talking about anthony weiner and sydney leathers and this conversation is here and all these issues that had not been debated in new york politics for a long time because bloomberg has been sort of the front-runner in election after election. We could be talking about school choice. We could be talking about some of the charter schools that are actually failing new york city children. We could be talking about this massive income gap in new york city. We could be talking about the damage from sandy and the damage from irene, all those -- actually you and george will should get together and talk about all those issues. We'll be the only two. Snoof everyone else wants to hear what sydney leathers is tweeting and it's unfortunate because it's had an effect on those other candidates. They've had to talk about their personal lives instead of policy. As a voter in new york I'm kind of disappointed. None of this could be good for the clintons. Well, I think that's ultimately, ultimately where this falls back on. I think that's going to be somewhat problematic because people are going to get through this. The good news about this is anthony weiner is in fourth place falling fast, and however big of a narcissist he is and wants to stay in this race because of his own sense he needs to serve his own self, why he sexts, why he did what he did in congress, which is basically go on television all the time. I mean, anthony weiner was basically on tv or on the computer all the time during the course of this and I do actually think it's a good thing that a narcissist of his level is not going to be mayor of new york anymore. Though politics has a tendency to draw them. I do think, and other people can speak to this, I do think it is problematic for a clinton emergence in 2016 because i think the country always doesn't -- it smells something. It may not attach to hillary clinton at all, but they don't like the smell of something, and if they think this is going to be a throwback to all the conversations -- and -- BACK IN THE '90s THIS IS A Problem. Let's go to the picture of hillary clinton. This is the week hillary clinton came to washington, d.C. And had a casual lunch this week with president obama. A lovely lunch outside. She met with vice president biden. I think we're creeping pretty fast to 2016. Yeah, and I would say, look, this election is three years away, and, you know, hillary has done a fantastic job. I did work for hillary. I should say that. She's done a fantastic job. I don't think people are going to make any connection between the mayor's race now and 2016, 2015. That's a lifetime in politics, and I actually think this week demonstrated how much unity there is on the democratic side versus the republican side. She was able to come here. There's strong support for her. She's able to have lunch with the president, vice president, colleagues of hers, you know, i think she has a lot of strength going forward. Do you think republicans will forget about the anthony weiner scandal and how hillary clinton may or may not tie into that with huma? I gather the theory is not that republicans might not forget but that this reminds the country -- I love the word reminds the country of the seamier side of the clinton presidency. America may not have attention deficit disorder, but it does not have amnesia and doesn't need weiner to remind them. Nothing goes away in three years. I think nothing goes away in three years. Let's turn to those republicans. This week we saw a rift forming between two pillars of the republican party, governor chris christie and senator rand paul. That he cared about protecting this country, maybe he wouldn't be in this gimme, gimme, gimme all the money you have this washington. Maybe he should start cutting the pork barrel spending that he brings home to kentucky, but i doubt he would because most washington politicians only care about bringing home the bacon. This is the king of bacon talking about bacon. If we can sit down, I'm inviting him for a beer. I don't really have time for that at the moment. Good for the republican party? Well, actually there is a rising libertarian stream that chris christie has said is a very dangerous thought. So let's be clear about what libertarianism is and what it is not. It is not anarchism. It has a role in government. What libertarian says, it comes in many degrees and it basically says before the government, it bridges the freedom of an individual or several individuals contracting together. That government ought to have, "a," a compelling reason and, "b," a constitutional warrant for doing so. Now, if mr. Christie thinks that's a dangerous thought, a number of people are going to say that mr. Christie himself may be dangerous. Jeff zeleny. I think that governor christie actually emerges at least the short-term winner of this fight. He is one of the few republicans willing to take on rand paul. Around capitol hill there's so many republicans who are afraid to say anything against senator paul or his father ron paul because they're sort of worried about all these followers they have and they have a lot of supporters but governor christie first and foremost is running for re-election of the governor of new jersey. He's likely to win in november, so this is good for him now. Long-term it gives him what of si brand that he's not afraid of rand paul. But george is right, there's this growing libertarian strain that will absolutely be front and center in the 2016 primary and it is going to define who republicans put forward. A fight over -- well, the republicans and rub leader shship and the establishment has to be very careful about attacking libertarians I think in this country. Generally and republicans specifically. This is not just a libertarian movement in a country that started in the last ten years. I was out at walden this past week and reread thoreau and basically the father of libertarianism and great change has existed in this country. Ronald reagan described it as the heart of the conservative movement. I think you have to be careful, compassionate and have some sense of limited government but in the end who benefits the most is rand paul because he represents a very strong rising movement in the country and the republicans and I think he benefits. The democrats -- see, I think libertarianism this week has demonstrated a lot of problems. When you've seen the strain in congress, what's really happening is it's mealism. It's taking on the libertarian wing of the republican party is what's driving these debates which is ensuring that the congress can't act. Boehner is being defeated again and again within his party. The unique moment we're in is that there are so many rupp trues, national security issues, what the role of government is, food stamps, a whole slew of issues over the last weeks where we've seen republicans actually unable to govern because the basic form -- the basis of their party, the tea party is really driving them to be able to say no to everything. So in the end do the democrats win out of this? No, they both win. This is basically, hey, everybody, I'm running in 2016, and this is the kind of republican I will be, and they're laying out the difference, and I think what you're going to see is this range, right, with chris christie on one side, rand paul on the other and whatever candidates are in between who are also taking their sides and that's -- the challenge I think is going to be when you look back at the gop autopsy, right, is which republican party are we going to be? Can you get through a primary and get through -- do we know, george? If the indictment of libertarianism is is that it prevented the passage of an execrable farm bill, the libertarians can live with that, right? It also said -- the position of the republican party now is that we're going to double cut the people who are hungry. We're going to say we'll give double cuts on food stamps because we want to give more to ag subsidies. senator McCain said all this is a moot point if republicans do not sort of go for it on immigration reform. It will not matter who they support. That's another thing. That autopsy you're talking about. The huge benefit among republicans in my view is social issues aren't part of the conversation right now, and i think in the end if republicans can keep social issues off the debate going into 2016, and it's about finances, about the role of government, republicans will benefit from that. If social issues -- well -- between rand paul and chris christie. It will be next week. At this moment. Everybody is all riled up about this rift. I want to ask you very quickly, jeff, this week we saw president obama make another attempt at a grand bargain this week. Where does that go? It is a tough thing. It's a good thing that congress is out for the month of august because they really think that a few constructive leaders can come together and work out some framework of something, but that is the key showdown in september. OCTOBER 1st, YOU KNOW, THE NEW Budget year is looming. I think on this issue what we've seen over the last week is that we have really poor growth. We have growth, but it's pretty anemic, and what's really upsetting about where we are is that washington is inflicting it. There's no economic mobility in this country, and everybody realizes that, and both parties are not addressing that issue. Okay. Thanks to all of you. Thanks, everyone.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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