Transcript for 'This Week': Powerhouse Roundtable
Reporter: For "this week", jeff zeleny, des moines, iowa. Time now for the roundtable. Joined by paul gigot, abc's cokie roberts, keith ellison from minneapolis, ana navarro from cnn and john heilemann. Thanks you all for being here. Let's talk about this republican race, we saw chris christie and rick perry. Paul gigot, it's clear that christie is trying to own the center of this room, he's got all kinds of conservatives lining up from cruz, to rubio, to paul, all on his right. I think he shouldn't take that bait. He shouldn't run as a moderate. He should avoid that distinction. He should come out and have a reform agenda of his own that can appeal to all sides of the republican spectrum, transcend this so-called conservative moderate divide, don't play that game, and I think with his record in new jersey, he'll have an appeal to an awful lot of republicans and particularly because he's a governor. That's exactly right. I mean -- absolutely. And look, it's not -- I think the way he would frame it, it's not conservative or moderate. It's pragmatist. That's what governors are. They have to run states, balance budgets. I mean, he made a point to me later, they also elected a democratic legislator. So, this a much more practical, get things done role in washington. Ana, is he the republican bill clinton or the next rudy giuliani? I think he's the republican chris christie. He can't run as a moderate or conservative. He has to run as chris christie. He as a very defined brand in his larger than life personality. He has to hone in on the point that he got these numbers. He got 51% of the hispanic vote in a blue state. George, this is after we came out of a race where mitt romney got 27% of the vote. If anybody could get near the numbers that christie got with african-american voters, women, with independents, we would be in the white house. Came down on immigration. Keith ellison, democrats are already taking on chris christie this week, and they're facing a little bit of a dilemma, the more they push the argument that he's a hard-edged conservative. He's too conservative for me. But, here's the reality, he accepted the money for the medicaid expansion and he was out there stumping for new jersey for sandy relief, these are pragmatic things. But I think doing just what any public servant would do doesn't make you a superstar. But in this republican field, apparently it does. John, in your book, the entire vetting file, we just talked to chris christie about it. You heard his response right there. Not worried about another round He's smart enough to know it's coming. There were -- the governor romney's team looked at him really closely for vice president. They looked at a series of things that are in the open record. Like, for a period of time he was a lobbyist. When it was run by bernie madoff. And they investigated him for expense account abuse. And were very critical of him. There are a series of other things that they wanted from chris christie that he wasn't forthcoming in their view about, like his health record, like a defamation lawsuit that was filed against him. His brother who was involved in an investment scandal. The one thing that he said in the interview that wasn't factually true was that romney wasn't affected by that. The day when governor romney looked at that dossier and he pulled the plug on christie. Lot of unanswered questions. None of those things may be smoking guns, george, but you know, when he steps up on the national stage, I think he knows this true, the level of scrutiny is going to be much, much higher. I don't think he knows it until they're there. He spoke to the romney team about this, right? I spoke to a colleague of mine last night, she's at harvard right now, she told me that none of these issues had anything to do with why christie wasn't pick. She never heard of project goldfish until about ten days ago, so it wasn't something, in the book, it's called -- she doesn't think it's factually correct. She talked to me also about having to make that phone call to chris christie when she found that this was all coming out. He was very respectful and understanding. Was he disappointed? Yes. Could he have screamed at her? Yes, but that didn't happen. This will get flush out before the two points. One of the things that's going to get flushed out by the next election, paul gigot. Both sides came away from the election on tuesday with their arguments. Right. Well, that's right. The defeat in virginia -- the shutdown was heard a lot. 3 in 10 houses in virginia were personally affected by the government shutdown. 30% of the votes are in the suburbs of washington and cuccinelli, the republican, lost those by 135,000 votes and he lost statewide by only 55,000. So, the shutdown hurt. Also, the republican establishment didn't think that cuccinelli could win. They didn't back him up? And there's some truth to it. You know, I wouldn't credit the shutdown with the victory of terry McAuliffe. And the reason why is, because, all of these folks like cuccinelli have been anti-government for a long time. The shutdown was just the latest best example of how hostile government workers that far-right group has been. Well, but, in virginia, we asked, you know, in our exit polls, do you think government should be doing more or less? And in virginia, 51% said less. So, you know, it's not the government. It all depends on what. It all depends on what. If you're a federal employee, you definitely want the government open and working. What I thought was most interesting in the tea party issue, was the special election in alabama. This was an election for a house seat that's in the gulf coast area, that has generally sent real legislators to washington. The republican national committee -- the congressional committee chairman said that he was pleased about that and he said that this is a district that sends talented and effective republican legislators to congress. That's sending a signal that we're ready to get things done. One of the other things that we saw in this election, cuccinelli in virginia, seemed far behind in the polls, a couple of weeks out, talked about nothing but obama care, end up being relatively close, 2.5-point race. And john, lot of people looking at that and it shows the power of the obama care issue and the president's apology this week. I want to show that. Even though it's a small percentage of folks who may be disadvantaged, it's scary to them. I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me. And they're coming after the president, he got an earful from democrats. There's no real way to know what happened. You think about the shutdown having its effect, but this obama care issue became central. For a lot of people who are on the right, it's a winning issue to fight obama care, they look at the cuccinelli result and they think it gives validity to their argument. It's an issue -- it's one thing in the book, governor romney couldn't litigate the issue fully in 2012, because romney care he was kind of boxed in, and we never really got -- the president can't claim the kind of mandate. If newt gingrich had been the nominee, obama care would have been front and center. Lot of people in the tea party of the republican party felt it wasn't really litigated in 2012. Now, all of the things that happened with the problems of the website, the rollout, have only fueled the fire more to keep fighting this fight and there's no political clarity whether it's a winner or loser for republicans. Tea party people feel emboldened. And not dampened down. I think the shutdown had the consequence of emboldening the nontea party branch. You saw kelly ayotte and ted cruz, everybody start opened up to him. Stop raising money against incumbe incumbents like me. You're seeing donors stepping up to the plate. I think you're going to see more organized efforts by nontea party republicans. We're going to be duking this out for a while until we have a nominee. Republicans are united on the substance of the opposition to obama care. The difference is, how to handle it. Where this unites them through 2014. The passage of obama care in 2010, I think they'll punish democrats for implementation of it this time ad. What do you do with the fact that governor christie accepted the medicaid expansion, and new jersey is going to be better off for it? I think john has a point when he says it's not clear whether this was good or bad for republicans. I think it's bad for them to keep on going against the affordable care act. This website will be fixed. Are you confident that it will get fixed by the end of november? I am confident. Here's the bigger issue, before we pass the affordable care act, you had 57% of americans declaring bankruptcy because of medical debt. And now, we're not going to be seeing that. That's the deal. People, 57% of all bankruptcy filings were because of medical debts. Thanks for the clarification. The point is, we had a bad situation before, republicans did nothing about it. From 2000 to 2006. And now we want to do something about it and all they want to do is complain. We can start to find when the employee mandate kick in, employers will stop covering people as well. There are a lot of land mines. What it proves is we need a result for the american people where they can get affordable care. That's absolutely right. When you talk to employers and business owners out there, they are looking at how much it's going to cost versus the increased cost to cover it under -- so, despite this argument, it's really -- the issues only play a certain role in these elections and chris christie had such a landslide that he won everybody basically, and the fact is, you look at virginia and it's much more of a big yellow flag for republicans, because they won whites really big, but they lost minorities and young people. Does that fall on the republican side? That's true. But, right now, you're seeing president obama's job approval rating drop into the very low 40s. John heilemann, coming out of this shutdown, for republicans, maybe a chance to take back the house with the president's approval number. Lot of these issues that seem to be game-changers for a moment. Turn out to be effervescent. They thought that was a political winner it was a political loser. Now the obama care thing seems to republicans to be a political winner, I don't tactically necessarily, a little over a year from now, what is the republican solution on obama care? Repeal has never been popular. I didn't say that republicans need to have an alternative, there's no question about that. I think there a lot of available policies they can sign on to obama care is becoming a metaphor for the failure of government. It may not be six months from now. We got to take a quick break, more roundtable coming up.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.