'This Week': Powerhouse Roundtable

Rep. Tom Cole, Former Governor Bill Richardson, Matthew Dowd, and Alicia Menendez on the Bergdahl release and Hillary Clinton's potential run
10:44 | 06/08/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': Powerhouse Roundtable
Did he make a deal with the devil on releasing those five Taliban? I think this was a very hard choice, which is why I think my book is so aptly named. If you look at what the factors were going into the decision, of course, there are competing interests and values. And one of our values is, we bring everybody home off the battlefield, the best we can. It doesn't matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation. It doesn't matter? It does not matter. We bring our people home. Talk about all of this on the roundtable. Bowe bergdahl and Hillary Clinton. We're joined by Tom Cole, Alicia Menendez, Matthew dowd, bill Richardson and Martha Raddatz, who's back as well. He's glad Bowe bergdahl is home, but he would not support the deal? Well, I think the president did the right thing, I know it's controversial, it was a prisoner swap at a time when we're winding down a war. Leave no soldier behind. I have been involved in these negotiations as well. You negotiated with the Taliban back in 1998? Yeah, they're very tough, they're very shifty, so the deal was made at a time when his safety and health were being jeopardized. But at the same time, I think it might lead in the future to a lessening of the tensions with the Taliban. I think that might be a tall order. I think the president was totally justified with what he did. Look, congressman, could he had the both ways? Look, I wouldn't have traded Murphy for these five guys. Let's talk about who they are. These are five terrorists, they have blood of America on their hands. This was bad policy. Obviously, everybody is happy when somebody comes home, regardless. Frankly, a lot of people are saying that. It's not a partisan debate. This was a big mistake. I think this is an interesting issue to me, because everybody sort of approaches it from a partisan lens. I think there's, for me, three big points, one, it's totally confusing to me. We would have sent him to kill these same five men. At a time when we're in the midst of a war, in the midst of a conflict, with a very fragmented enemy and we're releasing five of them into combat. Why we were in Afghanistan and Iraq to begin with? Wars that seemed to have no real outcome on them. Second, as Byron Pitts reports, guantanamo bay, which is -- there are all kind of human rights violations, these prisoners have seen no justice, no fair process, and finally, three, from a political perspective on this, the white house administration has totally mismanaged this. The president and Susan rice stood up there like it was "Saving private Ryan." When we have that situation, the president -- he should have never stood up with the parents when he knew the information about this soldier was going to come out. Alicia, information came out this week showing real anger suggesting that other soldiers died searching for him. H We're in the middle of the war, we're at the end of the war. We're winding this down. This is what happens at the end of a war. We transfer and trade prisoners. I think it opens up a big conversation. We have a president who twice campaigned to close guantanamo bay. One campaigning to do that. Are we actually going to be able to execute that? It's going to be tough. Also, this question of what should happen to Bowe bergdahl, you have the details of his state of mind right now, the military came out this week and emphasize more that his actions will be investigated. They have already been investigated. They found he walked away willingly. Twice, right? Yes, when he was captured. They said he wandered away one other time. One time in California, he wandered away quite a bit. The one missing element is his side of the story. Why did he do it? Did he intend to go, talk to the Taliban? I mean, everyone -- everyone believes that he was held against his will, definitely. George, in talking to some soldiers and military, this shows a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the administration, about the military, what the reaction would be in the celebration in the rose garden. They saw it coming. That's why they tried to get out ahead of it, bill. No evidence that he's a deserter. At the same time -- The soldiers will say he's a deserter. I was a governor and we dealt with a lot of young men that came back from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD and mental issues. This is probably what happened to the young man. But that doesn't mean that we should not make every maximum effort to leave a soldier behind. This is a time when our military that said, unless we get them out now, and I know the Taliban, because of health and safety issues, we're never going to get him out. So, we had to do this. I think we've gotten lost in this whole thing whether or not he's deserter. Every single human life has value, including the Taliban. I don't think that's the question. I don't think it's a question -- I have a son who served in Iraq and a brother who served in Panama and Kuwait. The question becomes, how do we do it and when do we do it? And I think in this situation, most of the American public believes, here are five enemy combatants, whether or not we're winding down the war, they're not winding down the war, they're going to continue to be enemy combatants whether we're there or or not. We're going to risk soldiers lives. Moving on to Hillary Clinton. Congressman Cole, no delight from the president on bergdahl. From what we have seen of her interview with Diane sawyer, no daylight on the president, any doubt, do you assume that she's going to be the democratic nominee? Yes. I certainly do. Not much doubt to me, and you can look at these really incredibly dull memoirs and know she's still a politician. We'll never get a great memoir out of Hillary Clinton until it's done. One of the things that we have seen, Alicia, fascinating, she's trying to clean up some past mistakes. Also, in the book, in the interview as well, a lot more emphasis on her softer side, which she also didn't do in the 2007 and 2008 campaigns. On top of that, we see her building the case on her time as secretary of state. Saying I have accomplishments I can point to. Reclaiming America's place in the world. She'll have to build an economic narrative that she can sell to Americans to get them excited about the possibility of her being president. After watching that interview and after watching this book rollout, there's very little possibility that she's going to run in the course of this. The big question mark in this memoir that came on to me, she knows the difficult balance, what does she do with president Obama? Because she's projecting forward that president Obama is going to be an unpopular president. Getting a third term is going to be very hard. How she wrote this book, when she mentions disagreement, I supported the president even though I disagreed with him. The other thing is to have ideas for the future, particularly on the economy. Bill Richardson, one of your former fellow governors talking. Even in our poll, it shows that most democrats, even though they support Hillary Clinton, want a contest. You know the Clintons don't confide in me. But I will say -- but I do think this poll shows tremendous support, nationally, bipartisan for her. Number two, she was a good secretary of state. Now, if I'm a primary candidate, you run on her left. She's still close to wall Street, but if this poll is measured, she has the support of every faction of the democratic party. The moderate faction, the business faction, the environmental faction. The Progressive faction. And she's going to be very hard to beat. And lastly, on the loyalty issue, she showed her statesmanlike view that she would support the president on this bergdahl issue. And many other issues. You covered her tenure as secretary of state, did you see any other places where she might try to open up more differences from the president down the road? I don't see anything in particular. What this depends on is how people react to that narrative. Like Alicia said, she's laid out what she did as secretary of state. The pushback is going to come now. A lot of people are going to say, wait a minute, you didn't make a difference here or there. George, inevitably is a huge burden to bear in this. She had it in 2008, it didn't turn out well. In some respects, like the Belmont stakes yesterday, was she secretaryiat or California chrome, wins along the way, fades in the stretch? What is her biggest vulnerability? When there's no place to grow, there's no place to go. The coalition against her is actually very solid, it's not going to change. People poll the same way. I think a long campaign is very much not to her advantage. The best day of her campaign is the day before she announces.

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

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