Transcript for Roundtable I: This Week in Politics
My son came to my wife and i and told us that he was gay. And that it was not a choice. And that, he, that's just part of who he is. And that launched an interest process for me, which was kind of rethinking my position. I now believe that people ought to have the right to get married. Republican senator rob portman on his dramatic change of heart, reversing his position on gay marriage after his son told him that he is gay. We'll get to that in a moment. But first, let's introduce the roundtable. George will. Abc's matthew dowd. Former hewlett-packard ceo carly fiorina, xavier becerra and audie cornis welcome to all of you. I want to start with you, george will. You heard what john boehner said, taking a very hard line on any new revenues, even if entitlement reform is offered. How do they break this stalemate, especially after the so-called "charm offensive? First, any charm offensive, labeled as a charm offense ive tleesh loses some of its charm. This week, while the charm offensive was going on, two budgets were produced. In which, patrick murray, the chairman, who produced this, said medicare, medicaid, obama care and social security, the drivers of our fiscal crisis, no to a dime will be touched. Ryan said that it's so-called austerity, federal spending will grow, 3.4% over the next decade. His radical idea is that, in 2024, senior citizens will shop for health care, imagine that? You have two budgets that don't have the slightest chance of passing. Ryan's budget hasn't a prayer of a chance of passing the senate. Because it depends on the repeal of obama care. So, what we need is some more elections. Carly, it's dueling budgets. No chance? I don't think either budget as george suggests, represents a blueprint for a compromise. You know, I continue to hold out hope that, with pressure building people on both sides on the aisle, will actually set forward with some fundamental reform. We need fundamental tax reform. To make it simpler? To make it simpler. Which would raise revenues without raising rates. We need fundamental reform -- over some of our entitlements. The other thing is, getting lost in this whole discussion is the reality not every dollar spent by the federal government is spent wisely and well. We have lots of room to spend money more wisely and less of it. Congressman becerra, do you see hope, in talking to you, you see a little hope there? I do. Some of us are having conversations on other matters like immigration. And I think there's a really good chance that we'll make progress there. But I also think that john boehner, barack obama and nancy pelosi, you name it, i think people, americans, just want to move forward. something done. You'll see a break in this stalemate soon. Now, you got to remember, if folks are going to talk about spenng you got to talk about the tax code. The biggest spending we do is through the tax code. Over a trillion dollars is spent every year through the tax code. It's all of those loopholes. So, if you want to get rid of spending, you can't leave out all of the stuff through taxes. We give away stuff that very small groups of special interest -- we actually agree on this. Let's put you in the middle. You covered congress. I covered congress. And when it's quiet, I think sometimes that means conversations are actually happening. When people are flapping their wings against the cage and screaming into the microphone they feel they haven't been heard. So, another thing, to say about the charm offensive, you got a whole class of lawmakers this is all they know. Maybe it's meaningful if there's follow-through for them to understand there had been administrations there is contact and there is communication. Matt, to me, that's one of the biggest faults that I have with the president. We have had two presidents in a row that basically underutilized one of the most important powers of the presidency. The number one thing that I said to this president was, he had not used the power of the presidency in order to build relationships. What the president seems to do, go to somebody and be nice to them when he needs a vote from them. When he needs a vote it's there. I say -- you're saying too late? Too little too late. I think it's great that he's doing it, but I wished it started four, five years ago when he began the white house. This week, we had the conservative conference, cpac with speaker boehner. And there was a real division on ideas for the future. Let's take a listen. We're not here to put a fresh coat of rhetorical paint on our party, we're not here to abandon our principles in a contest of government giveaways, that's a game that we will never, ever win. Way too many people believe that republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-science, anti-gay. Many voters are simply unwilling to choose our candidate, even though they share our core beliefs because those voters feel unloved, unwelcomed in our party. Lot of differences there. Carly, you were there, what does this mean? I think there's frankly way too much talk about the republican party, its futurist ideas. I think, honestly, most americans don't care about the state of either party, what about is the state of their job, their family, their community. I think they're tired of thinking about the next election. So, look, I think, it's important, whether you're a republican or a democrat, i happen to be a republican, i happen to be a conservative, i think what we need to do is talk about things that we think will work for the american people. Stop having all of these "political conversations." And start having some real conversations about getting things done. Making people's lives better. George will, any stars come out of this for 2016 that we're all going to be paying attention for the next four years? First, here's the "new york times" headline on the cpac conference. "Gop divisions fester at conservative retreat." Festering an infected wound, it's awful. I guarantee you, if there were a liberal conclave comparable to this, and there were vigorous debates going on there, the "new york times" headline would be healthy diversity flourishes at the liberal conclave. Republicans have been arguing, social conservatives and LIBRATRIANS SINCE THE 1950s WHEN The national review was founded on the idea of the fusion of the two. What I saw at cpac was the rise of the liberatarian. The ambitions aboard and at home. And a sense of live and let live with subjects such as decriminalization of certain drugs and gay marriage. Congressman, anybody make you nervous there at 2016? No, no. I think -- the whole thing makes me nervous. What I see -- what I see is a party that's in disarray that's trying to figure out where it's going to go. REPUBLICAN senator McConnell said that he doesn't want to be a part of a crybaby caucus. Let's go there as americans not as republicans or democrats. Marco rubio seen as a reformer, especially on immigration? But he didn't bring it up, why not? No, he didn't. It's such a complicated thing. There were immigration panels. This was a huge topic of conversation. Maybe as one said last week, you can't expect marco rubio to win the latino vote for you. Matt, you're just shaking your head. The whole thing makes you nervous? Well, to me, imagery who's there and what you say is important. I don't think vision is a bad thing. I think that a conservative message that's built for the 21st century would be a good thing. Cpac to me, reminds of going land before time. It's like going to a flintstones episode in my opinion. Bunch of dinosaurs. Most of them are, throwbacks in time. It's like who's running for the loyal order of the water buffalos. Sarah palin, between her and the kardashians, if you add them, there's ten reality shows that have been built around that. I don't think it's helpful to the republican party. I think there are some people, marco rubio who will become and are stars of the party. I think cpac's time has come and gone. It's time for someone to put together a 21st century conservative agenda. What's wrong -- what's wrong with having that conversation where the public -- I wouldn't do it in the mezoic era. Let's move on to another topic for the republicans, that stunning announcement by rob portman that he now supports same-sex marriage, obviously a personal decision for him, the only republican senator to support same-sex marriage, george will, does this go anywhere? He will not be the last. Because the demographic tide here is large and powerful. As I said on this program before, opposition to gay marriage is literally dying. It's an older demographic. And if you raise the question among young people, they're not interested. I dir say that this is one of the good things of cpac. This was another division and again, a healthy one. It's largely young people who attend cpac. It's not at the top of their agenda. George is right. In the last ten years, I think there's almost been 20-point change of people's perception of gay marriage in this country. I think republicans, any republicans that stand in the way of this, are standing in the way of march of history on this. Rob portman I know well. I did debate prep with rob portman in years past. He's a great person. And the people who have criticized him and by the way, he only did it was a personal thing. To me, why do we criticize people for that? The person who started m.A.D.D., it was a personal thing. Many people who have come out of gun control have been personally affected by it. It's a personal decision. God be with them. I think we have to be careful, because john boehner's views, which are different fro rob portman's views, are equally sincere. I think we get into trouble on this debate when we assume that people support gay marriage are open and compassionate and people who don't aren't. The way to solve these very personal issues is to let people vote on it. Don't let judges decide it. Don't have representative government decide it. Let people vote on it in the state. I think people of both points of view, accept the democratic process. What they don't always accept is a bunch of self-important, self-appointed judges. Martha, it was not only welcomed news that rob made this statement, but I think it's part of this march on progress. But, it seems like, it's going to take republicans so long whether it's on immigration or rational gun safety laws or on trying to make sure that we focus on jobs, not on the deficit, to get republicans to join the main stream, to say let's move forward together. Audie, quickly, is it generational from you what you see? I do get -- what's remarkable, you're not seeing a lot of fits of outrage and very angry e-mails coming through from people on the other side of this. So, maybe, there's a shift going on regardless of what you think. An historic week for the catholic church. Matt dowd, you're so excited to talk about this, first pope from the americas, pope francis. Happy st. Patrick's day to you. Thank you. To me, I think this is a really, really important moment. Because of what's going on in the catholic church. The immense scandals. The lack of transparency. The lack of openness and lack of concern for the poor and vulnerable in the society. Not only is he the most diverse pope, the fact that he picked the name francis. I think is very apropos. He was told in his mind he was told that he needed to fix the church. He went back, a friend of the environment, a friend of the animals, a friend of the vulnerab. The pope picked the name because he wanted the church to be a poor church and of the poor. And even if the pope doesn't make progress on certain social issues, if he can make the church a more humble church of more humility, that will be a huge advance. Carly, just watching those ceremonies, what did you think? 100,000 people. What struck me, I saw a picture of a man and his son in a church, I believe, in argentina, and they were literally both fell to their knees when they heard the news, to me that was so touching, because, whether you're catholic or not, what it reminds us, is that people do believe in something larger than themselves. And if they don't believe they want to believe. I thought that it was a moment when so many people in the world were united in a sense of spirituality, whether they were catholic or not. Quickly, congressman becerra. My parents pray the rosary every night. I'm a son of immigrants. I now see that the pope is a son of immigrants. In america, they may an omen of what's to come. Of how we'll treat immigrants. I I think that's phenomenal. Thank you for joining us. A great roundtable. Reminder, we'll have live coverage of the pope's inaugural mass on tuesday.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.