'This Week' Transcript: George Mitchell and King Abdullah II

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): This week, a line in the sand. President Obama lays out his vision for peace.

OBAMA: We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines.

AMANPOUR: But Israel digs in.

NETANYAHU: We can't go back to those indefensible lines.

AMANPOUR: In his first interview since resigning as Middle East envoy, George Mitchell speaks out.

MITCHELL: It's very difficult right now.

AMANPOUR: Plus, my exclusive interview with an Arab leader who plays a critical role in any solution, Jordan's King Abdullah.

(on-screen): Do you feel that there might be another war?

(voice-over): And back here at home...

(UNKNOWN): You're an embarrassment to our party.

(UNKNOWN): Stop the hate.

AMANPOUR: ... politics are getting very messy and personal. It's a classic recipe for disaster: sex, power and politics.

ANNOUNCER: Live from the Newseum in Washington, "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Welcome to our viewers here and around the world. And there's lots to discuss today on the world stage and the campaign trail.

But first, we want to catch you up on some news since the Sunday morning papers, a major development today in the Republican race for the White House. In a midnight e-mail to his supporters, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has announced that he will not run for president in 2012. Daniels had quickly become the most buzzed-about non-candidate in the race, but his wife, Cheri, had veto power. And the governor acknowledged it in his statement today, saying, quote, "Simply put, I find myself caught between two duties. I love my country; I love my family more." And there's much more on this story coming up.

And huge plumes of smoke over Iceland this morning. The country's most active volcano is erupting and spewing clouds of ash into the sky. You'll remember a year ago another volcano in that country forced Europe to seal its airspace, stranding 10 million travelers, and now Iceland's largest international airport is closed.

And President Obama is preparing to address AIPAC this morning, the country's largest pro-Israel group, just a few hours from now, this after stirring up a hornet's net on Thursday when he outlined his vision for Middle East peace.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): The speech was billed as President Obama's response to the winds of change blowing through the Middle East. Instead, it set off a firestorm of criticism, both in Israel and from Republicans.

Governor Mitt Romney said, "President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus." Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the speech "undermines our special relationship with Israel." And Mike Huckabee, "President Obama has betrayed Israel." And Newt Gingrich caused it "disastrous."

The cause of all this uproar? Obama became the first U.S. president to so publicly endure something that's been the basis of negotiations for the last decade, also a key goal of the Palestinians.

OBAMA: We believe the borders of Israel and Palestinian should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.

AMANPOUR: What he's talking about is this. These were the borders of Israel before the 1967 Six-Day War. The decisive Israeli victory then put the West Bank and Gaza, with its large Palestinian population, under its control.

Since then, Israel has annexed large parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank and built thousands of settlements, where nearly 300,000 Israelis live among more than 2 million Palestinians, beyond the '67 borders.

Late Thursday, after the president's speech and as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was heading to Washington, he endorsed plans for another 1,500 new settlement houses.

The United States going all the way back to President Nixon initially called settlement activity illegal. The Reagan administration softened that a bit, saying settlements were not constructive. Bill Clinton allowed for natural growth. And in 2004, President Bush added the U.S. now recognized the new realities on the ground.

At a tense meeting at the White House Friday, Netanyahu demanded that the White House return to the Bush position and flatly rejected a return to the '67 borders.

NETANYAHU: These lines are indefensible because they don't take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. Remember that before 1967 Israel was all of nine miles wide. It was half the width of the Washington beltway.

GOLDBERG: What we saw on Friday was an Israeli prime minister lecturing the president in public about the course of Middle East history, the course of Jewish history. Barack Obama knows this material. And I have to imagine, just looking at the body language, that he probably had places he'd rather have been.

AMANPOUR: Obama visited Israel before his election, but has not returned since becoming president. According to polls there, the number of Israelis who believe President Obama favors the Palestinians has been steadily growing since his speech in Cairo, where he talked about a more even-handed approach to Middle East diplomacy.

OBAMA: If we so this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth.

AMANPOUR: In his speech Thursday, he was tough on the Palestinians, as well, assailing the recent unity government between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization. And he warned the Palestinians not to unilaterally pursue recognition at the United Nations.

OBAMA: For the Palestinians' efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejections. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.

AMANPOUR: In an interview with the BBC after his speech, President Obama tried to smooth some ruffled feathers and emphasized his unshakeable commitment to Israel's security.

OBAMA: You're going to have two states. And the basis for negotiations will involve looking at that 1967 border, recognizing that conditions on the ground have changed and there are going to need to be swaps to accommodate the interests of both sides. That's on the one hand. On the other hand -- and this was an equally important part of the speech -- Israel is going to have to feel confident about its security on the West Bank.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: So the big question now: Will the president's declaration jump-start the peace process? Or is it broken beyond repair?

For answers, I turn to former Senator George Mitchell, the administration's envoy to Israel and the Palestinians until just this past Friday. And this is the senator's first interview since he stepped down.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Senator, a huge flap has arisen over the world "'67" in the speech by President Obama. Was the president signifying a major shift in U.S. policy?

MITCHELL: No, he wasn't. It is a significant statement. The president said, the United States' commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable. And it is. Our security cooperation is the best it's ever been. The president didn't say that Israel has to go back to the '67 lines. He said "with agreed swaps." Those are significant. Swaps means an exchange of land intended to accommodate major Israeli population centers to be incorporated into Israel and Israel's security needs.

"Agreed" means, through negotiations, both parties must agree. There's not going be a border unless Israel agrees to it, and we know they won't agree unless their security needs are satisfied, as it should be. The proposal was identical to a proposal made by the Israeli prime minister just prior to Mr. Netanyahu. Ehud Olmert was the prime minister until 2009.

AMANPOUR: So why the flap, then? Why has Prime Minister Netanyahu and his supporters behaved as if this was a major change and really threatening Israel?

MITCHELL: I don't believe it is threatening Israel. And a major objective of this initiative, among others, is to prevent a disaster for Israel from occurring at the United Nations General Assembly in September, when the Palestinians have said they will see a unilateral declaration of statehood.

The president spoke out strongly against that. We oppose it. And the way to prevent that from occurring is to provide an alternative in direct negotiation that would foreclose or make not necessary that option.

AMANPOUR: You've just handed in your resignation after just over two years of being the special envoy. Are you more optimistic or less optimistic than you were when you started this?

MITCHELL: Well, one has to have optimism to undertake this assignment. I knew, of course...

AMANPOUR: When one resigns, what does that mean?

MITCHELL: Well, it means just what I said when I resigned. When I met with the president initially, I said to him, Mr. President, I can't do a full four-year term. I said two years. And he said that's fine.

AMANPOUR: That's very nice and very diplomatic. On the other hand, many of your friends and allies and colleagues in this endeavor have said that George Mitchell is a decent and good and honest man and he is faced with a process that is going nowhere.

MITCHELL: Well, it's indisputable that we have not made as much progress as we would have liked.

AMANPOUR: Let's go back to the beginning of this administration's endeavors on this decades-long crisis. President Obama made it very clear that the end of Israeli settlements would be the condition for new talks, but he also wanted the Arab countries to make faith-building, trust-building maneuvers towards Israel. That didn't happen. The Arabs didn't step forward. Do you think in retrospect it was a mistake to insist that settlements remained the precondition for talks?

MITCHELL: It was not a precondition. The mistake was to not make that as clear as we could have. The president's position was that Israel should stop new settlement construction activity and, at the same time, that the Palestinians should agree to come in to talks. They were not stated as preconditions, although, unfortunately, they were then adopted as preconditions.

AMANPOUR: Certainly the whole world took it as a precondition and that...

MITCHELL: Well...

AMANPOUR: ... it was a new position by the United States.

MITCHELL: Well, as I said, we should have made that more clear, but we never stated it.

AMANPOUR: Why should anybody think that there is a way out of this? You know, what is the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again?

MITCHELL: Yeah, well, there's another definitions of insanity, and that's to give up on a valid goal because you've gotten discouraged and you can't succeed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: So, qualified optimism from Senator Mitchell, but the administration is still grappling with fallout from the president's speech. So let's bring in ABC's chief Washington White House correspondent Jake Tapper and Aaron Miller, a long-time veteran of the State Department, where he toiled over the peace process with six secretaries of state, and he's now a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at Princeton.

Thank you both very much. So, behind the scenes, what was this '67 line about? And did they expect it to make such a problem?

TAPPER: I don't think they expected it to be as big a diplomatic kerfuffle. Obviously, they knew it would ruffle feathers, but I don't think that they thought it would be interpreted as, President Obama wants Israel to go back to the indefensible '67 borders, which is not, of course, what he said, but is how it's been interpreted by many supporters of Israel and many opponents of the president's.

The goal was to, in some way, jump-start the process and also, as Senator Mitchell pointed out, to try to avoid this U.N. vote in September about Palestinian statehood.

AMANPOUR: Is it going to jump-start the process?

MILLER: No. Jake's right. They did this for all the reasons he's identified, but they clearly -- and I'm empathetic, sympathetic with this. This is -- you know, Truman described this as a 100-year headache. That's exactly what it is.

But the reality is, how can you give a speech the day before the prime minister arrives, a guy you don't have a relationship with, a guy who sleeps not with -- just with one eye open, as most Israeli prime ministers, but two, when it comes to Barack Obama, and you open up an issue, June '67, which for Palestinians means redemption and for Israelis the way it's pitched means national suicide the way they interpret it.

AMANPOUR: But...

MILLER: And as a consequence, you do it at a time when there are no negotiations, where Abbas has just made a deal with Hamas, against the backdrop of a very charged political environment. The consequences of this were, I would argue, predictable.

AMANPOUR: So you talked about no relationship. I mean, they have a frosty relationship at best, right, Jake?

TAPPER: There's no love lost, I think it's fair to say. And I also think it's fair to say that when Bibi in the Oval Office did something I've never seen happen...

AMANPOUR: I was going to ask you...

TAPPER: ... which is -- which is this little history lesson on the Jewish people and suffering, that did not endear him further to the White House.

AMANPOUR: Were you -- were you stunned by that? I mean, it did look like a public lecture.

MILLER: Yeah, I mean, it was -- it was pretty unprecedented. I mean, Begin used to lecture Carter, but it was done privately. Begin was too polite to do it publicly. Netanyahu saw an opportunity. He was clearly upset. I mean, he feels that he was set up. So this was payback.

And it was payback at a time when the prime minister feels pretty self-confident that the peace process is going nowhere. And he has a number of cards to play. I'm not sure, however, for an American audience, you want to be in position of lecturing your only reliable ally.

AMANPOUR: Even Jeffrey Goldberg, who is one of the most reliable friends of Israel in print and in all sorts of way, said that he was offended to see -- to see the Israeli prime minister basically lecturing the president of the United States and that Netanyahu had, quote, "gone out of his way" to alienate this president.

TAPPER: You know, what's interesting is what's Netanyahu -- what Netanyahu is doing in front of the cameras and really what they're upset about behind the scenes. What they're upset about behind the scenes is the Israelis acknowledge, yes, obviously the '67 borders with mutually agreed-upon land swaps is the basis for territorial negotiation, but that's always been behind the scenes. Now this is the official U.S. position for the first-time ever, yes, by the way, but in the past, but now it's the official position.

And what that does is it gives away a chip at the negotiating table, so now the Israelis don't get to exact a concession from the Palestinians in exchange for that agreement.

MILLER: Jake's right. And there's something more. It's not just the principle that concerns the Israelis. It's the next step, that the administration is now -- having laid the principle -- going to take a position on a number, because the swap is somewhere between 2 percent -- which the Palestinians assert -- and anywhere from 8 percent to 10 percent that the Israelis, Olmert, 4 percent to 6 percent. The next step is this process I'm sure from Israel's perspective is, "This guy's going to actually put a number on the table. That I can't deal with."

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you. You mentioned Olmert, and so did George Mitchell, the former prime minister of Israel. And he did give quite a wide-ranging offer to the Palestinians. And at that time, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, did not step up and take it. And he was still prime minister.

MILLER: You had different guys, different circumstances.

AMANPOUR: No, no, but he was -- yeah.

MILLER: But, look, Woody Allen -- it was Woody Allen who said 90 percent of life is just showing up. He's wrong; 90 percent of life is showing up at the right time. And the reality is, right now, with no peace process, no prospects of one, a Fatah-Hamas deal, the Arab world in a modified form of chaos and uncertainty, now is not the time to launch an initiative. And the president...

AMANPOUR: You mean the president?

MILLER: He got the worst of both worlds. He's annoyed the Israelis, clearly, and at the same time he sent a message to the Palestinians -- if I were a Palestinian sitting in Ramallah, you know what I would conclude? It's working. Our U.N. initiative has so frightened the administration that now the president took a position on borders. Maybe next week he'll say something on Jerusalem.

AMANPOUR: All right. Quickly, Jake, what does he have to do, do you think, to -- I don't know -- walk this back or not or...

TAPPER: Well, he's not going to walk it back.

AMANPOUR: ... move it forward?

TAPPER: But -- but there will be some, you know, low-level talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. That will continue at the quartet level. The envoys will talk about what next -- what's next. And then, obviously, they're going to try to fend off that vote in September at the U.N. But a big issue right now becomes, what is Fatah going to do about this alliance with Hamas, a terrorist group that has called for Israel's destruction? AMANPOUR: And you bring me to my next segue. We are going to ask King Abdullah of Jordan right after a break, so up next, a monarch of the Middle East answers the wake-up call for the Arab spring and discusses this Palestinian issue. I sit down with key U.S. ally King Abdullah of Jordan.

And then, Newt Gingrich's mea culpa tour. Damage control on the 2012 campaign trail, as sex scandals rock politics here and abroad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Those shouts of human dignity are being heard across the region. And through the moral force of nonviolence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: President Obama on Thursday in his first major speech on the uprisings in the Middle East. Israel, of course, though ate up most of the headlines here, but in many respects, the Arab uprising presents the White House with a more immediate and urgent set of policy questions.

The revolution is happening now. And my guest today is caught right in the middle. He is King Abdullah of Jordan, a key American ally and the author of a new book, "Our Last Best Chance: The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril."

I sat down with him earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: King Abdullah, thank you for joining us.

ABDULLAH: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: How do you describe what's going on? Is it a wake-up call for yourself and other world leaders in that region?

ABDULLAH: Definitely it's a wake-up call. And this is a new and definitely defining moment for the Middle East. Which way the Middle East goes, I hope, reaching out to the aspirations of the youth, this will be a good story when we look back on it years from now.

AMANPOUR: What is it that you are being asked to wake up to? And what can you do about it?

ABDULLAH: Well, there's two aspects to this. Obviously, when this was started in Tunis, was because of the world economic crisis, a large portion of youth in the Middle East that are suffering from economic hardships, that want a better life. So it was economic frustration and -- and desires that led, I think, to political awakening, that they want to be able to chart their own destiny.

AMANPOUR: The latest polls say about two-thirds, maybe even three-quarters of Jordanians want democracy. What are you as King Abdullah going to do to realize that dream?

ABDULLAH: From right at the beginning of -- of this, we brought all sectors of society together. We created what we called sort of the national dialogue to all sit around the table and decide what it is that Jordanians want. The committee has embarked on two laws, a new election law and new political party law, which is I think critical for the future of Jordan. We'll have new elections at the end of the year, and it will be the start of new democracy in our country.

AMANPOUR: In Jordan, 13 percent of the people polled say they have a positive view of the United States. Americans are concerned that a new democracy in your country and elsewhere could be an Islamist scary future. Do you feel that that is possible in Jordan?

ABDULLAH: Not in Jordan. It could be possible elsewhere. In my particular position, I have the responsibility to lead the debate in the right direction. And I think Jordan will move towards the light; I have no worries about Jordan.

I don't know how in other countries they're developing. And each country in the Middle East is different. You alluded to the United States not being very popular, but, again, we've got to remember, the reason I think for the most part where America is not popular is because its perceived lack of ability to move the Israeli-Palestinian process forward.

AMANPOUR: In your book, you're pretty relentless about criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Is he an obstacle to peace?

ABDULLAH: Well, in my discussions with him -- and they've been, I think, very thorough -- when he speaks to me, I see his vision of peace for the Palestinians, peace for the Arabs, and I've always left those meetings feeling very optimistic.

But unfortunately, the circumstances that we've seen on the ground for the past two years does not fill me with much -- much hope. I just have a feeling that we're going to be living with the status quo for 2011. And as you well know, whenever we -- we accept the status quo, we do so until there is another war. And so that is of tremendous concern to me.

AMANPOUR: Do you feel that there might be another war?

ABDULLAH: Well, if you look to the past 10 years, every two to two-and-a-half years there's either the intifada or a war or a conflict. So looking back over the past 12 years, my experience shows me that if we ignore the Israeli-Palestinian issue, something will burst.

AMANPOUR: Israel is saying that it cannot have peace talks with a group like Hamas, who they deem is terrorists. America, as well, deems Hamas to be a terrorist organization. And yet before everybody was saying we can't have peace talks because the Palestinians are divided. How to get beyond that?

ABDULLAH: Well, look, if I can play the devil's advocate here, I wish that our Israeli colleagues would, you know, pick one argument and bloody well stick to it, because, you know, the past couple of years, the Israelis were saying, well, you know, Abbas is not a partner for peace because he doesn't represent the Palestinian people. Therefore, we're not prepared to move forward.

Abbas has now made reconciliation with Hamas, does represent the Palestinian people, and the Israeli argument is, well, we can't deal with him because of Hamas. Abbas had been very clear that Hamas will not be part of the government. They will not have any role in the security apparatus in the West Bank, which is important for the United States, it's important for Jordan, because we worked tirelessly together to train the Palestinian security forces.

You know, Christiane, it's always easy to find an excuse why not to do the right thing. And if we continue along those lines, then we will never solve this problem. And at the end of the day, it's going to be the Arabs and Israelis who are going to pay the ultimate price. You have seen our region. For how many decades have we suffered from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? So we need leaders with courage to take the tough decisions and solve this once and for all.

AMANPOUR: Let's talk about some of the neighboring states. Syria is obviously in a pretty bad state right now. There's violent repression of people who want democracy. Many people thought that Bashar al-Assad was a reformer. Would you say he's a reformer?

ABDULLAH: Well, today he has a major challenge of, how do you reach out to the people and bring them in on the table? That hasn't happened in Syria. And I think to turn things around and bring common stability, dialogue, national reconciliation, outreach is the only way that you can do so.

AMANPOUR: Is Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, in charge?

ABDULLAH: I've talked to him on several occasions to see what Jordan can do to bring stability and, obviously, calm to Syria. And from my discussions with him and from what I hear, he is in charge, yes, and he is calling the shots.

I think Bashar needs to reach out to the people and get people around the table. I learned from his late Majesty King Hussein...

AMANPOUR: Your father.

ABDULLAH: ... my father, is to keep as close to the people as possible. And on a weekly basis, I go out and visit different sectors of society. I sit down with people from all walks of life. And we discuss all the issues that are relevant to them.

AMANPOUR: The queen, Queen Rania, has been rather viciously attacked in Jordan. In your book, you write that you have an equal partnership. Why is she being attacked? And are there any merits to the grounds that there have been land grabs that she's organized for her family or other corruptions?

ABDULLAH: Everything that I've heard is absolutely ludicrous and very sad, when many, many Jordanians know what she has done for women, for children, not only in Jordan, but across the region and further afield. I think we're in an atmosphere where anybody that wants to look at destabilizing Jordan and having a go at me, looking at a weaker link. And having a go at Rania I think has been very, very sad for all of us that people would stoop to that level.

AMANPOUR: Does she have any powers to pick certain ministers or civil servants or anybody?

ABDULLAH: She has never, ever gotten involved in the government. Her mandate, if there is any, has always been education, education, education. And I'm hoping that our society will wake up to this and put a stop to this, because it's become so destructive in Jordan, not just Rania. Many, many people have been accused by people that just feel that they can get away with it.

AMANPOUR: Your majesty, thank you very much, indeed.

ABDULLAH: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: And up next, big changes in the Republican presidential field. Trump is officially out. Pawlenty is almost officially in. And Newt Gingrich is struggling to stay afloat. Who has what it takes to win the nomination? Answers from our roundtable when we return.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): You're an embarrassment to our party.

GINGRICH: I'm sorry you feel that way.

(UNKNOWN): Why don't you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?

GINGRICH: I'm sorry you feel that way.

(UNKNOWN): Feel the rainbow, Newt. Stop the hate. Stop anti- gay politics, dividing our country and not fixing our economy.

GINGRICH: Nice to live -- nice to live in a free country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Scenes from a very bad week. Newt Gingrich is on an apology tour, trying to explain why he denounced Paul Ryan's budget plan as, quote, "right-wing social engineering." Will the candidate be able to turn the page?

Let's now bring in our roundtable, ABC's George Will, Matthew Dowd, former campaign strategist for George W. Bush, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and ABC senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl.

Welcome to you all. But first, the breaking news. Governor Mitch Daniels has said in a midnight e-mail that he is not going to throw his hat into the ring. And you spoke to him, George, last night. What did he say?

WILL: I did. He's a friend of mine and of my wife, and he called to say this. He made an immensely civilized decision. It's an old axiom. It's the late David Broder's rule, that anyone who will do what you have to do to become president shouldn't be allowed to be president.

We have now had three top -- potentially top-tier candidates, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, and Mike Huckabee saying, "I'd rather not." And that's not a moral failing. You have duties to your country, you have duties to your family. All that said, this caps an excellent week for one person, and that's Tim Pawlenty. Huckabee out puts in play the evangelical Christian vote, which is almost half the vote in Republican primaries. So Tim Pawlenty is well positioned.

AMANPOUR: Well, we'll get to that, but I just want some of the back story. What do you think went into the Mitch Daniels' decision? I mean, he said his family. But is it because his wife didn't want to do it?

KARL: Yeah, this was certainly a personal decision. Daniels was getting urged by everybody to get in this. And up until just a few days ago, George, top Republicans in this town were thinking that he was going to go and were pushing very hard, saying, "You have to do this. You are the candidate." You know, he becomes the default anti- Mitt Romney candidate, the establishment choice, and I totally agree. Now is Tim Pawlenty's moment. And what timing, he announces tomorrow.

AMANPOUR: Did he say that about his wife?

WILL: He did not. He -- he talked about his entire family, which means his children. He has four daughters.

DOWD: Well, you know, to me this is indicative that these candidates are making more news not running than running. At a time, actually, when the president is as vulnerable as any president has been going into a re-elect in recent memories. His numbers are in the high 40s. He is immensely beatable right now.

And all of these credible candidates are not running. It reminds me, right, a little bit of the "Seinfeld" show where it's -- like right now, the Republican nomination is about nothing right now, with all these candidates coming in and out, Huntsman. But I think it's really indicative of a Republican field not quite knowing where to go with this.

AMANPOUR: Good news for your side?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, I think it's good news for the Republican Party, because they clearly have to figure out who will be their standard bearer? A year from now, we may not know the Republican nominee because of the nominating process, which will force these candidates to compete in one of the four early states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina Nevada. They have to come in first. They don't have to win all four.

But then you go -- you get to a situation where it's in proportional representation. They're winner-take-all in the month of April. It will be drawn out. And because there's no front-runner right now, it means that the Republicans will have to compete against each other for the next year or so. That will give President Obama enough what I call leg room to go out there and fix this economy, which will put him in a better position to win re-election.

DOWD: And I think one of the things that you're going to see is there's been some surprises of people not getting in. I think many people, as Jonathan said and George said, thought Mitch Daniels was going to run. He seemed like the right candidate, governor from the Midwest.

AMANPOUR: And people were sort of holding their powder back, right, waiting for that.

DOWD: So surprises -- surprises of not running. I think what you're going to see in the next four or five months are of surprising candidates who are going to get in who are not mentioned right now.

AMANPOUR: For instance?

DOWD: I actually think that Governor Perry in Texas is probably going to reconsider. It seems it will be a good moment for a guy that's very popular among Tea Party, he's very states-righty, very anti-federal government, can raise a ton of money. I think Governor Christie in New Jersey is going to be pushed to reconsider this. I think there's going to be some surprising entries into this race.

AMANPOUR: You think so, too?

KARL: You're clearly seeing a push now, with -- and throw Jeb Bush in there. I mean, they've all said no, but there will be a push for them to get in. But, remember, we've seen this before. Wes Clark got in, in September. Fred Thompson got in, in September. It is very hard, no matter how big a name you are, to get in that late in the game.

WILL: I think, Donna, you may be wrong about this. I know the Republicans have strung out their calendar in the hopes that no one will run the table and you'll get a better test, but I don't really think that might happen. You might have an early coalescence, because you're now down to so few people, get down to two people in February and settle it in March.

BRAZILE: Well, you know, Herman Cain -- Herman Cain, who just announced yesterday that he's running, he could come in second, like Huckabee, and become the flavor of the month come March. But then again, if you don't have an establishment candidate, George, then the Republicans may have to go the entire distance, and that may not produce a real...

(CROSSTALK)

WILL: Donna, there is no Republican establishment. It died before the Herald Tribune did in New York in 1966.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Let's talk about who we know is, and one of them is Newt Gingrich. He has spent the whole week, as we've said, trying to dig himself out of this hole that he established last Sunday. Has he done it? Or has he not? Let's play this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GINGRICH: So let me say, on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly, those words were inaccurate and unfortunate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: OK, so everybody here has collapsed in giggles.

DOWD: Well, I think what many people forget is we -- he hasn't been in the public eye, really, in 13 years. And if people reflect back at the time he wasn't blasted in the public eye really consistently, these days he's been in bits and pieces. He says some commentary on a show and then he's off. But this is the first time in 13 years he's been in the public eye. It's very much a reminder of how he used to be 13 years ago.

AMANPOUR: Is he the great hope for the party? And does he -- has his mea culpa done the trick?

WILL: Newt Gingrich? No, I said last week right here that he was not a serious candidate, and he went out and spent the week vindicating me. No, it's over. He may not know it, but that candidacy died in its first week.

AMANPOUR: All right.

BRAZILE: He blew himself up last week.

AMANPOUR: And certainly, the White House loves it. We've seen this Twitter from Dan Pfeiffer in which he back then said the biggest takeaway from the Gingrich flap, ending Medicare as we know it is the new GOP litmus test. Do you think that's what it's going to boil down to on this -- on this run?

KARL: Not necessarily. We've only seen one of the potential Republican candidates fully embrace the Ryan Medicare plan. That's Jon Huntsman, the candidate that in all other categories would seem to be the moderate candidate in the race, so I'm not sure.

You know, we're going to have this special election on Tuesday in the 26th District of New York. Watch this election, because this is a solidly Republican district. Carl Paladino beat Andrew Cuomo in this district. And now the latest poll actually has the Democratic candidate winning. This will be seen in some quarters as a referendum on the Ryan Medicare plan. It's not exactly fair. It's not a fair thing, because there is a Tea Party candidate in this race.

WILL: There's something to watch. Here's someone to watch. Watch Senator DeMint of South Carolina. He's as close as the Republican Party has to a kingmaker. He supported -- in all important South Carolina last time, he supported Mitt Romney. This time, he has said, I would never consider re-supporting Mitt Romney unless he admits that what he did in Massachusetts in health care was a, quote, "colossal mistake." Now, he has -- instead of doing that, he has doubled down on that. So the fact that he raised impressively $10 million in one day... AMANPOUR: Which he did. It was sort of like a shot across the bow this week.

WILL: Which he did. That's right. And if money settled everything, Meg Whitman would be governor of California. Money doesn't determine everything.

AMANPOUR: What about then -- you mentioned Jon Huntsman. You've spoken to Jon Huntsman.

WILL: I have.

AMANPOUR: What about that? I mean, also, George Stephanopoulos spoke to him. Let's just run a little bit about what he said about his positions to George this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: For a lot of Republican primary voters, the number-one question is, does he have a chance? He worked for Obama. What's the answer?

HUNTSMAN: I worked for the president of the United States. The president asked me, the president of all the people. And during a time of war, during a time of economic difficulty for our country, if I'm asked by my president to serve, I'll stand up and do it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you'd do it again?

HUNTSMAN: I'd do it again, of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Will that be enough to win over the skeptics?

DOWD: To me, this is his biggest problem, his biggest vulnerability. Even Roger Clemens went from the Red Sox and went to Canada for two years before he went to the Yankees. This guy is going directly from working for Barack Obama and trying to run for president against Barack Obama. At a time when the Republican Party wants passion and wants the vilification of the president, he is a moderate voice. I think it's going to be very, very difficult...

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: ... percent of the -- the caucusgoers in Iowa are moderate Republicans, and somebody is going to have to get that vote. He may not win the Republican nomination, but he will have staying power.

WILL: He's not even going to Iowa, because he says...

KARL: He's skipping Iowa, yeah.

WILL: ... in fact, I detest subsidies, which means he doesn't worship at the church of ethanol, and therefore, he's not even going to...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: ... from the Bush family. He's got an audience -- so there must be some who are hoping to put their money behind him.

KARL: Look, there is definitely space in this race for a moderate candidate. There's money out there for a moderate candidates (inaudible) there are glowing editorials to be written about the moderate candidate, and there's also a chance to come in fourth or fifth in the race. I mean, there really isn't a path to victory as the moderate, especially not this time.

BRAZILE: Look, he's flip-flopped on health care. He has a Romney problem on health care. He's flip-flopped on climate change. I mean, the problem with Huntsman is that he's going to have to, like Romney, run against himself for a couple of weeks.

DOWD: Yeah, he's an impressive guy. He's just running at the wrong time in the wrong party.

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: ... speaking roles? He had a speaking role, a prominent one, in the convention in 2008. Do you remember what it was?

WILL: Yes.

KARL: What was it?

WILL: Nominating Sarah Palin.

KARL: Nominating Sarah Palin, who he called a "beacon for our party," "a beacon of light for our party."

BRAZILE: And we haven't event talked about her today.

WILL: The adjective to describe today's Republican Party -- and particularly the nominating electorate -- is hot. He is cool-hand Huntsman. He is low-key, moderate. He appeals to all those people who say he'd be the ideal candidate if only Republicans weren't so very Republican.

AMANPOUR: Let's switch topics, similar politics, but we're going to add sex in and potentially abuse of power here. The former governor of California has admitted to fathering a child while he was married. The public, though, knew some of these issues. They were brought up. They seem to be voting anyway. Will this, do you think, make a difference now that this scandal is coming out in public tolerance for these kinds of affairs?

DOWD: Well, to me -- to me -- and, first of all, I'm -- I worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I am very good friends with Maria Shriver.

AMANPOUR: As many of us here are. DOWD: Yeah, and we obviously -- our hearts go out to her and her family in this time, and her children, especially her children, who are suffering through this. These -- all of these scandals this week are not really about sex. This is not sex scandals, and it's not really a scandal about infidelity, which the public, I think, is generally forgiving about. Things happen in people's lives and all that.

These scandals, I think, are related in that they're not about that. They're not about sex. They're about power. They're about control. They're about humiliation.

If you look at the specifics of this, it's not really, as I say, a sex scandal. It is a scandal about, really, corruption at a really personal level, in my view.

BRAZILE: There's arrogance of power, but there's also sex, and it's also abuse of authority at a time when the public is calling on, you know, politicians to restrain spending and also telling politicians to really set a better example for the country.

AMANPOUR: And on that note, thank you very much indeed. And we're going to take a sharper look at the Schwarzenegger scandal and also at the sexual assault indictment of the former head of the International Monetary Fund. When these -- what do these cases reveal about men and women, sex and politics? All of that is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAWYER: Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger making a public admission...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff more than 10 years ago.

(UNKNOWN): The disgraced former head of the IMF, who is now out of jail...

(UNKNOWN): ... an alleged sex attack on a hotel maid here in New York City.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Extraordinary falls from grace for two larger-than- life politicians this week, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, both involved in sordid scandals. When it comes to sex and politics, very little shocks us these days, it seems, but these stories have struck a chord, and we want to sort out the implications.

ABC's Cokie Roberts and her husband, journalist Steve Roberts, joins us. And joining us from Paris, Elaine Sciolino of the New York Times. Her book is called "La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life."

Thank you all for joining me.

I want to start by saying, obviously, these are two very different issues. One is an alleged crime; the other is a full-blown sex scandal. So on the alleged crime, Elaine, I want to go to you first, because you've written this week that this is France's Anita Hill moment. What do you mean by that?

SCIOLINO: Anita Hill challenged Clarence Thomas when he was up to become a Supreme Court justice back in 1991. She claimed that he had sexually harassed her. He was confirmed, but the episode opened up a discussion in the United States. Sexual harassment laws were expanded, and there were new laws of conduct that were imposed in the workplace.

The same thing is happening in France. This is a moment in which all French -- I mean, everybody from the commerca (ph), the merchant in the store, to the top politicians, are saying, is this the way we should be behaving? Is this a moment of truth for us, consciousness raising? Should we indeed think about changing our own rules?

AMANPOUR: Well, that's interesting, because everything that we've heard over the last week is that the French were pretty much up in arms about seeing him, the famous perp walk, saying that he was victim of a conspiracy plot. So have they changed the dialogue then?

SCIOLINO: There is an evolution day by day. This is why I don't trust any polls on this subject. The first reaction was defiance, disbelief, shock. It can't possibly be that this man we knew could have been guilty of such a crime, sort of like the first stage of grief.

Then came incredible anger when the French saw him in handcuffs publicly, which is against French law, and even worse, when he appeared in a court of law unshaven and, quelle horreur, without a tie.

Finally, as few of the details have started to come out, more details, there is a questioning of, you know, where are we? Was a crime committed? Was this a consensual act? What does crossing the line mean in France? Should we be thinking about what is normal flirtation in the workplace and what is sexual harassment? And when does sexual harassment become a crime and, in this case, potentially a violent crime?

AMANPOUR: So, Cokie and Steve, you've also written this week that, in fact, the Dominique Strauss-Kahn situation here has implications for the United States, as well.

C. ROBERTS: Well, I -- one of the things that Elaine's point is so well taken on is that we really did change after Anita Hill, and it made a difference in terms of electing women to office, all of that.

And one of the things that we have been way too slow to change on, but finally slightly getting there, is listening to women when they make these complaints. And the fact that this fancy French hotel paid attention to a chamber maid instead of the powerful Frenchman is really a change that is very, very welcome.

AMANPOUR: And yet in the article, and as we know, through all sorts of investigations, this does continue a lot in Peace Corps, in the military, everywhere.

S. ROBERTS: You're right. There have been a number of American institutions very slow to respond in the way that Cokie's talking about. Peace Corps, over a thousand complaints of rape, that women have been subjected to. And one women said the treatment by the Peace Corps was worse than the rape, because they were so disbelieving and so critical in the way they handled it. Military even worse. So, yes, I agree completely.

AMANPOUR: Let me move over to Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is a scandal, a sex scandal. But the point here is that there were people who wrote about some of his past history. He apologized in general before being elected governor, but he was nonetheless elected. And one of the reporters who did a lot of investigation said, but, look, we put this out there and you elected him anyway. So does it make a difference?

S. ROBERTS: Well, it happened -- you know, it's very interesting, because what happened was the Los Angeles Times did a big investigation of him when he was running for governor. And they tried very hard to make sure they knew what they were talking about, and they got affidavits from a number of women who swore that he had harassed them. On the eve of the election, it didn't make much difference, you're right. But he, in some ways, I think a lot of people said, well, that was Hollywood behavior. It was not political behavior. I think there's a different standard in terms of someone who wants the public trust.

C. ROBERTS: Also, it's just -- look, it's just different to have her be pregnant at the same time as his wife is pregnant, to be in the house -- I mean, Steven would be dead. You know, he would not be living here right now. You would not be interviewing him. He would be in the -- in the grave.

AMANPOUR: But even Newt Gingrich, who's had affairs and several marriages, is a legitimate candidate. So my question is, does it matter in today's political social culture?

C. ROBERTS: Well, different voters -- different voters have different responses to this. And some say, you know, what they do in their private lives doesn't matter. To me, it is a question of character. And when you're talking about president of the United States, every single thing about that person matters.

S. ROBERTS: And, look, what's happened with Newt Gingrich is that, when you run for president, even someone as experienced as Newt Gingrich, you have no idea how white-hot the intensity of scrutiny gets. And things that were accepted, things that were OK, things he said, things he did as a commentator on Fox, fine. You run for president, different standard. And I do think it will matter in his campaign. AMANPOUR: All right. Thank you very much, Steve and Cokie Roberts, Elaine Sciolino from Paris. Thank you so much for joining us.

And up next, "In Memoriam" and the Sunday funnies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: And now, "In Memoriam."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAVAGE: Oh, yeah, dig it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: We remember all of those who died in war this week. The Pentagon released the names of nine soldiers and Marines killed in Afghanistan.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: And now the Sunday funnies. No shortage of material this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEYERS: Donald Trump insisted Monday that if he had stayed in the race, he would have won the primary and the general election. Pretty bold when you consider the fact that he's not even winning his time slot.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: Well, at a book signing in Minnesota, a gay rights activist dumped glitter all over Newt Gingrich. He wants Newt to stop being against gay marriage. But Newt is consistent in his position. He believes marriage is a sacred bond between a man, a woman, his mistress, and the other woman he's seeing on the side. That's all...

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: Now, it's not just male politicians that do this, though. Plenty of examples of female politicians taking advantage, too. For example...

(LAUGHTER)

All right. Men are pigs.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP) AMANPOUR: And that's it for our program today. For all of us here, thank you for watching. And you can follow me all week on Twitter and at abcnews.com, and be sure to watch "World News with David Muir" later tonight. We'll see you again next week.

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