A rush transcript of "This week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday morning, December 8 2013 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to This Week. A monumental man.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Nelson Mandela. Revolutionary, prisoner, president and prophet.
NELSON MANDELA, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. Let your greatness blossom.
STEPHANOPOULOS: This morning, how he transformed our world. The lessons for our politics today. And a look back at his remarkable interview with Ted Koppel just days after leaving prison.
MANDELA: To stand there 27 years at the prime of your life is a tragedy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Then, from Wendy's to the White House, America debates inequality, growth and fairness. We tackle it here with two key senators, plus James Carville and Mary Matalin join our powerhouse roundtable, right here this Sunday morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. In South Africa today, preparations for the most massive memorial service in memory. Pope Francis, four American presidents, the Dalai Lama, dozens of world leaders will be there Tuesday to remember a giant of our time. And this morning, we're going to reflect on Nelson Mandela's legacy, his impact on America's politics, with several who knew him well and worked with him closely. First, let's go to ABC chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran just outside Mandela's former home in Soweto. Good morning, Terry. I see the rain has just started all around you.
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. Right now, the rain has just opened up on this scene here, but it has not dampened the spirits here in Soweto, just up the street as you say, from Nelson Mandela's home. They call it the humble Mount Vernon of South Africa. A remarkable national celebration right across South Africa, the passing of the great man, a scene marked in song and pride and smiles, not tears or sorrow. Today, Sunday, a national day of prayer and reconciliation. We were at the Regina Mundi (ph) church here in Soweto that was a center of resistance and sanctuary during the apartheid era. There and in houses of worship across South Africa, prayers lifted up for Nelson Mandela in English, in Afrikaans, in Zulu, in Xhosa, in Tswana, in all the many tongues of this truly rainbow nation. And he was really the one who kept them together and gave them the opportunity to begin again with his courage and compassion and his remarkable capacity for forgiveness.
The Nelson Mandela family issued a statement on their behalf. They're if mourning, of course. And they said "we have lost a great man, a son of the soil whose greatness in our family was in the simplicity of his nature."
STEPHANOPOULOS: Terry, walk us through what is going to happen the rest of the week there in South Africa?
MORAN: Well, Tuesday is the big day, George, that is when President Obama and the other presidents and potentates and princes will come here to South Africa and join 90,000 South Africans in the FNB stadium, that was s the last place that the public saw Nelson Mandela at the 2010 World Cup.
He was there. And he will be there in spirit as the country says its farewell to him.
There will then be three days in which his body will lie in state so that people can come pay a personal tribute to him. And then on Sunday, he will be flown about 700 miles home to Qunu in the (inaudible) sky, his ancestral village where he will be laid to rest.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Terry, thanks very much.
And with that, let's take a closer look at Mandela's long and complicated history of the United States. He had a deep impact on our politics long before setting foot on our soil. Here's ABC's chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and how Mandela prodded, consoled, scolded and inspired American presidents.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Nelson Mandela loomed large in America long before he was freed from prison.
Inspiring a mass movement against racism and intolerance.
CROWD: Apartheid, no. We want freedom. Yes.
KARL: But Mandela's relationship with U.S. presidents has been far more complicated. When he was locked up in 1962, the U.S. government was silent.
In 1966, Bobby Kennedy went to South Africa and took a stand against racism, giving the greatest speech he ever delivered.
BOBBY KENNEDY: Each time a man stands up for an ideal, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.
KARL: But from LBJ to Nixon and even Jimmy Carter, South Africa's apartheid government was actually a U.S. ally in the Cold War. As the anti-apartheid movement grew, a young college student named Barack Obama was inspired by Mandela to give his very first political speech. The man in the White House then said no to sanctions against South Africa, insisting they wouldn't work. But congress defied Ronald Reagan and imposed sanctions any way. And Reagan took his own stand against apartheid by appointing America's first black ambassador to South Africa.
RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nelson Mandela should be released to participate in the country's political process.
KARL: Four years later, Mandela was finally free, greeted as a hero in his first visit to America, warmly welcomed at the White House.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Mandela, a man who embodies the hopes of millions.
KARL: It was Bill Clinton with whom Nelson Mandela would develop the closest bond. Mandela, now president of South Africa, visited the White House during the darkest days of the Clinton Presidency and he gave his friend a boost.
NELSON MANDELA, FRM. PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA: ...our morality does not allow us to desert our friends.
KARL: A friendship Clinton treasures to this day.
BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STEAD: We just hit it off. And I just adored him. And he was always, you know, he was a true friend.
KARL: Mandela, as an ex-president, met with George W. Bush in 2005, but there with us no love lost there. Mandela was one of Bush's harshest critics when it came to Iraq. When we talked to Bush about the ailing Mandela earlier this year, there were no hard feelings.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He promoted freedom and was really great leader. He was smart and capable and made his mark.
KARL: Obama only met Mandela once, and ever so briefly as a junior senator, but his connection may be the most profound. It was Mandela, he says, who awakened him to the wider world, inspiring him to political activism.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He gave me a sense of what human beings can do when guided by their hopes, not by their fierce.
KARL: In other words, there might not be a President Obama if it weren't for Nelson Mandela.
For "This Week," Jonathan Karl, ABC News, Washington.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are lucky now to be joined by four individuals who had a unique working relationships with Mandela. His biographer, Bill Keller who is also the New York Times bureau chief in South Africa. Dr. Gay McDougall, human rights lawyer, who campaigned for his release from prison, counseled him during the drafting of the South African constitution, Stan Greenberg, Mandela's pollster and strategist during his campaign for president and ambassador Jendayi Frazer who served in South Africa under President George W. Bush.
Thanks to all of you for being here.
And Bill, let me begin with you. We ended that piece on the relationship between President Obama and President Mandela. Of course they share something very, very important. But they are also very different in important ways as politicians.
BILL KELLER, NEW YORK TIMES: They are. It's -- was noteworthy in that earlier segment that the president that Mandela felt closest to was Bill Clinton because they have more in common than Mandela and Obama.
And one of the things that Mandela had was a joy in the robust give and take of politics, the schmoozing, the deal making, the stage craft, the theater absolutely, you know, whereas Obama is more cerebral and doesn't seem to enjoy going up and shaking hands and doing favors.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And speaking of the political theater, I think we have the video now of you were with Mandela on that day he cast that vote for president, waved that ballot. He knew what that meant to his people. It was such a triumphant day. But you were were also working with him during all that grunt work of creating a constitution. He knew that that the white minority had to be free from fear and had to believe that their rights would be protected.
GAY MCDOUGALL, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: Oh, absolutely. I mean, first of all let me say that it's (inaudible) that to say I counseled him on the constitution, but rather I was able to set up a global network of lawyers that did backup research for the negotiators at the -- at the table across from the government.
But, I think it's important to say that Mandela was the one who knew and was always aware of his place in history. And I think that he came out of jail knowing his place in history. He led that nation through a tumultuous runup to the elections, knowing where he was going and being a very steady hand and voice of reason through what was a very turbulent time in the runup to the election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Voice of reason, Stan Greenberg. Of course you worked with him during his election, but for a man who became known for the power of forgiveness and reconciliation, as a politician he also had something of a ruthless streak.
STAN GREENBERG, CEO, GREENBERG QUINLAN ROSNER RESEARCH: Absolutely. He had clear goals. And one of the things that ran through was the desire to make sure there was racially inclusive politics. But there were strong stands within the ANC in South Africa and Africa that was centered on black consciousness. And he was intent on having an election with a mandate that reduced their role. So he focused on, as you know, the Pan-African congress, which was you know polling 2 percent or 3 percent of the poll. But historically, they played a very big role in Africa and in the liberation struggle. And he wanted to use the election to send a message about this was going to be inclusive country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Jendayi Frazer, talking about his relationship with people who he didn't necessarily get along with. We know F.W. de Klerk, they shared a Nobel Peace Prize even though they didn't share a lot of much of a personal relationship.
You were served as ambassador under President George W. Bush. We saw in Jon Karl's piece there. Of course, Nelson Mandela fierce critic of President Bush on the war in Iraq and the invasion of Iraq. But he was also determined to try to maintain something of a personal relationship there.
JENDAYI FRAZER, FRM. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH AFRICA: Well, actually, President Mandela, just as fierce as he was a critic of the war in Iraq, was as supportive of the war in Afghanistan.
If you recall, in 2001 which is when he first met President George W. Bush as president in the Oval Office, he came out of the Oval Office and actually forcefully endorsed America going into Afghanistan, just as forcibly in 2003 he was against America going into Iraq...
But, in fact, in 2005, when they met again at the Oval Office it was to reconcile the issue of how personal the criticism in Iraq had taken, and, in fact, to look at where they had mutual interests, for instance, in addressing HIV and AIDS, supporting peace processes in Central Africa, the Democrat Republican of the Congo and in Burundi.
And so I think that President Mandela actually was able to reach across the aisle, as such. He -- he reached across to his political opponents. And so there were many areas where they shared interests and other areas where they diverged.
The same was true, frankly, of Bill Clinton. I was at the NSC as director for Bill Clinton. And they did not agree on the Middle East piece process and the role of Hamas and the role of Arafat and the role -- you know. And so those issues of the Palestinian order, Mandela was very critical of American policy across administrations on those issues.
And so I don't think that political difference necessarily affected personal relationships.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In some ways, Bill Keller, because he was such a practical man -- I was struck by a quote you had in your obituary of Nelson Mandela this week, where he was talking about what so many have remarked on, how he was able to appear free of hatred. And he said that hating clouds the mind, it gets in the way of strategy, leaders cannot afford to hate.
KELLER: Well, that's not an absence of hate on his part, it's a -- it's a surplus of discipline. He was the most disciplined politician I've ever seen. He -- he knew the difference between strategy and tactics. And, you know, there were times when you would see something bordering on loathing in his attitude towards de Klerk, in his attitude toward Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the head of the Inkatha Freedom Party. He didn't like those guys very much.
But he was able to swallow that, tamp it down, compartmentalize it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you say he notes the difference between strategy and tactics. Like Abraham Lincoln, he was willing to be very flexible on tactics in order to achieve that goal.
KELLER: Absolutely. In the case of his life he was a communist for a while, he was a capitalist, he was a advocate of non-violence, he was an advocate of armed struggle, he was whatever it took. But he never lost sight of the main goal, which was a South Africa that was run by South Africans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How does that play out in a candidate running a presidential campaign?
GREENBERG: Well, the -- he is, from the beginning, he wanted to learn. He -- like he knew -- he was very disciplined, but he was disciplined about learning. And so he would listen. He would go -- believe it or not, go through poll data for two hours for a presentation, go to a focus group, listen to people. He thought there had to be a popular sense of -- he had an obligation to bring the people with him. He had a very clear goal, but he had a sense of obligation to bring people with him, bring his own people to a certain place. He would lecture publicly. He would educate. He was the most educative candidate they ever had, who tried to move voters to a new place.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned the learning. And, Gay McDougall, you campaigned for him -- to release him from prison. He used that time in prison as a place to be educated, as well.
MCDOUGALL: Absolutely. I mean he used it to be educated and he educated all the other political prisoners who were with him. They often would talk about the University of Robben Island, where they spent their time studying political, you know, developments around the world, deciding who they, as a political party and as, you know, activists wanted to be, what their model of decision-making was to be.
So that when they finally emerged from that prison, they knew exactly the road that they wanted to travel.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Jendayi Frazer, he was also very conscious of his role as educator when he became president and after he left office, as well, and didn't often hide his disappointment in what was happening in South Africa and other African nations.
FRAZER: Yes, he certainly was. I think that President Mandela, what I took from him was the courage of his convictions. And so he was very clear when he did not agree. And he would do that both privately as well as publicly.
For instance, on the issue of HIV and AIDS, he certainly took to task Thabo Mbeki for not actually responding adequately to that challenge.
And so we do see that President Mandela was very clear about where he wanted more action.
On the United States, when he met with President Bush in 2005, he took us to task for still having South Africans labeled as terrorists and needing a waiver to get into our country. That was not removed until 2008, basically, by an act of Congress and signing into law by President Bush.
But clearly, he said to us, how can you still, you know, designate ANC senior leadership as terrorists when apartheid was a crime against humanity?
You know, so -- and he was very public about that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It was a life that contained so much.
Thank you all very much.
When we come back, the economy is coming back, but so many Americans are still left behind. We'll take on the debate over inequality and fair wages with two key senators.
Plus, James Carville and Mary Matalin join our powerhouse roundtable.
And we have a once in a lifetime interview with Nelson Mandela from our archives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. NELSON MANDELA, SOUTH AFRICA: They were very harsh. And then I responded to my colleagues that, look, we must fight them right from the beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: His secrets to survival in our Sunday spotlight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Believe it or not, Congress may be reaching a budget deal with relative ease.
And the battle ahead over the living wage.
That's next with two senator leaders and our powerhouse roundtable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was the scene Thursday as workers staged walk-outs at fast food restaurants in 130 American cities.
It came on the heels of President Obama's new push to put economic inequality at the center of our politics and just ahead of this week's surprisingly encouraging news from the job front and Congress.
ABC's Jeff Zeleny covers it all.
JEFF ZELENY, ABC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The feeling of economic unease.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're actually on public assistance.
And guess what?
We don't want to be on public assistance.
ZELENY: Growing across the country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep your burgers, keep your fries.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Make our wages super sized.
ZELENY: President Obama capitalizing on the sentiment in changing the subject from health care.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know that people's frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles.
ZELENY: Saying income inequality is one of the nation's greatest threats.
OBAMA: It's rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them.
ZELENY: As the economy rebounds...
DIANE SAWYER, ABC ANCHOR: Last month, 203,000 new jobs were created.
ZELENY: -- fears still run deep. More than six in 10 American workers say they're afraid of losing their jobs and have been left out of the recovery.
Ricky Grimes is a trash collector in rural Virginia.
RICKY GRIMES, TRASH COLLECTOR: I'm still making the same paycheck I made when I was 19 years old and I'm getting ready to be 34. And everything in the world has went up in price, but my pay stays the same.
ZELENY: How much government can or should help the Grimes family and others is at the heart of budget talks. From deep proposed food stamp cuts in the farm bill to extending unemployment benefits expiring for 1.3 million workers.
Lawmakers are now zeroing in on a modest, yet significant budget deal. With approval ratings at record lows and Congress still bruised from this fall's government shutdown, Washington may be more inclined to act.
For THIS WEEK, Jeff Zeleny, ABC News, Washington.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And let's get more on that now with the number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and from Ohio, Republican Senator Rob Portman, a member of the committee crafting that budget.
You know, Senator Portman, let me begin with you.
You serve on that committee.
Is a deal going to get done this week and can you guarantee no government shutdown?
PORTMAN: George, I certainly hope so. And I think there is an obvious solution here. It was just alluded to, which is the fact that we can shift some of the savings from the part of the budget that Congress appropriates ever year to the part of the budget, the two-thirds of the budget that is called mandatory spending, keep the budget caps in place, not raise taxes, which is important during this weak economy, and actually avoid a government shutdown.
So I'm hopeful that even by the end of this week we'll be able to come together and achieve that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the sticking points is going to be, of course, that extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.
Senator Durbin, the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, is saying there's no deal without having those benefits extended.
Are Democrats united on that, no extension, no deal?
DURBIN: No, I don't think we've reached that point where we've said this is it, take it or leave it.
What I hear from Patty Murray -- I spoke to her the other night -- negotiations are making progress, moving in the right direction. They haven't closed the deal.
But I certainly hope as part of it, that the negotiators will take to heart what the president had to say.
There are working families across America that are struggling. There are unemployed families who need a helping hand.
We've got to protect and preserve the safety net in America and give these working families a fighting chance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Portman, can the Republicans live with that?
Can you get an extension if it's paid for?
PORTMAN: Yes. It's about $25 billion that no one was talking about, George, until the last week. So it's an additional cost within this budget agreement. I think the thought always was that it would be handled separately.
So I'm glad to hear my colleague, Dick Durbin, say that that's not necessarily a sticking point in this, because I think there are different ways to look at it.
But, look, the key is that we not have another government shutdown, that we do keep the spending caps in place, that we don't raise taxes at a time when the economy is still weak.
And I think we can accomplish that over the next couple of days.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Gentlemen, I have to say, it sounds like the spirit of Nelson Mandela is taking hold. This is a very (INAUDIBLE) discussion this morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It sounds like we're going reach...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- a deal this week.
Let me turn on to something that might be a little bit more contentious and that is this fight over the rate -- whether or not to raise the minimum wage.
We saw those pretests this week in more than 100 American cities calling for a living wage.
And Senator Durbin, let me begin with you.
We know that there is deep divisions on this in the Congress right now. If it's unlikely that you're going to see a major increase in the minimum wage right now in this Congress, should companies like McDonald's, headquartered in your own state, do more on their own?
DURBIN: Yes. And I'll tell you, George, you can remember, because you were on Capitol Hill, there was a time when raising the minimum wage was a bipartisan issue. And we did it regularly to protect those hardworking Americans who couldn't keep up with the expenses of life.
Now it's become a partisan issue.
The same could be said when it comes to food stamps. Think about all the people working now with wages so low that they qualify for a helping hand to put food on the table.
That was the number one thing on the agenda of House Republicans agenda to cut dramatically.
We've got to have a bipartisan consensus that people who go to work every day and want to go to work every day get a helping hand so that they don't have to live paycheck to paycheck.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about that, Senator Portman?
You can't raise a family on the minimum wage. That's for sure. You can't even get above the poverty line for a family of two.
Why not raise it?
PORTMAN: Well, because of the big concern about jobs. Dick's right. In the past, some of us have voted to raise the minimum wage and I think Republicans as a whole agree, there ought to be a minimum wage and it ought to be fair.
But we're very concerned about jobs. That's the key right now, how do you get people to work?
If you want to deal with income inequality, the number one way to do it is to get people to work.
That's what all the statistics show.
About 2 percent of Americans get paid the minimum wage. Of that group, by the way, less than .3 of 1 percent of Americans are both under poverty -- under the line of poverty and on minimum wage.
So it's a lot of young people. About 50 percent of them are between 16 and 24 years old. For a lot of them, it's a part-time job.
So what you don't want to do is raise the minimum wage to the point that you're actually losing jobs.
By the way, a lot of people have expressed this concern who might surprise you. Christina Romer, the former head of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Obama, has raised this concern.
I went to a burger place this past week, George. And there was a digital display to be able to buy a hamburger. And there was nobody behind the counter except the cashier. And you go into these fast food places now, often there's a drink dispenser, so you have one fewer person.
So that's the concern. If you raise the minimum wage too high, you're going to have not more jobs, but fewer jobs, and fewer opportunities, particularly for these young people, because, again, about half the people who get the minimum wage are between 16 and 24.
So I think the Republicans want to look at this through the context of how do you get this economy moving?
How do you increase the jobs?
And despite what you said earlier about the jobs numbers last month, the job picture is still terrible. And we've got a situation now where...
STEPHANOPOULOS: The long-term unemployment certainly is.
PORTMAN: -- people are leaving the workforce.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Durbin, what about those arguments that we just heard from Senator Portman?
You know, some of those protests this week calling for a $15 an hour living wage. Even if you don't believe there's a significant economic impact to the lower number, $15 an hour, that likely is going to cost jobs.
DURBIN: George, let me remind you that when you go back to the beginning of the law creating a minimum wage in America, under President Franklin Roosevelt 80 years ago, exactly the same argument that my colleague from Ohio just made was made against it.
Every time we've tried to raise the standard of living for hardworking people at the low end of the income scale, they've said oh, my goodness, you're just going to kill off jobs.
The facts and statistics do not back it up.
Here's what we've got to really accept. It isn't just the minimum wage. It's making sure, through the Affordable Care Act, that working Americans have access to affordable health insurance, which the other party, I'm afraid, is totally opposed to. And they should be for it.
It's the Earned Income Tax Credit that was created under President Ronald Reagan, a Republican. We've got to make sure that that keeps up with the needs of working Americans.
This used to be a bipartisan consensus. We've got to get back to that day or the working folks across America are going to fall further and further behind.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it seems like we might get a bipartisanship consensus this week...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- on a short short-term budget deal, but on the -- on some of these deeper issues, a lot of debate.
I'm afraid that's all we have time for this morning.
Senators, thank you both very much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to turn to the roundtable right now.
We're joined by ABC's Matthew Dowd, Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson, and the dueling strategists, James Carville and Mary Matalin.
Thank you all for baking here this morning.
Matthew, let me begin with you.
We just heard the senators there and it was kind of interesting. It does seem like, on both sides, you have a real, real deep desire to avoid any kind of government shutdown any time soon.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC CORRESPONDENT: Well, when a disaster happens, you're in the aftermath of a disaster, which happened this summer when nobody won and everybody lost in the middle of it, from President Obama to Congress to everybody, they understand they can't go through this again and they understand the country can't go through this again.
My fear is that we're going to again have a temporary fix that will get through it, which would be better than not doing it, but we're not going to have any long-term fix for the problem that we associate with Washington.
And you still have the general public out there that doesn't trust anybody in Washington, DC.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They're not trusting anybody right now, Mary Matalin. And, you know, you saw those senators who believe something will get done.
Still some resistance among some Republicans, particularly in the House, to any kind of accommodation now to the Democrats on spending.
Are you confident that a deal in the Senate will get through the House?
MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The reason that the House is where they are, positioned where they are, is because half of them have been elected in the last two cycles, where spending has been a huge issue for Americans.
Real Americans understand we cannot continue spending at the rates that we are.
So I don't -- I don't know. But Matthew is right in that this is no fix. This is just one step ahead of the sheriff. And that's why the trust factor is so low. And it -- it doesn't comport with reality. The shutdown did not hurt the economy, if these numbers are to be believed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Surprisingly, yeah.
MATALIN: No. And it doesn't really hurt politicians in the larger sense. People just -- it's like, all the other packages and sequesters and all that, people just have -- they just don't trust Washington, it all looks like a lot of nonsense to them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A fair amount of good economic news out there this week, James.
CARVILLE: Pretty good. I mean, it has gotten better. You know doubt about it, Democrats took a big hit after the health care rollout, but I think the combination of improving economic numbers and improving statistics on the health care thing might lead to a little better result, but we don't know that right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Meanwhile, Michael Eric Dyson, we saw this against the backdrop of these protests, pretty remarkable, probably the most extensive protests we've seen on the issue of economic inequality in quite some time. I guess one of the questions I have is, do you think -- what do you think this is going to lead to in the end? You saw a lot of that resistance in the congress.
DYSON: Well, look, it's already changed the atmosphere in Washington, D.C. when President Barack Obama gives a major speech on income inequality. People on the left have been nipping at his heels for awhile to say, hey, speak about us. All politicians on the left and right have been speaking about the middle class, but they haven't talk about the working poor. And the working poor are the faces we see out there. The working poor go to work every day. They work 40, 50, 60 hours a week, they can barely make it above the poverty level. And when they do, they have got two or three jobs and then they have a choice, kind of Sophie's choice in the urban area where, or even rural areas, where it's either my child in terms of education and I go to -- get the report card, or I stay at work, because if I miss to go to the school, then I'll miss -- lose one of my jobs.
So I think it's a kind of triage going on there. And I think the bleeding out has lead even to the president of the United States of America to finally and substantively address the kind of social inequities that we won't be able to sustain. We can't even talk about job growth or what happens with terms of keeping up with inflation if we don't deal with the people who at the bottom.
DOWD: I think Michael touches on a really -- a good point in this. It's the dynamic we see now. We have a GDP go up 3.6 percent, everybody cheers. We have a job number that everybody that says we have wealth being accumulated by the top 5 percent in bigger numbers than ever before. We have more millionaires and billionaires than ever before. But 70 percent of the country believes were off on the wrong track with all those positive numbers. And the poverty level today is higher than it's ever been. It's back to where it was before the Great Society came in.
And I think that dynamic, whatever you define it as, economic inequality, with economic mobility, whatever the heck it is a building brewing pot in this country where the wealthiest people in this country are doing absolutely fabulous in certain pockets of this country when the vast majority of the country are not. And they haven't been doing well for a generation.
MATALIN: Can I, please, 7 percent unemployment, the new normal. If the labor force participation rate were really calculated in there were was what it was in the pre-recession, we would be somewhere between 9 percent and 11 percent of unemployment. This is the worse recovery in almost seven decades. The duration of unemployment. These are not -- this is the new normal is not a good...
STEPHANOPOULOS: but those are not incompatible. I guess one of the questions I have is how does the Republican Party get ahead of this, Mary? It seems like if you look at what happened in the last presidential campaign, Mitt Romney, maybe stylistically it was very difficult for him to address this. But won't the party have to have a more populist feel to be success the next time around?
MATALIN: Populist? It has to be common sense and it has to be full-throated. The biggest challenge of our time is not income inequality, it is job creation, which the president's signature issues, domestic, starting with the Affordable Health Care, have reduced unemployment.
Do you think people who are unemployed or making low wages care more about -- they don't have a job than how much you're making or any of us are making? I don't think so. I mean, that does not grow the economy.
DYSON: Well, look, I think that's a false dichotomy in this sense, it's not that poor people are not trying to quibble over who is getting the bigger piece of the pie, the point is that they understand that those two things are related. They're not unrelated.
So, if you have income inequality that hard where the stagnation of wages is the basis for the accumulation of wealth of those who have got a whole bunch, then look, the pie is shrinking for those at the bottom. And it's not a question of their envy of those at the top, it's about can I get enough day care to help me out?
MATALIN: How is that shrinking, professor, with all due respect? Are you saying that as people make wealth, then poor people get poorer? How does that work?
DYSON: No, no, no. I'm saying to you that the distribution mechanisms in government that get -- allow wealth to trickle upward and not downward create a chasm between the have gots and the have nots, which is what President Obama...
CARVILLE: Can I just make one draw dropping point, this week it came out, a UC Berkeley study, golden study, said one-third of all bank tellers are on public assistance. This is bank tellers. These are people that a level of skill, is actually something I did one time in my life.
Why don't we pass a law to say if you were bailed out or you get free money from the fed or your deposits are insured or you're too big to fail, if the government backs you to that extent and you're that profitable industry, you have to pay people a living wage. Why can't -- why do we have one-third of our bank tellers in this country -- it's not that finance is not making a lot of money. That's not the question at all. materials in the country.
DOWD: And George and the politics of this -- and you asked a question, what should the Republicans do in this. I think the Democrats and the Republicans are trapped in an old mantra and an old status quo. That Republicans refuse in many ways to take on Wall Street in a direct way. They would be so much benefited if they adopted some of Elizabeth Warren's message, adopted some of her message say the big corporations, the big banks on Wall Street have taken us down this path took us along with a Washington isn't fixing the problems.
Democrats, on the other hand, many of them have an anti-Wall Street, anti-big bank, anti-big corporation, but they're stuck in a mantra that the government needs to solve this problem. If somebody came along and said I'm going to bridge this and it's about Washington isn't doing the job, Wall Street isn't doing the job, we need to go back to middle America.
MATALIN: And you know who is doing that, is the Tea Party and Ted Cruz and the Republicans...
DOWD: No, I absolutely...
MATALIN: We're just going to disagree on this...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let her say how Ted Cruz -- how the Tea Party is doing it, then respond.
MATALIN: On the continual of Cruz and Rand, I know you don't like his Detroit project, but it's better than another bailout. They are proposing exactly what you're saying.
DOWD: No, they don't have a collective solution. They say let's return it all to the individuals. They don't have -- what we need a collective solution to the problem that's not based in Washington.
DYSON: See, when you say it's not a government, it hasn't been caused by government, I disagree. Look, when you talk about unemployment, it may be going up to 7, 8, 9 percent if we adjust it. Look at what happens in Latino and African-American communities where the unemployment now in the raw numbers is like 15.5, which means closer to 20.
So if the government project of keeping people out of business -- when you talk about a disproportionate number of black and Latino people working in the public sector, when you have an attack on the public sector, fireman, teachers and the like, police people, you are talking about people who have had an opportunity to have a job because of the practices of discrimination in the private sector.
We can't depend on the private sector itself to adjust for its own bias when it's prevented people from flourishing..
STEPHANOPOULOS: This is a debate with Democrats and Republicans. James, there's also a debate going on inside the Democratic Party right now, Elizabeth Warren and a lot of her fellow Republicans fear that Hillary Clinton and others will be too close to the big banks.
CARVILLE: Well, there was a third way think back and forth and that's always been a thing in the Democratic Party. We have had the kind of Wall Street Democrats and the more populist Democrats.
I think that the party is sort of moving away.
But I'm going to give credit to Wall Street, because Wall Street gave the most succinct analysis of what is going on in the country and it was give by none other than Lloyd Blankfein who is the CEO of Goldman Sachs who said we know how to create wealth, we just don't know how to distribute it.
And the truth of the matter is is that is as we have this conversation is, absolutely right. It's not a lack of wealth creation, it's a lack of people that are sharing in the benefits in this country. That's why the minimum wage, bank tellers and all these things.
DOWD: 2 percent of the country has benefited in the last 20 years.
MATALIN: ...the claptrap. One thing you can say about Elizabeth Warren is that she's a full-throated, proud, loud liberal, unlike the president tries to dress up his rhetoric. She is -- she is saying what a liberal agenda would look like, which has never worked. It is more...
DYSON: But it's also common sense, because Elizabeth Warren also asked when she attacked in that op ed. She just said, look, tell me, be transparent. Tell me who is bank-rolling you. What banks are in bed with what think tanks.
DOWD: Elizabeth Warren is right that the Wall Street has accumulated most of the wealth in this country while the rest of the country has not benefited from it. She is absolutely...
CARVILLE: Do we think that unregulated financial capitalism has worked brilliantly? I don't think that a single person in the world would say that.
MATALIN: ...unregulated, unfettered capitalist...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on a second, guys. We only have a couple of minutes left. And before we go, I do want to get your reflections on Nelson Mandela.
Michael Erik Dyson, I know you met him. And so many American political activists really cut their teeth fighting for Nelson Mandela.
DYSON: No question. I'm of the same generation as President Obama and taking a stand against apartheid both in the university community and more broadly in terms of dealing with the disinvestment strategies. Also challenging Ronald Reagan's constructive engagement approach. I think conservatives get a little bit of amnesia here when they forget that Dick Cheney wanted to put him on the terrorist list and insisted he stay there that Ronald Reagan resisted -- he said on the one hand Nelson Mandela should be released, but he depended upon a white supremacist government to reform itself from within.
I think Nelson Mandela challenged that.
Also, though, he challenged people on the left as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Mary?
MATALIN: When will you ever get tired of beating up on Darth Vader, who said Nelson Mandela is a good man?
As we've seen in your earlier segment, it was a complicated situation. The ANC was a terrorist organization at one point. He has since said wonderful things about Nelson Mandela.
What I want to say about Nelson Mandela is it -- I -- it's not -- I like that his -- what's been said about him was said in the same way that the pope said what he did, is forgiveness and redemption. The pope's widely misinterpreted and mischaracterized statements.
But it's -- it's active engagement. It's taking care of each other...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, Mary, you know...
MATALIN: -- in a solidar -- and with solidarity and sincerity (ph).
DYSON: But look, when you say about excusing Darth Vader, so to speak, this is not just about rhetoric. This is about public policy that prevented the flourishing of ANC.
And, look, when they had their feet on the neck of Nelson Mandela...
DYSON: -- and many of the black...
DOWD: Look, the greatest thing about (INAUDIBLE), I think Nelson Mandela was here, he said let's forgive, let's forgive Dick Cheney. Let's forgive people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
DOWD: Let's move on.
That's what he would say.
But I think one of the fascinating things about Nelson Mandela, he wasn't a saint. He made a lot of mistakes. He we was -- he readily admitted it. When he was asked about that, he said I'm not a saint, unless you think a saint is a sinner who gets up and tries again every time.
DOWD: Here's a guy that, for all of that frailties, was immensely one individual helped change an entire country and a world in what he said. And it was done through acts of humility like the pope has done, authentic acts of humility.
DYSON: And it was not just...
DYSON: -- pope about...
CARVILLE: And I think that one of the great things about my life is I got to live at the same time he did. You know, I think he's almost -- and if you look at -- like Christ, he was everything you said. He was -- he was forgiving. He was flawed. He was everything that a human being is and everything that a great human being is.
So we should embrace all of it.
But more than that, he spent 20, what, seven years in jail, am I right about that?
CARVILLE: And you forgive your jailers, that's a pretty -- that -- that's reading the New Testament somewhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walking the walk.
MATALIN: Walking the walk.
DYSON: It's forgiveness and justice at the same time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is going to have to be the last word.
Thank you all very much.
Coming up, when Nelson Mandela walked out of prison after 27 years, Ted Koppel was there.
That historic interview is our Sunday Spotlight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we will be right back with a piece of history -- Ted Koppel one-on-one with Nelson Mandela right after his release from Robben Island.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FEBRUARY 11, 1990)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, here is David Brinkley.
DAVID BRINKLEY, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: And here's a live picture from the town square in Cape Town, South Africa. Nelson Mandela, who has been out of prison for only a few hours, has arrived here to find a huge crowd.
NELSON MANDELA: I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was the moment back in 1990 when Nelson Mandela left Robben Island a free man.
Just four days later, he sat down with Ted Koppel to reflect on those 27 years behind bars and the road ahead for South Africa.
But the one time boxer wanted to start somewhere else -- with Buster Douglas' stunning upset knockout of heavyweight champ, Mike Tyson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "NIGHTLINE," FEBRUARY 15, 1990)
TED KOPPEL, HOST: I think the last topic in the world that people expect to hear Nelson Mandela talking about, boxing.
KOPPEL: You were surprised by the fight the other night, huh, with Tyson?
MANDELA: Yes. I was very much surprised. I took it for granted that he would win.
KOPPEL: So did he.
KOPPEL: Did you ever think of turning pro, turning professional?
MANDELA: No, I never did.
KOPPEL: But you were a good -- you were a good boxer?
MANDELA: Well, I do not know. That is for others to say.
KOPPEL: When you were in prison, did you -- did you keep up?
Did you keep up...
MANDELA: No, not with boxing.
KOPPEL: Boxing at all?
MANDELA: No. (INAUDIBLE) skipping (INAUDIBLE) and weight lifting.
KOPPEL: Was it difficult to keep in shape?
I mean they -- they didn't give you very good food, certainly not in the beginning?
MANDELA: Yes. No, it really was not difficult because the diet that they gave us, although it was bad and sometime very unpalatable, but they did give you the basics of nutritious food, like fish, meat and vegetables, and sometimes fruits, during the fruit season.
KOPPEL: There were also, from what I understand, differences in terms of the way that people of different races in the prison were treated.
KOPPEL: And there was an effort -- and I don't know if you initiated it or if someone else initiated it -- to create as much equity among the prisoners as possible.
Tell me about that, would you?
MANDELA: That was one of our principal fights.
KOPPEL: Tell me about that, would you?
MANDELA: Coloreds and Indians received better food than ourselves. And the Africans had the poorest diet, as you would imagine. In fact, we live on mieliepap in the morning, mielis for lunch and mieliepap in the evening.
KOPPEL: What is mieliepap? Can you explain it to Americans?
MANDELA: Well, it's milelie ground and cooked.
KOPPEL: Like a porridge?
MANDELA: Like porridge, you see, yes.
KOPPEL: To someone who has no idea what Robben Island is like, do you remember the first day or the first night when you were taken there?
MANDELA: Oh, yes. Although I'm very reluctant to talk about that because I was directly involved and we had a clash with the warden between the searchers from Cape Town and the across the sea to Robben Island, they wanted us to rush. And they lined us up over four of us. I was at the back with another convict and there were two others in front. And they were very harsh.
And then I whispered to my colleagues, that look, we must fight right from the beginning. They must have known what type of men we are right from the beginning. And we must not give the impression that they can issue instructions as to which conflict with our principles.
If they're carrying out the regulations, we will obey that, but where they overstep the limit, we must fight and resist.
KOPPEL: Were you ever put in isolation?
MANDELA: Oh yes, several times.
KOPPEL: How is isolation?
MANDELA: Isolation was very difficult, especially because they starved you for some days. And I went to isolation several times. Although I was sent to isolation with the order that I should forfeit some meals, but I was able to get meals, because the warders did not want to conform to the regulations and who did everything to make it possible for us in order to survive.
KOPPEL: One of those warders, and I forget his name, you will know immediately, was, in effect, your jailer for 27 years. You remember his name?
MANDELA: Oh, yes.
KOPPEL: Yes, that was Warrant Office Gregory.
He became a close friend of yours?
MANDELA: Oh, no. He is a first-class gentleman in every respect. He never raises his voice. He's patient. He's very calm. I became very friendly with. In fact, when I left prison, I think he was on the point of breaking down, because we were now closing a friendship under those circumstances, which had lasted for so long.
KOPPEL: What about you?
MANDELA: Well, I did feel not happy about leaving him behind. And -- but there was nothing else I could do.
KOPPEL: Will you stay in touch with him?
MANDELA: Yes. Yes, certainly. Certainly I will do so.
KOPPEL: One of the most extraordinary things about your imprisonment and many of the others, is that you were not isolated. Even at the times even when they wanted to keep you isolated, you still knew what was going on in the outside world. How?
MANDELA: Well, it's very difficult in prison to isolate prisoners, especially political prisoners, because where there are human beings, and where men fight back for their rights and for their dignity, there will immediately be people who will admire you. And that admiration will be shown by specific acts, which shows that people think that your state is correct.
The first isolation, punishment, which I got was when I was given a newspaper by warder. And he had been doing this over some time. But one day, the authorities must have got a tip and they came to my cell and raided and found the paper. And they sent me to isolation for that for punishment.
KOPPEL: Most people would look at the last 27 years of your life or at the life of someone who has spent the past 27 years in prison, and say to themselves, what a waste. What about you?
MANDELA: That is true. To spend 27 years at the prime of your life is a tragedy. And -- I regret, you know, those years that I have wasted in prison. But -- there are very positive as aspects, too. Because I had the opportunity to think about problems and to reflect on my mistakes. I also had the opportunity of reading very widely and especially biographies. And I could see what men, sometimes from very humble beginnings, were able to lift themselves with their boot strings and become international figures and men who were useful to society in their own community and to the world.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So few get as high as Nelson Mandela. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is welcome news from Afghanistan today. For the second week if a row, the Pentagon did not announce any deaths of service members overseas.
That is all for us today. Thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Check out "World News" with David Muir tonight. I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."
Take a look at the scene outside Nelson Mandela's home in South Africa today.