'This Week' Transcript 10-8-23: Secretary Antony Blinken, Rep. Ken Buck, Rep. Pete Aguilar & Former Governor Chris Christie
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, October 8.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, October 8, 2023 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive
ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: Shocking attack. Hamas militants launch a surprise assault on Israel.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States stands with Israel.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Israel declares war.
NAFTALI BENNETT, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: We're going to fight back and we're going to win.
STEPHANOPOULOS: James Longman is on the scene in Israel.
Plus, the U.S. response with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Chaos in Congress.
REP. STEVE WOMACK (R-AK): The office of speaker of the House is hereby declared vacant.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Kevin McCarthy ousted.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): The conservative agenda was being paralyzed.
REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): These eight individuals torpedoed the conference.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Can the party unite behind another leader?
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): We need to resolve our differences inside this House chamber.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I think I'm better – better equipped to unite the conference.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll get the latest from Rachel Scott on Capitol Hill, plus Republican Congressman Ken Buck and Democrat Pete Aguilar.
PAELE KIAKONA, LAHAINA FIRE SURVIVOR: While the ashes may have settled, our hearts still ache.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Two months after the west Maui fires, Mola Lenghi reports on the return of tourists, and the Lahaina residents pushing back.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK.
All-out war has broken out in the Middle East and all signs now point to a long and bloody war. It began with a surprise attack from Hamas. Nearly 50 years to the day that Israeli was shocked by a surprise attack from Egypt and Syria that launched the Yom Kippur War. It came by land, sea, and air, with paragliders, speedboats, motorcycles and rockets. Hundreds have been killed. Hostages have been taken. It's being called a 9/11 moment for Israel. And Prime Minister Netanyahu’s promises that Israel will retaliate with a might and scale the enemy has not yet known.
Overnight, Israel launched air attacks on Gaza. Tanks are rolling towards the border. The shockwaves are spreading across the region and the world. Foreign correspondent James Longman starts us off from Tel Aviv.
Good morning, James.
JAMES LONGMAN, ABC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, George.
I'm at a strike site in central Tel Aviv. You can see this building, entirely destroyed. The cleanup operation has started. Cars all along the street completely destroyed as well. This just does not happen in an area like this. People are in shock. They should be enjoying their weekend. Instead, this is a country at war because the fighting is continuing in six locations along the border with Gaza where Hamas militants infiltrated into Israeli territory. The images are truly shocking, taking people by surprise, killing them on the spot where they found them.
We now understand at least 500 Israelis have been killed and as many as 2,000 injured. Hostage situations are also ongoing both here in Israel and in the Gaza Strip. Hamas says they've taken dozens of hostages, men, women, children, and the elderly. And that is going to further complicate Israel's response. Yes, we've seen air strikes overnight, as many as 250 Palestinians dead, but will Israel send in ground troops? We've seen them amassing on the border with Gaza.
And what will that do to the region? We've already heard this morning of an altercation between Hezbollah and Israel from Lebanon. And so there is deep concern about regional security.
But make no mistake, this is the beginning of Israel's wider response.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, James, you talk about the shock right there. Some even calling this worse than the attack in 1973, the start of the Yom Kippur War.
LONGMAN: Yes, George, it's extraordinary. I mean I've been to this country already this year, just four times, for various different terrorist attacks and incidents. There's a level of – of kind of resolution that Israelis have come sadly to expect, terror incidents in their country.
This is completely different. Shock, sadness, complete desperation, really, seeing the image of these women and elderly people being transported on motorbikes and in cars over into Gaza. They want a resolution quickly, but that doesn't happen overnight anywhere in this region and certainly won't in this situation. George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, James Longman, thanks very much.
Let's bring in our military analyst, Steve Ganyard.
Steve, the big question, how could this happen? What a massive intelligence failure.
COL. STEVE GANYARD (RET.), FORMER MARINE CORPS FIGHTER PILOT: Yes, and, George, there's a saying, complacency kills. And certainly complacency was part of this huge intelligence failure.
But there's also a deeper systemic failures that the Israelis will have to figure out. The '73 war was the only other war that -- where they had this sort of failure. But the ’73 war was very different. It was nation states, Israel, Egypt, and it was force on force. This is Hamas and Hamas working in small groups using personal, encrypted communications, infiltrating into Israel. So, very different kind of failure, but a failure that is inexcusable nonetheless.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We've only seen the beginning so far of the Israeli response. All but certain to go into Gaza with ground forces?
GANYARD: Yes. Netanyahu's going to have to go into Gaza. But
STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ve only seen the beginning so far of the Israeli response. All but certain to go into Gaza with ground forces?
COL. STEVE GANYARD (RET.), ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Netanyahu is going to have to go into Gaza. But Hamas knew this and so Hamas has likely beefed up its internal defenses because urban warfare is particularly horrible. Think about Fallujah or Bakhmut or even when Israel went into Beirut. It's very, very difficult. And so this phase one will be much less bloody. The phase two, when Israel has to go into Gaza, will be much bloodier for Israel.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Steve, what makes that even more complicated, it appears that that Israeli hostages are being held inside Gaza right now. And, of course, Israel hasn't wanted to go into Gaza for more than a decade because it's so difficult to control.
GANYARD: Exactly. So Netanyahu has some very difficult choices to make. Does he go all the way into Gaza and retake all of Gaza, very bloody, very long, very expensive, or does he go in, do something punitive? So, very tough choices here. None of them are good.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Meantime, we know that the United States has been trying to broker a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Is that dead?
GANYARD: It is dead for now. But this the brilliant on -- it's diabolical, but it's brilliant on Iran’s part. They used Hamas as its proxy. So, they go in knowing that the Israel and U.S. and Saudi Arabian talks are going well. Those are intended to show a united front against Iran. Iran uses its proxy of Hamas to derail those talks, knowing that only Hamas will pay the price.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Steve Ganyard, thanks very much.
Let’s turn now to the secretary of state, Antony Blinken.
Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us this morning.
I know you’ve been working through the day, through the weekend. What is the United States doing right now? What comes next?
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, George, first to put this in perspective, and as some of your correspondents just said, this is the worst attack on Israel since 1973, the Yom Kippur War, almost exactly 50 years ago. But there’s a fundamental difference, that was a war that was state to state, country to country, army to army. This is a massive terrorist attack that is gunning down Israeli civilians in their towns, in their homes, and as we’ve seen so graphically, literally dragging people across the – the border with Gaza, including a Holocaust survivor in a wheelchair, women and children. So, you can imagine the impact this is having throughout Israel. And the world should be revolted at what it’s seen.
We have immediately engaged our Israeli partners and – and allies. President Biden was on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu early yesterday to assure him of our full support. I was on the phone with the Israeli president, the foreign minister. The entire government has been engaged throughout the region and well beyond, both to build support for Israel and to make sure that every country was using whatever means it has, whatever influence it has, to pull Hamas back and also to make sure that we don’t see conflict erupt in other areas. The president sent a very clear message that no one should try to take advantage of this elsewhere.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you explain this intelligence failure, especially – especially on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War?
BLINKEN: George, there will be time to – to look at that and to make determinations about what may have been missed. And right now the focus has to be on the effort to get – to repel the aggression by the Hamas terrorists to – to push them back and to put Israel in a position where this doesn’t happen again.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But there are implications to the United States, as well, of course. We rely on Israeli intelligence, don’t we?
BLINKEN: We have a very close relationship with Israeli intelligence, as well as with the Israeli military, as well as with Israel more broadly. So, yes, of course, this is something that they and we will be looking at. But the effort right now has to be in dealing with the aggression from – from Hamas with these attacks.
There remains intense fighting around Gaza. We continue to see that. The rest of the country right now seems to be calmer. But the intensity of the fighting is real and we had about 1,000 Hamas militants who infiltrated Israel. Most of them seem to have either been killed or have gone back into – into Gaza. But as I said, intense fighting remains.
So that’s the focus. And the focus is also on taking steps to make sure, to the best of their ability for Israel, that this doesn’t repeat itself.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Can Israel control Gaza if they go in?
BLINKEN: Look, I don’t want to get ahead of what Israel may or may not do when it comes to Gaza. What – what they need to be able to control, one way or another, is, as I said, putting in place measures so that this doesn’t happen again. No country should be expected to live with the – the fear, the – the possibility and now the actuality of terrorists crossing a border, coming into people’s homes, gunning them down in the street, dragging them across the border, and making hostages of them. That is intolerable for any democracy. It’s intolerable for Israel. And one way or another, they are going to have to take steps to make sure that to the best of their ability this doesn’t repeat itself.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As I discussed with Steve Ganyard, the U.S. had been making progress in these negotiations with Saudi Arabia and Israel. What happens to that now?
BLINKEN: George, it’s no surprise that those opposed to the efforts to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, and more broadly to normalize Israel’s relations with countries throughout the region and beyond, who opposes it, Hezbollah, Hamas, and -- and Iran.
So, to the extent that this was designed to try to derail the efforts that were being made, that speaks volumes. Right now, the focus is on dealing with this attack, dealing with Hamas. And we’ll come to the -- the normalization efforts, which, by the way, are incredibly difficult when it comes to Saudi Arabia and Israel. Lots of hard issues to work through.
But, if we could get there, that would significantly advance stability in the region. It would offer so many greater prospects for people in all of these countries. And there are basically two paths that are before the region right now. One is the path of -- of normalization, of integration, of people working together.
And, by the way, in that and on that path it’s not a substitute for resolving the differences between Israelis and Palestinians. On the contrary, it needs to be used to advance that effort as well. But that’s one path.
The other path is what we’ve seen from Hamas -- terrorism, horror and something that offers not only nothing to people throughout the region, it offers nothing to the Palestinians. On the contrary, everything that Hamas does makes their situation, their plight even worse. They bring nothing but death and destruction, not only to Israelis, but to Palestinians.
So, the facts are clear, we know which path we want to follow. We’re determined to do that. But right now, the focus has to be on helping Israel as it defends itself against this terrorist attack.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does dealing with Hamas mean dealing with Iran? Was Iran behind this?
BLINKEN: So, there’s a long relationship between Iran and -- and Hamas. In fact, Hamas wouldn’t be Hamas without the support that it’s gotten over many years from Iran. We haven’t yet seen direct evidence that Iran was behind this particular attack are involved, but the -- the support over many years is clear.
It’s one of the reasons that over the last couple of years, we have been resolutely working against Iran's support for terrorism, for destabilizing actions in other countries. We’ve sanctioned more than 400 Iranian individuals and entities precisely for the kind of support that they’ve offered Hamas in the past. And it’s something that we remain extremely vigilant about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, many in the GOP are laying blame on the Biden administration in the wake of that recent deal to unfreeze Iranian assets that were unfrozen for humanitarian purposes in return for the release of those American hostages.
Here’s what Steve Scalise, one of the candidates for speaker, put out yesterday: The Biden administration must be held accountable for its appeasement of these Hamas terrorists, including handing over billions of dollars to them and their Iranian backers.
BLINKEN: Well, look, I'm not going to comment on -- on specific comments. But, as usual (ph), I can -- I can say this, it’s unfortunate that some are in effect saying things that maybe motivated by politics at a time when so many lives have been lost and Israel remains under attack. And the facts are these, and should be well known.
This involved Iranian resources, not American taxpayer dollars. These were resources that Iran had acquired from the sale of its oil that was stuck in a bank -- in this case, in South Korea. They have always been entitled to use those funds under our law and under those -- our sanctions for humanitarian purposes, and the funds were moved from one bank to another to facilitate that.
By the way, not a single dollar from that account has actually been spent to date. And in any event is very carefully and closely regulated by the Treasury Department to make sure that it’s only used for food, for medicine, for medical equipment.
So, some who are advancing this false narrative, they’re either misinformed, or they’re misinforming. And either way, it’s wrong.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are we in for a long war?
BLINKEN: The challenge for Israel and the challenge for all who support Israel and oppose horrific acts of terrorism is again to take measures that provide for accountability for that’s happened and also to do our best to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. And that is likely to take some time. And it’s fraught with very difficult decisions for the Israelis to make.
I don’t want to speculate, get ahead, get into -- get into hypotheticals, but the -- this is our 24-hours or so into this. As I said, there remains intense fighting in the Gaza area. And the focus has to be on helping Israel recover the territory that has been taken briefly by Hamas, protecting its citizens and taking whatever measures are necessary to avoid this repeating itself.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Secretary, thanks for your time this morning.
BLINKEN: Thanks, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get a GOP response now from presidential candidate Chris Christie.
Chris, thanks for joining us this morning.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If you were in the Oval Office right now, what would you be doing?
CHRISTIE: Look, what I would be doing is making sure, one, that Israel has everything that it needs to be able to take whatever actions it needs to take. And this is the problem with not having a speaker right now, George, and – and the actions taken by some members of my party were wholly irresponsible without this going on. They're now even putting a brighter light on the irresponsibility of not having someone in place. But first make sure they have everything that they need.
Second, to be talking to our allies in the region and trying to make sure that this doesn't escalate. You've got to be talking to the Saudis, and to Emiratis and to others to make sure Jordanians that we keep things in -- contained in that area. And -- and three, then, speaking to the prime minister, Netanyahu, and – and making sure that you're a sounding board for him to think through the ramifications of every step they're going to take to defend themselves, and to try to do the best they can to eliminate the leadership of Hamas that has made the decision to do something as horrific as what was done this week.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned the GOP dysfunction in the House right now, getting rid of Speaker McCarthy. I want to talk about that. But first, your campaign.
You’ve been the most openly critical of Donald Trump. But nothing you or the other candidates are doing seems to be putting a dent in his lead. And he seems to be calling all the shots in the Republican Party right now, including in that House speaker situation.
CHRISTIE: Well, look, you know, I think that this is the problem. There's always been -- when you look at it though, George, it's a very small element of the members of the House who made this happen. You had eight members who made it happen. And I don't know what Donald Trump's influence was or wasn't over them. But in the end, those eight members are the ones who were responsible.
On the larger question, look. I think there is progress being made in places like New Hampshire for certain against Donald Trump. And there's been polling that's indicated that in the last week or so. This is going to take some time. It's patience and persistence to put forward the message that he cannot win a general election. He doesn't deserve to be the nominee of this party based upon his conduct in office, and his conduct after office. And, you know, I'm making that argument all over the country, but particularly in New Hampshire and South Carolina. And I'm hearing people respond to it. But we're not going to see it show up in polls until much later, I suspect, if not as late as election night.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it going to show up in polls as long as he's not in the debates, as long as he has this stranglehold over the Republican base? You even see these House Republicans saying that maybe they want him to be speaker, even though by their own rules someone who's indicted can't be speaker.
CHRISTIE: Right. But that’s why it’s so – so – it’s sophistry, George. This is them doing what they know Donald Trump likes, which is kiss his rear end in public. And if you do that, then he says nice things about you, even if what you’re saying is not – is demonstrably untrue, right? So, that's part of the problem with all this.
But you talk about the stranglehold. It manifests itself this week with the RNC when Vivek Ramaswamy and I wanted to have a one-on-one conversation on another network where we would have gotten 45 minutes of airtime to talk about really important issues and the RNC prevented us from doing it because they don't want to have more pressure put on Donald Trump or anybody else to be speaking out. More information is better than less. And by trying to restrict how much we can interact with each other, just only on those debate stages, I think it's a mistake for the party near term and long term to do that. And I expressed my – expressed that to Ronna McDaniel when we had our conversation earlier this week.
But let me be clear, George, she made it clear to me, if I did that joint conversation with Ramaswamy, I would be banned from any future debates that are sponsored by the RNC.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re seeing all the – all the consequences play out. We don’t know how long it’s going to take to find a new speaker of the House. By the way, do you have a favorite candidate?
CHRISTIE: Look, I don't have a favorite. I don't know Jim Jordan well at all, so I can't really speak to him expect for what I see publicly. I know Steve Scalise and I like Steve Scalise, and I respect him. But I'm not going to weigh into a speaker fight and endorse somebody, but my point is, I know Steve. I think Steve’s a responsible, good guy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, if – if this continues to go and Donald Trump does get the nomination, you said he can't win. Any doubt about that?
CHRISTIE: None in my mind, George. And, look, in – at some point I do believe, to get back to your other question, that he’s going to show up at the debates. I think it will happen at some point. I think when it gets narrower. But the RNC is trying to -- trying to kick people off the stage too. They increased the number of donors you need by 40 percent between debate two and debate three. And – and, you know, let the voters make these decisions, George. Let's not have, you know, $1 donors be making these decisions.
But speaking of them, go to chrischristie.com. Be a $1 donor and I'll stay on the stage. But the point is, the debate needs to be had, and Donald Trump needs to engage in the debate. If he doesn't, he'sdisrespectful to the people of our party and the country. And we're not going to know what we're buying in this version of Donald Trump. I want to force him on that stage and challenge him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris Christie, thanks very much.
CHRISTIE: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Round table's coming up. Plus, House Republicans are looking for a new speaker this week after ousting Kevin McCarthy. We'll speak with key members of both parties, next.
REP. JIM JORDAN, (R) OHIO & CHAIR OF HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You need someone who can unite the conference and, I think, just as importantly, unite the conservative and Republican movement across this country. That's what I think I can do. That's why I'm running for the job.
REP. STEVE SCALISE, (R) LOUISIANA & HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: The reason I've been able to build such a strong base of support over these last few days, that's been growing, is that I've got a long, proven record as somebody who knows how to unify Republicans to fight on the battles that matter for the families who gave us this majority.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, vying become House speaker after the GOP took down Kevin McCarthy, just nine months after electing him. The party is divided, Congress at a standstill, and the first votes on finding a new speaker come this week.
Senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott is tracking it all.
RACHEL SCOTT, ABC SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a moment never seen before in American history.
(UNKNOWN): The yeas are 216. The nays are 210.
SCOTT: The House voting to remove its speaker.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R) CALIFORNIA & FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I fought for what I believe in, and I believe in this country of America.
SCOTT: Five days after a handful of rebel Republicans turned against Kevin McCarthy for working with Democrats, the House is speakerless, the chamber now paralyzed.
REP. KEN BUCK, (R) COLORADO: We've got find someone; we've got to coalesce around that person; we've got to get some work done.
SCOTT: But Republicans don't appear to be any closer to coalescing around one candidate to become the next speaker.
REP. TIM BURCHETT, (R) TENNESSEE: Our bench is very deep. There's a lot of people that could -- could serve very well in that position.
SCOTT: Two Republicans are officially vying for votes, but so far no clear front-runner has emerged.
One contender, the House majority leader, Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
SCALISE: I'm having a lot of really good conversations about how we keep -- keep focusing on the things we need to do to get our country back on track.
SCOTT: But there are major questions about his health. Six years after being shot and seriously wounded at a congressional baseball practice, Scalise is now undergoing aggressive treatment for blood cancer. He is a known survivor, and insists he's ready to take the gavel.
SCALISE: My doctors, weeks ago, looked and said, "It's going phenomenally well. You're ready to go back to work and get in the fight."
You know, if the doctors didn't sign off, I would be doing this.
SCOTT: Scalise's main competition, Jim Jordan of Ohio, the combative chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Jordan is one of the Republicans leading the impeachment inquiry into President Biden, and he's the founder of the far-right House Freedom Caucus that often caused headaches for McCarthy.
JORDAN: I think the key is to unite the conference. I've had a lot of people reach out to us, asking me to do it, because they think we can.
SCOTT: He's running with the support of former President Donald Trump, but that may not be enough to push him across the finish line. Trump also endorsed McCarthy, and it still took 15 rounds for him to beelected as speaker -- a drawn out battle that many Republicans are hoping to avoid.
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): We need to sort this out in the next few days, certainly by early next week, get the speaker chosen, and rock and roll. We've got a lot we need to do.
SCOTT (on camera): House Republicans plan to meet behind closed doors tomorrow and again on Tuesday with the hopes of coalescing around one candidate by Wednesday.
The pressure is on for the House to get back to business. The deadline to fund the government is on November 17th, that fight that could be the very first real test for the next speaker, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Rachel Scott, thanks very much.
We're joined by one of the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy, Congressman Ken Buck.
And, Mr. Buck, thank you for joining us this morning. Do you have a candidate?
REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): I do not. I am not going to support anybody until the conference figures out spending.
It was one of the issues with Kevin McCarthy was. There were a number of promises made. We've got to come together over a spending number and then start looking at the candidate who's going to get us there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How are you going to get agreement on that before you get agreement on a speaker? Isn't that what brought McCarthy down?
BUCK: No. I think -- we’re going to have -- what brought Kevin McCarthy down first of all is he made a number of promises to a number of different groups and when the time came, the continuing resolution, he could not deliver on those promises and so, we had 90 -- more than 90 Republicans vote against his continuing resolution that he put on the floor.
The speaker issue is going to be brought to conference. We're going to be able to have a family discussion. When we leave that family discussion, I believe we're going to be united. I think it's going to happen on Wednesday or Thursday of this week.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're one of the many Republicans who signed a letter calling for this conference to meet because you're requesting a rules change dealing with the election. What exactly are you looking for?
BUCK: I’m sorry. Rule change with what?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Regarding the election of the speaker. You signed that -- you signed that letter, I guess, about 90 Republicans signed it to Elise Stefanik. What exactly are you looking for?
BUCK: What I’m looking for is we make a decision inside the conference that we have 218 votes so don't go to the floor and have another 15-round session of votes. I think it's important that we have these discussions and we're honest with each other. We get behind one candidate and we stay behind that one candidate for the rest of this Congress.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's interesting. So, you're basically saying you don't want to put a candidate up until all 218 Republicans or at least a majority of the Republican conference has already agreed on the candidate. That means this could play out for some time, doesn't it?
BUCK: Well, it's better to play out in private where the cameras aren't on and we don't have people trying to get attention over certain issues than it is going out on the floor and having a series of debates.
For those folks that think we are projecting a chaotic image, it makes a lot more sense to do this behind closed doors and get it finished before we go to the floor.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's pretty clear that the Democrats at least in the Senate are not going to -- in the House and certainly in the Senate are not going to agree to the kind of spending numbers you're talking about. Does that mean we're heading to another government shutdown in about a month?
BUCK: No, I don't think so. I think what we need to do is we need to come up with a good, responsible number, be able to make an argument for it, and then go into the Senate negotiation conference with a compromise in mind. But we have to start where we believe the lowest possible number for discretionary spending is.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What happens if the House Republicans cannot agree on a candidate by midweek?
BUCK: Well, then we'll agree on a candidate by the end of the week, or we'll agree on a candidate over the weekend. I think we lock the doors and we have a very limited bathroom breaks and food breaks and make sure we get the job done.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your former colleague Liz Cheney has spoken out against Jim Jordan because of his involvement in January 6th.
Here's what she said. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Jim Jordan was involved -- was part of the conspiracy in which Donald Trump was engaged as he attempted to overturn the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Should that be a factor in this election?
BUCK: Well, both Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise voted to decertify the electors. I don't think that it’s going to be a very big factor at all.
I think the factor, George, is that we continue to perpetuate a lie about the 2020 election being stolen, that we talk about the January 6th events as an unguided tour of the Capitol, that we are pretending that the people who assaulted police officers and destroyed federal government property are political prisoners.
That hurts our ability and credibility to move forward with the American people and tell the American people that we have a serious issue with spending. We as Republicans can do a better job securing our border. We know how to deal with inflation. We can deal with the crime issue in our cities.
That's the problem we have when we continue to perpetuate the myths that we're perpetuating.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The man leading that effort in perpetuating, and the most, of course, is DonaldTrump. You have several of your colleagues, several dozen your colleagues suggesting maybe even should be thought of for Speaker of the House right now.
BUCK: That's not going to happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Should it happen?
BUCK: No, it shouldn't happen. And you know, we have a lot of talent inside the House. We'll settle this inside the House Republican Conference. And we will elect someone that will have the unity and the backing of the full conference.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you support him for President of United States?
BUCK: I will support the Republican nominee for President of United States because I am so concerned about what President Biden has been doing and where the Democrat Party is taking this country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if he is convicted of one of the four felonies he has been charged with?
BUCK: I have said I don't believe a convicted felon should be a President of United States. So, I believe that my fellow Republicans will not elect a -- or will nominate a convicted felon for that position. We have a lot of good candidates running for speaker. I think they've done great in the debates. And I think that when it comes time for us to make that decision to elect a new president, we will not be electing a convicted felon.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ken Buck, thanks very much for your time this morning.
We're joined now by the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Pete Aguilar. Congressman Aguilar, thank you for joining us this morning.
You just heard Ken Buck right there say that he wants the Republican Congress to come to an agreement on spending before they elect a speaker. It sounds to me at least like that could take some time.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Well, let me just first say that this was Tuesday was a sad day for the House of Representatives writ large. But clearly based on what Ken Buck said, it's going to be some time. And I would just note that Republicans and Democrats did come together, Democrats providing a majority of votes to avoid the debt limit that sets the spending levels. So, I don't know what Republicans are planning to do to revisit those spending levels that are now law. Democrats provided the votes to avoid the debt limit. And Democrats provided the votes to pass the continuing resolution to fund government.
Democrats aren't the ones leading here. This is a Republican House conference who has an inability to govern and to lead. That's why we're in this moment, our constituents didn't send us here to vacate the chair. They sent us to Washington D.C. to work. That's what House Democrats want to do. That's what we look forward to doing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you heard Ken Buck right there say that even if the Republicans agree to the spending bills, it's not going to lead to a government shutdown. Do you agree with that?
AGUILAR: Well, I think there's an element within the House Republican conference that is dead set on shutting down our government to walking up to the breaching the debt limit, or not funding government. There were many of them in the public domain who were cheering for us to shut down the government. That's just -- that's just terrible for the country. It's terrible for our -- our governance, and it just shows an inability to lead among the House Republican Conference.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Given the fact that there were so few House Republicans were required to actually take down Speaker McCarthy, you just had eight vote against him. Yet it imperiled his speakership. What do you make of those critics who say, Democrats should have come together to save Speaker McCarthy? Be careful what you wish for now that he's gone?
AGUILAR: Yes, I just don't buy that for the good of the institution. This is someone who voted. Kevin McCarthy did not vote to certify the election, Kevin McCarthy walked away from a deal that he negotiated with President Biden. This is somebody who has an inability to govern and to lead his conference. I don't -- I don't buy that, that for the good of the institution, because this is someone who just didn't have the credibility to show that he put the institution first. He would not work even, even until the bitter end, hours before the vote, he said that he wasn't going to ask for Democratic votes.
And by the way, I would just say 220 Republicans enabled Kevin McCarthy because they're the ones that change the rules. They're the ones that created this threshold where one person can topple the speaker. And Kevin McCarthy did it all for one reason to be speaker. He negotiated that rule change and he got 220 Republicans to go along with it to start the year.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it -- but we just heard Ken Buck say that whoever is going to win is going to have to get the support of about 220 Republicans this time around as well. So, what difference will it be whether it's Steve Scalise or Jim Jordan?
AGUILAR: Well, that's something for the Republican conference to figure out. You know, our job is House Democrats. This is not to pick their leader. I nominated I had the privilege of nominating our democraticleader, Hakeem Jeffries, to be speaker. I plan to do that on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus again. Our job is not to -- to pick the Republican speaker, but I – I would agree with Liz Cheney in what she said about Jim Jordan. I think it would be dangerous for democracy if – if he is speaker. But that's something that Republicans are going to have to figure out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Pete Aguilar, thanks for your time this morning.
AGULAR: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable’s next. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is ready to go.
We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Back with the roundtable, joined by our ABC News contributors, Donna Brazile and Sarah Isgur, executive editor of the AP, Julie Pace, and New York Times national political reporter Astead Herndon.
Thank you all for joining us.
I want to start, of course, with this situation in Israel.
Julie, what a shock to wake up to yesterday morning, on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It's a completely unprecedented situation, the way that Hamas was able to break through so many layers of Israeli military defense, also go under the radar of the Israeli intelligence operation. U.S. intelligence, as well, appears to have been caught off guard. And I think we're still, right now, really just starting to understand what the death toll and the devastation on the Israeli side will have been from that incursion.
And then, of course, it's what happens next. What will this look like as Israel launches its counteroffensive in Gaza, and then will this really spread to the wider region?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that -- that is the big -- big concern right now. It is pretty clear, Donna, you saw in my earlier interviews, this hopes for a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel, brokered by the United States, at best on hold.
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No question, but, George, Israel must defend itself, defend its people, defend its border. That was an act of terrorism. It's going to get ugly, especially in light of the fact that Hamas clearly kidnapped people, killed innocent individuals who were out at a dance party. So there's no question it's going to get ugly. Israel must defend itself, and the United States must stand by her ally.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We -- Sarah Isgur, we just heard Chris Christie talk about the fact that it may be more complicated for the -- the United States to stand by Israel with a dysfunctional House.
SARAH ISGUR, FORMER TRUMP JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON & 'THE DISPATCH' SENIOR EDITOR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think that might be true, although I think probably more is being made of it than it should be. As Kevin McCarthy noted, like, at least we're not in a government shutdown. You know, whether the acting speaker can join gang of eight briefings, I think, is a little beside the point at this moment.
But what I think is the case is that you're seeing, sort of, the new world when America has pulled back from the world stage. You see it with Russia feeling like they can invade Ukraine. You obviously see it with Hamas believing that this is a good political move for them, to attack Israel in this just incredibly violent manner.
And I think, for a lot of people, we're thinking about China. We're thinking about Taiwan. How is that not next? I mean, you have moms thinking about the draft here, you know, wondering what does it mean, if the U.S. has pulled back, if this is then the chaos that's on the world, where they're not afraid of U.S. power, U.S. intervention anymore, that's a real problem moving forward, I think we're seeing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're already seeing it playing out in our politics here as well.
Astead, you saw the Republicans blaming the Biden administration for that hostage deal with Iran, even though this was not United States money; this was Iranian assets being held by South Korea.
ASTEAD HERNDON, NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Absolutely. You saw Republicans, kind of, immediately seized on that. You saw Secretary Blinken, kind of, push back on that. Because, factually, we're not really seeing that. That hasn't stopped Republican candidates in the past.
I think, in your interview, it was really interesting, that long pause, when you asked him, "Is this going to be a long war?"
This really does threaten to complicate things for some Democrats. And I think back to 2020. That was a very domestic-focused election. That was an election about the coronavirus pandemic, about George Floyd protests, things that were happening here. Twenty-twenty-four, with what's happening in Ukraine, with the conflict that kicked off over the weekend, I think you're going to see that gaze cast internationally.
And for Democrats who have been more uncomfortable on those issues and have not necessarily had a kind of party-wide message there, I think it's going to be interesting to see how the Biden campaign contends with that, separate from the policy aspect, which has been really clear in response.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It could create a very different backdrop for the campaign. I think you're right about that. Let's turn back to the home front right now.
Sarah Isgur, let me begin with you. Let's talk about what happened in the House this week. Kevin McCarthy is gone. It's unclear who's going to replace him?
ISGUR: Absolutely. You know, we've gone already from three speaker candidates down to two speaker candidates. And, really, the two left, you know, Steve Scalise is in some ways the heir to Kevin McCarthy. He was in leadership. He's well known by elected Republicans, up and down. He's a prolific fund-raiser within the party.
And you have Jim Jordan, sort of, representing that new Republican Party, if you will, the Donald Trump,up and coming more populist, more isolationist wing. You know, what I think that will be most fascinating is that unlike for instance the speaker vote, which everybody had to be on the record, this speaker vote for Republicans will be anonymous.
STEPHANOPOULOS: (inaudible) inside the conference (ph).
ISGUR: It will be behind closed doors. That's right. We'll see where Republicans actually are when Donald Trump can't attack them in their homes, because he won't know how they voted.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But this -- but this requirement that Ken Buck was talking about, basically they have to come to unanimity before they put someone up is a very high bar.
PACE: If you look at how this party is divided, I mean, how they're get to that point is going to be pretty fascinating. But I totally agree with Sarah. I mean, this is what is so interesting about Trump's decision to also jump in, because his -- so much of his power over Republicans is holding them to account publicly over where they are vis-à-vis Trump, right?
And now, they're in a situation where they have the ability to -- potentially for some to go against him privately. How many of them will take that opportunity I think remains to be seen, but I think there are so many personal dynamics at play here, so much history that goes far beyond Trump's own role in the party that I think this one is not kind of a black-and white decision for a lot of lawmakers
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wonder though if it makes any difference as far as the Democrats are concerned, Donna, because those dynamics are still going to be at play when you're dealing with a small minority of the Republican Party holding a whip hand over the majority.
BRAZILE: They have a razor-thin majority and they have sort of taken a chapter or page or even the entire Nancy Pelosi playbook on how to manage a caucus that is ideologically divided with some members who are not focused on governing. So, I think it's going to be tough to come up with a consensus candidate.
That's why Hakeem Jeffries and others are floating the idea that maybe it's time for them to seek a bipartisan consensus, so that the House can function as one of -- a co-equal branch of government. But without that, we'll see ourselves in 40 days once again back at where we started which is a House that cannot come up with a solution to keep the government functioning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There doesn't seem to be an appetite on either side right now for that -- to bring in (ph) that kind of a by partisan coalition, certainly among the candidates running for speaker of the House right now.
HERNDON: Absolutely. I mean, I think the candidates for speaker of the House reflect the reality of the Republican base which is that there's not that appetite for bipartisan consensus. There is an appetite for fighting back against Democrats, for doubling down on said values. I think that what we see in the House is really a reflection of what is coming from the base of the party.
I mean, I think that it's going to be a real open question how they can find a person who can get to 218. But from the day that this became a kind of slim minority after the midterms, we have not seen Republicans govern on a bipartisan consensus, and what they're doing in the presidential race reflects that. If they wanted the Nikki Haleys, if they wanted someone who represents a Republican ideology of the past, those people would be doing better. They're reflecting where their base is which is doubling down rather than reaching out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned what Republicans may do in private, Sarah, is where the (ph) problem is. The most politics happens in public, and Donald Trump still has that stranglehold.
ISGUR: And voters, at this point, are not demanding that Congress actually do legislation. There has been no punishment for the endless CRs that we've seen, Continuing Resolutions instead of a real budget process, and nobody seems to care that Congress hasn't been legislating in the real sense (ph).
STEPHANOPOULOS: But there will be a punishment if there's a government shutdown.
ISGUR: Will there? We've done that before too and maybe, you know, I think that at this point, when you have voters instead rewarding fighting, opposing -- the Matt Gaetzs of the world do better when their party loses. They like to be against something. When you are in the majority, it is really hard, and especially when you're in the majority, when you don't control the Senate and you don't control the White House. I think that Republicans aren't going to be punished for not legislating.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They may not be punished. But Donna, I wonder -- let's say the government does shut down in another month. Clearly, that would show dysfunction in the Republican Party, but that's not necessarily a good thing for President Biden.
BRAZILE: It's not good for anybody. It's not good for those men and women in the military who want to get paid. It's not good for people who need a headstart (ph) program. It's not good for the American economy. And right now, we know that the world looks to America. Look, there will be pain (ph) at the ballot box if the Republicans once again fail to come up with a solution to keep our government functioning.
I don't understand why we're still talking about Republicans because it's clear to me they don't want to govern. They don't want to lead. They don't want to have different ideas and a vision. Right now, it's about revenge and retribution. And what happened immediately after, Kevin McCarthy was taken down -- is they took Nancy Pelosi's office. They told her to vacate. They told (inaudible). This is a party that wants revenge.
HERNDON: This is one of the impacts of gerrymandering though. These Republicans legislators only have to worry about losing from the right. Increasingly, these dramas (ph) don't create incentives for them to reach across the aisle. That's why they're acting like this.
PACE: And I think Donna is right. But this is what some Republican voters want. They do want revenge and they do want to muck up the system and they do want -- they don't want to legislate. They do want to be seen as fighting against the establishment that has proven to be an incredibly powerful message. And for some of them, there is political benefit to doing that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are going to see all the consequences play out in the next several weeks as we have all this turmoil on the world stage as well.
Thank you all for, for joining us today.
And up next, West Maui is reopening tourism today, two months after the devastating fires in the Lahaina. Mola Lenghi is on the scene, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOSH GREEN (D-HI): Beginning October 8th, one month from today, all travel restrictions will end and West Maui will be open to visitors again. So, people from Hawaii and around the world can resume travel to this special place and help it began to recover economically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And West Maui is reopening for tourism today two months after wildfires ravaged the historic town of Lahaina. But that decision has prompted outrage from some residents. Mola Lenghi spoke with several of them as part of "ABC's Maui Strong 808" coverage.
MOLA LENGHI, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today on the two-month anniversary of the Lahaina fire. Tourists officially welcomed back to West Maui. Tourism is Hawaii's top industry and employs the most people.
JAMES TOKIOKA, DIRECTOR, HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS: Visitor spending is way down the estimate is about $11 million a day. That is down on Maui.
LENGHI (voice-over): Since the fire the Red Cross has housed more than 7,600 survivors across 40 hotels.
NICOLE ELLISON, LAHAINA FIRE SURVIVOR: Less than 24 hours were given to move and have all of our stuff out by 12 o'clock.
LENGHI (voice-over): Displaced residents like Nicole Ellison and her family now forced to relocate to open this hotel to tourists. More than 16,000 people signed a petition to delay the reopening of West Maui to tourism.
LENGHI: So they're going to have to be at the hotels greeting tourists.
PAELE KIAKONA, LAHAINA FIRE SURVIVOR: That's going to be the only conversation with people is, that your house burned down in the fire. And that's going to be something -- people are going to bring up over and over and over again.
LENGHI (voice-over): And while many of the wildfire victims in this community rely on tourism for work, their grief is now matched with anger that the reopening is happening at the expense of their hale or home. Weeks before the reopening, hundreds crammed into this city council meeting, uncertain of their future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we open? I don't think so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so.
LENGHI (voice-over): Residents like Charles Nahale.
CHARLES NAHALE, LAHAINA FIRE SURVIVOR: My house burned. It's completely gone.
LENGHI (voice-over): Charles says what they need now is time, not tourists.
NAHALE: Are we supposed to be jovial when tourists are here in their bathing suits, frolicking in the surf, driving these roads like they're on a racetrack, drinking mai tais and partying in our face?
LENGHI (voice-over): Losing his family home in the fire, Charles was placed in a timeshare by the Red Cross, but he may once again be on the move after being served an eviction notice.
COURTNEY LAZO, LAHAINA FIRE SURVIVOR: This morning, I wake up to an email saying that I owe $21,589.55 for the room that I'm staying in.
LENGHI (voice-over): Courtney Lazo was staying at the Honua Kai, Courtney has been an outspoken advocate for her community since the fire.
LAZO: Right now, from where we stand, it does seem like it is profit over people.
LENGHI (voice-over): All while her family's future hangs in the balance and her housing status changes by the day.
LENGHI: What is it like living in that kind of uncertainty?
LAZO: It's hard, especially when you have kids.
LENGHI (voice-over): She's frustrated that decisions have been made without Lahaina's residents.
LAZO: Lahaina hasn't had time to process it all.
LENGHI: So they are (ph) asking you?
LENGHI (voice-over): For Courtney, her biggest concern is Lahaina, her hale.
LAZO: We're going to push back and fight like hell to make sure that we get the Lahaina that we want. The Lahaina that we had, but better.
LENGHI (voice-over): Mola Lenghi, ABC News, Maui.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Mola for that. We'll have more "Maui Strong 808" coverage tomorrow, and we'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News Tonight" and I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."
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