'This Week' Transcript 11-12-23: White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Gov. Wes Moore, Rep. Mike Lawler and Rep. Jared Moskowitz
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, November 12.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, November 12, 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: Growing pressure. The U.S. presses Israel on its bombardment of Gaza.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Far too many Palestinians have been killed.
KARL: As Israel agrees to daily humanitarian pauses.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We want to facilitate the safe passage of civilians.
KARL: We'll talk with White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Voters have been clear, the government should not be telling a woman what to do with her body.
KARL: Democrats celebrate victories in Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia, but a big retirement threatens their razor-thin Senate majority.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I will not be running for re-election.
KARL: Republican candidates not named Trump try to break through in a third Republican debate.
VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want Dick Cheney in three-inch heels?
NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're five-inch heels, and I don't wear them unless you can run in them.
KARL: As Trump holds on to a commanding lead, exclusive reporting from my new book reveals how he tried to get back into the White House even after Biden became president.
MO BROOKS (R-AL), FMR CONGRESSMAN: President Trump asked me to lie to the public.
KARL: We tackle it all with Maryland Governor Wes Moore and our powerhouse roundtable.
JEFFREY BLACKWELL, TEACHER, POTEET HIGH SCHOOL: The district can grow better teachers, and that takes time.
KARL: With schools facing major teacher shortages, Mireya Villarreal examines one district’s efforts to recruit and retain teachers in our ABC News series “The American Classroom.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC NEWS, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Jonathan Karl.
KARL: Good morning, and welcome to THIS WEEK.
It's been a big week of election wins for Democrats as support for abortion rights propelled victories for the party's candidates and initiatives in Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia. That was obviously welcome news for a White House on a week that started with one prominent Democratic strategist suggesting that President Biden should bow out of the 2024 race for the good of the party, amidst persistent concerns about the president’s age and his electability.
Meanwhile, the Republican frontrunner had another chaotic week, taking the stand in a New York courtroom where he attacked the judge. He also dodged another debate and suggested that he will use the power of the presidency to take down his enemies if he gets the chance.
We'll get to all of that, but we begin with the war in Gaza, where Israeli ground forces have reportedly surrounded the Dar Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, which is on the brink of collapse and running out of power according to the doctors still inside trying to treat hundreds of patients.
Israel claims that Hamas fighters have intentionally constructed bases under medical facilities throughout Gaza, making them legitimate military targets. But the mounting destruction and growing civilian death toll have prompted concerns in the White House and frustration over the lack of time to get hostages. Israel says some 239 hostages remain as high-stakes negotiations are reportedly underway to try to secure a mass release.
In a moment, I'll talk to two members of the House who just met with Prime Minister Netanyahu. But first, we turn to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
Thank you for joining us.
Can you give us the latest on the negotiations or if there are negotiations still underway regarding the hostages?
JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, first of all, thanks for having me, Jon.
And I have to be careful about what I say publicly on this because it is, of course, a delicate and sensitive negotiation. But the answer to your question is, yes, there are ongoing negotiations involving the Israelis, the Qataris. And we, the United States, are actively engaged in this as well because we want to make sure that we bring home those Americans who have been taken hostage, as well as all of the other hostages.
So, that continues. There are efforts to try to secure a deal that would involve their release of hostages. And the president’s not going to rest until we achieve that deal so that every single one of those hostages can come home safely.
KARL: And what are the numbers as you understand it? I've heard the Israelis say that there are 239. Is that accurate? How many of them are Americans?
SULLIVAN: We do not know the precise number of hostages. We know the number of missing, and that’s the number the Israelis have given. But we don’t know how many of those are still alive.
As far as the Americans are concerned, there are nine missing American citizens, as well as a missing legal permanent representative, a green card holder. And so that’s the number that we are working with.
That’s the number that we are trying to ensure the safe return of. And we have been engaging with the families. In fact, I will personally be seeing family members of the American hostages this coming week.
KARL: Now, Hamas claims that a number of hostages have been killed by Israeli airstrikes. Is – do we believe that’s true?
SULLIVAN: Well, first, we don’t take anything Hamas says at face value, but we have no information that can either corroborate or counteract that. So, as I said before, we simply don’t know how many of the hostages are still alive, how many have been mistreated, how many Hamas itself has killed just as it slaughtered hundreds and hundreds of people when it conducted those gruesome and horrific terrorist attacks on October 7th.
KARL: And – and the Israelis have called for – for hospitals and medical facilities in north Gaza to be evacuated, including al-Shifa, the largest of them all. They – they say that Hamas is operating underneath these hospitals, tunnels underneath the hospital.
What – what – what is your understanding of this, and – and – and do we see – are those – do those hospitals essentially become legitimate military targets because they’re being used according to what the Israelis to, you know, as shields for their – their – their military operations? What – what – how do we see this as the United States?
SULLIVAN: Well, first, without getting into intelligence information, there is plenty of open-source information, Jon, to indicate that Hamas uses lots of different civilian institutions, including hospitals, to store weapons, for command and control, to house its fighters. We have seen that throughout the time that Hamas has been operating in Gaza. We have seen that in this conflict. And that’s a violation of the laws of war, taking civilians as human shields, using hospitals for military purposes.
That being said, Jon, we do not want to see a firefight in a hospital where innocent people, helpless people, people seeking medical care are caught in the crossfire. And this just points up how difficult this military operation is because Israel has an added burden, given the way that Hamas operates, but it does not lessen their responsibility to protect civilians. And this is something that we have had an active conversation with the Israeli government about.
KARL: And I – I sense some real anguish and frustration in the voice of – of Secretary of State Blinken when he said, “far too many Palestinians have been killed.”
Obviously, the fault overall is with Hamas that started this, that’s using civilians as human shields, but how much concern is there that the Israelis are – are responsible, are not doing enough – not responsible, not doing enough to protect civilians?
SULLIVAN: The loss of a single, innocent life is a tragedy, whether it’s Palestinian or Israeli or anyone. And we grieve for every lost innocent. We believe in the sanctity of life. We believe in the importance of the laws of war, which means taking every possible measure to protect civilians.
And as I said before, this is something that President Biden has spoken to from the beginning of the conflict, not just publicly but privately with his Israeli counterpart. It’s something that I have talked about with mine and Secretary Blinken has with his. We will continue to do that every day.
At the same time, we will continue to stand behind the proposition that Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. And with Hamas, you are dealing with an organization that has come out since October 7th and said that it wants to repeat October 7th again and again until Israel no longer exists. That is the reality Israel is confronting.
And so they are taking measures to try to go after the terrorists. It’s their obligation to do so in a way that separates the terrorists from innocent Palestinian civilians.
KARL: I want to play you something that Bibi Netanyahu said to David Muir about the reality of what Israel will face after Hamas is defeated.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, will have the overall security responsibility because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: So – so what – what do you – what’s your take on that? I mean he also later said, they don’t seek to govern Gaza, but that sounds like an Israeli occupation of Gaza. Is – is – is that – is that where this is going?
SULLIVAN: That is not our understanding of the Israeli government’s position and I think Prime Minister Netanyahu has clarified his comments, as you – as you just alluded to.
The American position on this is straightforward. Secretary Blinken laid it out this past week. No reoccupation of Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza. No forcible displacement of Palestinians. And Gaza should never be allowed to be used as a base for terrorist attacks against Israel or anyone else.
Those are the simple principles that we are standing behind as we look to the future.
And we will work with all of our partners, with the Israelis, with countries in the Arab world, and especially with the Palestinians so that they can have a voice in what the future governance of both the West Bank and Gaza look like.
KARL: All right, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, thank you very much for joining us.
SULLIVAN: Thanks for having me.
KARL: And now, we check in from Tel Aviv with two House members who just met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Republican Mike Lawler of New York and Democrat Jared Moskowitz of Florida.
So, Congressman Lawler, let me start with you. You just met with the prime minister. What did you learn about where this conflict is going?
REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Well, it was, obviously, a very solemn meeting and we got to see raw footage of the attacks of October 7th, which was deeply disturbing to all of us and very upsetting obviously. But we engaged in a very thoughtful conversation about the need for Congress to pass aid to Israel and our support and our commitment to our closest ally in the region, a beacon of hope and freedom and democracy, the state of Israel.
We need to eliminate Hamas. They are a terrorist organization. They used their own civilians as human shields.
And, you know, we talked about the facts on the ground and what is actually occurring and really what the United States can do to support Israel at this moment.
KARL: Congressman Moskowitz, did you learn anything about the fate of the hostages? Any sense if there’s actual progress?
REP. JARED MOSKOWITZ (D-FL): Yeah. No, we talked a lot about the hostages. The meeting focused a lot on that obviously because, you know, we were asking a lot of questions. But, you know, I don’t want to go into details because there are, you know, are potentially ongoing talks and negotiations.
But, you know, look, obviously, there are not a lot of good options. The hostages are in a number of places, some are in the tunnels. Some are not in the tunnels.
One of the things that we found out which, if you watch a lot of the videos that are public, and you can see the mob of people that came in, you know, as it turns, some of the people -- some of the hostages may be kept by not -- by not Hamas. It might not be Hamas that has some of these hostages. It might not be Islamic Jihad that has some of these hostages. It might be some of the citizens of Gaza.
And so, you know, they’re working on several plans to locate the hostages. I don’t want to go into details of that, but obviously, that is a top priority. There were nine Americans missing that are potentially hostage. And so, you know, this was focused of the delegation.
KARL: And, Congressman Lawler, we’ve heard what sounds like frustration coming from the Biden administration about getting -- about Israel actions in terms of protecting civilians in -- in Gaza, and, you know, humanitarian pauses. How does the prime minister view this? Does he still feel that he has the full and total support of the Biden administration and the U.S. government?
LAWLER: Yes. And, obviously, that’s the purpose of our delegation trip here, is to show our strong support, in a bipartisan fashion, for the state of Israel. Just, you know, a week and a half ago, we passed a resolution in strong support of Israel in condemning Hamas.
What is clear is that Israel is engaged in efforts to provide humanitarian relief. They’ve been engaged in efforts to get civilians out of the northern part of Gaza.
But for those calling for a ceasefire, they totally misunderstand the situation here. Hamas is not someone, some organization that is going to abide by a ceasefire. They are hell-bent on eradicating the state of Israel and eliminating the Jewish people.
You’re not dealing with rational, reasonable people here. And, you know, Israel needs to be able to defend itself. Nobody would call on the United States to engage in a ceasefire after September 11th, 2001. And I think it’s irresponsible for us to call on Israel to do that when they’re trying to defend themselves.
The bottom line here is, yes, we need to provide humanitarian relief and we want to avoid civilian casualties.
But these 11,000 civilian number that keeps getting repeated by the press is factually wrong. Within that number, thousands of Hamas terrorists have been killed. And, obviously, Hamas is using these civilians as human shields.
And so, the oppressor here, the people that are responsible for the deaths in Gaza is Hamas.
KARL: All right, Congressman Lawler, Congressman Moskowitz, thank you for joining us. Safe travels back to the U.S.
Up next, after big wins this week for Democrats, we talk to one of the party’s most talked about rising stars.
And later, the outlandish idea that enthralled Donald Trump in the months after he left the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: You don't really think there's a way you would get reinstated before the next election, do you?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not going to explain it to you, Jonathan, because you wouldn't – you wouldn’t either understand it or write it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Shocking details from my new book about Trump's bizarre plot to get back into office.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think voters have been clear, regardless of whether they’re in a so-called red or blue state, that one does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held belief to agree that government should not be telling a woman what to do with her body. And so it was a good night. And the president and I obviously have a lot of work to do to earn our re-election, but I am confident we’re going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: That was Vice President Harris fresh off big Democratic wins on Tuesday night, in multiple states, driven in large part by support for abortion rights.
So, what does it all mean for 2024? We’re joined now by Maryland’s Democratic governor, Wes Moore.
And you’re, obviously, a member of the Biden/Harris team.
GOV. WES MOORE, (D) MARYLAND: Yes.
KARL: Thank you for being here, Governor.
You were out campaigning. You were campaigning in Virginia.
KARL: What was the message that you heard from voters?
MOORE: Well, the energy was real. And – and – and people were – were motivated, not by the – not by the – the – the – the – the partisan issues. They were motivated by the issues of actually things getting done in a bipartisan way. And I think that’s what we saw in Virginia, where we were able to, you know, have now the first African American speaker of the House, a complete repudiation of the type of things that – that Governor Youngkin was talking about, about which week should you do an abortion ban.
They were talking about things like jobs, and infrastructure. And it resonated with the people. And I think that’s the message that is going to be continued to push and why I think we’re going to continue seeing how the people will continue to resonate with these kind of messages.
KARL: It’s – it’s no doubt that abortion hurt Republicans in Virginia, it hurt them in Ohio, it hurt them in Kentucky. But you still have these concerns about President Biden.
In Ohio, where abortion rights – strong vote for abortion rights, you saw 73 percent in the exit poll, 73 percent of those who voted said that they do not – they would prefer somebody other than Biden to run. And that’s even more than – 63 percent said they would prefer somebody other than Donald Trump to run.
So how does President Biden deal with these questions?
MOORE: I mean I know there’s still, you know, there’s still the idea and the handwringing of what polls look like a year away from election day. And, you know, I'm – I'm not a pundit, you know.
KARL: You’re not concerned about this at all, concerns about his age, (INAUDIBLE) –
MOORE: I'm – I'm not. I mean I think about where the polls were for my race a year before election day. I was polling a little over 1 percent.
By Election Day I ended up winning with more individual votes than anyone who's ever run for governor in the history of the State of Maryland.
I think, when -- when you're looking at polls a year out, they are worth the paper that they are written on. And I think, when you continue looking at the work that's being done and the product that's being produced, just this past week, we saw how over $7 billion of investment was coming to the State of Maryland for infrastructure. We announced a couple weeks back that, you know, a quarter of a billion dollars going towards broadband and Wi-Fi construction. We are actually rebuilding things in a bipartisan way. And when you think about what people are asking for, bipartisan leadership, and you can get things done, the PACT Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure act, that's President Biden. And I think that will show up in the -- in the election for next year.
KARL: Well, then, let me ask you then about what David Axelrod said. Now, David Alexlrod, obviously, one of President Obama's top political strategists, smart guy, Democrat, supportive of President Biden, but he said this.
"Only Joe Biden can make this decision about running again. If he continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. What he needs to decide is whether that is wise, whether it is in his best interest or the country's."
The suggestion here, obviously, is that he shouldn't run. And that's from Axelrod. What -- what do you say to him?
MOORE: I would say President Biden has already made the decision. He's...
MOORE: ... running.
MOORE: He is running for re-election. And, listen, I think about -- I think about what's happening in our state, right, where we are -- we have now literally announced billions of dollars of infrastructure that's going to be happening. We're now, for the first time, going to be putting east-west transit within the Baltimore region, which is going to be monumental when it comes to economic growth within the State of Maryland.
We're looking at the fact that now we've been able to -- now Maryland has the lowest unemployment rate in the entire country, right? We are moving fast, and we're making sure that we're leaving no one behind in the process. But that's being done because we're working in partnership with the Biden administration.
So I would just -- I would just -- and we'll continue to make sure that people remember. This is about performance, not personalities, and that's why his performance is the reason that I believe deeply that the American people will give him a second term.
KARL: So what about Manchin? Joe Manchin announced he's not running for re-election to the Senate. He's clearly talking about running for party -- you know, running for president as a third-party ticket, No Labels. And he's talking about trying to have a movement to mobilize the middle in this country.
What's your message to Joe Manchin?
MOORE: My message to -- to Joe Manchin is, I thank him for his service. I think he's had a year -- a career of distinguished service, both as a governor...
KARL: Forty-two years in public office.
MOORE: That's right, both as a governor, senator. I would urge him not to mar his legacy by getting involved in something so foolish.
KARL: So foolish, why?
MOORE: Because, if you look at what No Labels is, No Labels literally has no plan, has no path, has no policy platform. They don't even have a candidate. What No Labels is, it's a -- it's a -- it's a configuration made up of dark money that won't disclose its donors but is frankly just going to simply hand an election off by -- by being able to not actually come up with a solution but just continuing to throw wood into this flame of disillusionment. It is not real.
KARL: How much -- how much of a threat, though, is the idea of a No Labels candidate, Cornell West; you have Jill Stein running again as the Green Party candidate and running for the Green Party nomination; Bobby Kennedy, Jr. is out there.
Could we see third-party candidates cost Biden this election, actually get Donald Trump back in the White House?
MOORE: No. Because I think what -- what President Biden is going to continue to show is that results do matter. You know, it's -- it's one thing to say we're going to rail against the system, and it's another thing to actually work to make systems better. And that's what I think President Biden has continued to show.
You know, when you think about the bills that he has passed, the work that he has done all throughout this country, in urban, rural and suburban parts of this country, about economic growth and economic upliftment, about being able to make sure that people's freedoms are actually protected and everybody is seen in everyone's conversations and not just some, that's what President Biden has been able to push on; that's what he's been able to get done, not rhetoric, not hand-wringing, not fist-banging, but actually real, productive results for the people of this country.
And so I think all the other things will just sound like noise, while President Biden's results will sound like actually what they are, real, productive momentum for the people of this country.
KARL: All right. Governor Wes Moore of Maryland, thank you for joining us, and on this Veterans Day weekend, thank you for your service as well.
MOORE: Thank you. Thank you.
KARL: Coming up, the bizarre plot Donald Trump believed could get him back into the White House before the 2024 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In 2016, I declared I am your voice, and now I say to you again tonight, I am your warrior. I am your justice.
For those who have been wronged and betrayed, of which there are many people out there that have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: That was former President Trump rallying his supporters this spring in Waco, Texas, vowing retribution against those who opposed him, including those he's falsely accused of stealing the election. But long before this campaign started, just months after he left office, Trump became fixated on an entirely unconstitutional idea that he could return to power even before the next election.
It's just part of what's in my new book "Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party" out this week.
KARL (voice-over): Donald Trump left the White House on January 20th, 2021, bitter about his election loss -- the first president in more than a century to skip his successor's inauguration.
TRUMP: We just got 75 million votes and that's a record in the history of -- in the history of sitting presidents.
KARL: But Trump wasn't just bitter. As I learned in reporting for my new book "Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party", Trump became fixated on a far-right and blatantly unconstitutional theory that he could actually be reinstated as president months after Biden's inauguration, something pushed by his most extreme supporters.
MIKE LINDELL, MYPILLOW CEO: All the evidence I have, everything is going to go before the Supreme Court, and the election of 2020 is going bye-bye.
KARL: At one point, Mike Lindell, the election-denying MyPillow CEO, said that Trump would be able to move back into the White House, and he had an oddly specific date, August 13th, 2021.
Lindell promised terabytes worth of, quote, evidence showing mass vote-flipping by Chinese hackers.
The so-called evidence didn't exist, but Trump was enthralled. In summer of 2021, he put out a little notice statement that included the phrase, 2024 or before. I asked him about it in a phone conversation in July 2021.
When you had a release recently you said 2024 or before. What do you mean by that? You don't really think there's a way you would get reinstated before the next election?
DONALD TRUMP, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I'm not going to explain it to Jonathan because you wouldn't, you wouldn't either understand it or write it.
KARL (voice-over): As I later learned, Trump was talking about the idea a lot in private, worrying some of his advisers that he was actually starting to believe it. Even former Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis, who recently pled guilty in Georgia for her part in trying to overturn the election felt the need to refute Trump's reinstatement fantasy. Tweeting, the Constitution has only one process for removal of a sitting president, impeachment and conviction. No, President Trump is not going to be quote reinstated.
And then there was Mo Brooks of Alabama.
MO BROOKS (R-AL), FMR CONGRESSMAN: I am proud to be an American.
KARL (voice-over): The sixth-term congressman, was the first lawmaker to announce plans to challenge the congressional certification of Joe Biden's victory.
BROOKS: In my judgment, if only lawful votes cast by eligible American citizens are counted. President Trump handily won the Electoral College and second term as president.
KARL (voice-over): Mo Brooks even donned body armor during his speech at Trump's rally immediately preceding the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.
BROOKS: Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?
KARL (voice-over): His steadfast support of those election lies helped Brooks win Trump's coveted endorsement in Alabama's 2022 Senate race.
TRUMP: So, Mo is a fearless warrior for your sacred right to vote.
KARL (voice-over): But by the summer of 2021, even Mo Brooks said it was time to move on a message that didn't resonate with the Trump faithful.
BROOKS: There are some people who are despondent about the voter fraud or election theft in 2020. Folks put that behind you, put that behind you.
KARL (voice-over): Trump's diehard was booed by the hometown crowd.
BROOKS: Look forward, look forward! Beat them in 2022.
KARL (voice-over): They didn't want to look forward, they wanted 2020 rectified now.
KARL (voice-over): Brooks later told me that months after that rally in March of 2022, Trump called him with an extraordinary series of demands. Among them?
BROOKS: He asked me to perfectly state that Donald Trump should be allowed to move back into the White House, reinstated as president.
KARL (voice-over): Brooks says he refused, telling the former president and his demand was blatantly unconstitutional. And that then Trump retaliated pulling his endorsement.
Brooks went on to lose the Republican primary.
Do you think he really believed that he could be reinstated?
BROOKS: I sure hope not because if he truly believed that, and he was way outside, outside the bounds of reality.
KARL: Lots to dig into with our Powerhouse Roundtable.
And later China takes back its giant pandas from Washington. But could they come back?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life, and decided that I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate. But what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia announcing he is not running for re-election, but clearly leaving the door open for a possible third-party run for president.
The roundtable is here to break it all down.
We have former DNC chair Donna Brazile, “Politico’s” senior political columnist Jonathan Martin, “Politico Playbook” co-author, Rachael Bade, and co-host of "The View," Alyssa Farah Griffin, who served as communications director in the Trump White House.
So, J. Mart, let me start with you.
JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO SENIOR POLITICAL COLUMNIST: Yes.
KARL: Is he going to run for president as a third party No Labels candidate?
MARTIN: Well, first of all, I think this almost guarantees that the GOP takes over the Senate next year. It leaves almost no margin for error for Democrats. They – they now have to win a series of tough states, including Montana and Ohio. So, I think that's the headline.
Yes, look. Manchin is still teasing the possibility of running a third party. And I think the combination of that tease from Manchin that you just played and Jill Stein, a name that will trigger Democrats out there –
MARTIN: Jill Stein's entry as a Green Party candidate this week should really wake Joe Biden up to the multi-dimensional threat he could face next year. A four-way or a five-way race that could be really --
KARL: Bobby Kennedy Jr.
MARTIN: Yes, Jill Stein –
KARL: Cornell West.
MARTIN: Cornell West, and potentially a No Labels type candidate.
And, Jon, I think it's imperative, and a lot of Democrats do as well, that President Biden get people like Joe Manchin, like his buddy, Mitt Romney, who he’s talking to a lot these days, by the way, Manchin is, get them to the White House and say, you don't want Trump to be president again any more than I do. The only way to stop him is for me to win re-election. Maybe you don't like everything that I've done as president, but the goal has got to be to keep Trump out of the Oval Office. Stop the BS, guys, let's stop Trump.
KARL: I mean, Donna, this has got to be triggering you a bit. I mean I remember hanging out with you in 2000. You were working for a guy named Al Gore. There was Ralph Nader.
MARTIN: Speaking of the Green Party. Yes.
KARL: Got how many – how many – how many votes did he have in Florida?
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, one too many. Let’s just say that. It –
KARL: Yes. So – so, how worried – how worried are you that this could –
BRAZILE: Well, first of all, we continue to underestimate Joe Biden. We underestimated him last week. We were just talking about his poll numbers and, you know, Joe Biden should dismiss himself from the stage. Look. Joe Biden continues to overperform, defy expectations. The Democratic Party is winning. The Democratic Party is able to put together their coalition. If Joe Biden has some free time, I wouldn't invite someone who is resigning or – or retiring from the United States Senate. I would get more young people. I would get the kind of voters that Joe Biden will need in 2024 in order to put together that same electoral coalition that provided over 80 million votes.
You know, talk about tired of losing. When Donald Trump came down those stairs -- and, Alyssa, you will love this -- there were 54 Republican senators.
BRAZILE: There were over 247 House members. They – they -- that's the party that should be worried about their coalition, not the Democratic Party. We proved on Tuesday –
KARL: But this third party, you aren’t worried that – that – that the --
BRAZILE: Of course, you should always worry about what I call, you know, all the various spices and all of the seasoning that goes into an electoral gumbo.
BRAZILE: But here's what Joe Biden knows. He has the Tabasco. He has the receipt. He has the winning message that I believe the American people care about, and that is Joe Biden is providing relief to American families.
RACHAEL BADE, POLITICO PLAYBOOK CO-AUTHOR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTING POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't understand this from a messaging standpoint. I mean you had the Maryland governor on the show just a few minutes ago, and we were talking in the green room watching him. He was very much – you know, dismissing this idea of unity candidates, third party candidates being a threat to Joe Biden. Why not raise the alarm on this? Why not say, OK, a vote for one of these candidates is a vote for Donald Trump?
I mean, like, by downplaying it here, I almost wonder if they're going to miss an opportunity to very much snuff it out. And in terms of Joe Manchin, we should also go back to the Senate here. We're talking 2024. But this is really, you know, the institution of the Senate is very much changing right now. He is one of the few deal-makers that is still left in the upper chamber, and we've seen in recent years people like Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander, these deal-makers, they leave the Senate and they're replaced by Trump acolytes who want nothing to do with compromise. And this is very much going to change the institution of the Senate beyond the 2024...
KARL: Well, you have Tommy Tuberville.
BADE: Oh, he's -- he's really interested in compromising.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, THE VIEW CO-HOST & FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR. And listen, Tuesday was (inaudible) a good night for Democrats, but I think it would be a mistake to assume that, just because the Democratic brand is strong right now, especially with abortion politics being front and center, that that means Joe Biden is strong right now.
I mean, we've seen the polling. Six in 10 Americans do not want the dreaded Trump versus Biden re-match. So there is going to be, if this kind of third-party ticket emerges, a tremendous amount of interest in it from the average voter who doesn't feel like they're represented by those two options.
But I also think that, because I worry Democrats are, maybe, being overly confident coming off of Tuesday, we've seen the New York Times/Siena polling; we've seen the CNN polling. Joe Biden is underperforming with all of the key groups he needs, young people, black voters. Black men are, in a large part, moving toward Donald Trump in a way we haven't seen in a Republican candidate in 20 years.
So I think the White House needs to be open-eyed about the struggle that is ahead.
BRAZILE: Well, listen, there's one thing -- there's one thing to move, but I think they're flirting with Donald Trump. They're not moving. And at the end of the day, black women will essentially...
GRIFFIN: Will never go near Donald Trump.
BRAZILE: And why should we?
BRAZILE: But I also think this -- this electoral anxiety that people tend to want Democrats to have, it's misplaced. What Democrats should be focusing on right now, if they have electoral anxiety and they cannot get Mr. Sleep Pillow to put them to bed, is...
BRAZILE: ... go out and register new voters.
BRAZILE: They need to begin to communicate where people live, where they work, where they play and where they pray. Democrats need to continue to talk about the things that Biden is doing to help everyday Americans, the fact that prices are coming down -- it's taken a while, but Biden has the receipts, meaning he has done the work. And that's what Democrats need to focus on.
MARTIN: Yeah, "Don't agonize, organize" is the saying. But that -- that advice could be applied to Joe Biden himself, who, when he goes to the South Lawn of the White House and faces the camera, doesn't drive a message about how he's helping everyday Americans. He stands there and litigates the polling with the White House Press corps about...
KARL: Argues about how many polls he's up, how many polls he's down.
MARTIN: Why is he doing that instead of just driving the message, Donna?
BRAZILE: Well, look, I'm not there to give him advice, but...
KARL: They're going to hire you after the show.
BRAZILE: No, I passed my prime in doing that kind of stuff.
BADE: I was just going to say, I mean, we should talk about, though, one where -- one place where Democrats, I mean, their confidence is well-placed, and that's the abortion issue, after Tuesday. It's interesting because I was talking to both Democratic strategists and Republican strategists on Election Day, and both of them were, sort of, telling me that they thought the abortion issue wouldn't be as salient during this election and during 2024...
BADE: ... as it was during the midterms, when Republicans barely flipped the House and certainly didn't take the Senate. And yet both of them were shocked to learn that, OK, it's just as big of an issue for Democrats as it was back then.
KARL: So how are Republicans going to pivot on this, or are they?
KARL: I mean, you have the most pro-life, anti-abortion rights speaker of the House that we've ever seen.
GRIFFIN: Which -- that will be a challenge. So, listen, I think Nikki Haley gave the roadmap, it's talk about it with nuance, with compassion, saying we need to have judgment-free from how we talk about it. In 15 weeks, that models most of Europe. That's like a 69 percent of Americans support somewhere between 15 and 20. if you can get in a place where that's what you're talking about, and say, "By the way, if we are going to be..."
KARL: That's what Youngkin tried, though.
GRIFFIN: "If we are going to be a pro-life party, we also have to be the party of paid family leave, greater investment in foster care. We need to be pro-life throughout life."
My issue with Youngkin is I think he -- he really tried, but he did it -- he talked about it like a pro-lifer rather than trying to reach people who are on the choice side of this. I think his messaging was a bit off, and that's where they need to be. But the wild card here is Donald Trump bears the most responsibility of any living person for the Dobbs decision.
GRIFFIN: So is he -- is that going to pan out on the campaign trail?
If I were the Biden folks, I would be saying "He is who took down Roe." And I don't feel like that message has been going, because he dances around it. I don't think people see Donald Trump as pro-life, but he is literally the most responsible for the Dobbs decision.
KARL: I mean, at one point there is tape of him saying that the woman should be punished.
MARTIN: There is.
GRIFFIN: Yes, yet he...
MARTIN: It's his biggest accomplishment as president, overturning a half-century of legal abortion. And he's clearly embarrassed by it now because he thinks it's a political loser. But he is on tape saying it, and I'm sure Democrats are going to punish him for that.
Look, I think the GOP does not have a good answer for this issue because they refuse to concede to public sentiment. The country does not want to outlaw abortion, and that has been clear in every state that has voted on it. And there's not any reflection at all among Republicans about that fact. And when you can't even talk as a party about where the country is and where the voters are, and what your policy is, that's going to create some challenges because they refuse to move off their hard line for their base.
BADE: You saw a little bit of -- I thought the debate was interesting. The debate that came just 24 hours after, you know, this message was sent on abortion.
MARTIN: Interesting word (ph).
BADE: I mean, Ron DeSantis has backed a 15-week abortion ban nationwide.
MARTIN: He signed a six-week…
BADE: Yet, Ronna McDaniel has encouraged, you know…
BADE: …Republicans to embrace that. Thinking, OK, that's a safe strategy. You won't be punished by swing voters. Voters will show (ph) that was not the case in Virginia, and Ron DeSantis didn't, you know, reiterate his position on that. In fact, he talked about how, OK, different states were going to do different things, and that is -- that's not where he was just a couple of weeks ago.
GRIFFIN: Can I say though, what Nikki Haley does that is right and you know this better than anyone is, there are not votes in the Senate to codify a federal ban on abortion. So, I do think it's important to remind voters this is a state issue largely. You are not going to see greater restrictions coming from the federal level unless the makeup of the Senate fundamentally changes. But, I would remind Republicans in Ohio and Kansas, Republicans voted for abortion rights.
GRIFFIN: We need to hear from our voters. The politicians in D.C. are disconnected from where the public (ph).
BRAZILE: Not just Kansas, not just Kentucky, Montana.
BRAZILE: Ohio. And Jonathan, you know what? The pro-choice community will go one step further. They're going to get ballot initiatives across the country.
KARL: To mobilize the voters.
MARTIN: (Inaudible) do it.
KARL: So listen. We're almost out of time. But what was your sense hearing to that reporting on Trump literally thinking he could get reinstated as president?
GRIFFIN: I mean, just…
KARL: Even after he left the White House?
GRIFFIN: …stunning and you know this well. This theory emerged from QAnon (ph), from some of the darkest corners of the French conspiracy on the internet, this idea that he would be reinstated, and people started to believe it. But the fact that someone who is the former Commander in Chief very well could be again, was buying into something so absurd, so patently false, underscores how dangerous Donald Trump is.
There is incredible "New York Times" reporting from Jonathan Swan about what a second term would look like, and I think we need to -- that is what Joe Biden should be talking about, by the way, is how dangerous a second term of Donald Trump would be because it's terrible. They're talking about rounding up immigrants and putting them into more or less concentration camps. He's, you know, once again, would try to overthrow an election and also wanting to punish people like myself or Chairman Milley who spoke out against him.
KARL: He wants to go after those rhinos and those liberals like Bill Barr.
BRAZILE: And those Never Trumpers like my good sister over here. Look, the bottom line is Joe Biden knows how to litigate this race for 2024, and it is a choice election. And he is going to point out to the American people what he has done to help improve their lives and what this other guy is going to try to do to try to destroy this country.
MARTIN: As Biden likes to say, compare me to the alternative, not the almighty.
KARL: Not the almighty.
MARTIN: And that's going to keep going forward.
KARL: All right. We are out of time. Thank you to all of you. Still ahead, a look at the nationwide teacher shortage through the eyes of one Texas school district. It's part of our network-wide series "The American Classroom." Stay tuned.
KARL: ABC News is marking American Education Week all across the network with a focus on the future of our schools.
We kick it off with ABC's Mireya Villarreal Maria, reporting from Texas on a nationwide teacher shortage. And the efforts of one school district to recruit and retain teachers. It's part of the series "The American Classroom."
KAETLYNN RUIZ, TEACHER, TOSCH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: All right friends, are you ready?
MIREYA VILLARREAL, ABC NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kaetlynn Ruiz is no stranger to Tosh Elementary School in Mesquite, Texas, a suburb just outside Dallas.
RUIZ: It's super personal and super special to me, because I mean, I did walk these halls at one point.
VILLARREAL (voice-over): A former student here, Ruiz is now in her first year teaching fourth grade.
RUIZ: I've always wanted to be in education. I love kids. I have a passion for them.
JEFFREY BLACKWELL, TEACHER, POTEET HIGH SCHOOL: How many other people go online regularly to read their needs?
VILLARREAL (voice-over): Jeffrey Blackwell is a former attorney who left the courtroom 20 years ago to start teaching at his alma mater Poteet High School.
BLACKWELL: Being a teacher, it's, it's a calling. That's what teaching is. That's who we are.
VILLARREAL (voice-over): They're just two of the thousands of teachers in the Mesquite Independent School District, which serves more than 38,000 students in 51 schools. And like school systems across the country, Mesquite faced unprecedented challenges in 2020.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): All schools in the state of Texas shall be temporarily closed.
VILLARREAL (voice-over): Dr. Angel Rivera, now the district superintendent was the assistant in 2020 as the COVID crisis began to unfold.
ANGEL RIVERA, DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT, MESQUITE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL: If the teachers were stressed before, they probably double the level of stress at that particular time.
VILLARREAL (voice-over): School staffing shortages swept the nation. Around 300,000 public school teachers and other staff members left the field as the pandemic took hold, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But COVID merely put a microscope on issues teachers and school staff had been dealing with for years.
RUIZ: I would say I hear a lot of lack of support when it comes to behavior. A lot of them are leaving because of the pay. They just say it's very hard to live on teacher salary.
VILLARREAL (voice-over): Administrators were tasked with figuring out how to fill those vacancies.
RIVERA: But it was very, very obvious that we have to establish prestige in a teaching position.
VILLARREAL (voice-over): A local tax measure, Dr. Rivera presented to voters narrowly passed a year ago, leading to $16 million in new revenue annually for the district. Critical funding used in part to boost teacher salaries. In addition, the district implemented new programs like PACE, which helps teaching assistants pay for school as they fill vacancies while working towards becoming fully certified teachers. Ruiz is part of the PACE program.
RUIZ: It's just a very special program prepares because so many of us want to go into teaching. We just didn't have the means to get there.
VILLARREAL (voice-over): For veteran staffers like Blackwell, even before the pandemic, the district's Excellence and Teaching Incentive Program gave a financial boost to stay in the classroom.
BLACKWELL: If you go through this two-year program, then there's going to be a pay increase, a stipend that's attached to that. And if you continue on to get your Masters in certain areas, we're going to give you more money.
VILLARREAL (voice-over): As the pandemic waned, the district cut teacher vacancies from 145 at the start of last school year to just 16 this year. The impact of these programs felt by teachers and students alike. But there's more to be done as educators look to reinvigorate the industry.
BLACKWELL: We want it to be better, and we're striving we've dedicated our lives to it.
VILLARREAL: For "This Week," Mireya Villarreal, ABC News, Mesquite, Texas.
KARL: And be sure to watch Mireya's full report this week on "ABC NEWS LIVE," and tune in across ABC News programs for more on "The American Classroom."
Still ahead, the end of an era. D.C.'s pandas went back to China this week. Could diplomacy bring some of them back?
KARL: And before we go, we remember some of Washington's favorite former residents, the giant pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoo. They returned to China on Wednesday, marking the end at least for now of 50 years of panda diplomacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think pandemonium is going to break out right here at the zoo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: They were black-and-white olive branches from the Chinese government, first sent to the United States in 1972 after President Nixon famously went to China.
RICHARD NIXON, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Just checking to see how the panda thing went. I had been in a meeting. And so I…
PATRICIA NIXON, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Oh, they were just darling.
KARL (voice-over): Panda diplomacy helped usher in a new chapter in U.S.-Chinese relations. Americans were instantly captivated. The births and deaths of their cubs were front-page news. After the first two pandas died, President Bill Clinton welcomed a second set, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. And for the last two decades, they have been among D.C.'s most popular residents, rolling in the snow, celebrating birthdays, and transcending politics.
Although most of their fans don't know it, these pandas were never permanent residents. Originally on a ten-year lease from the Chinese government for $1 million a year, but now China isn't renewing the lease and the pandas at other U.S. zoos have already been returned or will return next year. Is China playing the panda card in a new Cold War?
DENNIS WILDER, GOERGETOWN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR & FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL DIRECTOR FOR CHINA: Well, at a moment when U.S.-China relations aren't that positive, I think Beijing is thinking, "Why should we continue to do something that symbolizes very positive relations?"
KARL (voice-over): The national zoo disputes that and staying tight-lipped about the prospect that other pandas could visit the United States in the future.
President Biden is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco on Wednesday, and some are holding out for a new panda deal. But for now at least, we say goodbye and yearn for a time when international diplomacy was more black and white.
KARL: That's all for us today. Thanks to all who serve our country on this Veterans' Day weekend. Have a great day.