— -- Below is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.
ANNOUNCER: A special edition of This Week: Terror Flash Point. All of Europe on edge. In London, police on their highest alert ever.
In Belgium, a plot foiled in its final hours. Soldiers now deployed on the streets.
It's a worldwide terror crackdown. This morning, we're answering the urgent questions. Can Europe prevent another attack? And are there sleeper cells here at home?
From the global resources of ABC News, a special edition of This Week: Terror Flash Point.
Here now chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. So many developing stories this weekend. Just two days from the president's State of the Union.
And big news in the race to be the next president. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee both on the verge of jumping in.
Governor Huckabee is our exclusive guest this morning. But, first, the fast moving developments in that global terror crackdown.
This morning, more arrests in Europe. Police raids happening in four European countries so far.
U.S. investigators also joining in as the international manhunt for sleeper cells heats up. ABC's Alex Marquardt has all the breaking developments from Brussels. Good morning, Alex.
ALEX MARQUARDT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martha.
An intense feeling of nervousness in Europe this morning. You can see here at the American embassy. The increased security measures that have been taken. A scene playing out across the continent as authorities try to prevent another attack.
MARQUARDT: Across Europe this morning, countries at their highest alert. In France, following the Paris attacks 120,000 soldiers and police in the streets. In the UK, the threat level against police raised to a level never before scene, indicating an attack very likely. And here in Belgium, heavily armed troops patrolling the streets for the first time in 30 years.
You can see here these Belgian soldiers armed with machine guns standing outside the American embassy, one of many sites officials fear could be a target.
As security is beefed up, the authorities are also cracking down. In the past 72 hours, almost three dozen people across Europe have been arrested on suspicion of terror-related activity.
Just last night, two detained in Athens, Greece. Belgian media reporting that authorities are hunting for a 27-year-old Belgian who went to Syria to fight with ISIS. Now, possibly in Greece.
Belgium is a tiny country with just over 11 million people. But some 300 to 400 young men have traveled to Syria to fight, the highest per capita of any western country.
Some of them arrested on Thursday in a series of Belgian raids, just hours before authorities say a terror cell was going to launch attacks against the police. In their hideout, AK-47s, explosives and police uniforms.
It's not just police who are believed to be some of the main targets, but Europe's Jewish communities as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The threat is serious, because they are a target we know terrorists like. They need to be protected.
MARQUARDT: In Paris, where anti-Semitism is on the rise, we saw police evacuating a synagogue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the signs are there. See the police outside of the synagogue? Don't see them outside of a mosque. It's quite magic.
MARQUARDT: Is it getting worse?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope not.
MARQUARDT: Top European counterterrorism officials say that with all the Europeans going to fight in Syria, there are thousands of potential terrorists who could carry out attacks, another of which, they say, is inevitable -- Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Alex.
Let's get the very latest on those sweeping terror raids across Europe and new fears that sleeper cells are poised to strike again.
Rob Wainwright is tracking all of it as director of the European Union law enforcement agency Europol. Mr. Wainwright, dozens of people arrested across Europe. What's the connection between them?
ROB WAINWRIGHT, DIRECTOR, EUROPOL: Well, what we're seeing now Martha, actually, is a determined police response right across Europe to deal in the aftermath of the terrible attacks in Paris. We're seen action now in Belgium, in Greece, in Berlin and other locations as well. And it shows, I think, the nature of the threat that we're facing right now. It's spread across so many European countries, perpetrated by community of possibly thousands of people who have been radicalized on the internet by their conflict experience in Syria and Iraq and who have -- many of them have returned to European society, perhaps some of them with the intent and capability to carry out the attack.
And to your question, I'm not sure that there is such a network, an organized network of people who are operating under a command and control structure. It's a lot more diffuse and unconnected in nature than that.
RADDATZ: Which can be even more dangerous, I suspect.
WAINWRIGHT: ...semi-independent people.
Of course that makes it much more dangerous, Martha. And that's the real challenge that the police face now, not just dealing with the scale of the problem, the numbers of people involved, but the way in which it's much looser than we've seen before.
It's not the same as -- in the days of 9/11 when we had an identifiable command and control structure, it's something much more difficult now, moving rather insidiously in our communities and across the internet in particular. It's a real challenge for police right now.
RADDATZ: And you have said that Europe is facing its most severe terrorist threat since 9/11. And this might even be worse.
WAINWRIGHT: I think it is more difficult. It is more challenging at any time since that period because of the complex way in which it operates in our society.
But at the same time, we're seeing a very determined response by national governments, by national police authorities. And at institutions like EUROPOL urgently reviewing our ways now that we can better support counterterrorist services everywhere and the better exchange of intelligence, for example, and the tracking of terrorist financing and illicit firearms. And in particular monitoring as well terrorist activities online.
And in all of these areas, it's important that we scale up our resources so that together we can protect our citizens in a better and stronger way in the future.
RADDATZ: We keep hearing this term sleeper cells. A huge concern. Define that for us. And obviously they're secretive, so how do you go about finding them?
WAINWRIGHT: Well, let's give you the example of what happened in Paris. Here, counterterror services right across Europe were quite rightly prioritizing their investigation around these people who had just returned from Syria and Iraq, who had embedded back into society, perhaps some of them planning to carry out terrorist attacks.
In the meantime, the people responsible for these outrages in Paris, were part of what was thought to be a dormant cell, not active since around 2005 and 2006.
So what it shows you is that even so-called older cells, sleeping in nature, can wake up at any time and carry out terrible attacks. So it's much more complex than we thought. It's important that we increase the scale of our international collaboration, also with the U.S. authorities, so that we can get a better picture of the threat that they pose to society at the moment.
RADDATZ: Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Wainwright.
Now to the big question, where are these terrorists sleeper cells coming from? And why?
As we walk up to the map, take a look at that urgent warning from the 9/11 commission 11 years ago. The U.S. government must use all elements of national power to destroy actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries.
But have we headed that warning? Terrorists are still finding safe haven in so many danger zones. And few know those hotspots better than the men we have here this morning.
We start with Yemen, home to al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, the group behind those Paris attacks. Admiral Robert Harward is a former deputy commander of CENTCOM, which overseas Yemen and is a former Navy SEAL.
Admiral Harward, how big a problem is AQAP still in Yemen?
ADMIRAL ROBERT HARWARD, FRM. DEPUTY COMMANDER CENTCOM: They're still able to plan and execute missions outside of the country, that's a big problem.
RADDATZ: How much of Yemen is really ungoverned, is really a problem? It almost seems like half of it to me.
HARWARD: Well, the large majority of the country is, Martha, and that's part of the problem. How do we get out to those regions where no one controls the area and get after these guys. That's tough in any book. But in this area, you have a safe haven in all of those areas provide a place for them to hide, especially when they're smart enough not to use communications to allow us to find them.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Admiral Harward.
Now from Yemen to Syria. It's civil war creating a lawless zone attracting thousands of western recruits to ISIS. By some estimates, as many foreign fighters as were training in Afghanistan before 9/11. Just last week, the girlfriend of one of the suspects in the Paris terror attacks headed for Syria, believing it would provide her sanctuary from the law.
For that part of the story, we're joined by James Cartwright, retired Marine Corps general, former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Cartwright, has this girlfriend just disappeared forever?
GEN. JAMES CARTWRIGHT, (RET.) U.S. MARINE CORPS: Well, probably not forever, but it's going to be very difficult to locate her. We don't have a great presence on the ground. We don't have a great understanding of the movement of individuals through this battle space. And so trying to track her down with just aerial reconnaissance is going to be a very difficult task.
RADDATZ: And ISIS just seems to be spreading in Syria.
CARTWRIGHT: They are. Their stated objective is to control space from the northwest corner of Syria, down across the border into Iraq to Baghdad and then on to the border with Iran. And they have occupied a great amount of this space. They followed the rivers, the natural resources.
Most of the work that's being done by the Americans and the allies in the air campaign is focusing on those border crossings, the dam up by Mosul and then up by Aleppo, trying to cut the supply lines off and the ability to command and control those forces.
RADDATZ: And -- and one thing we have learned is that the U.S. will soon start training those so-called moderate Syrian rebels, to send them back into Syria. But that takes so long.
CARTWRIGHT: It's a long process. It's a difficult process. It's an uncertain process. But the hope is that if we can train some of these people, they will provide us the eyes and ears that we so desperately need on the ground to understand what's actually going on and where to target when necessary.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to General Cartwright.
Now to Nigeria, where that jihadist insurgency, Boko Haram, sparked global outrage when it kidnapped hundreds of school girls last April.
Now, this week, reports the group used a 10-year-old girl as a suicide bomber, part of a new wave of killing.
Let's bring in Carter Ham, retired Army general and former commander of U.S. Africa Command.
General Ham, we also watched those extraordinary satellite images, the before pictures of a village there and after, completely wiped out by Boko Haram.
It only seems to be getting worse there, as well.
GEN. CARTER HAM, U.S. ARMY (RET.), FORMER HEAD OF U.S. AFRICA COMMAND: I think that's right, Martha, sadly. Boko Haram has become more violent and has extended their reach over the past few years.
RADDATZ: And we also saw overnight in Niger, there were 10 killed in protests against France, against the magazine in France and those images of the Prophet Muhammad. It does seem to be spilling across the borders.
But what about to the west?
HAM: The danger of Boko Haram in Nigeria, first and foremost, is that they have killed thousands upon thousands of innocents so far and displaced more than a million, perhaps a million and a half, both internally in Nigeria and across Nigeria's borders.
So there is a real threat regionally and the -- the great danger to the West is that that -- that power base that Boko Haram is seeking to establish in Northern Nigeria could give them a platform from which they could extend their attacks into Europe and perhaps even to the United States.
RADDATZ: And that problem we're talking about of safe havens, correct?
HAM: Absolutely. To date, the Nigerian government has -- has had only limited success in thwarting Boko Haram's efforts.
RADDATZ: Thanks, General Ham.
And now to the terrorists who can wreak havoc from anywhere, any time.
This week, President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron announcing new measures on cyber security after the massive North Korean hack of Sony put cyberwar back in the spotlight.
Joining us now, retired general, Keith Alexander, former head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command.
General Alexander, first of all, we did see a hack into CENTCOM, ISIS flags flying on the Twitter account, on Facebook accounts.
How does this happen and is that serious?
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, FORMER HEAD NSA AND U.S. CYBER COMMAND: Well, thanks, Martha.
First, we've seen the number of attacks across the commercial sector and government sectors increase over the past few years. And they're becoming more destructive.
RADDATZ: And this is clearly a problem we're just not ready for.
ALEXANDER: Well, it's a problem we're not ready for. The Sony attack clearly highlights that we're not ready for that. Here is a destructive attack by a nation-state and it shows we're not ready. And it shows the way we're protecting our networks, it's not working.
RADDATZ: Does this still keep you up at night, even though you're out now?
ALEXANDER: It sure does. I -- but I think there's a solution. And I think we've got do to that. It begins with what the president says on cyber legislation and it begins with what the president and the British prime minister said, we've got to work with our allies.
RADDATZ: And it is clearly an urgent problem.
Thanks, General Alexander.
So with all these threats around the world, the big question, how vulnerable are we here at home?
Could there be sleeper cells among us?
Plus, the new steps police in the U.S. are taking right now.
Back in just two minutes.
RADDATZ: The NYPD is announcing it's beefing up training for its officers to handle active shooters, part of the terror attack here at home. With new signs this week about just how real the threat is.
Here's senior justice correspondent, Pierre Thomas.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Washington, President Obama meeting with the British prime minister amid terror fears.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Al Qaeda and ISIL are actively trying to inspire and support people within our own countries.
THOMAS: The threat from home grown radicals is real, as we see unfold in this undercover FBI video. Amine El Khalifi caught in an FBI sting plotting a massacre of Congress, seen here going into Home Depot buying nails to use as shrapnel in a suicide vest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want that thick one, not thin ones. The one who's going to make (INAUDIBLE), right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, yes.
THOMAS: Later, driving into a West Virginia quarry with men he thought were al Qaeda to test a suicide bomb.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to plant the bomb and I want to (INAUDIBLE) you can see how it works.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, now hit (INAUDIBLE). Allahu Akbar.
THOMAS: In the end, complaining the bomb wasn't big enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, but brother, this is -- this is not strong enough, man.
THOMAS: Khalifi was arrested in 2012 just two blocks from Capitol Hill. The FBI says he was inspired, in part, but the online posts of Al Qaeda radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by the U.S. in 2011.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a population of young folks, largely young men, who connect with that extremist message.
THOMAS: And there may be many more like Khalifi. Christopher Lee Cornell, a 20-year-old from Ohio, was arrested just this week after buying to M-15 assault rifles, allegedly planning his own attack on Capitol Hill.
(on camera): Cornell is on of more than 50 suspected homegrown extremists arrested by the FBI in recent years, many radicalized online and through social media.
(voice-over): And in the last year alone, at least 12 Americans caught trying to join ISIS in Syria.
Then there's the threat of Al Qaeda cells in Syria and Yemen still targeting the West.
No specific plot has been identified, but could there be sleeper cells here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think there are sleeper cells not only in France, but certainly in other countries and, yes, even in our own.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I don't think that we have any information that would indicate, certainly with regard to the homeland, that there is any ongoing threat.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
RADDATZ: Pierre is here with us now, along with John Cohen, former counterterrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland Security.
Thanks to you both.
And Pierre, let me -- let me go to you first.
This really has Washington on edge.
THOMAS: Martha, it's a tense moment. There were two signs of it this week. The Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, expanded security at the airports and also at federal buildings. And the FBI director himself participated in a teleconference call to exhort vigilance.
RADDATZ: And John Cohen, let's address this issue of -- of sleeper cells in the US. Obviously, they're trying to hide, so how do you go about finding them?
How do you track somebody like that?
JOHN COHEN, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, several ways. The FBI and law enforcement have thousands of investigations across the country that are open today.
The bigger concern are those people who haven't risen to the attention of law enforcement. They've been discrete in their communications, they haven't been spending a lot of time training with -- with recruiters or meeting with recruiters.
Those -- that's where the difficulty lies. And that's where strategies that involve working with local communities together so that we can identify people who are exhibiting the warning signs, take steps to deal with those people, that's important.
RADDATZ: So federal agencies dealing with local communities, this doesn't seem like an especially good time for that to happen.
COHEN: No. I'm hearing from police officials around the country, the relationship with the federal government is unusually strained at this point in time. However, the FBI is working closely and sharing more information than ever with local authorities. They're providing more training than ever with local authorities.
They're working to ensure local jurisdictions are ready to deal with active shooter situations. We'll just have to keep working on it.
RADDATZ: And Pierre, I was struck this week by the issues in the D.C. Metro, the subway here. We weren't ready for that. A woman died in that subway because it filled with smoke; others injured.
So are we ready for an attack here if something happens?
THOMAS: Well, the short answer, in D.C., in that case, the answer was no. And I know federal authorities I spoke to were mortified, quite frankly, that they were not able to get in there and get those people off more quickly -- huge issue.
And Martha, going back to one point that you made about how you track these people, the FBI has been watching and monitoring travel patterns. Also they are very robust on the Internet, looking at who's posting these radical messages online.
RADDATZ: I know you'll both be back. Thank you very much to both of you.
So how can we stop the flow of recruits to extremist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS? This week, President Obama said Europe must do more to assimilate Muslims into mainstream society, something he says is happening here in the U.S.
Let's bring in Farah Pandith, who served as the State Department first-ever special representative to Muslim communities.
Thanks for being here.
I want to start with a few statistics, 1.6 billion Muslims, a quarter of the planet, 62 percent are under the age of 30, 2.75 million live in the U.S. These -- this is the pool from which they recruit, especially those young people.
FARAH PANDITH, STATE DEPARTMENT REPRESENTATIVE: Absolutely. But it's not just here in the United States or in Europe. It's all around the world. That a central point. They're looking at communities of young Muslims that have grown up in a post-9/11 world, who are experiencing something very particular to this generation.
And we need to understand that. Ideas don't have borders. It's all around the world, and these are digital native. So they are connected to each other.
But here's the deal: this issue, this threat of recruitment, the vast majority of recruiting is a solvable problem. It is possible to stem the vast majority and --
RADDATZ: Give me some very practical things that we could do that we are not doing.
PANDITH: Sure. Well, first of all, we have to understand that we need to be as serious about stopping the ideology of the extremists as we are about fighting terrorists. And that means going back to the local level, understanding what's taking place outside of government and upscaling the ideas that we hear on the ground with monies that do not come from government but come from philanthropists, that come from the private sector, that come from foundations.
We need to be looking at the ideas that we are hearing will work.
This second --
RADDATZ: Alternatives to what they're hearing from these Al Qaeda and ISIS?
PANDITH: Martha, we are very comfortable with this issue of how to build preventative medicine techniques. And we can do the similar thing here in this particular space. We need to prevent by a whole of community going after this problem.
RADDATZ: Great ideas. Thank you so much for being with us here this morning.
Up next, Mike Huckabee, why he's taking on Beyonce and Jay Z and will he jump into the 2016 race? Our exclusive interview in just two minutes.
RADDATZ: Now to 2016 and a GOP star who says he's thinking about another run for the White House. Our exclusive with Mike Huckabee in a moment.
First, how the former Arkansas governor could shake up the race. Here's chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was seven years ago this month that Mike Huckabee had his big breakthrough, a decisive victory in the Iowa caucuses.
He'd go on to win seven more states, conservative stardom and a FOX News show, but not the White House. Now the bass-playing former Baptist preacher is thinking about trying again. First step, he's giving up his TV show.
MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS HOST: Now as much as I have loved doing the show, I cannot bring myself to rule out another presidential run.
KARL (voice-over): Huckabee has strengths: his easygoing down-home style, and ability to appeal to social conservatives. But he's also come under fire from some conservatives for his record as Arkansas governor, raising spending and taxes.
In his new book, "God, Guns, Grits and Gravy," Huckabee hits the social conservative themes that made him a GOP star.
Huckabee even takes on Beyonce, calling her lyrics "obnoxious and toxic mental poison." Her husband, Jay Z, "a shrewd businessman who could be exploiting his wife as a sex object."
And in an interview with "People" magazine, Huckabee chides the Obamas for allowing their daughters, Malia and Sasha, to listen to their music.
In his book, Huckabee also writes, quote, "We still think the United States is the greatest country in the history of the world. But we know it won't be if we don't return to the principles we were built on."
HUCKABEE: I'm a conservative, but I'm not mad at everybody over it.
KARL: The happy culture warrior hopes to be the 2016 surprise. For THIS WEEK, Jonathan Karl, ABC News, Washington.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Jon.
Joining us now, former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, author of "God, Guns, Grits and Gravy."
Governor Huckabee, tell us, do you think there's a 50-50 chance you'll join the race or better?
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Well, I think, Martha, the fact that I left the FOX gig, which was a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for me, to leave that, I didn't do it just because I was tired of going to New York every week.
So I think there's a very strong likelihood that sometime later in the spring, which has always been my timetable, I'll make some kind of a declaration and clearly state my intentions, I'll put it that way.
RADDATZ: What would you do different this time?
HUCKABEE: Raise more money, for one thing. That was the big hurdle for us back in 2008. A lot of people didn't take the campaign that seriously until we were winning states and winning primaries. I literally got by on a dime to the dollar of both John McCain and Mitt Romney.
So in some ways, we were a very green campaign. We got more miles per gallon than anybody else.
But you do have to have a lot of money to be able to not only push your own campaign, but you have to be able to defend your record --
RADDATZ: But let's talk about --
HUCKABEE: -- against all these crazy attacks that will come against you.
RADDATZ: You've got other people certainly mulling a race now. Mitt Romney, at the weekend get-together, the winter meeting in San Diego, said, I'm giving some serious consideration to the future. He certainly learned lessons from his last attempts.
Could he overcome challenges and win this time?
HUCKABEE: Look, it's wide open. Anybody could be a contender. One of the things about politics, when you're actually there, you realize you're on a high wire and there is no net under you. On any given day, your campaign can implode for something that happens inadvertently or even intentionally. I mean it just happens.
So you never say that someone is not a contender, that they can't make it. I mean I hear that all the time about a lot of different people. Nobody knows. The voters will make that decision and that's the way it ought to be.
RADDATZ: You said some time ago that if Jeb Bush ever ran, you would step aside. What's changed?
HUCKABEE: Well, I think I said I might. I certainly am not making that decision right now, because I like Jeb. We're good friends. He'll be a very formidable candidate. But if I run for president, Martha, it's not going to be because someone else did or did not, it's going to be because I think that the country needs some common sense leadership that brings us back to fiscal sanity where we quit spending money we don't have and stop borrowing money that we can never afford to pay back.
And that we also build America back as a strong nation in the world.
RADDATZ: I want to go back to your book in the short time we have here. And you, as Jon Karl mentioned, taking on Beyonce, Jaz-Z and criticizing the Obamas for letting their girls listen to Beyonce.
HUCKABEE: You know, if people read the full chapter, it's in the context of first of all saying Beyonce is a wonderful talent. My point is, she doesn't have to do some of the things that she does in the lyrics, because it's not necessary. She has nothing to make up for. She's an amazing talent.
My point was, even in speaking about the Obamas -- and I said about them in the book, they're great parents. But it was President Obama in an interview with Glamour who said that some of the lyrics he won't listen to with his daughters because it embarrasses hi.
Well, here's my point, if it embarrasses you then why would you possibly think it's wholesome for your children to put it into their heads.
So that's the point. If you're very concerned about what happens with your children, and the Obamas are. They're great parents. They're careful about making sure their kids get a lot of vegetables and eat right. That's terrific. But what you put in your brain is also important as well as what you put into your body and that was my point based on what the president, himself, said.
So, I think if people read the chapter they see that it's about this cultural divide, the disconnect between the three bubbles of New York, D.C. and Hollywood versus the land of God, guns, grits and gravy, that's where the title comes from.
RADDATZ: And the bubble land.
You also said, quickly, governor. You said something in a New Republic interview that caught my eye. You said I've run twice against women opponents and it's a very different kind of approach for those of us who have some chivalry left there's a level of respect to treat some things as a special treasure, you treat other things as common.
What do you mean specifically by that?
HUCKABEE: Well, I just mean that you always want to be respectful. You want to treat everyone with respect. But in the culture of the south, the culture that I grew up with, I think chivalry is still alive. There's a sense of that you pay a great deal of respect and you don't come across as a bully.
RADDATZ: So, you'd run differently against Joe Biden...
HUCKABEE: ...because it's not my nature to be a bully.
RADDATZ: So you'd run differently against a Joe Biden and a Hillary Clinton?
HUCKABEE: I don't know, it depends on what kind of campaign they were running.
It's not an issue of sexism, it's an issue of simply understanding that every opponent, whether it's a male, a female, whether they're from the northeast or from the southwest, everybody has different nuances, and you always have to -- because I've been in a lot of races. I've been in politics for 25 years. I've run a lot of races as lieutenant governor, for U.S. Senate, for governor two different times and for president.
So, in every race you have to assess what are the dynamics of this race.
RADDATZ: And it looks like you've given that a lot of thought.
Governor Huckabee, thanks so much for joining us.
HUCKABEE: Martha, thank you. Great to be with you today.
RADDATZ: OK. Let's bring in the roundtable now for reaction. Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Alicia Menendez from our sister network Fusion, and ABC political analyst Matthew Dowd.
And Matthew Dowd, I want to start with you. We all want a quick reaction about Huckabee. But the latest ABC/Washington Post poll released today has Clinton at 56 percent, Huckabee at 39 percent. It sounds like he might need more than money.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think these races for president obviously are all -- they're like a hockey season where you have to get into the regular -- you have to go through regular season to win in the playoffs. His goal right now is not worried about the general election, it's worrying about the primaries, obviously.
What amazes me about what's developed so far, whether it's Huckabee or the others is we're going to have the Republicans are going to have four candidates likely who have not served in office in almost 10 years -- Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Senator Santorum and Mike Huckabee, which is an amazing thing that they have not served for 10 years.
RADDATZ: Congressman, I want to go quickly to you. You ran against a woman. Did you do it differently?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R) ILLINOIS: You do have to do it a little bit differently. I mean, honestly I've had a couple of tough races -- and, you know, if you're as aggressive in some cases and -- I mean, we saw what happened with Hillary Clinton's senate race, you know, it gets in the personal space, than it's -- there's a very different reaction to it.
But let me just say real quick on Huckabee, he represents a very important part of our party. Polls mean nothing now. Fred Thompson was a guy right now last time, so...
RADDATZ: And very quickly, Alicia.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, FUSION TV: If he jumps in, though, it changes the nature of that primary and forces all of these candidates who want to talk about economic issues to talk about social issues.
RADDATZ: A final word on Huckabee, governor.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, FRM. GOVERNOR OF MICHIGAN: I think he can win. He's a nice guy. And if you look at the primaries on the Republican side, if in fact the southern primaries go on Super Tuesday, he could run the table.
RADDATZ: OK, there's some news there.
We're just getting started. Much more to come on 2016. Plus, how will the Supreme Court rule on gay marriage?
But, first, our powerhouse puzzler inspired by Martin Luther King day. Here is the question, which president signed a law making MLK's birthday a federal holiday? Back in two minutes with the answer.
RADDATZ: So, which president signed a law making MLK's birthday a federal holiday. Let's see those whiteboards -- governor?
KINZINGER: I'm going to say Ford.
RADDATZ: Ford for $1,000.
KINZINGER: For $1,000.
RADDATZ: Matt Dowd.
DOWD: Ronald Reagan.
MENENDEZ: Ronald Reagan.
RADDATZ: His boyhood home is in your district.
KINZINGER: It is, yes, in Dixon, Illinois.
RADDATZ: OK, and Ronald Reagan.
The answer -- let's go back to 1983 and our old friend Peter Jennings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: President Reagan signed into law a bill today creating a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King. ABC's Sam Donaldson was at the White House.
SAM DONALDSON, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The White House staged an impressive ceremony today. The president and Dr. King's widow walking to the Rose Garden together in an effort to spruce up Mr. Reagan's tattered civil rights image.
The president signed the bill, which he so strongly opposed, making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: OK, you're going to study up on that.
We'll be right back.
RADDATZ: Time for this week's Politics Buzz Board.
Topping it off, Mitt Romney back on center stage, playing coy with Republicans Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People get better with experience. Heaven knows, I have experience running for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: But are Republicans ready for Romney a third time?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney is reportedly considering running for president in 2016. In a related story, Charlie Brown is planning on finally kicking that football.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: And Rand Paul, a potential 2016 opponent, piling on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: That's yesterday's news. He's tried twice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Meanwhile, Chris Christie says he's still deciding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I'm not going to allow other people to dictate to me my time frame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: But 2012 VP nominee Paul Ryan says he'll skip 2016.
So who's leading the GOP pack?
Our Facebook Sentimeter shows Romney has the most buzz, followed by Ted Cruz.
OK, back now with the roundtable.
Turning to you, Matt Dowd, because I've been on Twitter this week and I -- and you had some advice for Mitt Romney.
For some perspective, Romney might want to look at Godfather movie saga. One was good, two was great, three bombed.
What are you saying there exactly, Matt?
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I -- I mean obviously, he has the right to run. And if you look at the early primary polls right now, Mitt Romney leads. How long that will last is any ques -- is anybody's question.
To me, it's an amazing disparate field. There's so many people that have run before, it makes me think of the late great Morris Udall from Arizona's famous quote, where he said presidential ambition is a disease whose only cure is embalming fluid.
And I'm just amazed at how many candidates -- Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, Santorum, Mitt Romney, all these people who have run before who want to try it again.
RADDATZ: OK, but look at -- look at Mitt Romney. And you saw him sort of lay out where he would go with this if he does it -- heavy on foreign policy, looking out to -- to solve the poverty question.
Does he risk having people say who is this guy?
DOWD: Well, I think that's a huge risk for Mitt Romney. And it's in -- it's not only a risk, it's a reality for Mitt Romney. He ran one campaign in 2008, a different campaign in 2012. And to me, this campaign he's now developing -- obviously, he should be talking about foreign policy. We have, as you led into all of this, we have huge foreign policy concerns.
I think it's very problematic for Mitt Romney, who has car elevators, to run a campaign on poverty. I think you want to be authentic and genuine on it. And that's not to say wealthy people can't talk about those issues.
RADDATZ: So, Alicia, what -- what should he do?
How -- what would be a path to victory for Mitt Romney?
MENENDEZ: You know, he needs to have a central economic argument that is cohesive and comprehensive and that he can sell to the American people. I don't think anti-poverty is that.
I also think, though, he has to be realistic about the fact that he is going to be up against titans compared to 2008 and 2012. This is a much more competitive field. If I had trouble the last two times, this time is going to be incredibly difficult.
RADDATZ: Governor -- Governor Granholm, you Tweeted out, "Bring it on."
GRANHOLM: Oh, poor Mitt. Let him alone. Let him go. Listen, when he stands in front of all these Republicans on Friday night and laments the fact that the rich have gotten richer under Barack Obama when, you know, I mean he pays less tax than the guys who installed his car elevators. There is an authenticity problem.
And the other problem is that he is not a whole lot different than Jeb Bush. Both of them former governors. Both of them white guys in their 60s. Both of them super wealthy. Both of them are scions, sons of very famous politicians.
What is he bringing that's different?
So there's the fight on the establishment side and a fight in the Tea Party about (INAUDIBLE)...
RADDATZ: I'm going to go to you with another joke from "Saturday Night Live."
RADDATZ: They said, "If Mitt Romney is the answer, what is the question?"
KINZINGER: Yes. Well, look...
RADDATZ: Don't put it on your white board (INAUDIBLE)...
KINZINGER: Yes, we'll get that one wrong again.
KINZINGER: But I'll say, you know, hearing everybody say that a rich guy can't talk about anti-poverty is very -- it's actually really disturbing to me. I mean this idea that...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just this one.
KINZINGER: -- you can't be wealthy -- well, that's the point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
KINZINGER: I mean I think he's got a ton of compassion -- compassion. If you look at Mitt Romney and what he's given to charity and what he's done with his life, he really cares. There's nothing wrong in this country with being rich.
Now, does that mean Mitt Romney is the guy for 2016?
I don't know. I think he is a frontrunner. I think he can point to foreign policy and say, look, ISIS was not the JV team. In fact, it was a year ago, on this show, one year ago, where I called for bombing ISIS when the president was calling them a JV team.
He was right about, you know, with Russia and some of the other things we've seen.
So I think between him and Jeb Bush, we have some great candidates...
DOWD: -- I think here's the -- that whoever is running, whether it's either side of the aisle, on the Democratic side or the Republican side, needs to have an economic populist argument. And the problem I see is all the leading candidates -- Hillary Clinton to Jeb to Christie to Mitt Romney is they're flawed carriers of that message because they have a proximity and a closeness to Wall Street, a closeness to the wealthy, but an economic populist message.
The second thing is, if I were the Republicans, where I would go is the Great Lakes. If they want to nominate a candidate, I would go to the Great Lakes and nominate one of the Midwestern governors, whether it's Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio or Indiana. That would be the place, if they want to win the general election in 2016. Coming from the Midwest...
DOWD: -- the governor...
KINZINGER: And you're right, the Midwest is kind of a new point for Republicans. Illinois, we just won the Republican governorship in Illinois. I think -- I think, frankly, the Midwest is kind of the future of the Republican Party.
GRANHOLM: Well, I -- I love the Midwest, too. But, you know, all of these sitting governors are now facing deficits. And so it's difficult to run while you are governing. And that is very fresh for people that could be in TV commercials against them.
RADDATZ: And Alicia, I want to turn to you and Matt on the -- on the Supreme Court decision this week on same-sex marriage. The news broke Friday that the Supreme Court will decide whether same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states, required.
Reaction to that and what -- what does it do to the race, if anything?
MENENDEZ: I mean, first, let's talk about what it does for couples who want to get married in the United States, what it does for the LGBT community. This would be historic. This would be huge. And the timetable on which this has happened is unprecedented.
If, for some reason, they overturn the decision, then all of a sudden, you have married couples in states whose marriages are undone. That is incredibly complicated and messy.
For the race itself, I think it actually presents an opportunity for Republicans to focus on economic messaging rather than being forced to talk about social issues.
DOWD: Well, to me, to me, this is -- this -- they actually, I think, the Supreme Court, who -- who didn't delve into this decision in the last four or five years, this decision is not only right...
RADDATZ: They're way behind the public...
DOWD: This is not only -- they're way behind the public.
RADDATZ: Legal in 30 states...
DOWD: If you take a look at the interracial marriage, interracial marriage, when they made that decision, when the Supreme Court made that decision on interracial marriage, 20 percent of the public supported interracial marriage. They made that decision.
Today, a majority of the country supports this.
On the politics of this, so I think the Supreme Court is going to ultimately decide states can't ban gay marriage. And the -- I bet the country will be better because of that.
On the politics of this, I think it's both of those things. Alicia is right, I think it's both. We -- it presents itself an economic argument. But for the Republican primary, there's going to be many voters who are upset about this, many Republican primary voters. And somebody like Mike Huckabee, which as the governor said, has an opportunity for a cultural argument that will resonate with some segment of the Republican primary voters.
And so I think, yes, it helps them in the general election, but it helps a cultural conservative in the Republican primary.
RADDATZ: OK, let's move to Tuesday, the State of the Union.
We've all already gotten a big preview on what may be upcoming.
The State of the Union proposals, these policy proposals, free community college for two years, paid sick and maternity leave, expanded Internet access and a tax hike on the wealthy to pay for a middle class tax cut.
Any of these going to happen?
KINZINGER: We tried this tax hike on the wealthy thing with the fiscal cliff, which I voted for, by the way, because to me it represented compromise which is necessary.
This will be my fifth State of the Union with President Obama. I've heard so many proposals, some of which sound good, some that don't. And every time after the State of the Union, and I try to be this ever optimist, but every time after the State of the Union, he goes and retreats and doesn't reach out to Congress.
I've met the president probably two or three times in my entire life. And each were at a receiving line. He's never reached out to Congress. And Democrats tell you the same thing.
You can't get your proposals done unless you're willing to have a relationship with an important branch --
GRANHOLM: And it's a two-way street, of course. And now that Republicans are in charge of Congress, they have to show that they can get something done.
So I think the moment is really ripe for some great compromises. And what the president is doing with this State of the Union is really addressing the issues that actually this economic populism, this argument opens up, making sure that we restructure taxes so that it benefits the majority of people and not just the people at the very, very top. There's been a media pushback on the part of the Republicans. I think that puts them in a really hard position. Because how can you defend a capital gains trust loopholes --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- millionaires?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants to just put us in a box. He doesn't --
GRANHOLM: No, no. No, no, the point is that it would be to invest in the very thing --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Martha, that --
GRANHOLM: -- that will help the middle class.
DOWD: -- the sad thing about this, which (INAUDIBLE) why we're at such a dysfunctional state, is the president's going to propose laws that he knows the Congress won't pass.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But why, why, why won't they? I mean, just --
DOWD: -- he knows that. He's doing it --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- no, no. I totally disagree.
DOWD: -- and Congress, on their side, is going to pass laws that they know the president won't sign.
RADDATZ: OK. We'll all stay tuned to that.
I just have to end with this moment, this week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please don't.
RADDATZ: Another moment that caught my eye, President Obama did not go to Paris for a unity walk. But instead this week we had a moment with John Kerry, secretary of state, and James Taylor, singing, "You've Got a Friend."
When I saw, I just want to admit, I was speechless.
Alicia, how about you?
MENENDEZ: It is culturally just lost in transitional when you literally (INAUDIBLE).
DOWD: Well, he -- if he's going to do that, why doesn't he bring Gene Hackman from "The French Connection" in 1971?
Or Jerry Lewis, who the French love, bring them there and say, welcome -- I mean, I think it's kind of bizarre.
KINZINGER: This was -- this blows me away. I mean, at a time when you have to be showing strength, it's like, oh.
GRANHOLM: Give him credit for wanting to apologize, for wanting to say we love you, we want to be friends. This was a nice gesture. Maybe a little awkward, but nonetheless --
RADDATZ: Maybe not the best -- maybe not the best apology in foreign policy move on that. OK. We'll all look forward to the State of the Union and watch it next week and talk about it.
But thanks, everyone.
Back with our "Sunday Spotlight" after this.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Now, our "Sunday Spotlight" on one of the special guests invited to Tuesday's State of the Union, retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing is not a celebrity, not a newsmaker. His story just a powerful reminder of why they call it the greatest generation.
Here's ABC's Bob Woodruff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President of the United States.
BOB WOODRUFF, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President Obama addresses the nation Tuesday with attacks overseas having so many of us worried about security here, there will be one person in the audience for whom his message might hit home the most.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Air raid, Pearl Harbor: this is no drill.
LT. JIM DOWNING, U.S. NAVY (RET.): Noisy, millions of gallons of fuel oil, a lot of smoke.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Lt. Jim Downing was 28 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor 72 years ago.
DOWNING: A surprise was the first thing. And then -- and it was fear.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): He was part of the crew stationed on the U.S.S. Virginia. He ran straight into the chaos without a second thought.
DOWNING: That machine gun (INAUDIBLE) over my head. I saw -- I didn't know how many I was going to have to dodge after that.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): More than 2,000 Americans died that day. After memorizing the dogtags of some of the fallen, Lt. Downing wrote to each and every family.
DOWNING: They'd just get a letter saying he was killed in action, you know. But I want them to know he didn't die very heroically.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Today, the 101-year old is the only known service member of Pearl Harbor who is still alive.
Senator Michael Bennett has invited Downing to be his personal guest at the State of the Union.
SEN. MICHAEL BENNETT: He'll have somebody like Lt. Downing come as a reminder that the decisions that are made in this building actually have real consequences for people.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Seven kids, 14 grandchildren and many, many years later, Downing lives in Colorado. Now Tuesday, the invitation of a lifetime. And while the president may have many messages that night, Downing, excited to represent the veteran community, has just one.
DOWNING: I think there's a tendency for those that are actually engaged in combat to take war lightly. And I don't want us to do that.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): For THIS WEEK, I'm Bob Woodruff, ABC News, New York.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Bob. We'll look forward to seeing him.
We end with some good news. The Pentagon did not release any names of service members killed this week in Afghanistan or Iraq.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and join us Tuesday for complete coverage of the State of the Union.
And before we go, a very big welcome to our newest viewer, Ashley Shulder (ph), born on New Year's Eve to our producer, May Jeu (ph), and her husband, Larry (ph).
Congratulations to the whole family. We'll see you back here next week. Have a great day.