'This Week' Transcript: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel on presidential politics and budget stalemate in Congress.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): This week, the president's one-time enforcer rips into the Republican front-runner.

EMANUEL: Mitt Romney says he's a man of steadiness and consistency. And if that's true, then I'm a linebacker for the Chicago Bears.

AMANPOUR: Rahm Emanuel rallies for the re-elect last night in Iowa, urging dispirited Democrats to fight. The former White House chief of staff and now the mayor of Chicago as our exclusive headliner.

Also, another ticking clock, as the super-committee stalls at the 11th hour. Can anyone break the political gridlock in Washington? We ask Marco Rubio and Chris Coons, two freshman senators who built a legislative unicorn, a bipartisan jobs plan.

And then, Gingrich on the ropes.

GINGRICH: I did no lobbying of any kind.

AMANPOUR: Feeling the heat again after his surprise surge. The roundtable tackles the skeletons in Newt's closet, Herman Cain's turn at brain freeze...

CAIN: Libya...

AMANPOUR: ... which leaves Rick Perry planning to remake Washington.

And later, a week of stunning revelations in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal and the bizarre ramblings of the man at the center of the storm.

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


AMANPOUR: Good morning, and welcome to the program. We have lots to get to today, but first, some news since your morning papers.

Violence and mayhem erupts in Egypt today as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at thousands of rock-throwing protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Two people were reported killed and hundreds wounded. The demonstrators who demanded Hosni Mubarak step down earlier this year are now demanding that the military government release its grip on power.

President Obama is back in Washington this morning after a nine-day trip to Asia. Yesterday, the president sat down for a surprise meeting in Bali with the Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao. It comes after a major U.S. push to reassert itself in the region as a regional power. Obama returns to a deadlocked Washington with the debt super-committee's deadline just days away.

In Iowa last night, six Republican presidential candidates gathered for a little soul-searching at a Thanksgiving faith forum. The one glaring absence, though, Mitt Romney, who took a pass to campaign in New Hampshire.

The Iowa forum was at times teary and confessional, prompting moderator Frank Luntz to say that he felt a bit like Dr. Phil. Herman Cain got emotional talking about his battle with cancer, and Newt Gingrich spoke of a time in the '90s when he felt, quote, "hollow," like he was, quote, "failing personally." The former speaker finds himself confronting ghosts of his past these days, as his campaign skyrockets. As our man Jon Karl tells us in our Sunday feature, Newt was all anyone could talk about this week in politics.


KARL (voice-over): Meet this week's new front-runner. He's a good debater, man of ideas, and now Newt Gingrich is riding high in the polls, which means now the spotlight turns to all his baggage. Exhibit A: the nearly $2 million he got from Freddie Mac, a government-backed mortgage company that made so many bad loans, it helped bring the economy down.

Newt said at a recent debate he was paid as an historian.

(UNKNOWN): Sounds like a whole lot more than just being a historian.

GINGRICH: I was speaker of the House and a strategic adviser. I was glad to offer strategic advice.

KARL: Glad to offer strategic advice? It was just last month that Gingrich said Democrats should be tossed in jail for their ties to Freddie Mac.

GINGRICH: You ought to start with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. In Barney Frank's case, go back and look at the lobbyists he was close to at Freddie Mac.

KARL: But Gingrich was taking in $30,000 a month from Freddie Mac right until September 2008. That's the very month they started receiving a $54 billion taxpayer bailout, a bailout even bigger than any of the banks, and worst than Freddie Mac, look who Gingrich was seen with back in 2008.

PELOSI: We don't always see eye to eye, do we, Newt?

GINGRICH: No, but we agree our country must take action to address climate change.

KARL: Agree with Nancy Pelosi on climate change? How's that going to play with Iowa Republicans? Republicans voters have been trying to find a candidate that can score big. Romney keeps popping up along with a different face every couple of weeks. No jackpot yet.

CAIN: Oh, shucky-ducky, I feel pretty good today.

KARL: This week, Herman Cain became the first candidate to get Secret Service protection, but he also faced a problem more damaging than those harassment allegations. It came in the form of a simple question: Do you degree with the president's actions in Libya?

CAIN: OK, Libya...

KARL: The awkward silence went on and on.

CAIN: I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason. Nope, that's -- that's a different one. Got all this stuff twirling around in my head.

KARL: It was only Cain's latest stumble on foreign policy, but Cain mocked those who questioned his expertise.

CAIN: Who knows every detail of every country of every situation on the planet? Nobody. We need a leader, not a reader.

KARL: "A leader not a reader"? Where have we heard that before?

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER IMPERSONATOR: I was elected to lead, not to read.

KARL: Oh, yeah, "The Simpsons."

Rick Perry tried to get back in the game, promising to cut Congress's salary in half and challenging Nancy Pelosi to a debate. Pelosi gleefully said she had three things she had to do first.

PELOSI: Monday, I'm going to be in Portland in the morning, California in the afternoon. That's two. I can't remember what the third thing is (inaudible)


KARL: Finally, trending this week, Romney, I don't know. Cain, down. Worst than the Libya flub, he cancels an editorial meeting with the Manchester Union Leader, not the way to win friends in New Hampshire. Up, the debt, $15 trillion and counting. Down, way down, the super-committee, still no deal in sight. Will they really blow it? Up, pizza. Congress declares it a vegetable for school lunches.

With "This Week in Politics," I'm Jonathan Karl. Christiane?


AMANPOUR: Thank you, Jon.

Now, Rahm Emanuel brought the house down in Des Moines last night at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner. The Chicago mayor and Obama confidante delivered a sustained attack on Mitt Romney and a full-throated defense of the president's record.


EMANUEL: Republicans fought him every step of the way. But because of his leadership, millions of young Americans have been given a better chance. That is the change we believed in. That is the change we worked for. That is the change President Obama delivered.


AMANPOUR: And Mayor Rahm Emanuel joins us now from Des Moines, Iowa.

Mayor, thank you for being with us.

EMANUEL: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: So you gave this speech, and the beginning was a hilarious, if scathing send-up of a lot of the Republican candidates, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and the others. So are we to assume that President Obama should be really -- can't believe his luck, given these opponents?

EMANUEL: Well, look, somebody's going to be the Republican nominee, and then it's up to the choice that's presented for the American people. But what's interesting, regardless of the personalities, all of them are espousing the same policies that have been tried before and led to the present economic situation that the president inherited in 2009. Not one of them have had a new idea that's different than was tried.

And as I noted in the speech, George Bush got handed and the Republicans got handed in 2000 record surplus, and they got handed off a record national debt. And we didn't just come to that by accident. The president inherited an economy that was spinning towards nearly a depression, a financial system that was frozen up, an auto industry that was near collapse.

And then everybody made some choices. Mitt Romney was clear about the choices. He would have allowed the auto industry to go bankrupt...

AMANPOUR: All right.

EMANUEL: ... with the millions of jobs that were associated with that. But those are the choices, those are the values, that's the leadership, and that's what will be measured by the American people. So you look at field, obviously, you drew the conclusion you said. The policies, the same.

AMANPOUR: You did, in fact, spend a lot of time talking about the promises made and the change brought, as you put it in your speech, and yet one of the biggest changes that President Obama promised was to unlock the gridlock in this town right now, in this town since he became president. And he wanted to sort of have a different kind of politics. And yet here we are, stuck in the same political paralysis, and with no sort of end in sight.

EMANUEL: Well, wait a second. I've been through people that brought an impeachment, et cetera. Is it bad? Absolutely, there's gridlock. Now, let's take an example, Christiane. He's offered a plan as it relates to dealing with the deficit panel and the debt panel. He's offered a plan, OK? And what they've offered is an ideology.

He has offered a grand bargain, and they have refused to bargain. The Senate leader for the Republican Party said, "My number-one goal is to make President Obama a one-term president." Now, that's very hard to bring bipartisanship when that's the operating principle of the other side.


EMANUEL: Is it bad? Yes. But, no, is it bad? Absolutely. But that's-- but where does the origination of the poison start from? And so when you have the -- President Obama doesn't walk around saying, "My number-one goal is to beat the Republicans." My number-one goal is to help America. Their number-one goal is a political one. His number-one goal is, how do we make ourselves competitive in the 21st century? Those are two different operating premises, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: All right, but let me -- let me ask you, then, about the current committee. I mean, the super-committee was in part shaped by President Obama. And here it is now, at the 11th hour, and it is apparently going to fail. They're not going to meet what they promised that they would do. And people are saying that President Obama hasn't been front and center enough in terms of, you know, doing that last-minute politicking...

EMANUEL: Oh, wait. Whoa, whoa, whoa, no, no. Back up. Now, he's -- the super-committee was set up by the -- by the leading -- congressional leaders because that's where they wanted it.

Number two, he put an insurance policy in there, that if you fail, if Congress doesn't do its job, there is going to be an automatic cut, and that was the insurance policy both to motivate them, but to make sure that America got the types of changes and cuts and reforms that were necessary. Now, he hoped Congress would do it, but he had to buy an insurance policy.

Number two, as I said before, he has a plan; they have an ideology. He has offered to work on a grand bargain. They have refused to bargain. They will not move. He has put things on that are dear to Democrats and said, as part of an overall plan, I will make that part of it. That shows compromise. That shows interest. They have refused to budge on a single piece on their agenda. That is not how you get to an agreement.

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you. You're obviously giving a full-throated, as we would expect, you know, re-elect, rallying the troops for President Obama in this coming election year. Obviously, we expect that.

EMANUEL: Well, Christiane, I was -- I was asked to give this speech at the Iowa Democratic Party, not to the Brookings Institute.

AMANPOUR: Right. But I know. But obviously, I mean, we understand that. You're a Democrat. You were the president's chief of staff. I guess what I'm asking you is, given your, you know, passionate defense, given everything you're saying right now, and given the polls that, for instance, show that the majority of Americans think that the country's on the wrong track, they don't see the president as being able -- at least 43 percent of Americans don't see the president as being able to lead them out of this economic bind. And furthermore, the latest CNN Opinion Research poll shows that, if the election was held today, Mitt Romney would beat the president by about 51 percent to 47 percent. How do you deal with that heavy lift? How does the party, how does the president face that?

EMANUEL: Well, first of all, you remind people where we were just three years ago and what has been done, but what needs to be done. And then, second, as I do, I think, in the speech, there's a clear set of choices, because when it comes to the decisions in that Oval Office, the outcome isn't clear. It's filled with fog. And your guideposts are your leadership, your judgment and your values. Mitt Romney has revealed himself, and I believe as the campaign continues, more and more people will see who he's willing to stand for and who he doesn't really -- turns a blind eye towards, and that's the middle class.

AMANPOUR: I guess for the last year or more, the whole conversation in this country has been about budget cuts and cutting spending, et cetera. But with Occupy Wall Street and those movements, it's sort of shifted to the income disparity, to the inequality, to the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. And now, though, you're seeing police departments all over the country really trying to move them off the streets. How much longer do you think that this movement can last? And do you embrace their ideals and what they're standing for?

EMANUEL: Well, look, in -- as mayor in Chicago, I firmly believe in protecting people's First Amendment right. That will never be encroached upon. I also have a responsibility to enforce the law. And that also will happen. And I don't think First Amendment rights and law enforcement are opposite.

But you cannot be in public life and be callous to the angst that the middle class have in this country. Remember, in the last decade, for the first time during a period of, quote, unquote, "economic expansion," the middle class lost ground economically. They had their standard of living decline. That's never happened before.

Second, even before they got their feet underneath -- underneath them, they were hit again by a recession. They got the double whammy. You cannot be callous to homeowners, families trying to send their kids to college, people trying to hang on to their jobs and grow their income, and not see what happened to them in the last decade.

AMANPOUR: Mayor Emanuel, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

EMANUEL: Thank you. Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: Rahm Emanuel making the case for four more years. So let's now bring in our roundtable, George Will, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, former George W. Bush strategist Matthew Dowd, and Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

Thank you all for being here. So you saw in the speech that Rahm Emanuel delivered last night that this was not just a defense of Obama, of course, but taking on Romney. Is this the strategy that's going to work? I mean, is this really what they think now, that it is going to be Romney, the -- the candidate?

WILL: I think they do. It's hard to see Romney not coming out of this point as the answer to William Buckley's principle, which is you vote the most conservative person who is electable, and that -- as the current...

AMANPOUR: Do you feel that now?

WILL: So far. But, again, let's wait until we've hear from some actual voters.

AMANPOUR: So how is the Rahm Emanuel sort of method going to play out? I mean, is it really something sustainable now just to go after Romney? Because he's not just saying he's a flip-flopper. He's saying, look at the principles he did stand for.

NOONAN: Look, I think what Rahm Emanuel was showing in that interview is that 2012 is about this. Here is the re-elect strategy, no matter who the Republican is. If the subject is Barack Obama, that's bad for Obama. If the subject of the 2012 election is, oh, that Republican nominee is so awful, then Obama has a chance. This is going to be a demolition derby on the part of the Democrats, in which they simply try to tear the other guy on -- the other guy down.

Rahm clearly was thinking the guy right now and still is Romney. But whoever it is, it'll be the same kind of attack.

KRUGMAN: If I can just -- I talk a little bit to the people. It's not necessarily that they think that Romney will be the nominee, though they think he will be, but they think they can beat any of the others easily.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's what I was going to ask you, Matt, because now all the talk this week certainly has been about Newt Gingrich. He's made this surge. We've got all sorts of reports coming out of Iowa, home of the first caucus, about how people are giving a sort of serious second look, precisely because of the way some of the others are imploding.

DOWD: Yeah, that's the interesting thing about this race. For the last six months, it's been the Romney primary, the establishment Romney primary versus the non-Romney establishment primary. And the non-Romney establishment primary is a much bigger pool of voters than the Romney, which is why he's been stuck at 25 percent, so we've had these series of candidates. We've had Romney stable, not rising, and a series of candidates, from Michele Bachmann rise and fall, Rick Perry, rise and fall, Herman Cain, rise and fall, and now Newt Gingrich.

Now, does he have an expiration date that's the same level as the other candidates? And is he going to go because of these problems? I don't know. It reminds me of the college football season actually right now, where you have LSU at the top. Alabama loses, Oklahoma State comes up. Oklahoma State loses, Oregon comes up. Oregon loses, and so we are sitting in this plateau. Will somebody who represents the non-Romney have enough stick-to-itiveness to stay around and be able to win the Iowa caucus? That's the question.

KRUGMAN: I have a structural hypothesis there. You have a Republican ideology which Mitt Romney obviously doesn't believe in. He just oozes insincerity. That's just so obvious. But all of the others are fools and clowns. And there's a question here. Maybe -- my hypothesis is maybe this is an ideology only fools and clowns can actually believe in. And that's the Republican problem.

AMANPOUR: George, fools and clowns?

WILL: No, I think that's not uncharacteristically severe on Paul's part. First, let me make my, I guess, weekly disclosure, that Mrs. Will is advising the Perry campaign. But with regard to Gingrich, Gingrich is an amazingly efficient candidacy in that it embodies almost everything disagreeable about modern Washington. He's the classic rental politician. People think his problem is his colorful personal life. He's going to hope people concentrate on that, rather than on, for example, ethanol. Al Gore has recanted ethanol, not -- Newt Gingrich has served the ethanol lobby. Industrial policy of the sort that got us Solyndra, he's all for it. Freddie Mac, he says, hired him as a historian. He's not a historian. Hire Sean Wilentz, hire Gordon Wood if you want a historian.

AMANPOUR: Let's put up what he said about -- about Freddie Mac and these so-called consultancy fees. Well, in fact, it looks like I'm going to read it. He says, "I will cheerfully answer"...

WILL: That's another one.

AMANPOUR: "I will cheerfully answer every single question that they ask, and at the end of it, you'll be relatively convinced, I believe, that I did no lobbying of any kind, I did no influence-peddling of any kind." Is that damage control going to work?

NOONAN: Oh, I don't know. Look, there's a thing percolating, coming to a boil on the Republican side. It is this opposition to, this resentment to, and a desire to overthrow this permanent Washington political class. You see it this week in the Peter Schweizer book. You saw it a few months ago in the Gretchen Morgenson book. Everybody's reading them.

The people who come to Washington as regular, say, middle-class folk stay here for a while, serve for a while, as they put it, and wind up 10 or 20 years later extremely rich men and women...


DOWD: I agree with Peggy on this. The problem we have is, is that Newt Gingrich, who's a very smart guy -- he's done very well in the debates -- is a symptom of a Washington problem. He says I don't lobby, but he's paid lots of money not to lobby, but influence people.


DOWD: He started -- he left Congress not a -- sort of a middle-class income person, politician, and he became a multimillionaire in the course of the last 10 years. That -- now, does part of the party that wants an anti-Washington, antiestablishment, anti-candidate going to want somebody that became a millionaire basically by selling his influence?

AMANPOUR: But even -- even the conservatives -- I mean, even Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard say it would be foolish to count Newt out. I mean, it looks like the conservative side is trying to grab on to him.

WILL: I don't think so. I didn't even finish my list. When the -- when the -- when the...


WILL: ... when the Bush administration was trying to pass an unfunded, large new entitlement, in the prescription -- grafting the prescription drug entitlement onto Medicare, who was out there saluting this as part of his service, I think, for big pharma? He denounces the Ryan budget as right-wing social engineering. He sits down to talk about climate change and cap-and-trade with Nancy Pelosi and others. The list goes on.

He was -- but on top of all this, there's the absurd rhetorical grandiosity. And here we can put up the statement we had from him a moment ago. You can read this. Here's a man who says, in fact, that he's -- essentially, he says he's only the only man in the Republican race who really deeply concerned about the Republican -- about the fate of the republic. Not true.

DOWD: The other thing, Christiane, I think to watch is Ron Paul.

AMANPOUR: I was just going to ask you about that, yeah.

DOWD: Ron Paul is -- right now, he's second in Iowa. He's second in New Hampshire. And of all the people that are in the top tier, he has the most passion behind his candidacy. I would not be surprised at all, seven weeks from now, that Ron Paul wins the Iowa caucuses and goes into New Hampshire and disrupts this field even more.

AMANPOUR: But, really, disrupt? Or will it just be sort of a one-off for Ron Paul if he wins Iowa?

NOONAN: Oh, it would be disruptive. When you win Iowa, you go into New Hampshire with a certain amount of momentum. We all know this. And no one has ever taken Ron Paul seriously. Therefore, when Iowa does, everybody will stop and say, "What the heck?"

Can I say something about Newt? I feel Newt -- we need a little on the pro-Newt side balance. One thing that I think Newt has going for him is we're a nation of insiders, in a way. Everybody's always on the Internet reading stuff. The base of the Republican Party knows that the establishment of the Republican Party doesn't like Newt. That's a big plus.

Second thing is, I mean, on the base -- the second is that Newt's debate strategy was so fresh and so spoke to Republicans. He did this. He said, I'm not going to fight with the other guys here. They'd all be a better president than Obama. What I'm going to do is tell you what we -- what we have to do to get out of the mess we're in. Plus, I'm going to hate the media for you and take them on.


AMANPOUR: But isn't that the point, though? It is his debate performance that's sort of propelled him sort of where he is right now, after the bad debate performance...


KRUGMAN: It was his time. I mean, people -- the Republican base does not want Romney, and they keep on looking for an alternative. And Newt, although somebody said he's a stupid man's idea of what a smart man sounds like, but he is more plausible than the other guys that they've been pushing up.

AMANPOUR: OK, very quickly...

NOONAN: He also knows how to make the case for conservative thinking at surprising moments.

AMANPOUR: Herman Cain, is he in or out now?

WILL: He's out. He's done. I want to stay with Ron Paul for just a second. You said look out for him in six weeks, seven weeks. Look for him in eight months. He's not running for Congress again. He could be a third-party candidate. He has dedicated people in place. If he got 4 percent of the vote, there are a whole number of states with electoral votes he can tip over with those.

AMANPOUR: All right.

NOONAN: He would absolutely give the race to Obama.

AMANPOUR: All right. And we will come back again with the roundtable, because up next, as the super-committee barrels toward oblivion, a Washington odd couple tries to break through the gridlock on Capitol Hill. Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democrat Chris Coons on a prescription for action. They still have hope.


AMANPOUR: Americans right now are watching yet another scene of dysfunctional government play out here in Washington. After all else failed, the super-committee was conceived as a bipartisan solution to America's debt woes.

Right now, though, it's poised on the brink of failure. Still, freshmen senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Chris Coons of Delaware, a Republican and a Democrat, are trying to sow hope in this gloom. They've put together a jobs plan that they believe everyone can support. It's called American Growth, Recovery, Empowerment, and Entrepreneurs Act, also known as AGREE. They say it's small, but it's a start, nonetheless.

I spoke with Senators Rubio and Coons earlier.


AMANPOUR: Senators, thank you very much for joining me. Let me ask you first, Senator Rubio, you have said that this is not an earth-shattering bill that you're proposing. Just how many jobs do you think it will create?

RUBIO: Well, we're not claiming to know that number. We know it will be more than what we have now, and that's what's important. This helps real people. These are ideas that came from job-creators. Some of it's extending existing law to give another year of certainty to job-creators. And others are things that are new that came, for example, from the Franchise Association.

But we believe that one of the things that's holding back economic activity is all the bad news and impending bad news that's coming out of Washington. And we feel like if we can show people that there are things we can work on together, that there is a glimmer of hope in Washington, that we are able to agree on the things we agree on, we hope to be able to get the ball rolling on a little bit of confidence over the next 12 months.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, let me ask you, Senator Coons, a little bit of confidence is what's needed here. Obviously in the Senate, Senator Reid holds the card, in terms of bringing -- bringing it to vote. Is there any indication that you have that he would embrace this AGREE Act of yours and actually act on it, bring it to a vote?

COONS: Well, Christiane, we've gotten very positive responses from folks in leadership, from the White House, and obviously from our colleagues, a number of whom have already stepped forward to offer co-sponsorship. We drew these ideas from a broad range of sources, but most importantly, from the president's jobs bill, as well as from the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. I think this is a balanced, bipartisan, constructive package of ideas that can help move the economy forward. And I'm confident that Leader Reid wants to make -- make whatever progress we can in moving legislation that will help create jobs.

AMANPOUR: But bottom line, Senator Rubio, if something as innocuous as this -- and you're both saying that it is, really, a simple thing that everybody has already sort of agreed on, the elements of it, if this can't get through, what kind of message does that send, Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: Well, that's -- that's exactly right. And that's our point. Our point is that there is no reason for this not to pass.

You know, I think people at home, certainly here in Florida, and I'm sure across the country, understand that there are big differences between Republicans and Democrats, and they understand that's why we're going to have an election next year to decide that. What they don't understand is, why do you guys fight about the things you agree on?

And so what we did is we just sat down and went and tried to collect a few things that we -- people had agreed on in a bipartisan way said at least let's pass those. We can't sit around for 12 months and do nothing. And so that's -- that's what we're hoping to do here. But you ask a very important question: If something like this can't get traction, if something like this can't pass, what does it say about our process?

AMANPOUR: Well, precisely that. And you both have said that this is not a substitute for the really large reforms that have to happen and perhaps we'll have to wait for the next election. Do you agree with that, Senator Coons? Is nothing big on reform and deficit-cutting and all of that going to happen until the next election?

COONS: Well, we have been able to make bipartisan progress in this Senate, although it's not widely known, things as broad as the patent bill, as the free trade agreement, as the recent bill on veterans jobs. We have been able to get some things through.

But I'll agree with your question that on the larger issues about how to tackle the deficit, how to deal with getting jobs created in this country and how to get our fiscal house in order, there seems to be a persistent divide between my party and Senator Rubio's party.

We have a difference of opinion. And in my view, my party is the one that continually advocates for everything on the table, for a broad and balanced solution that includes revenue, as well as considering entitlements. And as long as we can't get to some agreement about how to put everything on the table and how to tackle a bigger package, I do think we're going to have to wait for the next election for a clear single from the American people about what value they put on protecting our commitments to America's seniors and the most vulnerable in our country who currently rely on entitlement programs as a critical part of supporting them as they move through life.

AMANPOUR: Senator Rubio, Senator Coons just talked about revenue. And, of course, all of this is at play now in this super-committee. And by all accounts, there's a huge amount of pessimism. People do not believe the super-committee is going to actually come up with what it said it was going to do. Do you agree with that, by the way, both of you? Do you think that this is not going to work, Senator Rubio?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, I never thought the super-committee was a good idea. And, second of all, I hope it does work out, because so much is at stake.

But I want to say something, actually, in defense of the Democrats on the super-committee. And I blame the White House for a little lack of leadership on this. I mean, the White House has never indicated to them how far they can go on making concessions, how far -- for example, on entitlement reform. And I think it's very difficult for the Democrats on that committee to enter into a negotiation not knowing where the White House is. They don't want to get their legs cut out underneath them if they agree to some entitlement reform measures that later on the White House decides they don't want to support in an election year.

AMANPOUR: Senator Rubio, do you agree with what many in your party say publicly, constantly, that President Obama doesn't, in fact, want this super-committee to succeed, wants it to fail in order to be able to run against a do-nothing Congress?

RUBIO: Well, again, I hate questioning people's motives, but I do believe that there's political strategy involved here. And I certainly the president would like to run against a do-nothing Congress, but I hope that doesn't stand in the way of meaningful legislation, particularly out of the super-committee.

AMANPOUR: Senator Coons?

COONS: I have to remain confident that there are folks in both parties who want to put Americans back to work, who want to deal with our deficit, and who want to do it in a responsible way. We need to pay attention to the 99 percent of Americans whose economic picture has not gotten brighter in the last decade, who haven't really deeply benefited from the significant tax cuts that were enacted under the previous administration.

And we have to look at a fiscal solution that will put everything on the table, that will get our economy moving again, and that'll put a floor under the real anxiety out there in the world. I think if we can focus on the broader challenge, which is finding at least $4 trillion in the next decade in savings, in deficit reduction, stabilize our debt, deal with our deficits, we can strengthen our economy. If it simply stays a zero-sum game, a fight between no defense cuts or no reforms to entitlement, no raising taxes, or no increase in revenue through comprehensive tax reform, no investment to grow our economy, we will simply continue to sink as a country. And we will risk, I think, a double-dip recession.

AMANPOUR: One of your fellow senators, Corker, a Republican, recently said if this super-committee -- if this Congress cannot come up with $1.2 trillion in deficit cutting, then that's a complete failure of leadership, and it -- he said we deserve to be downgraded. That's quite an indictment. Do you think you deserve to be downgraded if it doesn't work?

RUBIO: I understand the point he's making. And the point he's making is that it would be an indictment on our political process and on the unwillingness of the political class in America to deal with these significant issues that, by the way, didn't crop up overnight. These issues have been going on for a while. We knew this day was coming. And we know what lies ahead. We need to look no further than Europe to understand what lies ahead, unless we take these issues seriously.

AMANPOUR: Senator Coons, deserve to be downgraded if this doesn't work?

COONS: Well, I'm -- I'm certainly hopeful that all of us in Washington will take very seriously the caution that we've gotten from the bond-rating agencies. What's unfolding in Europe ought to be really concerting to everybody in this country.

Right now, Greece and Ireland and Iceland and other countries in Europe have a math problem. Their economies can't possibly produce enough surplus, enough revenue to deal with their debts in the short term.

Today in America, we have a leadership problem. But we still have the opportunity to right our ship, to make the bipartisan compromises we need to, to get our economy back on track by dealing with the very significant challenges that face us in terms of the size of federal spending and the absence of enough federal revenue, where if we can just get past the partisan divides, if we can make some broad and responsible compromises, we can fix our books, we can get on the right path, and we can strengthen our economy in a way that would allow us to grow forward.

AMANPOUR: Senator Chris Coons, Senator Marco Rubio, thank you very much, indeed, for joining me.

RUBIO: Thank you.

COONS: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And at this hour, the super-committee stands on the brink of a super collapse. Can they snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? The roundtable lays odds when we return.


AMANPOUR: Little joy in official Washington this morning. It looks like the much vaunted supercommittee has struck out. Yes, some precious time remains, but not much hope at this point. So what will that mean for America's economy and its politics? Let's bring back our roundtable again.

George, you were never a big fan of the supercommittee. Even if it fails or it doesn't fail, what does it all say about what's happening here?

WILL: Since we have -- what we need is not a big committee, we need a big election to sort out some of these. What was supposed to propel the committee to success was a fear of the sequester. But look at the sequester. $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, during which the Congressional Budget Office projects we will have $44 trillion of budget. So it's $1.2 trillion from 44.

Second, even if the sequester takes hold in 2013, 2013 spending will be a third larger than it was in 2007, just six years ago.

KRUGMAN: Actually I agree with George on a lot of that. Not that the sequestration is trivial, because actually--

AMANPOUR: That's the automatic cut.

KRUGMAN: Yes, the automatic cuts. If you actually look relative to the things that are in the firing line, it's a lot bigger than that. So it's pretty serious, but it's not going to happen. One way or another, it's not going to happen. And we don't know which--

AMANPOUR: The automatic cuts won't happen?

KRUGMAN: In January 2013, we'll be in a different political universe. Either President Gingrich will be doing something, or reelected President Obama and reinstalled Speaker Pelosi will be doing something. Anything can happen here. And the supercommittee was just a terrible idea, from the beginning.

DOWD: Christiane, I think there's a bigger thing here, which the American public is watching this all go on. We're at a Sunday going into Thanksgiving holiday -- happy Thanksgiving to you all as we move into that holiday. The American public is out there. Families are gathering. They're driving across the country, they're taking their bicycles, they're flying across the country to gather at a table. The supercommittee has not met as a whole since November 1st. They can't even walk across the hall while the American public is trying to celebrate Thanksgiving around the country to solve this problem.

And so we have the country watches this, failure of our institutions. They watched Penn State, which is another institution that they have seen a complete failure --


DOWD: And now we have the supercommittee, six members on each side can't seem to even meet in the course of this to solve this problem.

AMANPOUR: In the meantime, you've got a very, very upset secretary of defense, because part of those automatic cuts will be defense.

I just want to put up what the secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, has said. He basically said, "I really urge the leaders in Congress, I urge this committee -- suck it up. Do what's right for the country. We elect them to govern. That involves risks. That involves tough choices, but that's what democracy is all about."

He sounds so frustrated, Peggy. And even he's being tough on some of his own party's sacred cows, entitlements.

NOONAN: He certainly has. Look, the supercommittee is over. It has broken down. Nothing is going to happen here.

AMANPOUR: But what will happen to address all this?

NOONAN: Look, it broke down over classic Democrats, Republicans, spending, taxes. We know what the issues were. Some people tried to make compromise. It didn't work. It didn't work. Mostly in my view, contra Rahm Emanuel, because the president never got involved in this. He never pushed it forward. He could have had a big psychological effect. There were moments where they came close and the president stiffed his own Defense Secretary who said sequestering essentially will hollow out what we are trying to do here.

AMANPOUR: Should he have gotten more involved?

KRUGMAN: No. It wouldn't have done anything. The point is the GOP comes into this with a view that we have a terrible deficit problem. And in dealing with that deficit problem, we must maintain tax rates on the wealthy at pretty close to their lowest in 80 years. This is not -- this is -- you're not going to have a deal.


AMANPOUR: We want to learn more about axes, because Senator Pat Toomey, the most conservative on the super committee, did came up with a lot of revenue. Is this sort of now an internal debate?

DOWD: The gulf that we have here is Democrats on one side say that you can't cut any expenditures during a time of economic turmoil. That's what Democrats say. They're economic theory is based on that. Republicans' economy theory, you can't raise taxes at a time of economic turmoil.

Two people with a huge gulf in between, both of which are operating on things that are not historically true. You can cut expenditures during an economic problem. And you can raise taxes through an economic problem. That's the problem.

KRUGMAN: Let me pull authority and say you're totally wrong.

Actually we have a long term deficit problem. And part of the problem is this got framed in terms of short-term austerity. And so actually, I'm celebrating the fact that this committee has not reached a agreement.

WILL: The Bowles-Simpson commission that the president called into existence and then ignored recommended a package that had 30 percent deficit reduction through new revenues and 70 percent straight cuts.

The Toomey proposal was 24 percent through revenue and 76 percent through cats very similar to Bowles-Simpson and the Democrats ignored it.

AMANPOUR: So no shift in sort of the Republicans when it comes to...

WILL: Some shift -- oh, it's a significant shift. Sure. Absolutely. New revenues are on the table.

NOONAN: It certainly is, particularly from someone like Pat Toomey.

But let me speak to Matt's point, people are looking at this, I think, and they're going to see two things. One is, this feels like Greece two years ago. This is like a country that's not able -- even in a small way, $1.2 trillion out of 44, to make a little step forward. It makes the government look bad. It's just not a good thing.

DOWD: The president loses in this. Democrats in congress lose in this. The Republicans in congress lose in this and the country loses in this.

KRUGMAN: But this was fated to happen. This was just a terrible idea.

DOWD: Which is a horribly tragic thing.

KRUGMAN: Because it's a political issue. The question -- it's not a technical issue. It's not a small compromise. We have to make a decision of what kind of country we're going to be. And that's something that needs to be resolved...


AMANPOUR: ...election. How will it become in a year?

KRUGMAN: I think it will be, because we'll have at least some direction. We'll know which way the public wants to go.

DOWD: We thought we had some direction eight years ago. We thought we had some direction ten years ago. Every time the country turns and say I don't like what you guys are doing, get together, work the problem out, the country goes back, the congress goes back to this polarized atmosphere.

KRUGMAN: And (inaudible) a couple of years, fine, because austerity in the middle of an economic slump is a bad idea.

WILL: This is a transaction cost of democracy. It's untidy, of course it is. That's supposed to be that way. The congress far from being dysfunctional is functioning as a representative institute representing a country that is of two minds about its government.

AMANPOUR: All right. And we'll leave it there.

Up next, more revelations and more recriminations at Penn State. A campus is still reeling from the scandal involving the alleged rape of young boys by a top football coach.

The latest development in this appalling story coming up.


AMANPOUR: This is supposed to be the most exciting time of the college football season. But this year, all eyes are on the Penn State Nittany Lions and for all of the wrong reasons as former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky is indicted on charges that he sexually assaulted children. The investigation into who knew what and why the university officials failed to act swiftly is shaking Penn State to its core.

ABC's Jim Avila has the very latest on the investigation and new questions about what's being called the most explosive and damaging scandal in the history of college sport.


JIM AVILA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The man at the center of the scandal, Jerry Sandusky, facing 40 counts of molesting eight boys is free to roam the streets but is not talking anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you got anything to say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you holding up?

AVILA: The card said contact my attorney. And with the once noble Penn State football program now under NCAA investigation for its handling of the scandal, its legendary coach, the university president, all fired.

Another shoe dropped Friday. The still-beloved Joe Paterno, diagnosed with lung cancer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say to you?

JAY PATERNO, QUARTERBACKS COACH, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY: He just waved me off. He said, don't bug me about that. I'll be fine. You worry about coaching the football team.

AVILA: ESPN's interview with Paterno's son and still Penn State Assistant Coach Jay, was the first we heard from the close-knit family since the patriarch was fired.

PATERNO: One thing that Joe has taught me is -- said to me throughout the whole of this is we ought to make sure we keep focus on the victims of this whole tragedy.

AVILA: A softer edge than what we heard at the beginning of the week from a defiant Jerry Sandusky who by telephone told Bob Costas he merely "horsed around" with 10 year old boys in the Penn State locker room shower. No sex.

BOB COSTAS: Are you sexually attracted to young boys? To underage boys?

JERRY SANDUSKY, FORMER PENN STATE FOOTBALL COACH: Am I sexually attracted to underage boys? Sexually attracted? I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. I -- no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys.

AVILA: A message that infuriated the alleged victims and those around them.Victim number one's mother telling ABC News exclusively that statement made her boy even more anxious to testify.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants him to go to jail. And he wants him to pay for what he's done. And he doesn't want him on the streets where he can hurt someone else.

AVILA: The judge who allowed Sandusky free on bond was a contributor and volunteer at his charity and this week was removed from the case.

But serious questions about the governor's role in all this remain. Tom Corbett was attorney general in 2009, and used the slower grand jury process to investigate Sandusky, which left him on the street for two years while the case was being built, criticism that had the governor lashing out at reporters this week.

GOV. TOM CORBETT, PENNSYLVANIA: Do you want to continue to argue or do you want to ask a question?

AVILA: And there are plenty of those too. Why did the governor approve a huge state grant to the Second Mile while knowing the charity was under investigation? And will that charity now close this week losing donors and parental support?

For This Week, I'm Jim Avila, ABC News. State College, Pennsylvania.


AMANPOUR: Appalling story. And we will keep looking into it.

And up next, a looming presidential pardon tops agenda for next week in politics. We'll explain coming up.


AMANPOUR: It's been more than a week since the last presidential debate, but there is much more of that kind of fun coming up. Here's a look at what's in store next week in politics.

New Hampshire is ground zero in the campaign early next week. Newt Gingrich travels there Monday to roll out his plan for entitlement reform, and Tuesday the Obama jobs tour hits Manchester. That night, we'll be on gaffe patrol as the Republican candidates hold yet another debate on foreign policy. Wednesday, of course, is D-Day for the supercommittee. Miss that deadline and heads will roll. But not for one lucky turkey, who gets an official presidential pardon later that afternoon.

And now for a little something to tide you over until Thanksgiving. The Sunday funnies.


JIMMY FALLON, TALK SHOW HOST: There was another Republican debate on Saturday. And listen to this, Ron Paul only got 89 seconds to speak. Seriously, Rick Perry gets more time than that to try to remember something.

DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: Here's now is what happened to Herman Cain's brain. Watch.


SETH MEYERS, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Here to comment on how his campaign is going, Governor Jon Huntsman.

Isn't it true that nationally you're currently polling in the low single digits?

FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN, R-UTAH: It is true, Seth. But only a few months ago, I was polling at margin of error. So to have any digit at all is a pretty big deal.


AMANPOUR: We'll be right back.




AMANPOUR: That's our program this week. Remember, you can follow us any time on Twitter, Facebook and abcnews.com. Be sure to watch "World News with David Muir" tonight for all the latest headlines. For all of us here, thank you for watching. Happy Thanksgiving, and we'll see you next week.


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