'This Week' Transcript: Ben Carson and Donald Trump

ByABC News
November 8, 2015, 9:00 AM
PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a news conference before attending a Black Republican Caucus of South Florida event benefiting the group's scholarship fund om Nov. 6, 2015, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a news conference before attending a Black Republican Caucus of South Florida event benefiting the group's scholarship fund om Nov. 6, 2015, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Alan Diaz/AP Photo



ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Starting right now on ABC, THIS WEEK, live from New York with the GOP debate just days away, the Donald does "SNL."

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why are you hosting "Saturday Night Live"?


And the answer is I have really nothing better to do.

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): But can he turn laughs into votes?

Donald Trump is here live.

Front-runner firestorm: Ben Carson now forced to explain himself.


ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Amid accusations his famous life story just doesn't add up. Dr. Carson is here, answering the tough questions.

Plus stepped-up security: Brian Ross on the new measures to protect your next black (ph). And the first clues from that doomed flight's cockpit voice recorder.

From ABC News, THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos begins now.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Good morning, one year away from Election Day, another big week on the campaign trail and both Republican front-runners, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, join us live this morning after this report from Jon Karl.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Live from New York, Donald Trump took center stage on Saturday night.


TRUMP: Enrique!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I brought you the check for the wall.

TRUMP: God, that's so wonderful.


KARL (voice-over): But on Friday night, it was Trump's chief rival in the polls, Ben Carson, who put on a show.

DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What a bunch of garbage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is the exaggeration?

CARSON: That is the most lame investigation I have ever seen.

KARL (voice-over): The usually serene Carson is lashing out after accusations that parts of his life story don't add up.

CARSON: They have been talking to everybody I've ever known, everybody I've ever seen. There's got to be a scandal. There's got to be me some (INAUDIBLE). There's got to be something. They are getting desperate.

KARL (voice-over): The latest questions raised by "The Wall Street Journal" center on a story Carson tells in his 1990 autobiography, "Gifted Hands," that when he was a student at Yale, he was the only one out of 150 students who didn't fall for a professor's hoax in a class called Perceptions 301. He was then named the most honest student in class, his photo taken by the "Yale Daily News."

But Yale tells "The Wall Street Journal" there was no class by that name and no such photo in the Yale newspaper archives.

When asked about "The Wall Street Journal" report, Carson's campaign said there are no allegations and he probably doesn’t remember the name of the class.

Carson has also faced questions about his claim he was offered a scholarship to West Point, and about whether he was violent when he was young, a story he often tells on the campaign trail.

CARSON: At age 14, another teenager angered me and I had a large camping knife and I tried to stab him in the abdomen.

KARL (voice-over): Carson isn't naming that other teenager, now saying it was a relative. But he says that's when he rejected anger and gave his life to God.

Donald Trump isn't buying the transformation.

TRUMP: Do you think that's the right temperament to be president?


TRUMP: I don't think so.

KARL (voice-over): Trump senses vulnerability, Carson sees just the opposite.

CARSON: My prediction is that all you guys trying to pile on is actually going to help me.

KARL (voice-over): And he may just enjoy the last laugh. Carson's campaign says it's raised $3.5 million this week, thanks to the so-called "biased" media. For THIS WEEK, Jon Karl, ABC News, Washington.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Jon Karl for that.

And Dr. Ben Carson joins us now by phone.

Dr. Carson, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

You really showed some --


CARSON: My pleasure.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- flashes of anger this week.

In the end, do you think all of these questions are going to really help your campaign?

CARSON: Yes, because people are clearly able to see what’s going on.

When I’m out in the public, I mean, the number of people that come up and say, don’t let them get you down, we got your back, we know what you’re talking about, we believe you.

And, you know, you look at -- the political hit job this week. I mean, even some of you guys in the media called him out on that. It’s pretty bad.

You know, today, you know, "The Wall Street Journal" comes out and says, you know, we’re questioning this psychology course you took. We can’t find any evidence of it.

I wonder why, with all their investigating abilities, they can’t find it. We found it and we’re going to be putting it out. We found the newspaper article in the "Yale Daily News."

So I mean, why can we find it and they can’t find it?

And of course, oh --


STEPHANOPOULOS: So explain that there --

CARSON: -- cast a doubt --

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Dr. Carson, explain that, because "The Wall Street Journal" did say that there was class where you were named the most honest student, but they couldn’t find the name of the class or at -- any record of it at Yale.

What exactly have you found?

CARSON: We found the article from the "Yale Daily News" about the whole scam, so -- it wasn’t a scam, it was a parody. And -- but we found it. And the course, I guess, was called Psychology 1-0.

You know, when you write a book with a co-writer and you say that there was a class, a lot of times they’ll put a number or something on it just to give it more meat. You know, obviously, decades later, I’m not going to remember the course number.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s not just the press who’ve raised the questions about it. As you know, Donald Trump has put out a series of tweets about you this week, saying the story about ROTC and West Point was one of many lies by Ben Carson. He says this is the beginning of the end of your campaign.

What ’s your response?

CARSON: Well, it’s been proven that it wasn’t a lie. And none of the things are lies.

But, you know, what does it say about people who immediately jump on the bandwagon if they hear something bad rather than waiting and finding out what the truth is?

STEPHANOPOULOS: What does it say?


CARSON: -- about people?

Well, let me put it this way. I would not be anxious to have a commander in chief who acted that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now there have been a series of questions about the stories you’ve told about your past and, as you’ve pointed out, you’ve had explanations for many of them.

But there are other cases where they don’t match either the public record or the memories of others involved.

Is this really all the media’s fault?

Or do you think, concede ---


CARSON: Like what? Give me an example of what you’re talking about.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, for example, when you started out talking about a scholarship to West Point; there are no scholarships to West Point. You further -- you went on to clarify the actual situation --


CARSON: Yes, but where did I -- George. Now go look on the West Point website and you’ll see those specific words -- scholarship, full scholarship, to West Point.

So even though it is, you know, given as a grant for anybody who gets in, those words are used.

And if a recruiter or somebody who’s trying to get you to come there was trying to get you to do that, those are the words that they would use. It’s on their very website. So don’t say that that was a lie.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So there -- I actually didn’t call it a lie. I said where it didn’t -- where it didn't match the public record or the precise memories of others.

So the ques -- that’s my -- that's my question.

Do you believe that you -- you will have to get a little more precise in your documenting of your past?

CARSON: Well, show me somebody, even from your business, the media, who is 100 percent accurate in everything that they say that happened 40 or 50 years ago. Please show me that person, because I will sit at their knee and I will learn from them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So going forward -- going forward, no changes in your campaign?

CARSON: Absolutely not. Our campaign is the thing. We tell the truth. We deal with the issues. And, you know, we don’t -- I’m not a politician. So, you know, you’re not going to find me acting like a politician. I don’t do that.

I am somebody who is extremely concerned about the direction of our nation and what is going to happen to us if we continue down this pathway. And I am very hopeful that people in your business, the media, will soon recognize the role that they play in helping to restore the American dream.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Carson, thanks for joining us this morning.

CARSON: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And joining us now, Donald Trump, also by phone this morning.

Dr. -- Mr. Trump, thank you for joining us this morning.

You just heard Dr. Carson respond to your Tweets from earlier in the week.

Your response to Dr. Carson?

TRUMP: Well, look, I hope it all works out for him. It’s a strange situation, though, when you talk about hitting your mother in the head with a hammer and hitting your friend in the face with a lock, with a padlock, and when you talk about stabbing somebody, but the knife saved him, when, you know, the -- the belt buckle saved him. I mean, it’s a

Weird deal going on.

And I hope it all works out, because I don’t want to see Ben have problems over this stuff. And, you know, it’s a very strange situation. I guess a book was written -- I don’t know where this all came from, but a book was written before he ran for politics. But he said he has pathological disease in the book. When you have pathological disease, that’s a very serious problem because that’s not something that’s cured. That’s something that you have to live with. And that’s a very serious thing to have to live with.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, but in the past, you’ve admitted to inflating the value of your properties. And in your book, "The Art of the Deal," you wrote a little a hyperbole never hurts.

Is -- is that what Carson’s doing here or is it really something more serious?

TRUMP: I don’t know what he’s doing. I mean, I don’t know -- I can say that I never tried to hit my mother in any way, shape or form. And, by the way, my properties are some of the most valuable properties in the world, George. You know some of them. And I have some of the great properties of the world. I built an amazing company with a tremendous net worth. And whether it’s $5 billion or $12 billion or $10 billion, everybody agrees it’s magnificent.

And so I don’t know what you’re talking about.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If Ben Carson falls, where do the votes go?

Is he your top rival right now?

TRUMP: Well, it seems. I mean, you know who’s number one. I’m number one. And he’s number two. So I would say that the per -- the person that’s number two is my top rival. And in all fairness to Ben, he’s been the closest. With all these politicians that are running, Ben has been the closest to -- you know, I’ve been there for, I guess, 110 days or something. And he has really been up there and the closest and he’s hung

Around. As they say in sports, he’s just hanging around.

But -- so let’s see. And I hope this works out for him, frankly. I hope that there is not going to be a problem on this. But it’s a lot of statements are very troubling statements, I mean -- and for him, too. He understands that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s turn to ISIS. More evidence that this plane was brought down -- this Russian plane was brought down by some kind of an explosion.

Do you believe ISIS was behind it?

And what should the United States do about it?

TRUMP: Well, I think it was an explosion. I can’t be sure that it was ISIS. There are so many different groups over there. You've got a lot of crazy groups and you can’t be sure it was ISIS. But we’re going to have to do something very strong over there. The world is really going to be cratering. You know, if you stop transportation, I mean you’re talking about the blood -- the blood of the world. And we’re going to have to be very, very strong. We’re going to have to take away the energy, the fuel, the money from ISIS, because, in the case of ISIS -- I’ve been saying this for years. We have to stop the source of money. And the source of money is oil. And we have to knock the hell out of the oil. And we’re going to have to do it, because ISIS is making a fortune. They have better access to internet than we do. I mean, they’re recruiting people form our country and who knows what they’re planning?

So we'd better do something. We'd better be smart and we'd better do it right now. And don’t forget, I’m the one that wrote about Osama bin Laden in my book, before the World Trade Center was run knocked down. And a lot of people are saying, wow, Trump actually predicted that. But I was writing about Osama bin Laden before...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So -- so you'd step up the camp...

TRUMP: -- before the World Trade Center came down.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- you’d step up the campaign against ISIS even though you believe that Vladimir Putin is getting stuck in a quagmire by going in?

TRUMP: Well, I’m not looking to quagmire, I’m looking to take the oil. I want to take the oil. I want the oil. And I’ve been saying that for a long time. The Middle East is one big, fat quagmire, whether it’s Afghanistan, where, frankly, Putin, you know, the -- if you look at the Soviet Union, it used to be the Soviet Union. They essentially went bust and it became Russia, a much smaller version, because of Afghanistan. They spent all their money. Now they’re going into Syria.

I’m all for Russia going in and knocking and dropping bombs on ISIS. As far as I’m concerned, we don’t have to have exclusivity on that.

But we’re going to have to do something about ISIS and we’re going to have to do something about what’s going on over there. Probably it was a bomb and probably it was planted by one of the groups over there, whether it’s ISIS or somebody else. We’re going to have take some very, very serious action, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you something that came up in this new biography of George H.W. Bush by Jon Meacham this week. He -- he -- on page 326, it says, going back to the 1988 campaign, "The New Yorker developer, Donald Trump, mentioned his availability as a vice presidential candidate to Lee Atwater. Bush thought the overture strange and unbelievable." That’s what he wrote in his diary.

Did you really want to be vice president to George H.W. Bush?

TRUMP: Well, you know, Lee Atwater was a very good friend of mine, as you may have known. He was a great guy. And, you know, I was a very political person for a long period of time. And I was a big contributor.

And I was asked that question by Lee.

He said, what do you think about that idea?

I said I don’t know, Lee, you can check it out if you want, but it doesn’t sound right, because at that time, I had no political aspirations and...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So he made -- you’re saying he made the overture to you?

TRUMP: Yes, Lee asked me about it a long time ago. That’s right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of talk about addiction on the campaign trail lately, especially up in New Hampshire.

TRUMP: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you’re an absolutist on this issue. You don’t -- you’ve never used drugs, you say, no smoking, no drinking.

What shaped that decision?

TRUMP; Well, I really -- you know, I’ve seen so many people, over the years, where they became alcoholics or -- and it was so tremendous, so many people and so tremendous in every respect. And they became alcoholics or they started taking drugs and they became, in a way, addicted. And I’ve watched it. And just by watching what happens to people -- and I never drank and I never took drugs and I don’t smoke. I mean, you know, I’m lucky in that respect.

And I have friends trying not to smoke, as an example. Let’s say that’s the lesser of the three, but still, it’s a problem.

I don’t understand, why would they smoke?

Why would they drink?

Why would they take drugs?

The way you don’t understand it is if you don’t do it. And I always tell my kids, don’t drink, don’t smoke.

But who knows?

I think they don’t, but who really know what’s going on. But you can always...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You -- you’ve also...

TRUMP: -- it’s a tremendous problem. And, you know, in New Hampshire, I’ve got -- I’ve developed such great friendships in New Hampshire. They are having a tremendous drug problem, a tremendous heroin problem in New Hampshire. And a lot of that comes in through the southern border, which I will stop, because I’m putting up a wall. Mexico is going to pay for the wall. It will be built. And if you look at the kind of numbers we do in Mexico, they are making a fortune off the United States. And we will stop that problem, to a large extent.

But the heroin problem in New Hampshire and other places is (INAUDIBLE)...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you know, you used to think...

TRUMP: -- and we have to stop the source.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You used to think that legalization, taking the profit out, would solve that problem.

What changed your mind?

TRUMP: Well, I did and I -- I -- not think about it, I said it’s something that should be studied and maybe should continue to be studied. But it’s not something I’d be willing to do right now. I think it’s something that I’ve always said maybe it has to be looked at because we do such a poor job of policing. We don’t want to build walls. We don’t want to do anything. And if you’re not going to want to do the policing, you’re going to have to start thinking about other alternatives. But it’s not something that I would want to do. But it’s something that certainly has been looked at and I looked at it. If we police properly, we shouldn’t do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you point out, you’re going to be front and center to the debate Tuesday night. What do you expect?

TRUMP: Well, I think it’s going to be more of the same. It’s going to be questions. I think they’ll be fair questions. It’s a good group of people. Neil Cavuto’s a great guy and the whole group and Maria’s terrific and I think it will be very fair questions, unlike the catastrophe of the last deal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Donald Trump, thanks for joining us this morning.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: When we come back, the roundtable weighs in on all the week’s politics. Bernie Sanders joins us too. And all the latest on that plane crash in Egypt and the new security measures to keep our flights safe.


STEPHANOPOULOS: We have the latest now on that plane crash in Egypt. This weekend, the most solid evidence yet from the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and new measures to protect Americans traveling by air. ABC’s chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross has more on what the investigators have found.

Good morning, Brian.


In the weeks since the plane went down, virtually every piece of intelligence gathered by the U.S. and the British has pointed toward an onboard bomb as the cause and ISIS as the group responsible.


ROSS (voice-over): U.S. and British investigators are still not allowed access to the accident scene in the desert, but this morning, U.S. officials say the Russians have accepted an offer from the FBI to help with the forensic part of the investigation. Officials in Cairo Saturday for the first time described a distinct but undeterred noise heard just before the cockpit voice recorder, the CVR, stopped working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A noise was heard in the last seconds of the CVR recording.

ROSS: U.S. experts say it is possible and very quickly to determine if that noise was a bomb and, if so, where it was placed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That noise is very sudden, very sharp. It has a very distinctive profile to it compared to other noises. So you can -- you can tell bombs. Actually, they stand out.

ROSS: But there is already a growing consensus by those in the U.S. and British counterterrorism community that ISIS likely smuggled a bomb onto the plane at the Sharm el Sheikh Airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The key here was to get it on there, to corrupt somebody who was in the process that can get out on the ramp and do the kinds of things that were necessary in this case.

ROSS: U.S. and British officials tell ABC News that electronic intercepts of ISIS fighters, before and after the crash, indicated they have likely infiltrated or compromised airport security, which led British officials to cancel all flights in and out of Sharm el Sheikh and led the U.S. to order a sweeping security upgrade at key foreign airports that have non-stop flights in the U.S., fearful that increasingly Jihadist groups are sharing bomb making information, crowd sourcing terror techniques.


ROSS: Egyptian investigators say it still could be days more before even an initial determination of what brought down the plane is made (ph), a bomb and a delay, a delay that has caused a surprise (ph) U.S. investigators to say it’s more likely this delay, George, about politics than (INAUDIBLE) process in the (INAUDIBLE).

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Brian, thanks very much.

Let's talk now to two congressmen keyed into this investigation (INAUDIBLE) on the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Peter King, Democrat Adam Schiff.

And Congressman King, let me begin with you.

Do you join this consensus that it was likely a bomb planted by ISIS?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: In everything that I've seen, I…

Well, almost ready to conclude that it was ISIS, that it was either ISIS or an ISIS affiliate. And to me, I think that is the general consensus among people I've spoken to in the intelligence community.

And so I guess with final we can say but right now all the evidence points in that direction, yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Congressman Schiff, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul, has said this was likely put on board by an airline worker?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I share Peter King's assessment. I think there's a growing body of intelligence and evidence that this was a bomb, still not conclusive, but a growing body of evidence.

And I also think that ISIS may have concluded that the best way to defeat airport defenses is not to go through them but to go around them with the help of somebody on the inside.

And if that's the case, I think there probably at least a dozen airports in the region and beyond that are vulnerable to the same kind of approach, which is exactly why we have to harden those defenses.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Congressman King, this would be a game-changing strategy by ISIS, not local, regional, global, going after aircraft (INAUDIBLE) haven't done before.

Well, what are the implications?

KING: These are very serious implications. You're right. ISIS is not gone international before, certainly not to this extent. And what Adam said is 100 percent true. There are a number of airports, regional airports in the -- airports in that region which do not have anywhere near the security that's needed and their flights coming to the U.S., going to Europe, so we're going to have to really insist that that's going to be tightened up.

And I think U.S. and Western countries have to play more of a role as far as firming up the security --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- inside those airports --

KING: -- inside those airports -- (INAUDIBLE), especially those, yes, planes coming to the U.S., absolutely.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Congressman Schiff, we did that you see this announcement from the TSA on Friday, tight up security here in the United States.

What more needs to be done overseas?

SCHIFF: Well, a lot needs to be done overseas to make sure that these airports, for example, have those precautions in place to examine the employees that have access, that cares those that are responsible for the security itself and unfortunately this is a vulnerability, I think, in every country in which ISIS or Al Qaeda is present.

But I want to underscore -- and I think Peter can as well -- that this is a problem here at home. When we test the TSA, they fail. And I think we really need to step up our security here. I do think, George, that with this, if this is a bomb by the affiliate or ISIS in the Sinai, ISIS has now fully eclipsed Al Qaeda as the gravest terrorist threat in the world.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And does that mean, Congressman King, that President Obama is going to have to do more in the fight against ISIS in the region?

KING: Yes, I believe we do. I think we have to both U.S. for as -- U.S., Russians, others, we have to keep this up and it means we have to have at least observers on the ground, the air attacks have not been effective and today this reports that our allies are forming back, that the U.S. is doing more of the attacks and even those are not being successful enough.

This has to be an all-out effort. I don't think the president has done enough as far as having the forces on the ground that are necessary to make the air attacks more effective.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Schiff, do you agree with that?

SCHIFF: I agree that the president's approach basically has a battlefield that is pretty static and that more is going to have to be done; I think, frankly we're going to have to see whether the Turks or the Jordanians are willing to support with ground forces the imposition of some kind of a safer buffer zone.

Otherwise, the trajectory against ISIS is going to take 5-10 or 15 or 20 years.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Long-term battle, Congressmen, thank you both very much.

KING: Thank you, George.

Thank you, Adam.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Coming up, the roundtable weighs in on all the week's politics plus we talk to the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the new biography of George H.W. Bush, Jon Meacham.



STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, Bernie Sanders is here, what's behind his new take on Hillary Clinton.

And what would he do to stop ISIS from bombing planes?



MARTIN O’MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that when President Obama was running for reelection, I was glad to step up and work very hard for him, while Senator Sanders was trying to find someone to primary him. I am a Democrat. I'm a lifelong Democrat. I'm not a former Independent, I'm not a former Republican. I believe in the party of Franklin Roosevelt, the party of John F. Kennedy.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That is Martin O'Malley at a Democratic forum on Friday night in South Carolina.

And the man he was talking about, Senator Bernie Sanders, joins us now.

Thank you for joining us again, Senator Sanders.

He was bringing up that whole issue of not being a lifelong Democrat, being disloyal to President Obama.

How do you respond to what Martin O'Malley said on Friday night?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, let me -- let -- let me respond. I am proud of the fact that that I am a longest serving Independent in the history of the United States Congress. That's what the people of Vermont voted for. I made a decision in this presidential election that I will run as a Democrat. I am a Democrat now.

And what I am going to do as the Democratic nominee, if we win this thing -- and I think we have a good chance to do that, is to create a new and different type of Democratic Party, to involve millions of people, George, who have given up on the political process, working class people and young people who today say you know what, the economy is rigged, nothing I can do about it. The campaign finance system is corrupt, big money controls what's going on.

What I am trying to do, with some success, is bring out large numbers of young people who are saying, you know what, we're going to recreate America. We're going to transform America and create an economy that works for all of us, not just the billionaire class. We're going to get rid of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and create a vibrant democracy, so that we don't have the lowest voter turnout of almost zany major country on Earth, but one of the largest and strongest voter turnouts.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what about this issue of trying to gin up primary opposition to President Obama last time around?

SANDERS: No. No. Look, this is media stuff. What ends up happening -- I do and have done for years a radio show every single Friday, with Thom Hartmann. Somebody asked me years ago, do you think there should be a primary opponent to Barack Obama?

And I don't know exactly the words that I -- I'm not sure -- what's wrong with a primary situation?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you -- here's what you said...

SANDERS: The idea that I worked against Barack Obama...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- you said, I think one of the reasons...

SANDERS: Wait one second, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Here's what you said.

SANDERS: The idea that I worked against Barack Obama...

STEPHANOPOULOS: (INAUDIBLE) been able to move...

SANDERS: -- is just categorically false.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. But you did...

SANDERS: I'm sorry...


SANDERS: The idea that I would...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- that you were talking to people...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- you would be talking to people a bit about having primary opposition.

SANDERS: Well, the answer is I worked very hard to see Barack Obama elected. He came to Vermont to campaign for me in 2006. I worked for him in 2008. I worked for him in 2012.

And listen, I think under incredible Republican obstructionism, Obama and Joe Biden have moved this country forward in a way that leaves us a hell of a lot better than we were when Bush left office.

Do I have disagreements with Barack Obama?

Was in on the floor for eight and a half hours saying no, we should not be giving any more tax breaks to the wealthy?

Do I disagree with him on TPP?

Yes, I do.

But Barack Obama is a friend of mine. I think he's been a very strong president and has taken this country under an extraordinarily difficult moment in history in a very positive way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One specific difference with the president, how to take on ISIS. You opposed his new decision to put Special Operations boots on the ground in Syria.

But the threat seems to be expanding, not receding.

How would you counter it?

SANDERS: Well, here's -- here's what we -- we have. As you know, in 2002, when Bush and, you know, suggested -- and Cheney and all these guys -- that we should go to war in Iraq, I listened very, very carefully to what they said. And, no, I voted against that war. And I think history will record that as the correct vote.

Here is the nightmare -- and then every day, I'm on the Senate floor and I'm listening to my Republican colleagues. They want -- they want kind of boots on the ground. They want to expand that war.

Look, you've got in a -- a unbelievably complicated mess.

What the president is trying to do is to thread a very difficult needle. He's trying to defeat ISIS. He's trying to get rid of this horrendous dictator, Assad.

But at the same time, he doesn't want our troops stuck on the ground. And I agree with that.

But I am maybe a little bit more conservative on this than he is. And I worry that once we get sucked into this, once some of our troops get killed and once maybe a plane gets shot down, that we send more in and more in.

And this place is a quagmire in a quagmire in a quagmire and I see a very much perpetual U.S. warfare in that region.

But I will say this. ISIS is a barbaric organization. It must be defeated. It must be defeated primarily by the Muslim nations in that region. America can't do it all. And we need an international coalition.

Russia should be part of it, U.K., France, the entire world supporting Muslim troops on the ground, fighting for the soul of Islam and defeating this terrible ISIS organization.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've also started to express your differences with -- with Hillary Clinton more and more.

But is it really right for you to tell "The Boston Globe," quote, "I disagree with Hillary Clinton on virtually everything."

Don't your agreements far outweigh your disagreements?

SANDERS: Well, there's -- that's -- well, the answer is yes and no. Yes, we do agree on a number of issues. And, by the way, on her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and president than the Republican candidate on his best day.

But having said that, we have very significant differences. And the key difference is I see a nation in which we have a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality. Almost all of the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent.

I see a political system which is corrupt, where super PACs are able to receive huge amounts of money from millionaires and billionaires.

I think if you look at my history and what I am saying in this campaign, we need a political revolution. We need to stand up to the top 1 percent. We need to transform American politics and the way we do economics.

But, by the way, George, if I may, we need to have a media more interested in the issues facing working class people and the middle class rather than political gossip.

So do I agree with Hillary Clinton on this or that issue?

Of course I do. But I think on issues, for example, like Wall Street, you know, I believe that these guys who drove our economy into the ground, destroyed so many lives, I think at the end of the day, what we have to do is re--- reestablish Glass-Steagall. We have to break up these huge financial institutions. That is not Hillary Clinton's position at all.

You know, I was there on the TPP from way back. That was -- Hillary Clinton took a little while to get there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Sanders, thanks very much for joining us this morning.

SANDERS: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, former President George H.W. Bush blasting his son's advisers in a new biography. Find out why when we talk to the Pulitzer Prize winner author, Jon Meacham.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Back now with that new biography of President George H.W. Bush, making big headlines this week. Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham was granted unprecedented access to Bush for his book, "Destiny in Power," and in those unvarnished conversations, the former president's first public critique of George W.'s presidency with tough words for Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the rhetoric of his son.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil.


JON MEACHAM, AUTHOR: Didn't like that. He thought that the swaggering image of the Bush 43 administration was a diplomatic problem. He held Cheney and Rumsfeld to some degree responsible for it.

But gentlemanly and honestly, intellectually honestly, he did tell me ultimately it's the president's fault.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bush told Meacham that Cheney is hardline, iron-assed, a man who built his own empire.

STEPHANOPOULOS: (INAUDIBLE) presidents shouldn't have to worry about that.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Also goes against his code as vice president.

MEACHAM: I think it's fair to say that Dick Cheney saw him as much more as an operational officer of the government.

And when I took Cheney those remarks, Cheney said, we just have two very different visions of the vice presidency and I was doing what 43 wanted me to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now pushing something on 43.

MEACHAM: No, no.

STEPHANOPOULOS: 41 calls Rumsfeld "iron-assed," too, an arrogant man who, quote, "served the president badly."

Rumsfeld has now responded. He says, "Bush 41 is getting up in years and misjudges Bush 43."

MEACHAM: Right. All I'll say that Secretary Rumsfeld on that is the comments were made beginning in 2008. So seven years ago. It was not a passing comment. I took a transcript of all those remarks to President Bush 41. And I said I can't these off the record but if you would like to say…

I said this in the heat of the moment, after he thought this, I'll note that.

And he looked at me right in the eye and said, "That's what I said."

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why do you think he chose (INAUDIBLE) this way?

MEACHAM: I think because the son's presidency was ending. I think that he does believe in history. I think that he understood that there was fairly and unfairly a sense that the 43 administration was swaggering too much. There was too much swagger and not enough diplomatic substance.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He kind of believed that.

MEACHAM: He did believe it; 43 disagrees with it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bush is most revealing about his own years in the Oval Office.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He has the great (INAUDIBLE), the Gulf War, managing this transition at the end of the Cold War, which leads to, in your phrase, the great despondency.

MEACHAM: (INAUDIBLE). He was so down after the Gulf War.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Aggression is defeated; the war is over.


MEACHAM: He says, in his diary, that there is no Battleship Missouri moment.

What kind of a victory is it where the enemy remains in power?

He was as frustrated about that as a lot of other Americans were. But he knew that he had done the right thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Clinically depressed?

MEACHAM: I don't think clinically depressed. I think he was very, very down (INAUDIBLE) beginning to move into that thyroid condition, which can affect your mood and your acuity.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Driving Bush to consider a dramatic move.

MEACHAM: He really believed that he might just go in one day to a press room and say, I'm not going to run again and, as he put it, (INAUDIBLE) action all the way.

He fantasized about that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think he wishes now that he would have?

MEACHAM: No, I don’t. He's too competitive.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): All through the book, Bush is a proud father. On W's leadership in the Iraq War.

MEACHAM: He said the toppling of Saddam was a proud moment in American history.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): And Jeb's campaign.

MEACHAM: Very engaged, watches too much news. It drives Barbara crazy.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): And on his own legacy, Bush is strikingly modest.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He leaves the White House and his judgment to you, in retrospect, is that he's an asterisk in history?

MEACHAM: (INAUDIBLE). I feel like an asterisk. I feel lost. And on other occasions, he said, I feel lost between the great hero, the trumpets of Reagan and the trials and tribulations of my son.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if not an asterisk, what (INAUDIBLE)?

MEACHAM: I think he looks better and better, a president of great consequence.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable's up next. We'll get their take on the targeting of Ben Carson. Donald Trump's standup and what to watch for in this week's debate -- after this from our ABC stations.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's very popular still. If you were running against your husband right now, (INAUDIBLE) win that race?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I think you've got to have that kind of confidence if you are in this arena, trying to be president. So if I were going to run against him, would I win? Yes.



STEPHANOPOULOS: In that debate (INAUDIBLE) ratings records as well, Hillary versus Bill.

Let's talk about all the week's politics on our roundtable, joined by Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; Republican Alex Castellanos, chair of Purple Strategies; Maggie Haberman from "The New York Times;" Rich Lowry, editor of the "National Review."

And let's begin with Ben Carson. Saw him come on this morning, again taking on the press about all these questions about his past.

He says there's nothing there. He says it's going to help him.

Rich Lowry, is he right?

RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": It is going to help him. We've learned in this Republican race that media coverage is extremely important and a negative media coverage of a certain type is like gold for these candidates. And this coverage has been so disproportionate, he should have been more precise; some of the things he said in his book.

But to most Republicans, it's going to feel like a campaign character assassination.

STEPHANOPOULOS: From the media?

LOWRY: Absolutely.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree with that, Alex?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, absolutely. The best moment for Ted Cruz in the last debate was when the biased media was unfair. And Carson has just been given that opportunity. He can now run against Ben Carson deniers, who say he's not the man he is.

And this helps him because we know he's a man of service; he's a humble guy, a peaceful guy, soft-spoken. Guess what? He's now had that opportunity to demonstrate strength. He stood up there and said, no, I'm going to call you on --


DONNA BRAZILE, VICE CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: -- anger. But look, George, everyone appreciates -- and I think respects -- Ben Carson's (INAUDIBLE). No -- not one of us would take, I think, objection to his childhood and his so-called journey. But the central case of his campaign is not his ideas, not his policy, it's his bile, his character.

And so these questions undermine some of the central points that he's been making about himself. And I think therein lies the danger that Ben Carson (INAUDIBLE) in the primary --



Do you think this is going to cow, Maggie Haberman, media in trying to push and say, wait a second, maybe we're not going to go after (INAUDIBLE)?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Probably not. And I think they're going to continue to see this. I think you heard Ben Carson say to you earlier in this show, in this issue of what happened with him in college, at Yale, whether he was photographed as the most honest student. He said, we found it, I don't know why they couldn't.

I think that there will be pressure on him to release that and put that out. But I do agree that negative media attention has been a huge boon to Republican candidates and it's really sort of -- Trump has shown us that you can say things that are demonstrably not true and as long as you say them with authority, it doesn't seem to matter.

LOWRY: But there's -- there's an aspect of this that I think people are -- are missing. Usually when a politician is accused of exaggerating, it's to glorify him or herself, him, you know, to say I was more courageous than -- than I was.

This is Ben Carson, the story about his temper, was about glorifying God and telling a story about how God transformed his life. And you'd better believe that every single Evangelical voter in Iowa understands this controversy in those terms.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and Alex Castellanos. We also saw Marco Rubio, as he started to rise coming out of the last debate, getting more questions, as well as some criticism from Donald Trump over his credit card charges.

He's put out now all the charges going back to 2005, 2006.

As I look at that, I wonder if Jeb Bush is going to repeat the attack his campaign had last time around. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot there.

CASTELLANOS: There doesn't seem to be a lot there. And right now, taking out Marco Rubio doesn't particularly help Jeb Bush. It's still a very crowded field and Jeb is not necessarily next in line.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's got to take out Marco Rubio, doesn't he?


CASTELLANOS: Not until he becomes a place that votes can go.

LOWRY: He should be taking out...

CASTELLANOS: That's the real challenge.

LOWRY: -- Kasich in New Hampshire...


CASTELLANOS: It's a real challenge.

LOWRY: -- first. That's the first order or task for him, because that's another candidate who is really poaching moderate voters that Jeb needs.

But he has not chosen his adversaries well.

Trump, he didn't win any of the exchanges with Trump. He was embarrassed when he went after Rubio in the last debate. His campaign has bragged about how much oppo it has on Rubio, including the credit cards, and there appears to be nothing there.

BRAZILE: Yes, Scott Walker left the race and he -- and Jeb Bush had a lane, you know, to -- to sort of drive ahead and he finds himself now in a collision with Marco Rubio, but I think Jeb Bush's problem is that Jeb Bush still cannot articulate why he's running for president.

HABERMAN: Yes. And talks a lot about...


HABERMAN: -- himself and talks a lot about himself. He keeps turning the camera back onto him, I know I have to do better, I know I have to perform, I'm going to be like John McCain and go out there and grind it out.

John McCain, in '07 and '08, didn't talk about how he was going to be a lot better. He just went out and performed better. And he had a real political narrative experience and learned from it.

And Jeb Bush, so far, has not demonstrated that he has. He's demonstrated that he knows people are saying he has to do better.

But we need to see in the debate this week a much better performance, or there's going to be a real problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What would that be?

LOWRY: Forceful, winning some exchanges with people. And he's talked about performance kind of slidingly the last few weeks. Performance is enormously important. We do not elect presidents now who aren't exceptional performers.

Maybe Calvin Coolidge could have gotten away from it -- away with it, but not in the modern media age.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And as we come into this next debate and we close in on Iowa now, about 90 days away, you still have Donald Trump and Ben Carson getting over 50 percent of the vote.

Are Republicans in the establishment coming around to the idea that one of them might actually get the nomination?

CASTELLANOS: We're getting awfully close to that. Sixteen percent of Republicans think Trump is going to be the nominee. Carson wins Iowa. That's probably the most likely scenario at this moment.

We go to New Hampshire and then New Hampshire gets to validate an alternative. Right now, that would probably be Donald Trump.

The races are decided that -- no nominee has ever been chosen on the Republican side in the modern media against since Kennedy and Nixon that -- who didn't win one of those two states, because they vote in these states, but the campaigns are seen nationally.


CASTELLANOS: There is no other story beyond what we see in that crucible in those early states.

So, yes, that could be the race come...


CASTELLANOS: -- as it stands today.

BRAZILE: And then, of course, Nevada and South Carolina, you get big -- the big, SCC primary on March 1. And if Trump is ahead at that point, I don't know how you stop that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Maggie Haberman, we just saw Bernie Sanders again right there. There -- and he seems to be going back and forth. He even said it in his own answer, are you going to be tough on Hillary Clinton?

Well, yes and no and the differences, right. He seems somewhat ambivalent about how hard to take her on.

HABERMAN: I think that's right. It was tough-ish, right?

I mean he has advisers who I think want him to go further and more narrowly at her than he is willing to do or comfortable with doing. And you see it, as you say, in his conversation. You see it in what he's talking about in this forum in South Carolina the other night. He did not look like he wanted to repeat some of the attacks he had made against her.

Earlier this week, last week, in an interview, he suggested that, you know, forgiving her for the emails in that Democratic debate was maybe not such a great idea. He suggested that he was just...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Or not what he meant...


HABERMAN: That's not what he meant to do.


HABERMAN: This was a legitimate issue. It's appropriate to talk about. But he didn't talk about it on Friday night. And I'm not sure you're going to hear him go at her so aggressively at their next debate. He said, you know, she would be light years better than any other Republican.

He is making sure he doesn't want to damage her, I think, too badly.

LOWRY: Yes, I think this -- this is a key ambiguity and some of it is just Bernie's political persona. He likes to be positive and talk about his own ideas.

But a lot of it just has to do with what the -- the nature of the Democratic electorate. They really do not want to hear about Hillary Clinton's vulnerabilities.

Now, that's really discordant with the -- the general public, where a lot of these matters have hurt her. But Democrats don't want to hear it.

HABERMAN: Well, certainly on the emails...


HABERMAN: -- they don't want to hear it. You see Democratic voters overwhelmingly say they don't actually think this is a voting issue. And I think that's what he's reacting to.

BRAZILE: But Bernie is still being introduced to the Democratic Party and as you know, he's filed to run as a Democrat the other day in New Hampshire. And Democrats want to hear, you know, about ideas.

And Bernie has been really good talking about the political revolution, talking about campaign finance reform. As long as he can talk about issues that really energize Democrats, he will do very well in these primaries and caucuses.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, (INAUDIBLE), pick up on what Rich was just talking about. I think he's right about how the Democrats are sort of looking to preserve the Democratic brand.

Do you think that same dynamic is holding on the Republican side?


CASTELLANOS: Preserving...



CASTELLANOS: I think we are -- we're slightly too chaotic for that at the moment. We're -- we're a party, I think I said the other day, a dumpster fire. There's nothing to preserve.

But I'll tell you about Bernie Sanders is interesting because he's got two big problems.

One is what Tina Fey did to Sarah Palin, Larry David is doing...


CASTELLANOS: -- to Bernie Sanders.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Don't you think that's helping him?

CASTELLANOS: It's making him...


CASTELLANOS: I don't think it's helping him.


CASTELLANOS: Let me get a little serious, because the same -- the other part of what's happening is he's got no campaign now. Hillary Clinton...


CASTELLANOS: -- has absorbed his campaign and the message and she looks like she's going to win.

So he has very little to say that's different. He's trying to find differences that are palatable and there aren't any. I mean I think he voted differently on the War of 1812 versus her.


CASTELLANOS: But that's about it.


STEPHANOPOULOS: We do see Hillary trying to close the gap on any issue there, except on guns, where she wants to emphasize (INAUDIBLE)...

BRAZILE: Absolutely.


BRAZILE: But, you know what, she's running a smart campaign now. She's talking to not just the base, but she's trying to get back to talking to the middle. And I think she's going to do very well.

But look, this campaign is not over with. We have two debates this week. Democrats are -- are really excited about our debate, so we don't have to talk about the Republican debate.

But the truth is is that the Republican Party is in chaos because they don't know exactly what they stand for anymore.

CASTELLANOS: Oh, I don't know about that. I think we're very clear that we stand for getting money out of Washington, growing the economy...

BRAZILE: Oh, well, let's not...


BRAZILE: -- I'm going to give you my...


BRAZILE: -- the rest of my time.


CASTELLANOS: But Bernie Sanders...


BRAZILE: -- my time.

CASTELLANOS: -- probably has succeeded his agenda has won.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That is the last word today.

Thank you all very much.

Up next, Bob Woodruff reports from the South China Sea on that breakthrough between China and Taiwan and what it means for the US.


STEPHANOPOULOS: There you see the first handshake between the leaders of China and Taiwan in 66 years. It lasted a full minute. Opening talks could signal a new phase for those two countries, all of Asia and the US.

As Bob Woodruff explains from his visit to the South China Sea this week with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.


BOB WOODRUFF, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We met Defense Secretary Ash Carter on the USS Roosevelt on patrol in the South China Sea, the epicenter of this new clash, where American surveillance shows China on a building spree, creating 2,000 acres of new island. He's one of the biggest, the Subi Reef back in 2012. Here's the Subi Reef today. This new construction is making other countries nervous. This territory around the Spratly Islands is claimed by many, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've built hundreds of meters in the past couple of months.

WOODRUFF: U.S. military planes watching from the air, this week going further, President Obama sending a guided missile destroyer, the Lassen, within 21 nautical miles of one island, the Lassen cruising right by the Roosevelt during our interview.

(on camera): What are we trying to accomplish?

Do you think that China is going to stop doing what they are in terms of these islands if we go close to them or is this just a...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we're doing is...

WOODRUFF: -- prophetic kind of warning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- what we have done for decades, that's a reflection of the American military presence in this region. And we are strengthening that, what President Obama calls the rebalance.

Why is that?

It's because it's the American strength here that has kept peace and stability in a region that has no NATO, has no security structure. That's the reason why we're out here.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): The U.S. is also here because more and more Asian countries want to keep China in check. Some are old American allies, but also former enemies, like Vietnam. Secretary Carter was there in June.


(on camera): Who would have ever thought that Vietnam wants us back here?

ASHTON CARTER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I remember very well a time when we were at war with Vietnam. Now, they very much want the American presence and our -- and a relationship and that was my purpose for my visit with (INAUDIBLE).

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Regarding this new dispute, China's president saying this area has been China's territory since ancient times.


WOODRUFF: There's no more aggressive China under President Xi?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this is widely viewed in the region as an aggressive act. And the United States regards it -- by the way, China isn't the only country doing it. I should say that. And we challenge all of them.

President Xi, when he came to the United States and visited President Obama, pledged that he had no intention of militarizing those regions. And he needs to be good to his word.

For our part, we're going to continue to stay on and fly and operate wherever international law permits as we have done for decades. It's not going to change American behavior.

WOODRUFF: For THIS WEEK, Bob Woodruff, ABC News, on the USS Roosevelt in the South China Sea.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Bob for that.

And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice.

In the month of October, nine service members were killed supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That is all for us today.

Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.


And I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."