'This Week' Transcript: Donald Trump and Ben Carson

ByABC News
November 22, 2015, 9:14 AM

— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR NOVEMBER 22, 2015 and it will be updated.

ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK, global threat: the capital of Europe on lockdown after an unprecedented terror warning. The streets emptied, businesses closed, why officials say an attack is imminent. Martha Raddatz on the ground with the breaking details.

And exclusive interview with both Donald Trump and Ben Carson after that firestorm over their comments about Syrian refugees. What are they saying now? Trump, Carson live only on This Week.

Plus, our brand new 2016 poll: have the Paris terror attacks changed the race?

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

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Good morning. A lot going on this week. We'll bring you our brand new poll. Both Donald Trump and Ben Carson join us live.

And we begin with that security lockdown in Europe's capital. Subways and stores closed, events canceled, Americans warned to stay indoors because of an imminent terror threat.

Our chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz is on the scene in Brussels with the latest. Good morning, Martha.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George. The lockdown is visible everywhere you go here in Brussels, the imminent threat on everyone's mind.

And Belgian officials say the lockdown may continue through Monday since, they say, terrorists are looking at places here where they could inflict mass casualties.


RADDATZ: It is unsettling here in Brussels this morning. A usually bustling European capital paralyzed, soldiers patrolling streets, the U.S. embassy ordering Americans here to shelter in place.

A Paris style attack is what they're expecting, the threat deemed serious and imminent.

But on this second day of the high alert, tourists were milling around the usually lively Grand Plaza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christmas tree, (inaudible) it's not normal, you know.

RADDATZ: Local police were offering assurances.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to have support from the Belgium army so everything is secure here in Brussels.

RADDATZ: In neighboring France, officials are still looking for clues after the suspected planner of the Paris attack, Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in a shootout Wednesday. And the manhunt growing for the world's most wanted man, the 8th Paris terrorist, Saleh Abdelsalam.

Authorities say he drove to Belgium, passing unnoticed through three security checks. The lawyer for his companions telling ABC News he looked angry and was possibly wearing a suicide belt.

Meanwhile, the survivors in Paris still haunted. The lead singer of the American band performing at La Bataclan, talked to VICE news.

JESSE HUGHES, SINGER, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL: A great reason why so many were killed is because so many people wouldn't leave their friends.

RADDATZ: The specter of the jihadist threat is also rising in Mali, where al Qaeda is claiming credit for that deadly hotel siege. An American survivor telling his harrowing story to ABC's Alex Marquardt.

ALEX MARQUARDT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You had already resigned yourself to the fact that you were dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, basically.

And they never looked. They were shooting. The shells were hitting me. They never looked.

RADDATZ: From Africa to Europe to the front line in the fight against ISIS, this week we were in Iraq where ISIS holds huge swaths of territory, but the Kurds have had some success in pushing ISIS back with help from American advisers, but the threat is still enormous.

The Kurdish fighters have taken up positions all around Kirkuk. This soldier has his eye on ISIS.

Meanwhile this morning in Asia, President Obama insisting destroying ISIS is a realistic goal.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The most powerful tool we have to fight ISIL is to say that we're not afraid.


STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Martha, you have now spent this week on both fronts of what is at least a two front war.

RADDATZ: It really is, George. When you go into Iraq and you see the continuing airstrikes. And we were in the command center where they're conducting those airstrikes under pretty strict rules of engagement. We'll have to keep our eye on that and see whether they loosen rules of engagement.

But here in Brussels, the transition wasn't that difficult, because you have soldiers all over the street. You have armored personnel carriers as we saw kind of just like being in Iraq.

Also here, we're in a small square in the Malambique (ph) neighborhood. Just across from me is the home of where the missing terrorists used to live. And here, I talked to some people on the street today, including a 15-year-old girl. And I asked her what it was like to live in this neighborhood. A lot of people here have gone in to Syria. And she said, yes, we do have some terrorists in the neighborhood, but we are not all terrorists. We are frightened ourselves of what is happening -- George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I bet they are.

OK, Martha, thanks very much.

I'm going to turn now to the political fallout from these terror attacks. And our brand new ABC News-Washington Post poll. Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead on the Democratic side, but Bernie Sanders has gained nine points since Joe Biden decided not to run.

And on the Republican side, Donald Trump leads for the fourth straight month, 10 points ahead of Ben Carson, who doubles the support of Marco Rubio, followed by Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush with his lowest numbers since the end of the race.

Donald Trump joins us live after this report from Jon Karl.


JON KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: President was half a world away in Asia this week, but it seemed like he was on the campaign trail repeatedly slamming Republicans who want to keep Syrian refugees out of the United States.

OBAMA: Apparently, they're scared of widows and orphans coming in to the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion.

KARL: Back in Washington, his own party was defying him. Nearly four dozen House Democrats joining Republicans in voting to stop admitting Syrian refugees until the government can certify they pose no threat.

And more than half the country's governors have vowed to keep Syrian refugees out of their states.

The president says the refugees are thoroughly vetted and pose no more threat than tourists.

But with two of the Paris terrorists now suspected of sneaking into France as refugees, one using this doctored passport, security fears have soared.

Our new ABC News-Washington Post poll shows a majority now oppose taking in refugees. Voters also say the threat of terrorism is now second only to the economy as the most important election issue. And 54 percent disapprove of the president's handling of terrorism altogether.

On the campaign trail, Ben Carson came under fire for comparing the screening of refugees to protecting children from rabid dogs.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If there's a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you probably are not going to assume something good about that dog. And you're probably going to put your children out of the way. Doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs.

KARL (voice-over): Donald Trump sparked a furor when a reporter asked him if he'd support a database to track Muslims in the U.S.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) tracks Muslims in this country.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There should be a lot of systems beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems. And today you can do it --


QUESTION: -- how do you actually get them registered in the database?

TRUMP: It would be just good management.

KARL (voice-over): Under fire from fellow Republicans, Trump said the database he wants is just for Syrian refugees.

TRUMP: I do want a database for those people coming in. I want surveillance if we have to. I want surveillance of certain mosques, OK?


STEPHANOPOULOS: And Jon Karl joins us now.

Jon, we got more of the results of that poll right now, which has been remarkably steady.

KARL: Incredibly steady, George, through major controversies, through national debates watched by millions. Just look at the numbers since September. Marco Rubio has gone up ever so slightly; Bush down.

But for Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the numbers are virtually unchanged. And consider this: it was our poll in July that first put Donald Trump as the front-runner and no matter what he has said or what others have said about him, he has not budged from the front-runner since then.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you showed those tough numbers for President Obama on terrorism. These terror attacks starting to transform the race.

KARL: By absolutely. And if you look at those numbers, George, that is the lowest approval for handling of terrorism for President Obama since he became president.

On the Republican side, though, look who Republican voters say they trust most to handle terrorism now: Donald Trump far and away at the top of the list.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Jon Karl, thanks very much.

Let’s bring in Mr. Trump right now. He joins us on the phone.

You just heard those poll results, Donald Trump. Also new poll out in New Hampshire showing you holding the lead.

Is the nomination now yours to lose?

TRUMP: I don’t know, I don’t think about it. I think about the date, all of a sudden, February 1st comes, that’s Iowa, and then we have New Hampshire. We’re doing great in both those places.

We’re doing great all over the country; I think I’m leading every state. But we’re doing really well. I was happy to hear your numbers but I’m not that surprised. And we’ll see what happens. I mean, people are tired, they’re sick and tired of incompetence.

They’re sick and tired of stupid people leading them, the deals they make, whether it’s trade or whether it’s dealing with ISIS, everything is wrong. But they don’t know what they’re doing.

I was after the oil. I said attack the oil. I’ve been telling you that, George, for two years, attack the oil. They didn’t do it. ISIS became wealthy with the oil. Now they’re starting to attack the oil. Nobody mentions it was me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You did stir up a controversy with those comments over the database. Let’s try to clear that up.

Are you unequivocally now ruling out a database on all Muslims?

TRUMP: No, not at all. I want a database for the refugees that -- if they come into the country. We have no idea who these people are. When the Syrian refugees are going to start pouring into this country, we don’t know if they’re ISIS, we don’t know if it’s a Trojan horse.

And I definitely want a database and other checks and balances. We want to go with watchlists. We want to go with databases.

And we have no choice. We have no idea who’s being sent in here. This could be the -- it’s probably not, but it could be the great Trojan horse of all time, where they come in.

When I look at those migration -- when I look at the migration and the lines and I see all strong, very powerful looking men, they’re men and I see very few women, I see very few children, there’s something strange going on.

And if you look at what’s happened in Europe, a lot of bad things are happening in Europe. Just ask the folks that live in Germany, George. A lot of bad things are happening. So --


STEPHANOPOULOS: But the statistics do show --

TRUMP: We want to be smart.

We want to -- hey, George, we want to be vigilant. We have to be vigilant and we have to call -- is radical -- you know, we have to just say it. It’s radical Islamic terrorism, and that’s what it is. And we have a president that won’t even issue the term.

But when these Syrians come in, or wherever they are, because we’re not even sure that they’re coming in from Syria, if they’re going to come in, we have to be very, very vigilant. And a database would be fine for them and a watchlist is fine. We have to watch and see what we’re doing.

They should not come in, by the way. They should not be allowed to come in.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Just for the record, though, the statistics do show the majority of the refugees coming in are women and children.

You’ve also told Yahoo! News that we have to be doing things that were unthinkable a year ago. I want to get into what you had in mind.

For example, do you think we should bring back enhanced interrogation like waterboarding?

TRUMP: Well, we have to be strong. You know, they don’t use waterboarding over there; they use chopping off people’s heads. They use drowning people. I don’t know if you’ve seen with the cages, where they put people in cages and they drown them in the ocean and they lift out the cage. And we’re talking about waterboarding.

We have to be tough --


STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’d bring back waterboarding?

TRUMP: We have to -- I would bring it back, yes. I would bring it back. I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d do to us, what they’re doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head. That’s a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve also said we have to consider closing mosques. Jeb Bush called that a sign of weakness.

TRUMP: Well, Jeb Bush is a weak person and that’s been defined very strongly. I mean, Jeb is a weak person who is a -- you know, I call him a low energy person. That’s what he is. I mean, call him anything you want, but Jeb is a person that will not solve a problem like this.

You have very, very tough people that you’re dealing with. They only understand strength. They don’t understand weakness. Somebody like Jeb, and others that are running against me -- and by the way Hillary is another one.

I mean, Hillary is a person who doesn’t have the strength or the stamina, in my opinion, to be president. She doesn’t have strength or stamina. She’s not a strong enough person to be president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what would be your criteria --

TRUMP: We’re dealing with --

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- for closing a mosque?

TRUMP: We’re dealing with very -- George, we’re dealing with very, very strong people. And you need strength and you need stamina.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I get that, but --

TRUMP: Hillary does not have that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- I want to get the details though.

What would be your criteria for closing a mosque?

And how does that square with the First Amendment?

You’ve said your top priority would be to preserve and protect our religious liberties.

Is that only for Christians?

What are your criteria for closing a mosque?

TRUMP: Well, I don’t want to close mosques; I want to surveil mosques. I want mosques surveiled. We were doing it New York City for a while until the worst mayor that New York City has ever had got elected --


TRUMP: -- De Blasio, which was a fluke. And all I would do, certainly there are certain hot spots and everybody knows they’re hot spots.

And let me tell you, the people that are involved in those mosques, they know who the bad ones are and they know who the good ones are, but they don’t talk. And we have to surveil the mosques -- and we were doing it.

We were doing it recently until De Blasio closed them up in New York City. We were doing it recently. We have to surveil the mosques.

And big material and good material, from what I understood, from a very good source, was coming out of those mosques. We were learning a lot. And they were stopping problems and potential problems by learning what was happening.

Hey, look, I don’t want to close up mosques but things have to happen where, if you’ve got -- you have got to use strong measures or you’re going to see buildings coming down all over New York City and elsewhere.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve also talked about you want to keep the terror watchlist but, under current law, individuals on the terror watchlist and the no-fly list have been allowed to buy guns and explosives.

Are you OK with that?

TRUMP: We have to have a watchlist, and if that watchlist has somebody that’s -- you know, we have -- you know, we have the laws right now. We have the laws already on the books as far as Second Amendment for guns, and as you know I’m a big, big, really big proponent of the Second Amendment.

If in -- I’ll give you an example. If in Paris some of those people, those -- and if you had some of those people had guns, you wouldn't have had the horror show that you had with nobody --

STEPHANOPOULOS: But why should someone on the watch list --

TRUMP: -- out of hundreds of people had guns --

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- be able to have a gun?

TRUMP: -- no, no. You -- if people are on a watch list or people are sick, you have already -- this is already covered in the legislation that we already have, George. It's already fully covered.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but under current law --

TRUMP: But we have --

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- people on the watch list --

TRUMP: -- if we have an enemy of state --

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- are allowed to buy guns.

TRUMP: Listen, George, if we have an enemy of state, I don't want to give him anything. I want to have him in jail, that's what I want. I want to have him in jail.

But if those people in Paris had guns in that room, it would have been a shootout and very few people would have been hurt by comparison to the number that were hurt.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But yesterday...

TRUMP: I'll tell you who would have been hurt, the bad guys would...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But yes or no?

TRUMP: -- because they were the only ones that had the guns.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Trump, yes or no, should someone on the terror watch list be allowed to buy a gun?

TRUMP: If somebody is on a watch list and an enemy of state and we know it's an enemy of state, I would keep them away, absolutely.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you made -- you raised some eyebrows yesterday with comments you made at -- at your latest rally -- and I want to show them, relating to 9/11.


TRUMP: Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the police say that didn't happen and all those rumors have been on the Internet for some time.

So did you meek -- misspeak yesterday?

TRUMP: It did happen. I saw it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw that...

TRUMP: It was on television. I saw it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- with your own eyes.

TRUMP: George, it did happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Police say it didn't happen.

TRUMP: There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down -- as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George.

Now, I know they don't like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time.

There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As I said, the police have said it didn't happen.

But what I want to move on right now.

A course of rivals have pounced on your database comments and a super PAC supporting John Kasich launched this ad against you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the job training for president does not work. Benghazi, beheadings, Paris. Our lives depend on a commander-in-chief with experience, who understands the world.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The clear implication is that you don't.

What's your response to that ad?

TRUMP: John Kasich is going nowhere. He was the head of Lehman. He was one of the top people at Lehman when Lehman almost took down -- Lehman Brothers almost took down the world. He's going nowhere.

Let him do his ads. Anybody that does an ad against me, it will hit by 10 times. And that's the story. And...


TRUMP: -- you know, people would like to do -- look, they want to do it because I'm leading. I mean you just came out with a poll that says I'm leading. But everyone else is coming out with polls saying I'm leading because people are sick and tired of stupid and incompetent people leading our nation.

We have incompetent people. When President Obama stands up and says ISIS is contained and then a few hours later, you have one of the most horrible attacks, where hundreds of people are killed, and you have 300 people laying in the hospital, many of them dying, they'll be added to the list of the people killed, and we have no idea. And then he wants to take in people that have no documentation, no paperwork, no anything from Syria on the migration. People are going to come pouring in. And the number he wants is much higher than 10,000. I've heard it's 200,000. That's the real number.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know that's...

TRUMP: That's the real number he wants. I've even heard 250,000 people. We have a president that doesn't know what he's doing. We have a president, George, who is totally incompetent.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That -- that number is all refugees, not from Syria.

But -- but finally, you know, that (INAUDIBLE) -- that super PAC is not alone. The front page story in the "Wall Street Journal" yesterday talks about GOP operatives planning to launch a guerrilla campaign against Trump. They're saying the Republican establishment is increasingly alarmed by your enduring strength and that they're -- they're going to have the first attempt to unite donors from rival camps into a single anti-Trump force.

If that begins to happen, are you going to reconsider an Independent run, if they come after you to try to take you out?

TRUMP: Well, we'll see what happens. It will be very interesting. But I'm leading every poll by a lot. It's not even a little bit anymore, it's a lot. And that's -- I resonate with the people.

I had 10,000 people yesterday. Every place I go, if I have a crowd smaller than 10,000, it's like a small crowd for me. Nobody else can get 200,000. I mean Jeb Bush and these guys, Kasich goes out, he speaks, if he gets 20 people in ma room, it's a lot of people. Nobody else gets anybody and I get crowds. And you know it, you cover it.

I get crowds of 6,000, 10,000, 20,000. I had a 35,000 crowd...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're open...

TRUMP: -- in Alabama...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- to an Independent run?

TRUMP: Well, I'm going to have to see what happens. I will see what happens. I have to be treated fairly. You know, when I did this, I said I have to be treated fairly. If I'm treated fairly, I'm fine. All I want to do is a level playing field. And I think people are surprised that, you know, they're politicians and they've been doing this stuff all their lives. I haven't. I've been a job producer. I've done great, you know, things. I've done fabulous developments all over the world and I've made a lot of money. And that's the kind of thinking we need in office. That's the kind of thinking we need in Washington.

And that's why people are resonating with me. And, you know, they know there's a great level of competence. We have a great level of incompetent right now in Washington. And frankly, we have a lot of incompetent politicians running for office. And they can't understand, you know, how come an outsider can be doing so well within the party.

I used to be, George, the fair-haired boy. You know, when I was a contributor. I know more about contributions than anybody. I contributed at the top of the line. But now, all of a sudden, I'm somebody that's a little bit -- you know, they're a little bit -- I guess they cant understand what's happening.

But what's happening is very simple. People want competence now. They're tired of incompetent people. It's as simple as that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Trump, thanks for your time this morning.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, our Sunday (INAUDIBLE) with Ben Carson and our Paris roundtable on all the week's politics, plus in-depth analysis from Martha Raddatz on how ISIS has become America's number one enemy.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That is the scene in Brussels this morning. Europe's capital on lockdown after an imminent threat from ISIS. We're going to continue the debate on how to respond to that ISIS threat now with Dr. Ben Carson, number two in our latest poll to Donald Trump.

Dr. Carson, thank you for joining us this morning. Glad you're with us right now.

And I do want to get your response to some of the things we've talked about with Donald Trump on how to respond to ISIS.

Number one, he said we should bring back those enhanced interrogation techniques, which President Obama discontinued like waterboarding. Do you agree?

CARSON: I agree that there's no such thing as political correctness when you're fighting an enemy who wants to destroy you and everything that you have anything to do with. And I'm not one who is real big on telling the enemy what we're going to do and what we're not going to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you would do that even though many consider waterboarding torture?

CARSON: As I said, I'm not real big on telling them what we would or would not do. I just don't think that's a -- I don't see where that accomplishes anything for us.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You have said we should monitor any churches or mosques where there is a lot of radicalization or things that are anti-American. How would you determine that?

CARSON: Well, I said in the larger capacity that we should monitor anything -- mosques, church, school, you know, shopping center where there is a lot of radicalization going on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But how would you know that is happening?

CARSON: Intelligence. We have intelligence on the ground already.

We do need to enhance that. You know, for instance, we've learned last week that the FBI seems to be only to be able to monitor 30 to 60 people at a time. And we know there's a lot more than that that need to be monitored.

We need to get very serious about our intelligence.

Remember what happened with the monitoring at the airports. So much of the stuff was able to get through.

We have to really improve that very significantly. We're talking about the safety of the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you want to enhance the intelligence.

How about this issue of the terror watch list? As I told Mr. Trump, under the current law, people on the terror watchlist are permitted to buy guns, have been permitted to buy guns and explosives. Would you continue that?

CARSON: Well, as you, I'm sure, know, there are a lot of people on that watchlist and they have no idea why they're on that list and they've been trying to get their names off of it and no one will give them information. You know, I am a big supporter of the Second Amendment, and I don't want to deprive people unnecessarily of that. There needs to be better due process.

And that's one thing that I'm very interested in finding a way to make government more responsive to the people. It's really unfair that people can't get a real hearing. And they get put on a list and nobody can tell them why they're there, and they go through for years and years and they have to be tormented. It just doesn't make any sense.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you -- on the broader strategy against ISIS, I spoke with President Obama last week, as you know, and had him respond to your comments you made at the debate where you said it would be fairly easy to take out the ISIS oil fields near Anbar. Here's what he said.


OBAMA: What I think is that he doesn't know much about it. And, look, George I think it's fair to say that over the last several years I've had access to all the best military minds in the country and all the best foreign policy minds in the country. If I'm down in the situation room talking with people who have worked in these regions and who have run major military operations and they don't think it's easy, then it's probably not easy.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think your advisers are better than President Obama's?

CARSON: Well, you know what I do know is that, you know, we have people who are very dangerous and they want to destroy us. And we don't really have the option of deciding whether it's easy or not to take them out. We have to take them out. We have to do what's necessary. And what that means is we need to make it very difficult for them to move money. We need to get rid of their ability to derive money from oil, whether we take the fields or whether we blow the fields up. I've been saying that for a very long time.

We need to take the land back.

You know, the land is just sitting there. You know, they have...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you need ground troops to take the land back...

CARSON: ...propaganda -- they have all the propaganda associated with that.

You know, you see in northern Iraq that we've been able to work extremely effectively with the Kurds. That's a fighting force that we need to cultivate. And, you know, we've sort of given up on the Iraqi fighting force because, you know, they've fled when they were fired upon. But the fact of the matter is, they didn't have the right kind of advisers. And our special ops people -- if you put the special ops people there with them, I don't think you're going to see that same kind of thing happening.

We can fight with those forces, and we need to consult our Department of Defense in terms of what do -- what else do we need? We need to define for them the mission. And then we need to say to them what do you need in order to accomplish that. And that's what we should do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of focus this week on your foreign policy views and your advisers. New York Times headline said you were struggling with foreign policy. And one of your close friends and business manager Armstrong Williams was actually quoted saying Dr. Carson is still on a learning curve. There is much for him to learn.

You know, with national security and terrorism such a top concern now of voters, can you explain why they should choose a commander-in-chief who is still on a learning curve?

CARSON: Well, I hope everybody is on a learning curve. You know in medicine we have something called CME, continuing medical education.

It recognizes the fact that things are always in the process of changing. And if you stay stagnant and you say, well, I'm up on it and now I'll go relax, you're not going to be very competent. And the same thing applies with being commander-in-chief. The world is a rapidly changing place. All kinds of dynamics going on. Yes, we should have in place protocols to deal with that 2:00 a.m. call in the morning, but we also need to have the ability to think quickly and to be flexible.

You know, I would be willing to say that I probably have more 2:00 a.m. in the morning experience than everybody else running combined, making life and death decisions. You have to be able to do that.

And you know, so who has got the most experience? I don't know that it necessarily comes down to politics, it comes down to practical experience solving difficult problems doing things quickly and efficiently and using the resources available to you to get that done.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Dr. Carson, new CBS poll out this morning shows Ted Cruz pulling ahead of you in Iowa for the first time since May. Are you worried about the fact that you may be losing steam there?

CARSON: Well, you know, it's a marathon, it's not a sprint. So, there's going to be ups and downs as we go along the way. That's why we have an elongated process rather than just a week or two.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Don't seem too concerned. Dr. Carson, thanks for joining us this morning.

Coming up, our powerhouse roundtable weighs in on the hot debates over ISIS strategy, Syrian refugees with the first Muslim elected to congress and the congresswoman who served as America's first female combat pilot.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And Martin O'Malley is next.

Can he save his presidential campaign by striking out at Hillary Clinton?

And later our powerhouse roundtable takes on the roiling debate over Syrian refugees in the U.S., how this new wave of terror is transforming the race for president.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are back with former governor Martin O'Malley, running third behind Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in our latest ABC News "Washington Post" poll.

Governor O'Malley, thank you for joining us this morning.

Even though your poll numbers are stalled, you're striking out pretty hard against Secretary Clinton. Yesterday in South Carolina, you say she's demonstrated a total inability to understand what happens after dictators fall and what our country needs in its national security strategy.

"Total inability"?

MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, yes, George. Can you -- I mean, Secretary Clinton voted for the Iraq War -- and notwithstanding what she now regards as a big mistake in that vote, one that -- where she should have known better -- nonetheless she finds it -- you find these circumstances -- I mean, can you point to one instance in our foreign policy where, as secretary of state, Secretary Clinton had an understanding of what was coming after the toppling of the dictator?

She can be very, very gleeful at the fall of Gadhafi, but there was no anticipation of what would happen after Gadhafi. And I also said yesterday that Secretary Clinton has one foot stuck in the Cold War.

Look, this is a new era of warfare. This is fourth generation warfare and it requires a new sort of diplomacy, a more far-seeing national security strategy that is not the old war Cold War mentality --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- let's dig down now.

How would yours be different?

She's called for an intelligence surge. She's called for greater cyber efforts against ISIS. She also, like you, has said she does not want ground troops, American war, American ground troops in the regions.

How would you be different?

O'MALLEY: And, again, in the speech that she just gave, George, she -- it was an everything but the kitchen sink and it was also peppered with all of the same old thinking, old State Department thinking when it comes to this.

Look, we need a foreign policy that not only talks about a greater human intelligence but actually delivers it.

How long have we been at this war?

And yet our human intelligence capacities on the ground in Syria and --

STEPHANOPOULOS: She's calling for exactly the same thing.

O'MALLEY: Yes, but when she had the opportunity to do something about it, George, she did not. She is stuck in the old Cold War thinking. And this new era requires new thinking. It requires fresh approaches. This is very different than the conflict of the 1990s. This is asymmetrical warfare on the battle and Syria and Iraq it is one type of war; and beyond that and with these global terrorists, it's more akin to tracking down drug organizations and --




STEPHANOPOULOS: -- name three things that you would do in the ISIS strategy that Secretary Clinton would not do.

O'MALLEY: It requires this new age requires networked intelligence. And it's obvious from the fact of the attacks in France that we still have not gotten to the place where we have the sort of networked intelligence that we need to defend ourselves.

An immune system, George, is strong not because it outnumbers the bad germs in this world but because it's better coordinated. That is not the old way of a CIA and siloed bureaucracies, where we get memos and then eight months later we make a decision. This requires much more nimble thinking. It requires a new age of rapid communications and intelligence sharing with neighbors that, in the past, a lot of security agencies thought ran contrary to our national interests.

When it comes, also, to fighting Iraq -- or fighting ISIL on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, we need to up the battle tempo and we also need new alliances that are open-ended and ideally work through the U.N. Security Council. And it's not a matter of big divisions facing off in the desert. This is a matter of Special Forces. This is a matter of working in coalition with many other nations, some -- and -- and other partners.

And it also requires an open-endedness to allow the Russians to come in and help us where -- provided we can get that...


O'MALLEY: -- short-term political solution...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- so far...

O'MALLEY: -- that directs their firepower.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So far, nothing you're saying or doing is moving your poll numbers. "The Washington Post" had a headline this week saying your presidential campaign is perilously close to financial collapse.

Are you certain you're in to stay through Iowa?

O'MALLEY: I absolutely am. In fact, George, the other day, this week, after we finally had our second debate, we had the best week of fundraising we've ever had. And in Iowa, in a youth poll with thousands of kids across -- high school kids across Iowa, we actually garnered 24 percent of the caucus going vote and finished ahead of Hillary Clinton.

As you know from your own experience, the people of Iowa make up their own mind. And they're not intimidated by big money. They're not intimidated by so-called inevitable frontrunners.

And come caucus night, we are going to emerge out of that night as the Democratic alternative to Secretary Clinton, this year's inevitable coronated frontrunner.


O'MALLEY: I've just begun to fight. I'm looking forward to the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada after.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor O'Malley...

O'MALLEY: This race is just getting going.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- thanks very much for your time this morning.

O'MALLEY: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Roundtable is up next.

The way -- we just heard from the candidates and what's next in the war against ISIS and the race for president.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Back now with the Roundtable, joined by ABC's Matthew Dowd, also David Axelrod, the former strategist for President Obama, who now runs the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. You guys are team teaching...



STEPHANOPOULOS: -- the 2016 campaign.

And here on the -- on the other side, Congressman -- Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, and Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally, the first woman fighter pilot to fly in combat, now a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Thanks to all of you for joining us.

We've just heard the candidates weigh in on some steps they're going to take in this fight against ISIS.

This is now front and center, Matthew Dowd, in the presidential campaign.

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You see the change in all the polls where the issue was dominated by economy and jobs, and now it's dominated by terrorism and what's going on in the Middle East.

The question is, is how long does that last?

Does it last into a general election?

I think it lasts within the Republican primary throughout the course of the Republican primary.

But it's changed the dynamics of the race and we now -- are just now figuring that out. A lot of people thought it would hurt Donald Trump, because they thought voters would turn to somebody of competence and experience.

The exact opposite has actually been happening, because people -- GOP voters, for sure, want strength as the ultimate value. Strong is wrong -- strong and wrong is better than right and weak at this moment. In amongst a lot of GOP primary voters.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Congressman, we saw you do see those numbers for President Obama, as well, a lot of discontent with his strategy against terrorism.

REP. MARTHA MCSALLY (R), ARIZONA: Absolutely. I mean he's had a failed strategy since he's been in office. We've seen militant Islam growing over the last several decades. ISIS is just a new metastasized threat of that.

He's not showed resolve or leadership. And we haven't seen a comprehensive strategy to actually attack them where they are, counter the violent extremism at home and then show leadership in the global community.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you hearing it, though, from the Republican candidates?

MCSALLY: Well, look, I am interested in us getting away from the race being less of a reality TV show and WWF type tournament and actually more toward the serious discussion of who should be our next commander-in-chief.

Who is the next person who should be leading our military?

Who should be leading our foreign policy, leading in the global sphere to actually fight against this threat and the many others that are emanating?

STEPHANOPOULOS: That does seem to be where the race is turning. That's going to be the top question, right up there now with the economy.

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER STRATEGIST FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: It is for now. I agree with Matthew, we'll see where we are in six months and eight months. We tend to get very focused on the event of the moment.

But, clearly, it has given a platform for Donald Trump in that Republican presidential primary, because he has been able to project a kind of strength, unrestrained, you know, as impulsive and unrestrained as he is, people are responding to that.

You know, George, I always had this theory and it's what informed my view on why Obama could win in 2008, that people choose the remedy to what they have, they never choose the replica. And there is no more of an anti-Obama kind of figure in terms of personality than Donald Trump.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right at the center of this, as well, Congressman Ellison, this week, this whole debate over what to do with Syrian refugees. You heard Donald Trump say they should all go back. That combined with more surveillance of mosques, even the possibility of closing mosques, this debate has become hot.

REP. KEITH ELLISON (R), MINNESOTA: It has. And that's exactly the wrong thing to do. I think we should project strength. And what that means is confidence in who we are as a nation.

We're the na -- we're civilization. We give safe haven to refugees. We don't behead them and all these kind of bad things and exclude them.

Let me just say that, you know, at this point in the game, we need to be adhering to the values that have made this country strong and not feeding into the Da'ish narrative, which is exactly what these sort of panicky reactions are showing.

Da'ish says that Islam is at war with the West and the West is at war with Islam. This is a false statement.

What we need to do is say that, no, we are -- that we are not going to single out Muslims for a religious test to come into this country. We are going to have confidence in our Homeland Security Department, which is -- says -- had said 750,000 people, refugees admitted since 2001 and we are going to engage in diplomacy...

STEPHANOPOULOS: What a -- what about that argument, that the House vote this week sends the wrong message to ISIS?

MCSALLY: Look, in March, our chairman of Homeland Security appointed a bipartisan task force. For six months, we actually looked at combating the flow on foreign fighters and terrorists related to this ISIS threat. I actually brought the report with me here today.

We delivered it to the administration in September. We had 32 findings addressing the broad threat from ISIS foreign fighter flow and homegrown extremism. one of them was potential gaps in the refugee program, which ISIS has said they want to exploit.

So what we did this week is a bipartisan veto-proof vote that was a very, very narrow change that simply has the administration certifying that people are not national security threats.

But this is just one step. We have got to address these other urgent threats, as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A double check question, though, I posed.


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- I want to go to you in one second, Matt...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- that question I posed to both Dr. Carson and Donald Trump, though, in a visa -- you talk about the gaps in security.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Then why is it OK for people on the terror watch list to buy guns?

MCSALLY: Look, another finding we have of our 32 findings is related to the terror watch list. We have certainly got to have an independent assessment of that. There have been some issues with it.

Additionally, we have our European allies. We share information on the watch list and the no fly list. And EU travelers don't get checked against that list.

These are some of the gaping holes we've identified.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a big hole.

MCSALLY: That's a really big hole we've identified in our task force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute...




AXELROD: The answer is...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- these people...

AXELROD: -- the answer is that the Republican Caucus is more frightened as a political matter by the NRA than they are of ISIS. And on this question, they don't want to buck the NRA.

That's why you have this -- you don't have the watch list...

MCSALLY: David, I disagree with you.

AXELROD: -- people on this list. I expected you would.



DOWD: This is -- I think this is -- the refugee crisis, unfortunately, is one of those issues that's in America today that's dropped in, just like many of the issues. We think it's all calm. It's like ice in a -- ice in a -- dry ice in a a botter of water -- a bottle -- a bucket of water, sorry.


DOWD: And I think this is that issue.

If you try to find a center ground in this, where you can say we are a compassionate nation, that's who we are, that's who we are, and oh, by the way, we also want protection. We want to make sure we're protected, you're actually attacked on both sides.

The problem, I think, Democrats have when they don't understand where Republicans are coming from on this issue is that a majority of the country doesn't want refugees, as you know, into this country right now. A majority doesn't trust the president on this issue. And a majority, in spite of what many people have said, think we're at war with radical Islam.

And until you accept and understand those fears, you can't get people to...


ELLISON: Fear, we -- we -- Roosevelt made it clear, the only thing to fear is fear itself. People are looking...

DOWD: And he interred Japanese...

ELLISON: -- people are -- people are...

DOWD: And he interred Japanese.

ELLISON: -- people are afraid, but the answer is not to pander to their fears, it's to offer leadership.

AXELROD: Right. But...


AXELROD: I'm the son of a refugee. I'm proud of the position the president took. I think it's the right one.

But I think Matthew is right in the sense that before you attack the fear mongers, you have to attack the fear.


AXELROD: And he could have done more of that...

DOWD: Exactly.

AXELROD: -- on the front end.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's -- that's (INAUDIBLE) that press conference on Monday, he seemed a little listless going after them. And that's why he seemed much stronger in the press conference (INAUDIBLE).

AXELROD: And didn't stand up for the -- the -- as -- as explicitly as he should have for the system of letting refugees into this country, which is actually very, very exacting.

DOWD: That's right.

MCSALLY: Because he was tone deaf and detached in all of his comments after Paris. And the most that we've gotten out of him, you know, riled up is when he's attacking Republicans. He's not getting that across the globe and in America, people are deeply concerned about this threat. They're concerned about home grown terrorists, they're concerned about foreign fighters. Thirty thousand of them have traveled from 100 countries to Iraq and Syria.

DOWD: And the problem...

MCSALLY: Forty-five hundred from visa waiver countries.

DOWD: And the problem -- and the problem is...

MCSALLY: They're concerned about this...


MCSALLY: -- and Obama's...

DOWD: Many Republicans overreacted this to propose a solution that was not in line with American values. The Republicans should have done the exact same thing I'm saying the Democrats should have done, which is understand people's fears and then speak to their hopes and dreams, not go say we need a religious test, not say we need to block all the refugees. You can say pause like some Democrats have said, pause. Let's make sure all the...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And this is actually what the House bill did...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- is call for a pause.

MCSALLY: -- does not block refugees...

AXELROD: But the...

MCSALLY: -- the -- the legislation simply makes our top three security officials certify that they're not a national security threat. It wouldn't necessarily slow it down.

These same officials testified that there is -- the databases are maybe missing information...


DOWD: But in the end...


AXELROD: It actually helps -- it actually requires each official to identify and certify each person, where we have a system that does that now. That's going to be very inefficient.

I believe it can grind the program to a halt. I don't like the idea of telling Da'ish that we are going to disrupt our whole program, which has been working, just because of their threats. I think we should amend the program as needed, make sure we deal with these visa waiver issues, but we should not just do wholesale disruption...

STEPHANOPOULOS: It does -- it does seem like a far bigger problem right now is that anyone can come in from Europe without any checks at all because of this visa waiver (INAUDIBLE).

ELLISON: We should address that.

MCSALLY: Well, that...


MCSALLY: -- that's part of it. But we also have 250 Americans that have traveled over to Iraq and Syria. And we have 900 investigations going on at home.

ELLISON: Stopping the refugees will not address that.


DOWD: But that has nothing to do with refugee...


MCSALLY: Right. These are the broader issues.


ELLISON: These are legitimate issues, but they don't mean that we should say no written -- no Syrian refugees.

MCSALLY: We need to deal with all of them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, before we go to break, our Powerhouse Puzzler, inspired by this week's holiday. George Washington signed America's first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789.

Which president made it a national holiday?


STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, which president made Thanksgiving a national holiday?

I think you got it, Congressman...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Congressman Ellison (INAUDIBLE) falling in lockstep.

Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We trust Congressman Ellison --



STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you all for all that.

Right now, I want to go back to Martha Raddatz, our chief global affairs correspondent, who spent this week on both fronts in the fight against ISIS.

Here she documents how ISIS has risen so fast and so far out of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.


RADDATZ (voice-over): It was nearly two years ago when ISIS was beginning to make world headlines. We were in Iraq. The U.S. ambassador, waving a red flag about the threats from ISIS.

RADDATZ: How concerned should Americans be about what's going on here now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we have real interests in the Middle East and we have real interests in Iraq. And those aren't going to go away anytime soon. We should be very, very concerned.

RADDATZ (voice-over): Then just six months later, we arrived this morning to find a city bracing for attack, fears that Iraq's capital, Baghdad, would fall. That didn't happen but ISIS did take Mosul, the second largest city, which it still holds today.

Later, we returned as the fight intensified, reporting from the U.S.S. Bush, an aircraft carrier at the heart of the U.S. mission against ISIS, getting a first-hand look at a battle already in motion.

RADDATZ: You watch these flight operations all day; it is an incredibly dynamic environment. They come in one after another after completing their missions.

Have you noticed how ISIS has reacted?

Are they breaking up?

Are they -- do you suspect they'll be more difficult to find?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they are a learning organization. So we know that they will adapt and that may make our job more difficult.

RADDATZ (voice-over): And the U.S. has adapted, too. U.S.-led bombing missions, 8,000 so far. Now the president sending 50 special operations forces into Syria after the first American soldier died in Iraq since the fight against ISIS began.

But critics argue the strategy isn't enough to stop the jihadist group, which has now spread, launching those horrific attacks in Paris, putting Brussels under virtual lockdown -- this week, we return to the region, visiting Kirkuk, where Kurdish fighters are still battling ISIS.

RADDATZ: Just over there, that berm is the first line of defense because just beyond that, all of those are ISIS-controlled villages.

RADDATZ (voice-over): The Kurds telling us they want more help from America, more troops, more support.

RADDATZ: This right here was where ISIS -- and right there is where Peshmerga.

RADDATZ (voice-over): Everyone wondering whether the U.S. could do more, whether we should.

Meanwhile, two years later, the battle against ISIS still rages, the fear of more terror is still real.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Our thanks to Martha for that.

That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. I hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

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