'This Week' Transcript: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders

ByABC News
January 17, 2016, 9:06 AM

— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' ON JANUARY 17, 2016 and it will be updated.

ANNOUNCER: Starting right now on a special election edition of ABC's THIS WEEK, sprint to the finish -- just two weeks before the voting starts, and we're face-to-face with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

As the GOP race tightens, can the brawling billionaire seal the deal?

And what's he saying now about his battle with Ted Cruz?


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a nasty guy. Nobody likes him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're on the trail in New Hampshire with Donald Trump.

Plus, Hillary feeling the heat.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Clinton campaign is getting very, very nervous.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could this underdog shock the political world in an upset for the ages?

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are both here, live.

Plus, insights and analysis from the powerhouse roundtable.

It's all only on THIS WEEK from ABC News, it's your voice, your vote.

Here now, chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: It is on. Just two weeks before the first votes, the bromance between the two Republican frontrunners is history. The clashes of this week's debate continued on the stump this weekend. After Cruz attacked Trump's New York values, Donald seemed to score with a powerful defense of his hometown.

But Cruz now countering with this video.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. Still, I just believe in choice. And, again, it may be a little bit of a New York background, because there is some different attitude in different parts of the country and, you know, I was raised in New York and grew up and worked and everything else in New York City.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And here was Cruz in South Carolina.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I recognize that what Donald says on the campaign trail today is fairly conservative. But voters are far more discerning. They've learned over and over again politicians don't tell us the truth.


STEPHANOPOULOS: So Trump was loaded for bear when I met up with him in New Hampshire on Saturday.

And we began with the news breaking just as we sat down, the release of those American prisoners from Iran.


STEPHANOPOULOS: So we have some news. We have four American hostages, including Jason Rezaian, and released by Iran. Now you said that was never going to happen. You blamed Obama.

Are you ready to give him credit?

TRUMP: Absolutely not. And I never said it was never going to happen. I said that if I got in, it would happen immediately. Now I have to see the deal. Somebody said they got seven, we give four, you know, in terms of what the deal is. I have to see what the deal is.

This should have happened years ago, George. We're giving them $150 billion. This shouldn't be happening now. And I understand that in addition to the $150 billion, they're getting hostages, also, or they're getting some prisoners released. So I have to see what the deal is. Don't forget, we're taping this a little bit early and it's not Sunday morning, like your viewers probably think.

So I have to see what the deal is. This should have happened years ago.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the race.

Is it now a two-person race between you and Ted Cruz?

TRUMP: No, I don't think so. I think there are other people, but I don't think a lot of people have a great chance. I don't think Ted Cruz has a great chance, to be honest with you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He has doubled down on this issue of New York values. He lumped you in yesterday with Hillary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio and said he apologizes to the millions of New Yorkers let down by liberal politicians.

TRUMP: Look, the truth is he's a nasty guy. He was so nice to me. I mean I knew it. I was watching. I kept saying, come on, Ted, let's go kid.

But he's a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.

He's a very -- he's got an edge that's no good. You can't make deals with people like that and it's not a good thing. It's not a good thing for the country. A very nasty guy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's also circulating that clip of you on Tim Russert in 1999, where you said, "I lived in New York City, in Manhattan, all my life, OK? So, you know my views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa."

So those were your words.

TRUMP: Yes, a long time ago. And, just so you understand, he's taking money from people that are very much into the whole gay marriage situation and he's taking money from them and he's, you know, raising funds from them. Then he got caught the other day on a tape when he was raising funds at a law office, talking about things that are priorities and not priorities. This was not a priority.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're saying he's a hypocrite?

TRUMP: Oh, he's a total hypocrite.

How about his fundraising and how about when he does his personal financial disclosure form and he doesn't put on that he's borrowing money from Goldman Sachs and then today it comes out that he's also borrowing money from Citibank and he doesn't list it.

You know why?

He wants to look like Robin Hood, that he is the one protecting the people from the banks. Well, he's actually borrowing money and personally guaranteeing it and not disclosing it, which is illegal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But how about you?

Those were your words. You were talking about, in that interview, issues like gay marriage, talking about how you were strongly pro-choice. And as your comparison of New York values and Iowa views. And it's led a lot of conservatives to think boy, maybe he's going to switch again. He's not going to be (INAUDIBLE)...

TRUMP: See, it doesn't matter what they think. It doesn't matter. They understand me. They understand trade. I don't consider myself to be anything, you know, when they ask labels. We're talking about labels.

I consider myself to be, right now, somebody that...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're not a conservative?

TRUMP: No, I'm conservative, but when it comes to different elements of what I believe in, that's what people really understand. I'm going to solve our trade problem. I'm going to solve our military problem. I'm going to get rid of ISIS. I'm going to create borders. I'm going to do the things that this is what they want.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But they are -- they're afraid you're going to abandon conservative issues if you get the nomination.

TRUMP: I don't think too many people are afraid of that, OK, because if you look at the polls, I'm leading Ted Cruz by a lot. He even lied about that. You know, he got up and said, well, the polls -- well, the polls are showing that I'm the one that's on the up swing. He's the one on the down swing, a big down swing.

But when you look at what he said and when you look at the way he said it and the scorn toward New York, I thought it was a disgrace, in light of the World Trade Center, in light of all the people that died. And think about the firemen -- the firemen that went up those buildings and they were killed instantaneously. And they probably pretty much knew those buildings were coming down and they're going up to save lives.

And, by the way, speaking of Iowa, which I love, and I'm leading in the polls right now in Iowa, by the way, but I love -- we had firemen from Iowa which was so beautiful, and other places, many other places, coming to the World Trade Center to help.

You had people from Iowa, and in particular, the fire department, coming all the way from Iowa to help with the World Trade Center. And here's Ted Cruz putting down that and the great, you know, the great...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he didn't put that down.

TRUMP: -- people of New York. No, he's putting down the great people of New York. Hey, you've been there.

Who could have done -- very few people could have done what New Yorkers did under that unbelievable circumstance.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about some of the issues. Judges.

What kind of judges will you appoint?

Will they be conservative?

What does that mean to you and how will you ensure it?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, we have a lot of judges that have to be appointed because we have a lot of openings in terms of judges. And I'm very happy about that, to be honest, because I think, you know, appointing judges is a very important and a very, frankly, a very, very important element of what we're doing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But Ted Cruz says he's going to appoint rock rib conservatives with a paper trail.

What are you going to do?

TRUMP: Well, I'm going to appoint conservative judges. I'm going to appoint people that have great reputations, that are great with the legal profession...


TRUMP: Well, I can say like any -- you know a judge who is a totally underrated and not spoken is Justice Thomas. I mean, if you look at -- if you look at some of the judges that we have like on the Supreme Court, Justice Roberts turned out to be a nightmare for conservatives. I mean...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But how are you going to...

TRUMP: Wait, let me first say. Ted Cruz, was the one that really wanted Justice Roberts to go on the Supreme Court. You know that, right? Have you heard that?


TRUMP: Let me just say, he was pushing him hard. Justice Roberts gave us Obamacare. Obamacare would have been terminated twice if it weren't for Justice Roberts. First time, 100 percent, second time 90 percent it would have died of its own weight.

But Justice Roberts could have killed Obamacare, and should have, based on everything. Should have killed it twice. Ted Cruz is the one that was promoting him. Ted Cruz and also Jeb Bush.

But Justice Roberts was the man that gave us -- and remember it -- he gave us Obamacare almost as much as Obama himself.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of conservatives skeptical of you. They look at the kilo decision, say you support taking private property away, giving it to real estate developers. They're worried about that.

TRUMP: Let me tell you about that decision, you're talking about eminent domain. Without that, you wouldn't have roads. We wouldn't have been able to get here this morning. You wouldn't have roads, you wouldn't have highways, you wouldn't have schools, you wouldn't have hospitals, you wouldn't have anything.

You have to use eminent domain.

The pipeline, the Keystone Pipeline, they have pages devoted to eminent domain.

Now every conservative, and I'm a conservative, every conservative wants the Keystone Pipeline, would you say, essentially. The Keystone Pipeline cannot be built without eminent domain. That's what you're talking about.

Without eminent domain, you wouldn't have 25 feet of the Keystone Pipeline.

Eminent domain, you need eminent domain. I'm not in love with it, but you need it. You wouldn't have roads, you wouldn't have anything without eminent domain.

So, when people criticize me on that, and once people understand what it is. A lot of people say, oh, eminent domain, they don't know what it is. But without that power, you wouldn't have the kind of things that you need to survive as a society and as a country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, how are you going to make sure you don't get a Justice Roberts? Are you going to ask your appointees...

TRUMP: Well, excuse me, excuse me, how are they going to make sure? Bush appointed him. And Cruz was the biggest advocate. Cruz fought like hell to get Justice Roberts in there.

Justice Roberts turned out to be an absolute disaster. He turned out to be an absolute disaster because he gave us Obamacare.

So, you tell me, ask Cruz, why did he push...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm asking you. How are you going to make sure?

TRUMP: No, I'm asking you, why did he push so hard to have a judge who has absolutely set the conservative movement back and said everything...

STEPHANOPOULOS: When I interview him, I'll ask him. How you're going to make sure you don't get betrayed by your appointees.

TRUMP: I will study it carefully. I will work with people that I respect, conservative people, and we'll appoint judges that will be good. And I don't think I'll have any catastrophic appointment like Justice Roberts, which was really more than anybody else, pushed by Cruz and Bush.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about immigration. Senator Cruz has come out against your deportation force. He said, I'm not going to send jack boots to knock on every door in America. Governor Christie has said this would require a 50 percent increase in the arrest rate. President Obama says it's going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Your response.

TRUMP: Senator Cruz is very weak on illegal immigration. He only got strong over the last little while. In fact, the other day I heard him say he wants to build a wall. Where has that been. All of a sudden, he wants to build a wall.

We are going to create and have a country again. That's what we want. We want to have borders. To have a country, you have to have borders. We don't have borders right now. We have people flowing over freely over the border like it's nothing, flowing over freely.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How are you going to build support? How are you going to pay for it?

TRUMP: Having babies on our land that we take care of, called anchor babies, which by the way, everyone said you need a new amendment. You don't need. You need a new constitutional amendment, you don't.

You need probably just a vote of congress, and you might not even be that. And I said that from the beginning. And I'm right -- the legal scholars, the real legal scholars. The legal scholars that say, as an example, that Cruz has a real problem with his place of birth. And there are many people that are saying that right now. In fact, since I spoke to you the last time, he's been sued. And I told you he'd get sued.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you know, the person who sued him probably doesn't have standing. A lot of legal scholars...

TRUMP: It's all right. There will be a lot of people who sue him that do have standing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You have standing. Why don't you file suit?

TRUMP: That's an interesting case, wow. That sounds like a very good case. I'd do the public a big favor.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you going to do it?

TRUMP: It's so interesting with Ted, he was so nice to me. And I kept saying, he's not a nice guy. You know, he was nice. He wanted to go in the wake, right. So, I says -- so nice, so nice, so nice. I said, when is it going to happen?

Well, it happened during the debate, because he lied about the polls. Because I was going up. In fact, that same day, as you know, Wall Street Journal/NBC came out with a poll. And the headline, Trump way up, him way down. And yet he lied about that.

So, it's just -- I find it very interesting. But it's going to be an interesting race. But I don't think...


TRUMP: Listen, let me just say, I don't think he's going to do very well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you should put your money where your mouth is. If you really believe in this, you should file the suit.

TRUMP: Well, it's a good idea. Maybe I'll talk to them about that. I'd like to talk to Ted about that, let's see how he'd feel about that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you really...

TRUMP: You know, when I file suits, I file real suits, OK.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You were really unloading on him today...

TRUMP: No, I'm unloading, because he's been very dishonest. He has a personal, financial disclosure form where he didn't put down the banks and yet he criticizes the banks. And he's going to be Robin Hood. And he's going to take care of the banks.

He didn't want the public to see that he went out and borrowed money from Goldman Sachs. Then, two days later it came out it wasn't only Goldman Sachs, it was also Citibank. He didn't want the government -- he doesn't want the public to see that.

The reason is, because he wants the public to think that he's this wonderful guy that's protecting them from the bad, vicious bankers. Well, he borrows money from the banks and got them at a very good rate. And he's got personal guarantees. And why that's not down in his personal financial disclosure.

He said, oh, he made a paper mistake. Oh, really? So he made the mistake with Goldman Sachs. But now it comes out two days later, he also made the mistake with Citibank.

How many other banks does he borrow from. It'll be very interesting.

You know what, I have 100 pages, almost 100 pages, talking about billions and billions of dollars. I didn't make a mistake. And they've gone through by everybody. I didn't make a mistake. But he's got a couple of pages with a couple of loans and he forgets the main banks that -- I mean, two banks he's got and he can't put that down?

That wasn't a mistake, he knew that those banks were there and he...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about national security. Rubio versus Cruz on national security. Rubio says this USA Freedom Act, which Ted Cruz supported, could have been written by lobbyists for ISIS. Cruz says it's the best way to both protect national security and protect privacy. Who is right?

TRUMP: Well, let me just tell you something, I come very much down on security. You know, we have a whole thing now going on about whether or not we want to protect our freedoms and all -- I mean, to me, security is freedom.

I am on the side of security. And I've been there from day one. If somebody is listening to my calls, I'm not going to like it, and maybe I'll sue, and I have a right to sue, but when it comes to me, personally, I would rather have that. I want security.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're saying Rubio is right?

TRUMP: Well, I would go with the Rubio side, yeah.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It does sound like you're a little worried about Cruz now. You're coming down...

TRUMP: No, no, I come down on anybody that doesn't tell the truth. He didn't tell the truth during the debate. He didn't tell the truth about New York City. I mean, New York City is just -- very few places on Earth could have done and suffered the way they suffered. Remember this, George, that was the greatest attack in the history of our country, greater than Pearl Harbor, because Pearl Harbor they attacked the military. Here, they attacked civilians. And these two massive buildings came down on top of the rest of the city, thousands of people killed, and the day -- an hour later, we started the process. Great people started the process. People coming in and firemen coming in from Queens knowing they may die because they wanted to run up those buildings. They all died.


TRUMP: And we have this guy, who falsifies his personal financial forms. We have this guy, criticizing --



STEPHANOPOULOS: -- caught the attention of Mayor Bloomberg. He's pulled a three-way race with you and Hillary in it, sources say that it would show a very competitive race.

Does that worry you?

TRUMP: I would love to have Michael join the race. First of all, he's a friend of mine. He's a great guy. I'd love to because he would be, I think, take a lot of votes away from Hillary and it's going to be Hillary.

I mean, I'm looking outwards. It's going to Hillary? You tell me. She's your friend. I mean, she's like your best friend.

STEPHANOPOULOS: She went to your wedding.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That's interesting.

TRUMP: But -- well, she had to, though.

You know why?

Because I contribute. And she probably went to your wedding, too, because you --


TRUMP: She didn't go to your wedding?

That's surprising.

So here's the story. I would say if Michael came in, he would take a lot of votes away from Hillary.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question.

TRUMP: You know why?

One of the reasons.

Guns. Michael is very much anti-gun. I am very pro --

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you'd welcome him in the race if you get the --

TRUMP: I would love to have him in the race. I mean, I think -- I don't think it's going to happen but I would love to have him in the race. It's very late for anybody to join the race right now. I mean, I know the filing requirements and for anybody to come in right now is very late.

STEPHANOPOULOS: (INAUDIBLE) "Boston Globe" yesterday from a woman named Rebecca O'Donnell (ph), who has a 9-year-old son paying attention to the race and he asked her, he's adopted, internationally, different ethnicity than his parents and he asked her if he and his brother would be taken away from us if Donald Trump became president.

She went on to write this in "The Globe."

"My son feels that Trump is speaking hate against him because his skin is brown and he's afraid. Trump claims that he will strike fear into the hearts of our enemies. Instead, he strikes fear into the hearts of our children."

What do you say to Rebecca (ph) --


TRUMP: Well, I'd like to ask, you know, turn it around.

Why didn't you pick out a positive letter? Because we're getting so many positive letters. People want to take back their country. That young man will be fine. People want to take back their country. We want to do it in a humane way. But we have to have a country. We don't have a country right now.

We have people pouring in. They're pouring in and they're doing tremendous damage. If you look at the crime, if you look at the economy, you know, the real number in terms of unemployment, the real number, a number where people that really want jobs, if you look at the real number it's over 20 percent. Could be as high as 25 percent, OK, because people look for jobs. They give up and they're statistically considered employed.

The real number is a disaster. And if you think that 25,000 people come to my rallies because we're doing well, the reason they're coming to my rallies because the center is doing poorly and that includes the economy and obviously now you're seeing the final telltale shot, the stock market.


TRUMP: Look what's happening with the stock market.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question, Martin Luther King Day this week.

What do you say to Americans, African Americans especially, who believe his dream has not been achieved in this country?

TRUMP: Oh, I agree with them and especially under President Obama. We have an African American president and the black youth, the African American youth has essentially all never done worse. You look at the unemployment in the '50s. You look at African American people that are 30 and 35 and 40 in the height of their strength and lives and they're doing horribly.

President Obama, an African American, has done a terrible job for African Americans. Donald Trump will do a great job for African Americans. I'll bring back jobs to this country from China and many other places. And I'll let people work and make a great living. I will be great for African Americans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: More from Donald Trump in just a moment and then the Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both joins us live this week ahead of tonight's big debate. The attacks are coming hard and fast.


STEPHANOPOULOS: A bit more now from Donald Trump. We talked backstage just before his appearance with former senator Scott Brown in New Hampshire.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You've changed a bit over the last several months, a little more disciplined, a little more focused.

What have you learned about campaigning in the last several months?

TRUMP: Well, I think I did very well at the beginning. I mean, don’t forget, I'd been at the top of the polls from almost the very first day. So it's not like, gee whiz, I did badly and all of a sudden I got good.

I'm an intelligent person like you are. I mean, we're intelligent people. Probably I tone it down a little bit sometimes. But sometimes you can't tone it down. You know, when you're dealing against China, who is just killing us, and you're dealing against Mexico, where they're sending people, and you're dealing against lots of other groups of people that are doing big numbers on us and we're losing a fortune as a country and we're losing our heart and we're losing our soul, you have to be pretty strong. You don't want to tone it down too much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you are all in now. You're going to do everything you can to shake every hand.

TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE). I mean, I'm here. I'm number one in every single place, including Iowa, by the way, as you know, all of the latest polls have me number one in Iowa. And I have a great feeling toward Iowa and a great relationship with the people there, with the evangelicals and the Tea Party.

No, we're looking to do very well. I mean --

STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you think --

TRUMP: -- very exciting. (INAUDIBLE).

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- what do you think of that theory that if you lose Iowa that your whole appeal is based on being a winner. If you lose Iowa --


TRUMP: I think I'll do well in Iowa. If I don't quite make it in Iowa at a minimum I do think it's going to be close. But I think I'm going to win Iowa. I think I'm going to do fantastically in New Hampshire. You see the polls there and South Carolina going to be great.

You look at Nevada, it's going to be good. I think I'm going to do well.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats up next, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders here live in just two minutes.



SANDERS: There are two Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street. One says it's OK to take millions for big banks and then tell them what to do.



HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama, who, as you might recall, took a lot of money from the financial industry when he ran in 2008. So it's a funny kind of charge.



SANDERS: Think anybody who looks at that ad understands it's not a negative ad. It's absolutely truthful.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton going at it this week as we begin this campaign in 2016 just two weeks from the Iowa caucuses.

Secretary Clinton joins us now from Charleston, South Carolina, ahead of tonight’s big debate.

Good morning, Madam Secretary.

CLINTON: Good morning, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get to that back and forth between you and Bernie Sanders, but first the news that the American hostages from Iran are heading home this morning. Donald Trump not giving the president any credit and Marco Rubio says it’s going to create incentives for other U.S. adversaries to take hostages.

Does he have a point?

CLINTON: Well, look, I’m pleased, like I hope everybody is, that we have American citizens coming home this morning from Iran. They were unjustly held there, and I did a lot of work on these issues when Americans were being picked up, falsely charged and imprisoned, to get them home. So I applaud the fact that that’s happened.

We still don’t see Bob Levinson coming home, so we have unfinished questions and business still. But I think this is a part of what we’re going to be pursuing -- persistent, patient diplomacy.

Today’s also the day that we have verified the Iranians have followed through on the requirements under the nuclear agreement. They have shipped out the vast majority, I think it’s up to 98 percent, of their enriched uranium. They have poured cement into one of the reactors we worried about because of a plutonium potential threat. They have destroyed centrifuges.

So this is the kind of smart diplomacy I was proud to be a part of in the first administration of President Obama that we’re just going to have to be persistent with, because we have a lot of problems with Iran -- their aggressive behavior, their destabilizing of neighboring states, their continuing military support for Assad and so much else.

But the fact that we've put the lid on the nuclear weapons program, the fact that we got our prisoners back, I think is a reason for good news.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s get to the campaign right now.

A strange series of events yesterday. The super PAC coordinating with you put out word that they’d be demanding to release of Bernie Sanders’ health records. Sanders campaign struck back, calling that vile. Your campaign disavowed it. It appeared to go away.

So what is relevant here and what’s not?

Should age and health be an issue in this campaign?

CLINTON: Oh, look, you know, I put out my medical records. I think you’ve been around long enough to know, George, this is all part of the expectation.

But I think it’s fair to say that I share a lot of the same goals with Senator Sanders about what we need to do on behalf of our country. But we have differences. And that’s what I’m focusing on now. We’re going to have a spirited debate, I expect, tonight in Charleston. Certainly Senator Sanders has been pointing out differences.

And one of the issues that I have drawn a very stark contrast on has been guns.

You know, I have pointed out repeatedly, because I think it’s a critical issue, that Senator Sanders has, for years, voted many times on behalf of the NRA gun lobby position. And one of the most egregious of those votes was the vote to give immunity from all liability to gun makers and sellers. Now, I was happy when --

STEPHANOPOULOS: He now supports taking that away.

CLINTON: Well, he flip-flopped last night, said that he would sign on to a bill that is currently pending in the House and Senate to repeal that liability. And I’m delighted that he has had a change of heart. I think that’s all for the good.

Now I hope he will take a hard look at what we call the Charleston loophole. That’s a provision he also voted for, that gives a gun to a potential buyer after three days whether or not the background check has been completed. And it’s called the Charleston loophole because that’s how the killer in Charleston got his gun when, if there had been a little more time, information would have come to light that would have shown he was prohibited. And, of course, we know he used that gun to go to Mother Emanuel Church and murder nine faithful people at Bible study.

So I want to see movement against the gun lobby, because we cannot continue to lose 90 people a day, 33,000 a year, to gun violence. And I welcome Senator Sanders moving on one of the issues he was wrong on. I hope he will continue to move.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we’re going to ask him about that in a few minutes.

Another big difference on health care. He wants to replace Obamacare with a single payer system, Medicare for all.

So are you against that because it’s a bad idea or because it’s not practical? Would a single payer system be better if you could get it passed?

CLINTON: Well, first, I share the goal of universal health care. You know very well that I threw myself into that back in ’93 and ’94 and still have the scars to show for it. So the goal is we want everybody to have access to quality, affordable health care.

But I think we should be defending the Affordable Care Act. This is a historic achievement for our country. It certainly is for President Obama. We are making progress. I want us to protect it, to defend it and to improve it.

The Republicans keep trying to repeal it and offer nothing in place of it. So rather than tear it apart or get rid of it and start all over again in a contentious national debate, let’s do what I’m proposing, to get costs down, get out of pocket costs down, get more support for families who face big medical costs. Let’s deal with the rising cost of prescription drugs. That, I think, is the right way for the country to go and it certainly is what I’m advocating.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also have your differences over Wall Street. We’ve heard a little bit of that going into this. And I was struck this morning, American Crossroads, a super PAC founded by Karl Rove, who, of course, worked for President George W. Bush, has just launched this online ad in Iowa.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton’s gotten 54 times more money from Wall Street interests than from all of Iowa. Hillary rewarded Wall Street with the $700 billion bailout. Then Wall Street made her a multi-millionaire.

CLINTON: I represented Wall Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huh, you sure did, Hillary.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, that echoes the points being made by Bernie Sanders in his campaign.

Are you worried that your ties to Wall Street are weighing you down?

CLINTON: Well, first, let me say I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are to prevent me from becoming the nominee. I find that, in a perverse way, an incredibly flattering comment on their anxiety, because they know that not only will I stand up for what the country needs, I will take it to the Republicans. I have a track record which shows I know how to stand up to them. And I will win.

So I think this just proves my point, that I am the strongest candidate to go up against any Republican.

With the back and forth on Wall Street, I think it’s, you know, look, I have stood up to Wall Street even though I did represent New York. I have advocated for changes. But what I find sort of strange is, number one, the ad that Senator Sanders ran was really against all Democrats who ever took any contributions from anybody associated with the financial industry. That would include President Obama, who took more anyone ever had in 2008.

That did not stop him from turning around and imposing the toughest rules on Wall Street since the 1930s. The same with Barney Frank, who has actually written about this.

You know, that is just a false charge.

But in addition, I think it’s important for us to look at our respective plans. In fact, everyone who has offered an opinion about the plan that Senator Sanders has proposed and the one I put together has said mine is tougher, mine is more comprehensive, it would be more effective, because it tries to get not just at the problems of yesterday, but the potential problems of tomorrow, going after shadow banking and investment banks and big insurance companies, like what we saw in ’08 where Lehman Brothers and AIG were principal causes of what happened to us.

And I think, finally, I would say that I have gotten maybe 3 percent of my -- less than 3 percent of my contributions this time from anybody associated with financial industry activities. I’ve gotten so much more from students and teachers. Ninety percent of my contributions are from smaller donors and 60 percent from women.

So I’m just -- you know, I didn’t know about Karl Rove’s ad against me, but it kind of boosts me up, because I assume he thinks that I am going to get the nomination and he’s trying to interfere with the Iowa caucus to maybe confuse people on their way to caucus for me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam Secretary, thanks very much for your time this morning.

CLINTON: Thank you.

Good to talk to you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bernie Sanders is up next.

Then later, our powerhouse roundtable takes on the rowdiest week in this always surprising campaign.


STEPHANOPOULOS: We just heard from Secretary Clinton. We are joined now by Senator Bernie Sanders. Thank you for joining us again this morning, Senator Sanders.

Covered a lot of ground with Secretary Clinton. Let's go over some of the issues with you as well.

First of all, that back and forth yesterday over whether or not that super-PAC aligned with Hillary Clinton was going to demand the release of your health records. In the end, that didn’t happen, but Secretary Clinton did make the point this morning that she has released all of her records. Will you?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. Of course. I mean, I think she released a two-page statement on her health records. We will certainly do the same.

STEPHANOPOULOS: On guns, she also welcomed your support now of this gun liability legislation. Called it a flip-flop and said it’s time now for you also to support closing this Charleston loophole. Will you?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, George, as you know, I have a D minus, that’s a D minus, voting record from the NRA. In 1988, I probably lost an election because I was the only candidate who said we should ban assault weapons. What I said months and months ago is that there were things in the liability bill that I liked, things that I didn’t like, wanted to take a look at it, this bill, there’s apparently a bill now that’s going to be introduced to review it, to make changes in it. And I think the bill makes a lot of sense. So what we are -- will do is be supportive of this legislation.

There is an amendment though that I want to see incorporated into it, which is non-controversial, which monitors the impact of small gun show -- of gun shops in rural America.

Bottom line is that I think when a -- when a gun shop sells a gun legally to somebody, and then something bad happens, I don’t think it’s fair to hold that...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what about closing this...

SANDERS: ...small gun shop...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ...Charleston loophole, the three-day wait and then the person gets the gun after three days no matter what.

SANDERS: Well, that one was a -- you know, we’re going to take a look at that as well. But the issue here is that what my view has always been, and what is most important, is that we have a strong instant background check. I have supported that from day one and I want to see that expanded and put -- look, at the end of the day, what almost every American understands is we have got to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns. That has been my position from as far back as I can remember.

STEPHANOPOULOS: On the issue of healthcare, she made the point that you can’t -- you shouldn’t tear about Obamacare. People should be defending the Affordable Care Act. And you still haven’t put out all of the details on your plan for Medicare for all.

So how high will the top rate go, the top tax rate to pay for it? When will those details be here?

SANDERS: Well, those details are going to be out very, very shortly.

But here is the point: anyone who says that the Clinton camp has said if Bernie is going to dismember healthcare in the United States of America, he’s going to do, millions of people will no longer have the insurance they have, that’s nonsense. What everybody understands is that what a Medicare for all program is, is guaranteeing healthcare to all people. We still have 29 million Americans today who have no health insurance. We are the only major country on earth that doesn’t’ guarantee healthcare to all people, and yet we spend far, far more per capita on healthcare than do the people in other countries.

So what I want to do is to fulfill the vision of people like Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and say healthcare is a right of all people. I would hope that Secretary Clinton would join me on saying that, and to tell the pharmaceutical industry that they cannot continue to rip off the American people and charge us for the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But isn’t it fair for the voters of Iowa to know how you’re going to pay for it? The legislation you had back in 2013 had an additional...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ...6.7 percent payroll tax on employers. 2.2 percent on workers. Fair to assume that will be in it as well?

SANDERS: Well, you know what, George? I mean, sometimes where the discussion becomes really absurd is that we will increase Medicare premiums, that is true. But we are doing away with all private health insurance premiums. And sometimes -- and it disappoints me that the Clinton camp is kind of sounding like a Republican.

The truth of the matter is, A, we spend far more per person on healthcare than any other nation. And second of all, a Medicare for all, single-payer program, would substantially, thousands of dollars a year, lower the cost of health insurance for the middle class of this country.

So to say yes, there will be Medicare premiums, yes, of course there will. It’s not free. But we are doing away with all private health insurance costs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But don’t voters have a right to those details before they vote? Shouldn’t this come out before the Iowa caucus?

SANDERS: They do. And -- and the answer is yes, and they will.

And, you know, the answer is bottom line, yes, and they will.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you’ve -- Secretary Clinton’s campaign is also making the point about electability. She seemed delighted by the fact that Karl Rove’s campaign is now running an ad against her in Iowa.

And you know that in a campaign, past positions are going to get scrutiny. So I wonder how you respond to some of the things that are circulating now about your past positions, back when you were running for Governor of Vermont, as the Liberty Union Party candidate, in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Do you urge congressmen to give serious thought to the nationalization of the oil industry? And then you went on in the long run, Sanders said, all utilities must go under public ownership and all necessities of life must be provided free for people.

SANDERS: You know what, George? George, George -- you know, when -- that was a long, long time ago. Before I ever was elected to anything. I was Mayor of Burlington for eight years. I’ve in Congress for 25 years. You’re right, they can go back. People can go back and look at the fact that Hillary Clinton, as I understand it, was a supporter of Barry Goldwater.

Who cares? That was a long, long time ago. What I...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ...was going to ask you...

SANDERS: ...have run...

STEPHANOPOULOS: What -- what were you thinking then and what changed your mind?

SANDERS: No, I don’t -- it’s -- what I said 40 years ago is less important you talk about electability. If you look at all of the polls, or almost all of the polls that are out there today, today, what you find is that Bernie Sanders defeats Donald Trump by a much larger margin than does Hillary Clinton. In the last national poll that I’ve seen, we beat Trump by 13 points. If you look at the battleground states like Iowa and New Hampshire, we beat him also by a whole lot, more than Hillary Clinton.

I think our appeal is through not only Democrats, not only the young people, not only the working class people, but the Independents as well. So if you are concerned, or if the American people, or Democrats, are concerned about which candidate has the best opportunity to defeat right wing Republicans, I think you’re looking at him: Bernie Sanders.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, and finally, just to be clear, so those positions -- you completely disavow them.

SANDERS: You know, George, I have been an elected official for 25 years. Yes, those positions are what I -- what were before I even assumed any office. I have a record of eight years as the Mayor of the City of Burlington, 16 years in the House, 9 years in the Senate. I’m very proud of that record. And anyone who wants to argue with me about that record, that’s fine. You want to go back 40 or 50 years? That’s fine. I don’t think people give much credence to that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Sanders, thanks very much for your time this morning.

SANDERS: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve heard from the candidates, and now join us for our roundtable in just 30 seconds.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Time now for the roundtable.

I'm joined by our chief White House correspondent, Jon Karl; Republican strategist Sara Fagen, who worked for President George W. Bush, now supporting his brother Jeb; E.J. Dionne from "The Washington Post," who's out with a brand new book, "Why the Right Went Wrong"; and Republican strategist Kevin Madden and Congressman Keith Ellison, who's endorsed Bernie Sanders.

Welcome to you all.

Let's begin with the Republicans.

Jon Karl, I'll ask you what I asked Donald Trump, is it now a two-person race between Trump and Cruz?

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it sure looks that way, absolutely in Iowa. But, George, I have to say, when Ted Cruz came out with this New York values attack, it looked like it was a gaffe. Trump had a great moment in the debate.

But what's it done since?

It has driven everybody back to that interview 20 years ago with Tim Russert where Donald Trump says he is pro-choice, pro-gays in the military and does it citing the fact that he is from New York, not from Iowa.

It may have been a master stroke by Ted Cruz.

STEPHANOPOULOS: (INAUDIBLE) do you think I mean it's at least clear now that these guys are going to go at it for the next two weeks in Iowa, who's going to get the better of this exchange?

SARA FAGEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think the person who may get the better of this exchange is the person who finishes third in New Hampshire. You have to think about these establishment candidates. There are 5 points that separate Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush and three in between, three candidates in between Christie, Kasich and Cruz.

This is so early right now. It feels late and yes, there is a massive great going on between Cruz and Trump, but this thing is far from over.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's -- well, it's definitely far from over.

And Kevin Madden, you look at Iowa, right now, Marco Rubio in third or fourth place, depending on the polls...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- but has very high favorables.

If these two go at it, Trump and Cruz, is it possible he could rocket up at the end?

MADDEN: I still think that Iowa is probably a race right now between Cruz and Trump. And I think one of the really interesting things, to Jon's point, is, you know, I expected that they would drop the New York values attack, but the biggest risk for Trump right now is so far in this race, nobody has been on the attack and not -- none of the information about him has felt like it's been new.

This feels like it's new at a time for a lot of voters that are making up their mind in these last 14 days before the Caucuses, that the idea of a New York liberal could be their nominee, this would start to work now.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be true, Keith Ellison, but so far, everyone who's tangled the Trump has gone down.

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: You know, you have a New York liberal, Trump...


ELLISON: That's news to me. Well, let me tell you, I think I have to stand back and say they are all anti-immigrant. They all have tried to divide us based on religion. And I think it bodes well for the Democratic candidate. I support Bernie, but any Democratic candidate who can compare him or herself with these guys, as ugly as their behavior has been...


ELLISON: -- should think...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me -- let me bring that over to E.J., because the Republican establishment appears -- and you talk to them a lot when you do your reporting, appears to be coming around to the idea that one of these two could really be the nominee, and not their first choice.

E.J. DIONNE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It's amazing. And I think what it speaks to -- is the long -- the transformation of the Republican Party that I talk about in the book. I think, you know, the party has made promises to conservatives they couldn't keep about shrinking government, rolling back cultural change, while the working class Republicans are mad because they voted for the party, haven't gotten much out of it.

Trump is the revenge of those voters and the party -- if you look at the primary electorate, liberals have all left the Republican Party and moderates are gone. That's why we're talking about Cruz and Trump and that's why the establishment is so worried.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it's hard to know exactly what the establishment is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a lot of them have gone over to the Tea Party.

One thing about New Hampshire, though, that we're not talking about, Independents. Independents can pick up -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- a Republican ballot...

FAGEN: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and they...

FAGEN: And the Democratic ballot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's where Kasich has a shot or Christie or Bush...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's also why New Hampshire may be tailor made for Trump, as well.

But so let me put that question to you. As I said, you did work for President George W. Bush.

As you talk to your colleagues, your former colleagues, people in the top of the Republican Party, if they're forced to choose between Trump and Cruz, who do they choose?

FAGEN: Well, I think they would, I think, support Ted. You know, I say to my former...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a tough call, by the way.


FAGEN: I think here's the thing is that...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- number of them that would rather see Donald Trump.

FAGEN: You know, Ted is a brilliant, he's a brilliant man. He can be very abrasive. People who work with him all will tell you that.

But we also that, you know, outside the Beltway, people don't any of that.

What they see is a young, rock-ribbed conservative who's very articulate on issues that they care about and people inside the beltway get caught up in the personalities and the cocktail parties. And I don't think that's really going to matter to the average primary voter.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you did that, Kevin, this week, Speaker Ryan choose Nikki Haley to give the response for the Republican Party, the governor of South Carolina. And she did have that very direct shot at Donald Trump.

MADDEN: Right. And -- and many -- there was also a backlash. So many voters out there felt like they were being scolded by this estimate that they feel that there's a canyon between them and the Republicans in Washington. They feel like that their anger is legitimate and that their voice is not being heard and that the last thing they want from it is a -- another establishment leader in Washington or being chosen by leaders in Washington to tell them that their anger is not legitimate.

And I think that's why you saw so much in like the talk radio world and also so many among the grassroots conservatives start to actually push back on Nikki Haley.

So it's going to be interesting...

KARL: Although Trump showed amazing restraint in the debate when he did not go after Nikki Haley.


KARL: Actually, praised her and said...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- South Carolina.


KARL: But that was disciplined and restrained.



KARL: And he looked like...


FAGEN: A better candidate...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- more, more polished as a result...


FAGEN: But...


FAGEN: -- but I think Kevin made a really excellent point earlier when he talked about Ted Cruz introducing this New York values argument. I think this was very smart by Ted. It was strategic. And it allows an avenue in which to put forth new information about Donald Trump, of which there is much, of which his record is quite liberal.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- how Southernized the Republican Party...




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- both in its membership and it its general spirit. New York used to have a lot of Republicans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Democrats in South Carolina tonight, Keith Ellison, we saw from the interviews with Secretary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they're going to go at it on a lot of different issues tonight.

Which of the exchanges, as a Bernie Sanders supporter, you're most concerned about?

ELLISON: Well, you know, I think Bernie can hold up under any of these questions. I mean he does have a D minus rating for the NRA. I mean it's not -- he has been very clear that he recognizes the problem with guns, that he supports President Obama's position. And I think he'll be fine.

But I think the bigger worry is how do you we really address the real problems of the American people, which is stagnating pay, which is feeling that the whole system is rigged against them?

I mean anyone associated with that has got -- they've got the main problem. And Bernie Sanders is picking up on this (INAUDIBLE) you mentioned...


ELLISON: -- and I think that some of these conservatives ought to look at Bernie...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are going to...

ELLISON: -- because they know he's -- straight up, he's honest, he tells it like it is, and he's going to (INAUDIBLE)...

STEPHANOPOULOS: The other thing he has going for him, E.J. Dionne, and this was just startling to me, this "Des Moines Register" poll this week showing that 43 percent of Democratic caucus-goers right now in Iowa identify themselves as socialists.

DIONNE: Right. And, you know, I don't think that's shocking after the Wall Street crash. They've all gone out to see "The Big Short" and they feel a certain way about capitalism.

But I think right from the beginning, I think it was a mistake to think that Bernie couldn't win Iowa because as you know, those are very progressive Democrats who show up at the caucuses. And then New Hampshire, he's right next door.

And I think Clinton's got to pivot to an argument that says, look, a lot of you Bernie Sanders voters are perfectly willing to vote for me. She can't say it that way. But a lot of them expect to vote for her -- I need you now. Don’t just send a message, send a president. And that's a tricky message to send because it kind of assumed that Bernie Sanders is not going to win the nomination, which (INAUDIBLE) --


ELLISON: Look, Bernie Sanders is in this, he is legit and the numbers are showing it. I think that this argument that this inevitability to the outcome is now got to be whacked away.

DIONNE: No, she can't --

KARL: -- inevitability but she's got to say it. And I thought her best answer to you was if Karl Rove's going after me, they must be worried about me. And I bet you're going to hear that tonight, even though as Democrats are being crazy to stash these debates away so you probably could have had to find them on a milk carton --


STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, 9 o'clock on a weekend.

FAGEN: Right.

KARL: I mean, you know, Hillary Clinton has been at her worst since she was playing prevent defense, which she's looking like she was inevitable. I mean, the limiting the debates, not engaging. Now she's realizing that you know, look, Bernie Sanders can win in Iowa. He can win in New Hampshire. She would still be the front-runner for the rest of the way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Assuming she holds on in South Carolina --

KARL: -- yes, but all bets are off if that happens.

FAGEN: What's really interesting about the Democratic race is, let's not forget, Nevada comes before South Carolina, so you could have a scenario where Bernie Sanders wins three contests, and for a month, she has not won a contest.

So this is a game about momentum. And if she loses three contests, it's going to be hard for to --


ELLSION: I will tell you, I like the fact that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are competing on the things that Americans care about the most, though. I mean, we cannot lose here because we got two candidates who are banging on income inequality and opportunity in this country. I feel good about where we're at.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're one of two in Congress that (INAUDIBLE)?

ELLSION: Two strong ones (IINAUDIBLE).


FAGEN: And one has called for massive tax increase that the country who can't afford to pay for any of this.

ELLISON: Well, we can't afford --

STEPHANOPOULOS: This is -- I want to bring to you, Kevin Madden, we only have a little bit of time left, with that question I also brought to Donald Trump, a lot of people are going to look at this being Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz on the Republican side. Mayor Bloomberg's going to take a look at this. You see Jim Webb taking a look at this.

Does this make a third party run inevitable?

MADDEN: Oh, I think if Trump is the nominee, you will see an incredible amount of pressure from the establishment Republicans in trying to get somebody who is seen as a more electable Republican, somebody who is actually -- can govern. I think many of those establishment Republicans --

STEPHANOPOULOS: That would be before the --


MADDEN: -- particularly the do -- yes, particularly the donors. I think they believe that not only is Donald Trump bad for the party but he's bad for the country.

DIONNE: That's right.

MADDEN: You would see a great swing towards many voters there that was trying to --


KARL: There are some Republicans who'd rather have Trump lose and split the party than have him be president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of -- a lot of talk about Paul Ryan.

That's all we have time for right now. We're going to be right back after this from our ABC stations.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."


ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events