-- (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Starting right now on ABC's THIS WEEK, breaking news -- new debris found.
Is it from Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and will it help pinpoint where the plane went down?
Will he keep up his momentum?
Donald Trump is here live.
Plus, hunting outrage -- will Cecil the Lion's death spark new bans on trophy hunting?
And why that American dentist may face criminal charges overseas.
From ABC News, THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS begins now.
JONATHAN KARL, HOST: Good morning.
I'm Jon Karl.
Lots of news to get to this morning, including the countdown to the first Republican debate. Frontrunner Donald Trump will be center stage.
Is he ready?
What's his strategy?
Trump will be with us live momentarily.
But first, we start off with breaking news.
Let's bring in our aviation expert, Steve Ganyard.
Steve, many are wondering, of course, is this part of that plane?
COL. STEPHEN GANYARD, ABC NEWS AVIATION CONSULTANT: I think we'll have to wait and see, Jon. This needs to go back for forensic testing.
So we need to continue to go deliberately, slowly, and make sure we look at these pieces in -- in -- by themselves and figure out if this is part of the airplane.
KARL: OK, so if this does turn out to be part of that plane...
KARL: -- is it going to help us pinpoint where that plane went down?
GANYARD: Not really.
KARL: Or why?
KARL: Thanks, Steve.
Now to that possible bombshell in the 2016 race -- is Joe Biden about to jump in?
ABC's Cecilia Vega with the new evidence the answer may be yes.
CECILIA VEGA, ABC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This morning, the strongest signs yet that Joe Biden might be ready to run. The vice president's advisers telling ABC News his political team has been ramping up in recent days, entering what they call a more active phase.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hi, how are you?
VEGA: In Campaign Biden, there are discussions about fundraising and launching a political action committee. And while the vice president himself has not authorized any of these moves, one adviser tells ABC News he believes Biden is 90 percent in.
Biden telling George back in January that he is open to a run.
BIDEN: Yes, there's a chance. I don't think you have to make up your mind until the summer. I think there's a -- a -- I think this is wide open on both sides.
VEGA: And now, "The New York Times" reporting Biden's son Beau, who died of cancer, pressed his father to run and that the VP has been holding meetings at home, talking to friends, family and donors about jumping in.
One thing is certain -- Biden is not saying no.
BIDEN: Happy new year.
VEGA: For THIS WEEK, Cecilia Vega, ABC News, New York.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KARL: Thanks, Cecilia.
We'll have much more on the vice president later.
But now to the Republicans and the upcoming debate.
It's the first big test for frontrunner Donald Trump. As "The New York Times" put it, the stakes are, in a word, huge.
We'll talk to Donald Trump live shortly.
But first, here's ABC's Tom Llamas.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As far as preparing for the debates, I am who I am. I don't know. I've never debated before. I'm not a debater. I get things done.
LLAMAS: The brash billionaire surprisingly downplaying expectations for his own performance at the GOP showdown.
TRUMP: I have no idea how I'll do. Maybe I'll do terribly. Maybe I'll do great.
LLAMAS: And who he'll take on, it's still up in the air. Only the top 10 candidates polling the highest in five of the most recent national polls qualify for the main stage.
According to an ABC News analysis, if the debate were today, some notable names would be left out of the main event, including former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Meanwhile, candidates sharpening their attack lines.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Rand Paul and I'm trying to kill the tax code.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And if this deal goes through, the Obama administration will become quite literally the world's leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): But are they ready to tangle with Trump, who's surged to the top of the polls by winning some passionate fans, like those at this week's Bloomberg town hall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you successful?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to be a billionaire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me what you think a Trump presidency would look like.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Classy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the American people, it would be a presidency of hope.
LLAMAS (voice-over): Some analysts like 538's Nate Silver say this may be as far as Trump goes.
NATE SILVER, 538: There are about as many voters who don't like Donald Trump as who do. Trump will tout his top-line numbers and say, yes, I have 20 percent of the base who hypothetically vote for me today. But in the end, 20 percent's not enough and when half of your own party dislikes you, you don't have very much room to grow from that 20 percent.
LLAMAS: Jon, one of Trump's main talking points is that he will win the presidency, that he can beat Hillary Clinton. But in the three most recent polls, Clinton has a double-digit lead over Trump -- Jon.
KARL: All right, thanks, Tom.
Let's get straight to the GOP front-runner, Donald Trump, who joins us by the phone.
Sir, thank you for joining us.
TRUMP: Thank you, Jon.
KARL: So I want to get to the debate in a moment. But we have this news this morning that Joe Biden is looking into running.
What's your assessment?
Would he be harder to beat than Hillary Clinton?
TRUMP: Well, I think it's a real possibility because what she did was absolutely, in my opinion, illegal and I don't think she's going to be allowed to run if they have a prosecutor who's going to be honorable because if you look at Gen. Petraeus, what he did is nothing compared to what she's done. And his life is in ruins.
I mean, what they've done to him is incredible and very, very tough. And what she did is far worse.
So I think she's got a big problem with the emails and obviously her numbers are going down drastically so somebody like Biden could probably go in and do very well and maybe win.
KARL: OK. Let's get to your big moment. You've never debated before.
Are you ready for this debate?
What would you consider a win?
TRUMP: Well, I'm not a debater. These politicians -- I always say, they're all talk, no action. They debate all the time. They go out and they debate every night. I don't debate. I build -- I've created tremendous jobs. I've built a great company. I do a lot of things.
And maybe my whole life is a debate, in a way. But the fact is I'm not a debater and they are. But with that being said, I look forward to it. We'll see what happens. Who knows?
KARL: OK. You obviously haven't been afraid to attack your opponents on the campaign trail. Now you're going to be on the stage with them.
Are you going to be pulling your punches or…?
TRUMP: I don't think I'm going to be throwing punches. I'm not looking to attack them. Don't forget, every single attack --
KARL: You've been attacking. I mean, are you going to do it on the stage?
TRUMP: Yes, every attack I made was a counter punch. I mean, they attacked me first and I hit them back and maybe harder than they hit me. But the fact is that I've been attacked pretty viciously by some of these guys. And I have a lot of respect for numerous people on the stage. I will tell you, I have great respect for some of the people on the stage.
But I have been attacked and I counter punch. I didn't start the attacks.
KARL: OK. Well, let's get to some of the more recent ones. I don't know if you saw Jeb Bush while you were in Scotland, kind of dismissed your rise as a phenomenon and then you had Rand Paul, who said that your surge in the polls is a, quote, "temporary loss of sanity"
TRUMP: Well, I mean, he may say that. You know, he's very weak on the military. He's very weak on defense. And I think that's probably hurt him very badly. I think he's a nice guy. I've contributed a lot of money to his cause, where he goes around as a doctor and he goes around and takes care of some very seriously ill people and helps them out.
And I've made a lot of contributions. So I was a little bit surprised to hear him say that and maybe it was built up by the press. But I would say that I was a little surprised to hear Rand say that.
But if he's -- feels that ,that's OK with me.
KARL: OK. So let me get -- you've been very harsh in your assessment of Jeb Bush especially. But let's look back at what you wrote in your book, "The America We Deserve."
You said, of Jeb Bush, "He is exactly the kind of political leader this country needs now and we very much need in the future. He's bright, tough and principled."
And not just Jeb Bush; of Hillary Clinton, you said, just in 2012, "She's a terrific woman, works hard and I think she does a good job."
George Pataki, you said was the most underrated guy in American politics.
Rick Perry, you said, is a very effective governor; Texas is lucky to have him.
I mean, now you're declared Hillary the worst secretary of state ever; Pataki, the worst governor of New York ever and you said Rick Perry's too dumb maybe to be in the debate.
TRUMP: It's a very simple answer to that. I was a business man all my life. I've made a tremendous fortune. I had to deal with politicians and I would contribute to them and I would deal with them and certainly I'm not going to say bad things about people because I needed their support to get projects done. I needed their support for lots of things or I may have needed their support, put it another way.
I mean, you're not going to say horrible things and then go in a year later and say listen, can I have your support for this project or this development or this business. So I say nice about almost everybody and I contributed to people because I was a smart business man. I've built a tremendous company. And I did that based on relationships.
Now I'm no longer a business man. Now I'm somebody that wants to make our country great. And the tone is too weak. You know, they're telling me and Jeb -- I understand what he's saying. He said the tone, the tone. And Hillary used the exact SAE word, the tone of Trump.
But we need a tough tone. They're beheading our people in -- I mean, they're beheading Christians, the world is going --
KARL: The tones aren't beheading anybody --
TRUMP: -- no, but you know what? The tone has to be tougher. If we're going to stop ISIS, if we're going to clean up the border and stop what's happening at the border which is a disaster, which I was very proud to have brought up and took a lot of heat the first week, now everyone's apologizing to me because they see that I was right.
But we need a tougher tone. We can't have that tone anymore. We need a strong tone and we need tremendous enthusiasm and as you understand, Jeb doesn’t have that strong tone and he doesn’t have that level of enthusiasm that you need to make our country great again.
I feel strongly. But as a business man, I support everybody. I supported everybody and I did very well doing it.
KARL: So let me ask you about something you tweeted last year. You said of Barack Obama, "Sadly, because President Obama has done such a poor job as president, you won't see another black president for generations."
What did you mean by that?
TRUMP: Well, I think he's been a very poor president. I think he has done a very poor job as president. We have $18 trillion right now in debt and going up rapidly.
KARL: But what did you mean? What --
TRUMP: Wait a minute.
The world is -- we don't have victories anymore. China is killing us on trade. Mexico's killing us at the border and also killing us on trade. Mexico's doing unbelievably against us in trade.
You look at what's going on with Japan. You look at what's going on with Vietnam. You look at Saudi Arabia, makes $1 billion a day and we defend them. We get nothing.
KARL: I understand your critique. But why do you say that means we won't see another black president for generations?
TRUMP: Because I think that he has set a very poor standard. I think that he has set a very low bar and I think it's a shame for the African American people.
And by the way, he has done nothing for African Americans. You look at what's gone on with their income levels. You look at what's gone on with their youth. I thought that he would be a great cheerleader for this country. I thought he'd do a fabulous job for the African American citizens of this country.
He has done nothing. They are worse now than just about ever and --
KARL: But --
TRUMP: -- they are -- excuse me. They have problems now in terms of unemployment numbers, look at their unemployment numbers. And you have -- here you have a black president who's done very poorly for the African Americans of this country.
And I think that I will win the African American vote and I think I will win the Hispanic vote. And if you see the recent polls that came out, Jon, you'll see that because I'm leading in the Hispanic vote.
KARL: All right. We're almost out of time. I want to go through a couple of lightning round, quick questions, to get a sense of what a Trump presidency would look like.
First of all, Supreme Court, who is your model for a Supreme Court nomination?
TRUMP: Well, I have a number of people that I like. But I will say this, when it comes to the Supreme Court, I'd want high intellect, and I'd want very conservative. I would like really high intellect and very conservative.
KARL: Would President Trump authorize waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, even torture?
TRUMP: I would be inclined to be very strong. When people are chopping off other people's heads and then we're worried about waterboarding and we can't, because I have no doubt that that works. I have absolutely no doubt.
KARL: You'd bring back waterboarding?
TRUMP: ...you mention waterboarding, which was such a big subject. I haven't heard that term in a year now, because when you see the other side chopping off heads, waterboarding doesn't sound very severe.
KARL: OK. I want to get a sense of what a Trump cabinet looks like, so very quickly, throughout a couple of names: Secretary of State. Who can we see? Who would you consider?
TRUMP: I wouldn't want to put any names out there right now. I think it's far too early. I want to see. And I'm certainly looking at the field. And there are certainly some tremendous people that we could put in, but it would be somebody that's very strong, very smart, and you know what else would be important, very energetic. You need a lot of energy.
KARL: Runningmate: Sarah Palin said some very nice things about you, you've said some nice things about her. Will you consider her as a possible runningmate?
TRUMP: Well, I don't think she'd want to, because at the -- the answer is -- you know, I like Sarah Palin a lot. I think Sarah Palin has got the very unfair press. I think the press has treated her very unfairly. But I would pick somebody that would be a terrific -- you know, you have to view it as really who would be a good president in case something happened. But I would -- there are many, many people out there that I think would be very good.
KARL: OK. Last question very quickly, Reince Priebus, chairman of the party, has said that all candidates should pledge not to run as a third party if they don't win the nomination. Will you take that pledge this morning? Will you pledge not to run as a third party candidate?
TRUMP: I will tell you this, I am leading in every poll, and in some cases by a tremendous margin, and people are a little bit surprised, but I'm not surprised. And people that know me aren't surprised, because they see what's going on with this country.
If I'm treated fairly by -- and don't win, but if I'm treated fairly by the Republican Party, I would have no interest in doing that. If I'm not treated fairly by the Republican Party, I very well might consider that. And I would certainly not give that up.
KARL: OK. Donald Trump, thank you for joining us.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
KARL: 17 Republican candidates were trying to get on that debate stage this week, one of them is Rick Santorum. He won the Iowa caucuses last time, received 4 million votes overall, and was the runner-up to Mitt Romney. Senator Santorum, joins me now.
Senator, you just heard from Donald Trump. He is emphatically not ruling out a third party run.
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, that's -- I'm not concerned about that. The Republican Party is going to treat every candidate fairly. They have rules. They're going to live by those rules. And Donald Trump, like every other candidate, will rise and fall. And I don't have any fear that Donald Trump somehow is going to be treated unfairly and therefore run as a third party candidate.
KARL: OK, so let's get to you. Right now it looks like you're not going to be on that debate stage, you're not in the top 10, you're quite a ways out.
What do you say about these debate rules that could leave you, the runner-up last time, out of the first debate?
SANTORUM: Yeah, they're pretty arbitrary. I saw a poll recently that said that they asked Iowa Caucus goers if you can name all the presidential candidates. And 80 percent could only name three. And that's people here in Iowa that probably study this more than anybody else.
These polls, these national polls are irrelevant. I was at you know 1 percent in the national polls four years ago, and ended up winning 11 states, 4 million votes, won the Iowa caucus. In fact, I won the Iowa caucuses, and two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, which eventually, like I said, won, I was at 2 percent in the national polls.
National polls mean nothing. And so this is an arbitrary figure. And unfortunately, the networks and the RNC have gone along with this irrelevant measure of legitimacy of candidacy, and then have the ability to influence who is in the top 10 by the amount of coverage they get, and amount of advertising dollars. I mean, you have folks who have advertised on Fox and Fox Business in order to drive their numbers up.
This is -- and I hear it from everywhere I go: in Iowa -- I'm here obviously right now, and I was in New Hampshire I heard it very strongly, South Carolina, people are really concerned that the media is now saying we're going to decide who the -- you know, cull the field. We're going to decide who the top candidates are, not the people of Iowa, not the people of New Hampshire.
SANTORUM: ...all the legitimate candidates: period.
KARL: But to be clear, this is the chairman of the Republican Party, this is the RNC, that has signed off on these criteria. I mean, you're being frozen out of this first debate.
SANTORUM: Well, they're wrong. And I've said it from day one.
Look, here's what I know, four years ago, four years ago there was a straw poll. I finished fourth way down in the pack. The two people -- the person that finished first didn't win a delegate. A few days later, another candidate came in with tens of millions of dollars, was at the top of the polls in August, he didn't win a delegate.
So, I'm not really worried about what's happening here in August, whether it's a debate or the like, I'm just looking for the opportunity, for all the candidates in this race, to get an opportunity to be heard on the national stage because they deserve it. These are really good qualified men and women, and I guarantee you someone in that first debate is going to be someone who is going to get a lot of delegates come next year. And it will be another incident where the RNC and the national media missed it.
KARL: OK, I want to ask you about your status, though. You mentioned the national polls. Let's look at the polls in Iowa where you won. In the most recent poll, you were at less than 1 percent in Iowa. What has happened? Where did all your support go?
SANTORUM: Yeah, number one they're not talking to caucus goers. It was a much broader poll than that. And number two, again, when I talk to folks I've been -- I spent several days over the last few days, and most of the people I talked to are undecided. And actually we're getting a fair amount of support.
But a lot of folks are undecided. I'm on their list. And they're going to work their way through these candidates. And the folks that are doing well, not surprisingly, are the folks that are getting most of the media attention.
And as I said before, there was a survey done and 80 percent of Iowan caucus goers couldn't name more than three candidates.
So, again I'm not concerned about what happens now. I'm going to go out. I've been to almost 60 counties in Iowa. We're going to continue as we are getting our caucus captains, getting our county organizations together, and come February when it matters, not August, but come February, you know we'll be there. We'll surprise people again. And they'll scratch their head and say gee why did we mess up this summer and not recognize that all candidates can bring something to the table should be in this game.
KARL: And I have no doubt you'll hit all 99 of those Iowa counties.
Thank you, Senator Santorum.
Coming up, the roundtable on Trump's big debate moment and the possible Biden bombshell.
Plus, we'll be talking to the one and only Jack Hanna about the growing uproar over the killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist.
KARL: Now, the growing debate over trophy hunting sparked by that American dentist who allegedly killed the famous lion, Cecil, after luring him out of a national park in Zimbabwe.
And overnight, there were new questions about the fate of Cecil's companion. We'll talk to Jack Hanna shortly.
First, the latest from ABC's Alex Perez.
ALEX PEREZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This morning, we are learning Jericho the lion is still alive, as seen in a photo taken this morning after conflicting reports of his death Saturday. But the outrage over the death of his companion, Cecil, is growing.
The hunting of all lions, leopards and elephants now suspended in Zimbabwe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hunting has been suspended with immediately fixed.
PEREZ: Meanwhile, still no public sighting of Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, who admitted to shooting Cecil this month. Palmer says he broke no laws, but Zimbabwe authorities are demanding his return.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our procedures (INAUDIBLE) and we are looking forward for his extradition.
PEREZ: All of this putting a spotlight on an already heated debate about trophy hunting. Conservation groups hoping the U.S. will put lions, whose numbers are dropping, on the Endangered Species List and ban trophy hunting imports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should really shame these people. This is not acceptable behavior in this day and age.
PEREZ: But hunting advocates say hunters are a critical way to help pay for conservation efforts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There wouldn't be half the lions we have today if it wasn't for the hunting community.
PEREZ: For THIS WEEK, Alex Perez, ABC News, Chicago.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KARL: And Jack Hanna joins us now from Montana.
He is director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and has spent time on that very animal reserve that Cecil appears to been lured from in Africa.
Mr. Hanna, thank you for joining us.
JACK HANNA, DIRECTOR EMERITUS, COLUMBUS ZOO: Thanks for having me.
KARL: So I've got to -- I've got to ask you, what was your reaction when you first heard the news about Cecil?
HANNA: Well, you can imagine working with animals for almost 40 years now -- actually, my wife and I danced to "Born Free" in 1968 when we were married. So we've raised lions, by the way.
The thing is, people have to understand something. In 1947, when I was born, there were about 450,000 lions. In 19 -- the mid-'70s, when my kids were born, there were about 100,000. Today, there are less than 30,000.
And I went to film there first in the late '70s, early '80s, there were lions everywhere. But now, today, obviously, their numbers have dropped. And that's a serious thing.
So as far as what happened, you know, real quickly. There are about four things here.
You know, I wasn't there and you weren't there.
HANNA: Number one, this animal was habituated.
What does that mean?
Habituated means -- and by the way, I filmed the exact same place in 2011. So habituated means that the researchers study the animals every day from a distance. That animal knows that. That lion knew that for 15 years or so, right?
So when you go up to this animal, you don't get out of your car, because it would -- it would consume you.
But this -- being habituated means they sit there. So that's number one, it's an habituated animal, which means it's not tame, it's just there.
HANNA: Like a cow sitting in a field.
Now, are -- that's number one.
Number two is then all of a sudden you -- you go there and you drag a carcass across from the protected side over to the hunting side, and that was proven that they dragged a carcass, for the animal to be drug over into that area where he could be hunted by a bow and arrow.
Now, then someone said that the man might not have seen the collar on the lion. Well, if that was a rifle, maybe that's true. But I -- I was there when they were collaring the lions, by the way, so therefore, you could see that collar if it's a bow and arrow.
So there's another item right there. So you can imagine already some people said they didn't have the right permits. Well, that could be or not be.
So there's so much stacked against him, plus, one illegal thing he had already done, and obviously, you know, there are -- by the way, I'm not -- I'm -- I'm not anti-hunter. I'm not a hunter, but, you know, as far as conservation and the dollars that go into this, I'm not talking about trophy hunting right now, I'm talking about hunting in general...
HANNA: -- throughout the world. Millions, trillions of dollars goes into it to help protect animals, as well.
So this whole thing, as you said, is a very difficult situation, but right now, I think if you have lions that -- as far as hunting lions in Zimbabwe, that's one place that we all know, the country of Zimbabwe, the issues they have right now...
HANNA: -- are beyond abominable.
KARL: So -- so but let...
KARL: -- let me ask you about...
HANNA: -- so right now...
KARL: -- let me just ask you about Dr. Palmer then. I mean that lion clearly, in your view, he did something very wrong here and had to know he was doing something wrong.
Zimbabwe has asked for him to be extradited.
What do you think should happen to him?
HANNA: Well, let's -- let's put it this way. Several years ago, I don't the exact year, you could look it up -- a gentleman was in Yellowstone and took an elk -- took an elk, took the animal, killed the animal, put him in the back of a pick up. He got very hefty fines as well as my understanding is, as of yesterday, four or so years in prison.
That was because of an elk in our own country in Yellowstone National Park. And there have been several other instances like that as well.
So what should happen is I don’t -- as far as extraditing him to Zimbabwe, if you know much about Zimbabwe --
KARL: Yes, yes, no --
HANNA: -- that's probably not someplace --
KARL: Well, you think he should be punished --
HANNA: -- that's not some --
KARL: -- that this --
HANNA: -- yes --
KARL: -- could go to jail for this.
HANNA: Yes. I think every good hunter would agree that something has to happen here. And he -- the doctor must know himself something has to happen here because that's not what good hunters do by any means.
So the point is, yes, something has to be an issue here because that is totally inaccurate. In other words, what he said, he didn't know anything, he could not -- he had to know some of these four points I just pointed out. You just can't drag a carcass over there, an animal from one that's protected side to another and shoot him like -- there like a cow.
KARL: OK -- and then we're almost just -- we're just about out of time. Very quickly, do you think it's time -- I know you're not anti-hunter. Is it time to put an end to this kind of trophy hunting, though?
HANNA: I think issues have to be looked at, yes. I'm not saying an end to everything. I'm saying an end to -- predator-prey relationships is what our good Lord put on the planet here. The predator relationship to prey is messed up in a lot of places. So we have to work on that.
However, I think this has -- issue has to looked at immediately, considering the loss of the lions of 30,000 now, we've got to take some of these animals that might not be plentiful somewhere and replace -- put these animals in other areas where they need these animals.
KARL: All right. Thank you very much, Jack.
Coming up, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on the big GOP debate.
And Senator Bernie Sanders joins us live from New Hampshire. He just pulled off the biggest grassroots event of the 2016 campaign. He's next.
KARL: When we come back, Senator Bernie Sanders joins us live. What does he think about Joe Biden possibly jumping in to the 2016 race? We'll ask him, next.
KARL: Once again, Senator Bernie Sanders drew huge crowds Wednesday night and all over the country, according to his campaign, 100,000 supporters attended nearly 4,000 grassroots gatherings in all 50 states.
Senator Sanders joins us now from New Hampshire.
Senator Sanders, thank you for joining us.
I want to ask you about the big news --
KARL: -- Joe Biden possibly getting into the race.
You've been a critic of establishment politics.
What do you think? Is Biden, the sitting vice president, represent that establishment politics? Or could he be a voice for change here?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I've known Joe Biden for many years and I'm very fond of Joe. But I think the American people who are seeing the middle class of this country disappearing, massive levels of income and wealth inequality, a campaign finance system which is literally corrupt now, owned by billionaires as a result of this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, want to go beyond conventional establishment politics.
And I think when you mention why we have had 100,000 people on Wednesday night coming out all over this country, saying enough is enough, government has to be respond to the needs of the middle class, not the billionaires, I think that's what's going on in this country and I'm not sure that conventional politics will do it anymore.
KARL (voice-over): OK, let me ask you, there's no doubt a tremendous achievement, this grassroots gathering all over the country, but "The New York Times" did an analysis of who showed up, according to your own numbers on this. And they say, "More attendees from the Seattle metro area than all of the early states, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina combined," that these came from the liberal base of your party. So I've got to ask you, you are not going to get elected president if you can't broaden your appeal beyond the far left of the Democratic Party. How do you do that?
SANDERS: Well, that's a fair question, Jonathan. And let me just say this, if you and I were having this discussion three months ago, you would not have anticipated that we would have brought 100,000 people out on Wednesday night that we would have the largest crowds of any candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire and all over this country. We have made phenomenal progress in the last three months.
And you know what, we're going to continue to make that kind of progress. We are going to be reaching out effectively, I believe, for the African American community, because I have not only one of the strongest civil rights voting records in the United States congress, we have an agenda that calls for creating jobs, for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, to making public colleges and universities tuition free. That is going to appeal in a significant way, I believe, to the Africa-American community, to the Hispanic community.
So, let's talk three months from now. I think you will see that our campaign makes significant inroads all across the country.
KARL: Well, you've taken some heat on the issue of immigration. So I want to ask you, you voted against the 2007 immigration reform bill. That included a path to citizenship, that was the best chance in a generation to get a path to citizenship for those who were in this country, undocumented citizens -- undocumented immigrants in this country. Do you regret voting against that now in hindsight?
Let's be clear. Number one, I voted for the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform legislation...
KARL: Which was blocked -- but I'm asking you about the one that actually had a chance...
SANDERS: Let me finish -- and I will give you the answer. And the answer is absolutely we need a path to citizenship for undocumented workers. We need to take people out of the shadows. What my concern then was, and remains, is with these guest worker programs, which you're reading about, where you have folks in high tech industries getting fired while corporations are bringing people from Russia and other countries into the United States to replace American workers and to drive wages down.
In the last bill, what I was able to do, by the way, at a time when youth unemployment is unbelievably high in the United States, I was able to get language in, which puts $1.5 billion dollars to create jobs for kids in this country -- for African-American kids, white kids, Hispanic kids, where the unemployment rate is very, very high.
KARL: So, let me ask you -- you've been also a leader on the issue of climate change. We saw Hillary Clinton on the issue of the Keystone Pipeline had a very interesting answer when asked whether she supported it or opposed it. She said, if it is undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.
What does it say about a presidential candidate who won't even answer a question as basic as that?
SANDERS: Well, listen, needless to say, I have a hard time understanding that response. If we are serious about the planetary crisis of climate change -- and by the way, Jonathan, for all intents and purposes, the debate is over, the scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us climate change is real. It is caused by human activity.
I have helped lead the effort against they Keystone Pipeline. And I'm very proud, by the way, that just yesterday we received the endorsement from Friends of the Earth, one of the largest environmental organizations in America. And that is one of the reasons that they gave me their endorsement.
KARL: Hey, we are out of time. I want a yes or no answer to one quick question. Hillary Clinton's poll suggest a lot of people don't see her as honest and trustworthy. Do you think Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy?
SANDERS: I have a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton. She is somebody I've known for 25 years. I'm not going to be engaging in personal attacks against her.
KARL: So you won't say whether or not she's honest.
SANDERS: I'm not going to be engaging in personal attacks against her. She and I disagree on many issues. The American people want a serious debate about serious issues, not personal attacks.
KARL: All right, Senator Sanders, thank you very much for joining us.
Coming up, the roundtable weighs in on Joe Biden testing the waters, and Trumps make or break moment.
KARL: No one will be watching the first GOP debate more closely than Reince Priebus, the chairman of the National Republican Committee. He joins us now from Wisconsin.
I've got to ask you, Mr. Chairman, you heard very strong criticism of the debate rules that you helped craft by Rick Santorum, and even harsher criticism from Lindsey Graham who said quite memorably this week "I think it sucks" when asked about your rules.
So what do you say? How can you leave a guy like Rick Santorum out of the first debate?
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, first of all, we want to do a few things. I mean, Jonathan, you've got to go back to the beginning, and we did things that no one thought we would do.
Number one, we're not having a 23 debate circus, OK. So we've got the debates down to about nine. We didn't want to have extremely liberal moderators conducting the debates, so we had some say over the moderators.
Now, what people have to understand -- and I'm not going to bore people to death on this, but the Federal Election Commission has rules. This air time right now, your company controls it. I don't get to tell you who you put on your corporate air time. So, there are some things that we don't control.
Now that being said, CNN and Fox have agreed that every candidate, all 17, are going to participate in debate night. So we're proud of the fact that everyone running is going to have an opportunity. And the reality is -- and it might be a little harsh, but you can't necessarily treat someone that's polling at 18 or 20 percent the same as someone that's polling at a half a percent or 1 percent.
KARL: But I've got to ask you...
PRIEBUS: ...different debates and everyone is going to have an opportunity.
KARL: But I've seen the contract that the networks have with the RNC about these debates, and it says clearly that the criteria for getting into the debate would be done in consultation with you. So you had a role here...
PRIEBUS: I don't have a contract -- you're wrong. I don't have a contract with Fox News, and I don't have a contract with CNN. But that all being said, we are in consultation. And I've talked to them. But you know what, I'm not opposed to what they're doing. I actually think they're doing a great job. And I'm actually very grateful to Fox News and CNN for the fact that they're letting every single person, all 17, participate in debate night.
I think we've got amnesia. Four years ago, do you remember that Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson didn't make the cut of some debates -- I'm sure you remember that. So, the point is there is a meritocracy involved. And -- but that being said, everyone is going to have an opportunity. I think it's great.
KARL: All right, thank you Mr. Chairman, appreciate you taking time to join us this morning.
The roundtable is here now. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ABC's Cokie Roberts, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, and Republican strategist Kristen Soltis Anderson.
So, Mr. Speaker, I've got to ask you about Trump. You owned a couple of those debates last time around, what -- how do these Republican candidates going to deal with him on that stage?
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don't know. I think he's the guy who has the most to win and the most to lose. And I actually think that what Reince described has a certain irony to it. It may well be that the folks who are at the 5:00 debate have a more interesting debate and a greater ability to get their message out. And in the age of social media, if they're all videotaping themselves, they can pick their best lines and get them out to all of their supporters.
It may be -- I'm not saying it will -- but it may be that 9:00 becomes the Trump versus everybody brawl.
GINGRICH: And in some ways, you might be -- you might be happier not to be in the middle of the barroom while the brawl is going on...
KARL: Well, there's something. You have a situation where you could see the former governors of New York and Texas...
MARAI CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. Exactly.
KARL: -- the sitting governor of Ohio...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, the...
KARL: -- the sitting governor of Louisiana...
COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The rules are crazy. And the only reason it matters is because once they're cut off, it puts them in a position where it makes it harder for them to raise money and to organize, because, you know, they look like losers. And I think that's crazy.
I -- I, you know, I'm sorry that Mr. Priebus has limited the number of debates. I loved the 23 Republican debates.
KARL: You didn't mind all the debates...
KARL: -- did you?
GINGRICH: Well, look...
ROBERTS: -- especially...
GINGRICH: -- Hillary and -- and Barack Obama had 22 debates.
GINGRICH: I mean there's the...
GINGRICH: -- there's this establishment fantasy that if only we had controlled the debates, somehow our candidate would have emerged more articulate...
GINGRICH: -- more intelligent, less wounded.
GINGRICH: That's not. So I mean -- but -- but -- but we are where we are and the question -- and I actually think, given where we are, that having two debates is not a bad idea. And my advice to the ones who are in the 5:00 debate is if you optimize your opportunity, you may actually get more out of it in the bottom half...
ROBERTS: Well, except...
GINGRICH: -- of the...
ROBERTS: -- except to this loser's...
GINGRICH: -- of the 9:00.
ROBERTS: -- status. That's a problem for them.
GINGRICH: No, I don't think -- I don't think the...
KRISTEN ANDERSON SOLTIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it's going to be all about creating moments. So it's going to be all about creating the thing that helps you cut through the clutter, even for just the 10 who make the -- the -- the later in the evening debate.
You know, the -- most Americans are going to see the couple of moments that come out of this. And I think the question is, are those moments going to be people picking fights with Donald Trump and Donald Trump picking fights with them or are they going to be moments about substance and ideas for what -- what, you know, their plan is for America...
KARL: What's your guess?
CARDONA: I think that that's going to be a night where Democrats are going to be grabbing their popcorn and Republicans are going to be grabbing their ulcer medicine, because I agree. I think it's going to be a free-for-all, especially the later debate. And I do think that the earlier debate can have a much more serious conversation about real substance.
There are some substantive people in that first debate.
I think Fox News sort of lost an opportunity to at least put everybody on stage at one time...
ROBERTS: Yes, that what I would have done.
CARDONA: -- which is what CNN is doing...
CARDONA: -- as an example.
CARDONA: And so...
KARL: Or to have the back to back debates right...
CARDONA: But at least in prime time. That way, at least, they're not relegated to the -- the loser...
ROBERTS: -- Trump's big thing is that right now, in our poll, 30 percent of Republicans say there's no way they're going to vote for him. Now, that is a huge number. And if he convinced those people that he is someone to vote for, that's his big challenge.
KARL: And you don't underestimate him?
I mean you...
KARL: You think -- do you think he can actually win this thing?
GINGRICH: I -- I think Peggy Noonan did a column yesterday that was very prescient. Something is happening in this country. None of the elites understand it. People are disgusted with the failure of this country to make sense. And people look around and they see the borders are uncontrolled. They see ISIS still existing. They see the mess in Greece. They see all sorts of -- they -- they see Baltimore. They see Ferguson.
GINGRICH: And people don't like chaos. People like leadership...
GINGRICH: -- that gets things done.
KARL: But do you -- do you think Trump could actually win the Republican nomination?
GINGRICH: Trump -- Trump -- yes, I do. Trump...
KARL: You do?
GINGRICH: -- Trump has a thematic -- and Trump is playing this game. And everybody else is playing this game. And the establishment all understands this game.
Trump's game is very simple.
CARDONA: Well, except...
GINGRICH: We need somebody really, really tough.
GINGRICH: I am really, really...
ROBERTS: Which he says to you...
GINGRICH: -- tough.
ROBERTS: Over and over and over again.
ROBERTS: As you remember well, a lot of the same people voted for George Wallace, the segregationist from Alabama, and George McGovern, the liberal from...
GINGRICH: That's right.
ROBERTS: -- South -- South Dakota.
ROBERTS: And what we're seeing is that same kind of...
ROBERTS: -- anger, that same kind of disgust with the establishment...
KARL: All right, I want to move to the other side, though.
KARL: Can I move to the other side?
We had some -- some polling this week that she would some real potential problems for Hillary Clinton.
First of all, Quinnipiac polls she would Jeb -- Jeb Bush with a -- a narrow lead and even Scott Walker neck-in-neck with -- with Hillary Clinton.
Now we see Joe Biden may jump in.
CARDONA: Um-hmm. I don't think that's a problem at all...
CARDONA: -- I think this is, frankly, something that the campaign has already built into their strategy. They knew early on -- we talked about this the last time I was on -- that she was going to be challenged. Early on, the thought was that it might be Elizabeth Warren.
Bernie Sanders jumped in.
KARL: Do you think...
KARL: -- Biden is going to go -- come in?
CARDONA: At the end of the day, Jonathan, I don't think so. I think he absolutely should consider every possibility. I think right now, you're seeing all of his friends, all of his family, they're going through an incredible grieving process. It was Beau Biden's last wish. He has to consider it. He has to deliberate every single possibility and avenue for him to jump in...
ANDERSON: Well, but also...
CARDONA: -- and I think he deserves to do that for -- for Beau.
But I also think at the end of the day...
CARDONA: -- doing it because Beau Biden wanted him to do it...
ROBERTS: But that...
CARDONA: -- is not reason enough. So that's not...
ROBERTS: But that's not why he'd do it. He'd do it -- I mean I'm sure...
CARDONA: No, I agree.
CARDONA: At the end of the day...
ROBERTS: But what you have is --
CARDONA: -- if he does it.
ROBERTS: -- people...
KARL: Who want him.
ROBERTS: -- among the establishment, as you say, coming and saying, we're scared. We're scared she's losing, that she's not going to make it. And -- and then -- and that becomes a very compelling argument.
CARDONA: But -- but let's be very clear, we're not at that point yet. I mean, you look at -- all the polls that you mentioned, look at the enthusiasm among the Democrats. Yes, Bernie Sanders is getting huge crowds. And yes, he is getting bigger numbers in the polls. But she still has a substantial lead over him.
And the Democratic enthusiasm within the -- the Democratic Caucus and -- and -- and primary voters is tremendous.
CARDONA: And that is...
KARL: What's your read of -- of Biden?
Could -- could he -- could he get into this and actually...
ANDERSON: So Joe Biden...
KARL: -- give her a real challenge?
ANDERSON: -- has only ever been in -- in single digits in the polls, really. I mean has -- hasn't shown a lot of strength up until this point. Hillary Clinton is clearly the strong frontrunner.
However, I think, to that point that Speaker Gingrich made about people sort of hunger for somebody that doesn't sound like a typical politician, I mean I think Joe Biden has been in the game a while, but I think he -- he certainly is better than Hillary Clinton on that metric.
And so I think to the extent that he can excite people who maybe think that Hillary Clinton is just too much of a traditional politician who doesn't have clearance for some questions, I think maybe that could be his opening.
ROBERTS: But, you know, she's -- she did a very good job at the Urban League, where she did get African-Americans fired up. And she...
KARL: And went after Jeb really hard.
ROBERTS: And she went after Jeb Bush in a way that also they responded to. And -- and she does have a new message out, which, from the last time, which is the grandmother message.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ROBERTS: And -- and she's using it very well, on climate change, for instance, when she says oh, everybody says I'm not a scientist. She says I'm not a scientist either, I'm just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain. Now, that's brilliant.
CARDONA: She actually had a banner day on Friday. Not only did she take it to Jeb Bush in Florida at the National Urban League, focusing on the right to rise and contrasting that to all of -- of the -- of the policies that Jeb Bush would not help this constituency rise, but she also had a terrific Cuba speech at -- at FIU, where Rubio has a teaching gig.
KARL: Right. Right.
CARDONA: So she's really taking them on. And the contrast between a forward-looking engagement with Cuba and Rubio, and, frankly, the rest of the Republicans' focus on a backward-looking policy, I think, is tremendous.
KARL: But Mr. Speaker, Biden has to look at what's happened with Hillary, look at the polls and see some -- and see an opening.
GINGRICH: Well, I -- look, I think lots of people are going to look. Biden would like to run...
GINGRICH: If he could figure out the right angle. I -- I agree he -- he tends to be in single digits.
But -- but I -- I see this institutionally a little differently.
President Obama has presided over the worst collapse in state and local offices of any president in the last century.
KARL: -- the Democratic Party...
ROBERTS: Just the Democratic Party.
GINGRICH: (INAUDIBLE) and the Democratic Party.
GINGRICH: And in the last century.
GINGRICH: OK. So you're coming into '16 already having lost most of your bench at the state legislature, at governorship, et cetera.
It's going to start sinking into Democrats that despite good speeches and despite lots of bravado, Hillary Clinton is a disaster. She's a disaster because of corruption. She's a disaster because of arrogance and what Trump said was right.
KARL: We're just about out of --
GINGRICH: -- you know, you look -- but you look at how they treated General Petraeus and you look at what she did with her emails, in any other circumstance she'd be going to jail, not the White House --
KARL: I'm you disagree. We are out of time. I -- you're on the record, absolutely disagreeing with everything he just said.
KARL: Thank you, everyone.
Coming up, my conversation with baseball phenomenon Bryce Harper. We're back after this from our ABC stations.
KARL: In our "Sunday Spotlight," baseball phenomenon Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, fans know he brings plenty of passion to the field. He is also inspiring a new generation of baseball fans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Harper to right field.
KARL (voice-over): He's (INAUDIBLE) baseball. Having a year any ball player would dream of, all at an age when most are still in the Minor Leagues.
KARL: You're having a hell of a season.
BRYCE HARPER, WASHINGTON NATIONALS: That's right. Yes, I think, as a team, I think we're having a great year and we're just having a lot of fun on the team.
KARL (voice-over): Harper was just 16 years old when he was christened baseball's chosen one on the cover of "Sports Illustrated."
KARL: They asked you what your goals were, you said, to be in the Hall of Fame, definitely, but be considered the greatest baseball player who ever lived.
Where does that kind of confidence come from for a 16-year old?
HARPER: I mean, if you don’t have the goal to be the best, then you know, what's the point of playing? I want to do the best I can so that I can help my team win.
KARL (voice-over): Made his Major League debut at 19, becoming Rookie of the Year with his old-school hustle and power at the plate.
Now 22, Harper is having a breakout season, rivaling some of the best in Major League history.
KARL: You already have more home runs than any year previously. It seems like it's clicking.
HARPER: I mean, I think, really, the biggest thing is always just being healthy. You know, the past couple of years I have these freak accidents and 2013, I ran into the wall, banged up my knee. When I was 14, I slid into third base and banged up my thumb and I was out for two months on both of those times.
So the main goal going into this year was trying to stay healthy, trying to play smart.
KARL: You're not going to turn it down. I mean, you're a --
HARPER: Right. And I'm still going to play that way every single day, if that's (INAUDIBLE) outfielder, you know, if that's something, you know, going into the stands.
KARL (voice-over): Harper's also gone into the stands in a different way this year, going viral with this selfie he shot with a fan's phone last month. And he reached over the fence to one of his youngest fans in spring training.
His onfield play has given him plenty of fans at Nationals Park.
KARL: Who's your favorite player?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bryce Harper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bryce Harper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bryce Harper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bryce Harper.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bryce Harper.
KARL (voice-over): But while baseball's overall attendance is thriving, its fans are now older than any other major sport. And fewer young people picking up a glove to play the game.
The Nationals hope to change that. The team's youth academy provides afterschool education and baseball instruction with a "Field of Dreams" facility in one of Washington's toughest neighborhoods.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These kids are able to go over there and get away from whatever they're, you know, going through and go and play and have fun and smile and you know, enjoy the game of baseball.
KARL (voice-over): This year, every Washington Little League team is the Nationals, a team of (INAUDIBLE) 5,000 Little Leaguers with their very own Nats uniforms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wear the Nationals' colors, wear the Nationals' uniforms. It makes them think that they have an opportunity to play in the big leagues one day and you know, that's the ultimate goal.
KARL (voice-over): It's been 10 years since baseball returned to the nation's capital and Harper hopes this is the year the team brings home a World Series title, the first in Washington since 1924.
HARPER: And I want to, you know, win a World Series. I want that more than anything in this world and I want to bring back that, you know, key speed (ph).
KARL (voice-over): But first, let's get my daughter, Anna, over here for a selfie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks a lot.
KARL: Our thanks to Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and we'll see you back here next week.