'This Week' Transcript: Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

ByABC News
December 20, 2015, 10:12 AM

— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' ON DECEMBER 20, 2015 and it will be updated.

ANNOUNCER: Starting right now on ABC's THIS WEEK, debate night showdown -- the key moments from the final face-off of 2015.



DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Should corporate America love Hillary Clinton?


SANDERS: Let's calm down a little bit, Martin.

CLINTON: Let's tell the truth, Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just hours after the Democrat duel, were one-on-one with the man in the line of fire.

O'MALLEY: Donald Trump.

SANDERS: Donald Trump.

CLINTON: Bringing Donald Trump back into it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: GOP frontrunner Donald Trump responds.

Plus, did Bernie Sanders do enough to change the race?

And New Jersey Governor Chris Christie betting it all on New Hampshire. Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Chris Christie, all here live, from ABC News, a special edition of THIS WEEK live from Manchester, New Hampshire.

Here now, chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Good morning from New Hampshire.

We are live from the first primary state this week, here inside the debate hall at Saint Anselm College, where the Democrats went at it last night.

It was their last debate of the year and the feistiest. The candidates clashed on taxes, gun control, the top issue right now, how to take on ISIS and protect our homeland.

Their top target, Donald Trump, attacked by name nine separate times. The only GOP candidate even mentioned last night.

Mr. Trump joins us live this morning.

Bernie Sanders and Chris Christie will be here, too.

And we begin with all of last night's big moments from our chief White House correspondent, Jonathan Karl -- good morning, Jon.


Going into this debate, the Democratic race was engulfed with allegations that the Sanders campaign stole voter data from Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Bernie Sanders offered a quick apology for that before all the candidates turned their attention to their mutual enemy, Donald Trump.


KARL (voice-over): Last night's debate started with a surprise -- a mea culpa from Bernie Sanders.

SANDERS: Not only do I apologize to Secretary Clinton, I want to apologize to my supporters. This is not the type of campaign that we run.

CLINTON: I very much appreciate that comment, Bernie. It -- we should move on, because I don't think the American people are all that interested in this.

KARL: Throughout the night, Clinton and Sanders spurred on foreign policy.

CLINTON: If the United States does not lead, there is not another leader. There is a vacuum.

SANDERS: The United States is not the policeman of the world. The United States must not be involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.

KARL: And on the economy and Wall Street.

MUIR: Should corporate America love Hillary Clinton?

CLINTON: Everybody should.

MUIR: And will corporate America love a President Sanders?

SANDERS: No, I think they won't. The CEOs of large multinationals may like Hillary. They aren't going to like me and Wall Street is going to like me even less.

KARL: Martin O'Malley called out both Sanders and Clinton on gun control.

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D-MD), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders voted against even research dollars to look into this public health issue.

SANDERS: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

O'MALLEY: We need common sense gun safety...

SANDERS: Let's calm down a little bit, Martin.

Do not tell me...


SANDERS: -- that I have not shown courage in standing up to the gun people.

KARL: While this debate featured the sharpest attacks between the Democrats, all three trained their fire on one man, GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump.

O'MALLEY: We must never surrender our American values to racists, much never surrender them to the fascist pleas of billionaires with big mouths.

SANDERS: And somebody like with Trump comes along and says I know the answers. The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they're criminals and rapists. We hate all the Muslims, because all of the Muslims are terrorists.

CLINTON: He is becoming ISIS' best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.


KARL: As you heard, an explosive allegation from Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, saying that ISIS is showing videos of Trump to recruit potential new jihadists. We asked the Clinton camp where they got that from. They have not offered, George, any direct evidence that had happened.

Donald Trump, for his part, overnight, Tweeted simply, "Hillary Clinton lied."STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Jon Karl, thanks very much.

Let's talk to Mr. Trump right now.

We saw that Tweet, Mr. Trump.

Are you going to stand by it?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, of course I'm standing by it. It was vetted. They went to "The Washington Post." Fox News went out in great detail and looked for it and there's no such video. And they may make one up, knowing the Clintons and knowing Hillary, but there's no -- there's nobody -- she just made it up. I mean she made it up. It was a sound bite.

Just like Bernie Sanders lied. I mean he -- he went out and said things that never...


TRUMP: -- took place. I didn't say that about Mexicans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You certainly...

TRUMP: I have great relationships with the Hispanics. And I didn't say what he said. You know, they -- they make up things in the world of politics. They're all talk and no action. They're politicians.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you sure you want to go -- are you sure you want to go down that road?

The fact checkers have called you out on more false statements than any other candidate.

TRUMP: Oh, I'll go down that road. And, you know, people maybe call me out, but they turn out to be wrong, also, and many of the things I've said -- and I think just about all of them -- they may have been controversial at one point, George, but they're not controversial in the end, because people start to say, you know, Trump's actually right.

And you go into illegal immigration, everybody now is coming my way, one -- with illegal -- I've been 100 percent right as far as crime is concerned, as far as the economy is concerned.

I've been right on more than anybody else has been right by a -- by a big factor.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you -- you've never come up with a video of those thousands of people cheering in New Jersey on 9/11.

TRUMP: Oh, there were plenty of people cheering, believe me. And I've come up with plenty. And "The Washington Post" wrote a story that they tried to retract and there were many other stories written. And a lot of people -- thousands of people have been calling and writing and e-mailing, many people saw it. And it was in New Jersey and it was also all over the world, George.

So there's an obvious problem, because all over the world -- and you're not even disputing that -- but people were celebrating all over the world. And I think it's disgusting.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There were people celebrating on the West Bank. There were not people celebrating in Jersey, as far as any evidence we have seen.

But I do want to move on...

TRUMP: Of course there were, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- right now.

TRUMP: There were articles...


TRUMP: -- George, there were articles written about it. There were people celebrating. And, in fact, if you look at the -- the famous "Washington Post" article that he tried to retract, there were articles written about it. Don't tell me that. There's no reason to apologize. There were people celebrating. When the World Trade Center...


TRUMP: -- was coming down, there were people...

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, but there was -- let's -- let's...

TRUMP: -- celebrating, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Around the world.

Let's move on to Vladimir Putin. You got that praise from Vladimir Putin this week, called it "a great honor." You also said you've always felt fine about Putin.

How can you say you feel fine about Vladimir Putin when he backs our adversaries like Bashar Assad, when he backs Iran, when he invades Ukraine?

TRUMP: I have been an extremely successful dealmaker. That's what I've done over years. And I know people, because deals are people. And I think I'll get along very well, for the good of our country, for the good of our country. This is what I want. Make America great again.

I believe I'll get along fine with Putin. I believe I'll get along fine with other leaders. Obama doesn't get along with Putin. Putin can't stand our president and it's causing us difficulty. And, frankly, and I said it a long time ago, if Russia wants to bomb the hell out of ISIS and join us in that effort, I am absolutely fine with it. I think that's an asset, not a liability. So if Putin respects me and if Putin wants to call me brilliant and other things that he said which were, frankly, very nice, I'll accept that and I'll accept that on behalf of our country, because if we get along well with Russia, that's a positive thing, George, not a negative thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you want to get along well with Putin, but you seem to be alienating some of our allies. You said that Angela Merkel is ruining Germany. And here's what David Cameron, the British prime minister, had to say about your proposal to ban Muslims.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I happen to disagree with (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump. I think his remarks are divisive, stupid and wrong and I think if he came to visit our country, I think he'd unite us all against him.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it wise to be praising our adversaries and alienating our allies?

TRUMP: George, yes, I know you're having a lot of fun this morning and so am I if you want to know the truth. The fact is that we have a problem, George. You don't have to admit it, because I know you want to be so politically correct all the time. You don't have to admit it. But we have a problem and the problem is a very serious problem. You have a radicalization of people. They happen to be Islamic and you -- you have the radical Islamic terrorism problem that our president doesn't even want to mention. He doesn't want to use those three words or any one of those words. And because he's not mentioning it, we're never going to solve it. Unless you know what the problem is, you can't solve it.

So we have a serious, serious problem where you look at what happened in California last week, you look at people flying airplanes into the World Trade Center, you look at many of the things that have been happening, not only in this country but around the world, including in Paris. There's a problem, George. You have to address it. And if you're not going to address it, you're just going to -- the problem's going to get worse and worse. People have to turn other people in.

People knew what was going on in California. People knew what was going -- other people, outsiders, friends of theirs, knew what was going on in Paris. Those people don't turn them in. Why don't they turn them in?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, they should turn them. I agree with you on that. One final question about Vladimir -

TRUMP: Well they should turn them in, but they're not going to turn them in with attitudes like your attitude, people won't turn them in. People are just going to go along the way. We have to solve a very serious problem and if you don't want to talk about it or if you think it's politically incorrect, that's your problem, not mine.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One final question about Vladimir Putin. When you were pressed about his killing of journalists, you said, "I think our country does plenty of killing too." What were you thinking about there? What killing sanctioned by the U.S. government is like killing journalists?

TRUMP: Well, I think, number one, I think Hillary, when she was secretary of state, made some horrible, horrible decision and thousands and thousands and even hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. I mean you look at what went on in Libya, you look at so many bad decisions that she made. She's incompetent as far as I'm concerned. You look at her reign (ph), she's incompetent.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not killing by the United States government, though, is it? That's not the same as ordering a killing.

TRUMP: As far as the reporters are concerned -- as far as the reporters are concerned, obviously I don't want that to happen. I think it's terrible -- horrible. But, in all fairness to Putin, you're saying he killed people. I haven't' seen that. I don't know that he has. Have you been able to prove that? Do you know the names of the reporters that he's killed? Because I've been -- you know, you've been hearing this, but I haven't seen the name. Now, I think it would be despicable if that took place, but I haven't' seen any evidence that he killed anybody in terms of reporters.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Here's what -- here's what Mitt Romney tweeted about that. He said, there's an important distinction here. Thug Putin kills journalists and opponents. Our presidents kill terrorists and enemy combatants.

TRUMP: Does he know for a fact that he kills the reporters? I don't know -- I don't think anybody knows that. It's possible that he does. But I don't think it's been proven. Has anybody proven that he's killed reporters? And I'm not trying to stick up for anybody -

STEPHANOPOULOS: There have been many allegations that he was behind the killing of (INAUDIBLE) and -

TRUMP: No, no, allegations. There are allegations. Yes, sure, there are allegations. I've read those allegations over the years, but nobody's proven that he's killed anybody as far as I'm concerned. He hasn't killed reporters that it's been proven. Now, if he has -

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what killing has the United States government done?

TRUMP: George, excuse me. Let me finish. If he has killed reporters, I think that's terrible. But this isn't like somebody that's stood with a gun and he's, you know, taken the blame or he's admitted that he's killed. He's always denied it. He's never -- it's never been proven that he's killed anybody. So, you know, you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country. He has not been proven that he's killed reporters.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what -- but then you said, I think our country does plenty of killing too. What killing are you talking about there, ordered by the United States government?

TRUMP: Well, take a look at what we're doing in the Middle East. We went into Iraq. We shouldn't have. You know that I was opposed to going into Iraq many years ago. In 2003/2004 there were headlines in Reuters that Trump is opposed to the war, because you're going to destabilize the Middle East. I said, if you do this, you'll destabilize the Middle East and Iran will take over. Very simple, Iran will take over Iraq. That's exactly what's happening. And on top of that we have ISIS, which is another problem and another complicating factor.

Now, we should have never gone into Iraq. When we left, we made a mistake. We made a big mistake with Libya. We've destabilized all these places. We now have a migration with thousands and hundreds of thousands and even millions of people that don't know where they're going. I mean it's a terrible thing. We have been run by incompetent people, incompetent politicians. They don't know -- and that's probably why I'm leading so high in the polls because people are tired of seeing very, very stupid and very, very incompetent people running our country into the ground.

In the meantime, we owe $19 trillion, soon going to be $21 trillion and we better get our act together fact, George, because our country is going down if we don't.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your comment -- your comments seem to suggest some moral equivalence for the United States and Russia. Is that what you believe?

TRUMP: I'm not saying anything. I'm saying, when you say a man has killed reporters, I'd like you to prove it. And I'm -- I'm saying it would be a terrible thing if it were true, but I have never seen any information or any proof that he killed reporters, George. You're just saying, he killed reporters. You and other people tell me he killed reporters. I don't know that he killed reporters. I haven't seen it. If he did, I think it's despicable. I think it would be horrible. But you're making these accusations and I don't -- I don't see any proof.

And, by the way, he totally denies that he kills reporters. He totally denied it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm still waiting for the evidence that we've been directly involved in killing people as well. You made your points about Iraq. But I do want to move on -

TRUMP: Well, take a look at -- take a look at -- excuse me, take a look at the rampage all over the place. And you know what we've gotten for Iraq? We've spent $2 trillion, OK? We've -- thousands, hundreds of thousands of people killed. We've lost thousands and thousands of our great young people, soldiers. So, $2 trillion, deaths, wounded warriors, we have nothing and Iran is now taking over Iraq with the second largest oil reserves in the world. And I said, don't go in. But I said, when you go out, take the oil. And I've been saying that for four years to you and others and we were so incompetent, we didn't even get the oil. You know who got a lot of the oil? ISIS got a lot of the oil. That's who got the oil. And now Iran is taking the rest of it. They're going to get the lions share because we don't know what we're doing. We're run by people that don't have a clue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Iran has been backed by Vladimir Putin.

I want to ask you a final question about Iowa. "The New York Times" has a story this morning saying the organization is lagging -

TRUMP: Excuse me. Iran has been backed by us. You know why -- you know how Iran has been backed by us? Because we made one of the dumbest deals in the history of deal making when we gave them $150 billion. We have 24 day inspections, which don't start for a long time, and they can self-inspect and we don't even get our prisoners back.

So don't tell me about Iran being run by Putin. We run -- we let Iran become -- it's a terror nation, and we let Iran become really powerful.

And by the way, they don't need to create nuclear, because they now are so rich with $150 billion, they can go out and buy it directly. So we're the ones that have really empowered Iran, not Russia. Russia is certainly their damage also, but we through sheer stupidity of a deal, one of the worst deals I've ever seen negotiated. We are the ones that truly have empowered Iran. And it's a disgrace.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We've empowered Iran more than Russia has?

TRUMP: George, we just made one of the worst deals I have ever seen in dealmaking. I'm not talking between nations. We don't even get our prisoners back. And now after the deal is made, they want to start talking as a new deal to get our prisoners back. And they want a lot for the prisoners, for the four prisoners. And by the way they say we're not going to give you four, we're only going to give you three.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and the Iranian negotiating position was backed up by Russia.

TRUMP: Hey, let me -- yeah, you know why, because Russia is making a lot of money with the deal, because they're selling missiles and other military armaments to Iran and they're making a fortune on it, because they're smart, because they're smart. Do you know what we're getting from that deal? Nothing.

Russia should want them to make the deal, because Russia is selling armaments and they're selling missiles, beautiful, new modern missiles, they're selling them to Iran because our people don't know what they're doing.

So, of course Russia wanted that deal to be made, because they're making a fortune.

But do you know what we get with Iran, nothing. And then...

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's our fault that Russia is selling missiles to Iran?

TRUMP: Of course it's our fault. Russia is a negotiator with us at the table. Russia wanted Iran to make that deal, because they wanted Iran to have a lot of money so that Russia could take some of that money away from Iran, because Russia is selling them tremendous numbers of missiles and armaments, George, if you don't know that.

So, Russia, if I was Russia I would have wanted that deal done, too, because the money that the United States, run by incompetent people, is giving to Iran, a lot of that money is going to Russia and other countries to buy armaments. You don't know that, George, but that's the way it is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I do. I'm just not sure it's our fault.

I'm afraid that's all we have time for this morning. Always a lively conversation. Mr. Trump, thanks for joining us.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We are just getting started from here in New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders is up next. We're going to hear from the Clinton camp too.

And the Republican making his move now in New Hampshire. Chris Christie joins us live.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You see him here with Bernie Sanders. We are live in New Hampshire. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Secretary Clinton deserve an apology tonight?

SANDERS: Yes. I apologize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary Clinton, do you accept?


SANDERS: Not only do I apologize to Secretary Clinton, and I hope we can work together on an independent investigation. I want to apologize to my supporters. This is no the type of campaign that we run. And if I find anybody else involved in this, they will also be fired.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Opening moments last night with Senator Bernie Sanders. He joins us live here in New Hampshire this morning.

I'm going to get to that in a second, but first you just heard Donald Trump call you out. He said you lied. He doubled down on that embrace from Vladimir Putin.

SANDERS: I tell you, it really is rather extraordinary. I think -- and I say this straightforwardly -- I think you have a pathological liar there.


SANDERS: Pathological, I really do. I mean, I think much of what he says are lies or gross distortion of reality. Here's the fact. I mean, he's been saying over and over again that he saw on television, as I understand it, thousands of people in New Jersey celebrating 9/11 right the destruction of the Twin Towers.

Either that's true or it's not true. And what I understand, there have been a lot of research, they archive what goes on television. You're a TV guy, right? Everything was saying that was going to be archived.

Either it is true, it is not true. Nobody has seen a tape of thousands of people celebrating the destruction of the Twin Towers in New Jersey. It doesn't exist. And he keeps claiming it. That's called pathological lying.

Yes, he just (INAUDIBLE) a few moments ago accused me of lying when I said last night is that he has suggested that Mexicans who were coming to this country are criminals and rapists. That is exactly what he said. What somebody like a Donald Trump is doing is playing on the fears and anxieties of the American people. And people are afraid.

They're afraid of terrorism, rightfully so. They're anxious about an economy in which the middle class is disappearing, missing massive levels of income and wealth inequality. People are worried about the future for the kids. These are legitimate fears.

So instead of having a rational discussion about how we rebuild the middle class, how we deal with Wall Street, how we have a tax system in which wealthy and powerful start paying their fair share of taxes, what Trump is saying is it's all the Muslims' fault, it's all the Mexicans' fault.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you explain why that's doing so well right now?

SANDERS: Because it's an easy solution.

How do we rebuild the middle class?

Well, you're going to have to stand up to corporate America. You're going to have to stand up to Wall Street. You're going to have to create millions of decent paying jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure. You're going to have to provide health care to all people, et cetera, et cetera.

But what Trump says, this is new, this is what demagogues all over the world historically have done, they say are you nervous, are you scared, are you frightened for the future? I'll tell you the reason. It's the Muslims. All those Muslims out there are terrorists; we have to stop them coming into this country. It's the Mexicans, it's the immigrants who are coming in. They're all rapists and criminals. Oh, OK. I'm angry. We're going to take it out on them.

Meanwhile, this same Trump says minimum wage in America, which is $7.25 an hour, he says it's good that we have a low minimum wage. This guy Trump is saying we need to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 0.3 of 1 percent, the very richest people --


STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you defeat that?

SANDERS: You defeat it by going out to the working people in this control and making it clear that if we are going to create an economy that works for our kids, that works for working families, we have got to do it together. We have to understand the real causes and the real causes are the greed of corporate America, the greed of Wall Street, not some poor Mexican who is in this country trying to live on $7 an hour.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to ask you about that moment when we just showed just about the apology on the data breach by one of your staffers. After the debate, you campaign said you suspended two more staffers.

Is that it?

Is the discipline finished?

Have you figured out everything that's gone wrong?

SANDERS: We are trying to figure out. I mean, this is actually fairly complicated stuff. And one of the things that bothered me is that -- as I understand it, the DNC has been giving out information to the media. They've been giving out information to the Clinton campaign before we are even getting it. But we are going to take a thorough look at this. And what I said last night, let me repeat. This is not the first breach caused by a DNC (INAUDIBLE), all right. It's the -- at least the second. And what I want to see is an independent investigation going on from day one in this campaign to explore all of the breach.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also said last night that you're not convinced that the Clinton team didn't take a look at some of your data.

Do you have any evidence of that?

SANDERS: No. But what I want -- that's why I want an independent investigation. When there's a breach, when there's a hole in the system, it works both ways. The first time it happened and when my staff source said, wait, this is really bad. It went to the DNC. They went to the vendor. They said, hey, this is bad.

Second time, one or more of my staff acted inappropriately. That guy was fired. OK. What I want is an independent investigation to see what has happened.

Is it possible that when you had a breach, the other side looked at our stuff? I'm not saying that's true. But I'm saying it is absolutely a possibility.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign has been pretty tough on the DNC. Your campaign manager said they're actually trying to undermine our campaign even used the word "sabotage."

Is that what you believe?

SANDERS: Well, this is what I believe. Look, staff member or more on my team acted inappropriately. And we're going to deal with that. But to shut off access to my campaign's information, what word would you use? Sabotage is. We have -- that's our volunteers; those are the people -- names of the people we're trying to contact.

We've worked a day, two days, couldn't access that information. That is total overreaction. What should have been done is there should have been a meeting between the teams, actually quietly. We got a problem. How are we going to address this problem? Not leaking stuff to "The Washington Post," by the way, and certainly not separating us and preventing us from getting the information we need to run a campaign.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Big difference between you and Secretary Clinton last night on the issue of taxes. She's made a pledge not to raise any taxes on people earning under $250,000.

We talked about the tax to pay for the family leave, though. You said it was about $1.61 for a family each week. But that's not it for you, right. How are you going to pay for the rest of your (INAUDIBLE)?


SANDERS: Good, fair question.

We are going to provide free tuition to public colleges and universities by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculation. That tax will pay completely for public tuition, tuition at public colleges, university and substantially lower interest rates on student debt.

We're going to rebuilt our crumbling infrastructure through a trillion-dollar investment to create 13 million jobs by doing away with the loopholes that currently exist by which corporations can stash their money in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda and not pay in a given year a nickel in federal income taxes.

We're going to raise Social Security benefits, expand benefits by lifting the cap on taxable income going into Social Security, so people making $250,000 a year or more will pay the same percentage of their income as people making --



SANDERS: That will help us -- no, that will expand Social Security benefits to the people who are trying to live on $12,000-$13,000 a year. But in terms of this, United States today is the only major country on Earth that doesn't have paid family and medical leave. It's an absolute disgrace.

A working class woman has a baby; she may have to go back to work in a week or two because she doesn't have any income. Every other country on Earth has paid family and medical leave. I am supporting legislation introduced in the House and the Senate which has virtually all progressive Democrats on board. It will cost $1.61 --


STEPHANOPOULOS: But that -- answer my question.

Is that it?

No other tax increases on the middle class?

SANDERS: That's right.


Final question on the issue of regime change. Big difference. You said last night between you and Secretary Clinton, at least in the past, but where are you different going forward?

You're both ruling out ground troops. You're both talking about building coalitions.

Where's the difference going forward?

SANDERS: I do not agree with the no-fly zone in Syria. I think it'll get sucked us up -- get us sucked into some serious of problems in the area. I think absolutely that there has to be a strong international coalition. This is what I believe.

King Abdullah of Jordan has made this point. Of all that's going on is for the soul of Islam, what he believes, what I believe is the Muslim troops themselves, Muslim countries have got to come together on the ground to take on ISIS. What I also believe is that wealthy countries like Qatar, which per capita is the wealthiest country on Earth spend the $200 billion for the World Cup which they're hosting in 2022, you know what, they're going to have to start investing in helping us to destroy ISIS.

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

SANDERS: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be right back with Governor Chris Christie.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we have lots of candidates here in New Hampshire. You see Governor Christie right here.

We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are back here live in New Jersey.

Joining us now, Governor Chris Christie.

You've been on the move now here in New Hampshire, moving up in the polls.

We've got a lot to talk about.

I've got to begin, though -- and I know it's not your favorite subject, but I've got to begin with Donald Trump.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard Bernie Sanders call him a pathological liar.

Your response to what he said this morning?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, there was a lot that he said this morning. I would just say this.

One, I was in New Jersey on September 11th and thousands of people simply were not celebrating in Jersey City. The former state attorney general, who was closely watching this, a Republican, back in 2011, said it's not true. So we know that's not true.

Secondly, on Putin, I'll just say the same thing I said yesterday, I wouldn't want the endorsement. I wouldn't want it. So if he (INAUDIBLE) that's fine.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you know, you've also said that we're already in World War III. You -- you know, you've said -- you said what are the implications of that right now?

And you've also said that if Donald Trump gets the nomination, you're comfortable with him as commander-in-chief.

Are you really comfortable with him as commander-in-chief in a World War III situation?

CHRISTIE: More comfortable than with Hillary Clinton, because she's the one who's got us into the World War III situation with Barack Obama.

I mean think about it. Um, she said last night, we're finally where we need to be on ISIS.


CHRISTIE: Oh, my gosh. With dead bodies in Paris, with dead bodies in San Bernardino and with no plan from this administration about how to deal with it, we're finally where we need to be?

I mean Mrs. Clinton is Mrs. Happy Talk. Um, and she just wants to happy talk her way to the presidency. She is the personification of this administration.

Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?

And so, you know, the fact is that that's not where we need to be.

STEPHANOPOULOS: She's called for a no-fly zone. She's called for a coalition. You've called for a no-fly zone, as well.

The big difference, you're willing to put ground troops, to put American troops on the ground in Iraq, in Syria?

CHRISTIE: Well, yes, that's one of the big differences, but as part of a coalition, yes. But listen, this is the woman who, last night, refused to answer the question about Libya. Now, this was her strategy and -- and -- and three times, I think, Elizabeth asked her -- Martha, rather, asked her about what responsibility do you bear for what's happening in Libya?

She refuses to answer it.

And this is why...

STEPHANOPOULOS: What responsibility does she bear?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think she bears a lot. It's her strategy. Listen, if Libya had turned out to be a shining success and was a -- was a democracy, Mrs. Clinton would be dancing around the stage, talking about how it was her idea and how she recommended it to the president and she got it implemented.

But yet when there's a down side, she takes no responsibility. It's like this president saying he wants to close Guantanamo. And when 30 percent now, by his own DNI's analysis from Mr. Clapper, says that 30 percent of the people he's released from Guantanamo have gone back into the terrorist fight against the United States, how can you possibly think about closing Guantanamo?

But this is this tone deaf administration, a guy who yesterday, George, said that he doesn't understand the anxiety of Americans because he doesn't watch enough cable news.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what is -- but going forward, are you sure Americans are ready to accept another U.S. intervention, ground troops in the Middle East?

CHRISTIE: No, I'm not sure. And it's the job of the president of the United States to make the case. If you believe that's where the country needs to go, then you've got a responsibility...


CHRISTIE: Excuse me.

You have a responsibility to make the case to the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what about the argument that goes...

CHRISTIE: And that's what I'll do...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- (INAUDIBLE) Secretary Clinton...

CHRISTIE: -- if I'm president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- and Bernie -- Senator Sanders made today that it has to be Muslim troops taking the lead on the ground?

CHRISTIE: I -- I don't disagree with that.

But we have to be part of it. And so do the Europeans, because the threat that's from ISIS is not just to us, is to those Muslim countries and it's to the Europeans, as well, as we saw in Paris, and to us, as we saw in San Bernardino, and as the Jordan pilot who was burned in a cage, King Abdullah knows that it's to his people, as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You -- you had been moving up in New Hampshire, as I said. That's made you more of a target there.

A super PAC aligned with Governor Kasich is running this ad right now.


RADDATZ: Tonight are very basic and have been agreed to by all three campaigns in advance. Candidates can take up to a minute and a half will be allowed. There are...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kasich is an impatient rascal -- races, pushes, but unlike some, his state is now booming. Unlike some, John Kasich has proven he can do the job.


CHRISTIE: -- thousand new private sector jobs in the eight years before I became governor, George. Zero net private sector jobs.

And this year, 2105, is the best year of private sector job growth in New Jersey in 15 years.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your credit has also been downgraded several times.

CHRISTIE: It sure has.

You know why?

Because I'm cleaning up the mess that I inherited. And I'm doing it honestly and rightfully and not by borrowing more money to paper it over.

So I -- listen, they want to have a debate about the New Jersey record, bring it on. I'm ready to have it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rand Paul is ready to have that debate, as well.

I think we have...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- another sound bite here (INAUDIBLE)...

CHRISTIE: We've sabotaged all these video clips, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's just -- you just did a good job right here.

CHRISTIE: Really, it's another data breach. Bernie Sanders helped me. It was fabulous.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the debate Tuesday night...


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think when we think about the judgment of someone who might want World War III, we might think about someone who might shut down a bridge because they don't like their friends.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Donald Trump has been talking about this, as well.

You think you're going to be able to deal with this issue if you start to do better here in New Hampshire?

CHRISTIE: I don't even know what the issue is. I mean there is no issue. And the fact is that that was, you know, commentary from a desperate candidate on the last legs of his campaign. He was flailing away at everybody on that stage. He reminded me of Bobby Jindal in the under card debate the last time when all he did was flail away at people and then a few days later, he dropped out. Maybe that's Rand Paul's fate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What's your strategy going forward?

You're betting it all on New Hampshire right now. You're spending a lot of time here...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- following the John McCain playbook.

But what about after?

You know, a lot of the -- your opponents have pointed out, you don't even have much of an organization in South Carolina.

How do you capitalize even if you do well here?

CHRISTIE: How much do I love the fact that my opponents are worried about what organization I have in a future state?

It's also something that I'm going to do very well here in New Hampshire. No one was saying that three months ago, George. Nobody was worried about that then.

Here's what will happen.


CHRISTIE: The power of our ideas and the power of our campaign and that momentum that we develop from Iowa and New Hampshire will carry us in the other states, as well. And you've seen this happen time and time again in presidential politics. What happens in Iowa and New Hampshire helps to reconfigure the race and determine what's going to happen.

Listen, if Maria Commella's biggest problem on February 10...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your communications director?

CHRISTIE: Yes. If her biggest problem, she's running this campaign, if her biggest problem on February 10 is how do I hire more people, I think we'll accept that problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think I see Maria smiling over there.

All right, that's all we have time for today.

CHRISTIE: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Christie, thanks for joining us this morning.

And we're going to be back with a representative of the Clinton campaign.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we're back now with Jen Palmieri, the Clinton campaign -- communications director of the Clinton campaign.

We have to being, I think, with what you -- Secretary Clinton giving it to the Republicans last night, especially Donald Trump, getting a little bit of it back this morning.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response to Donald Trump?

PALMIERI: The -- you know, Donald Trump I think was talking -- you know, what Secretary Clinton was saying last night is that one of the many dangerous things about Donald Trump is that his (inaudible) rhetoric say we shouldn't allow Muslim refugees into the country is being used -- and this is something that the (inaudible) international group who monitors social media and -- on ISIS has said...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But there have been no videos.

PALMIERI: Well, what they have said is that they are using him. They -- he's being used in social media by ISIS as propaganda. She didn't have a particular video in mind, but he is being used in social media. And, you know, what they haven't found is -- the group hasn't found a video that, you know, Mr. Trump keeps talking about, this alleged mystery video of thousands of people in Jersey cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center.

But it is true that they -- he is being used in social media by ISIS to help recruit...

STEPHANOPOULOS: To be fair, you don't have a video, as she said...

PALMIERI: But I'm referring to a specific video. But he is being used in social media by ISIS as propaganda -- cites International Group, which monitors -- this is what they do, they monitor ISIS on social media, they monitor other terrorist groups on social media, to see what they are using. And they have said that they are using him in social media as propaganda to help recruit supporters.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the comments of Governor Christie responding to Secretary Clinton saying she's -- we're finally where we need to be on ISIS. The American people right now do not agree.

PALMIERI: She was not saying where we were need to be on ISIS. You know, in the last weeks she has given two major policy speeches, one after Paris about how we need to combat ISIS and how we were going to defeat ISIS globally. And then just last week following San Bernardino about how we protect the homeland. She was very clear last night that we have to defeat ISIS.

What she was referring to is the fact that we are in much better position in terms of dealing with Syria and the political transition that we hope to see there from the UN security council voting on Friday to start a new -- to start a new process on political transition there.

So, that is what she was referring to. And that's a really important development that we are able to have that process go forward in Syria so that you can deal -- you know, she was saying you've got to do both things at once, right, you've got to be able to deal with what is happening on the ground in Syria and try to come to come together on a peace process there as well as combat ISIS on the ground.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We saw Secretary Clinton accept Bernie Sanders' apology last night on the data breach. So is this issue over?

PALMIERI: Well, first I would say -- Senator Sanders was gracious. I thought Hillary was gracious. She appreciated the apology.

It's a serious matter, though, what happened, it is a very serious matter. And we're glad that the -- there's going to be an independent audit of it. We appreciate that Senator Sanders said that if he found more people responsible that he would hold them accountable.

But I don't think we should discount, you know, what happened here. They did go in. They took data. They tried to save it. It's proprietary data. It's stuff that our volunteers and our campaign worked really hard to create.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're actually sure the Clinton campaign didn't do the same thing?

PALMIERI: We are absolutely sure that -- apparently there had been another time where everyone had -- where the network, if you will, was open. But it was clear that neither -- no campaign did anything to try to breach that data at that time. We never did that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: On the issue of taxes last night, Secretary Clinton said she has a pledge, no tax increases on anyone under $250,000. When she was on my program a couple of weeks ago, she said that was a goal. Is it now a read my lips promise?

PALMIERI: She said that that is not what she is going to do, that she doesn't -- we don't need. She has a very -- and this is not at the expense of a robust agenda to help the middle class, she has a very robust agenda, but you just don't need to do it. She has other ways of paying for it. She outlined for that last week. You just don't need to do it by raising taxes on the Middle Class.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Jennifer Palmieri, thanks very much. Be right back with the powerhouse roundtable.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going next to taxes here.

SANDERS: Now, this is getting to be fun.


We believe Secretary Clinton will be coming around the corner any minute.



MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: You're the one who told us we have to follow this rule, then break it off.

SANDERS: Yeah, but the rule includes equal -- forget it. All right.

CLINTON: Thank you. Good night. And may the force be with you.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Some of the lighter moments from last night's debate here with our roundtable joined by Cokie Roberts, Donna Brazile Democratic strategist, also ABC contributor Ana Navarro supporter of Jeb Bush, ABC contributor Matt Dowd who has worked for both parties, including President George W. Bush.

Let's talk about the debate first off, Ana. You're from the Republican perspective, what did you see last night? Were there any openings? Who won?

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, I think it's hard to tell who won. When you go into a spin room, and they tell you they've won even before the debate is over...

STEPHANOPOULOS: We take that for granted. We know that.

NAVARRO: Like in the last debate, I think Hillary Clinton did a Wall Street answer, which was a big faux pas. And it was a big faux pas with Democrat primary voters.

Yesterday, she had three problems. One was you know claiming that Donald Trump was recruiting -- there was a Donald Trump video out there that nobody has ever seen for a recruitment of ISIS. You know, I'm not sure that Secretary Clinton should go out there and talk about videos that do not exist.

Second of all, I think when she called the problems with Obamacare glitches. I think that's going to come back to haunt her.

And when she made the comment about being where we need to be in fighting ISIS. I think that's another one that she's going to get asked about, though.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: None of that is going to matter in the Democratic race. I think, look, we're in the what I call the last phase of the campaign when you basically tell all of the staff and the headquarters it's time to go to Des Moines, time to go to Cedar Rapids, and you try to win. She has to do very well in Iowa in order to beat back what I believe a very strong grass roots campaign by Bernie Sanders.

She did herself very well last night. Once again, she was able to response to all of the attacks and also take on the GOP frontrunner. So I think she's in the cat's bird seat (ph).

STEPHANOPOULOS: Everybody wanted Donald Trump last night.

MATT DOWD, ABC: Yeah, exactly. Everybody was after him. And it's like it serves dual purposes. It helps Donald Trump. I think in the course of today, we're going to be talking more about what Donald Trump had to say about Iran and Putin and all of that then probably the Democratic debate.

But it also helps the Democrats, because Donald Trump has horrible favorability numbers in a general election. He's probably the weakest, most unelectable GOP candidate to go up, but he's the leading candidate.

And so I think all the Democrats should have been happy about last night. They all brought their A game in the course of that. The primary probably doesn't reset itself. Hillary Clinton is still the dominant force in this.

But I think Bernie Sanders does have an outside shot if he could make his GOTV operation in force in Iowa and New Hampshire.


COKIE ROBERTS: ...win Iowa, but then what? I mean, it doesn't go anywhere.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Wait, if you win Iowa and New Hampshire...

ROBERTS: ...but the -- but still then what? I mean, you still have a 74-year-old Democratic Socialist who is too far to the left to win a general election. And so what you have to figure out is if he's going to be winning the Democratic nomination, is there somebody else?

DOWD: I actually don't think he's too far to win the general election. In the course of America today, what we've seen in the course of these debates is there's no conservatives left in the Democratic Party at all, and there's no liberals left in the Republican Party at all. They've both bombed to the polarized ends of the spectrum.

And if Bernie Sanders happens to win it, which I think is very difficult, he actually could be somebody like Donald Trump is Donald Trump is the nominee.

NAVARRO: Let me tell you, I was at the Vegas debate on Tuesday. And what I heard yesterday -- you know, I don't know about you guys, but Bernie Sanders sounded a lot like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to me. And Hillary Clinton sounded a lot like Lindsey Graham to me.

You know, I think she's gone more hawkish, more to the right. And, you know, I think you're also seeing a libertarian, non-interventionist, spectrum in the Republican Party.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're definitely seeing that right now.

How about that point, though, that Cokie was just making. Even if Bernie Sanders can't go all the way -- but I think if he wins Iowa and New Hampshire, all bets are off. You do have a seriously wounded frontrunner if that's the case. Hillary has to win Iowa, right?

BRAZILE: Well, look, I think so, I really do.

She lost it before by a very small percentage point, by the way, even in terms of John Atwood's (ph). But I think she has to win. I mean, she's poised to win it, because she's been there. She's been organized. And she has great people on the ground.

But you know, beyond Iowa and New Hampshire, you have South Carolina and Nevada. She's very strong in those two states. And of course Super Tuesday where the African-American vote will play a very decisive role.

But I've got to say something about Matt Dowd, who has been doing a little bit of bromance also with Donald Trump...

DOWD: I'm not doing any bromance with Donald Trump. I just look at the data. When a meteor is about to hit Earth, I say it's about to hit Earth.

BRAZILE: I understand it's about the numbers, but you know Donald Trump is selling attitude. George, when I listen to him this morning, maybe because I haven't been to church yet, he's selling attitude, he's not selling substance. And the Republicans are buying it.

I mean, I think Donald Trump is going to flame out soon. And Ted Cruz, Ted Cruz who is really driving a very, very strong campaign in Iowa, Ted Cruz is somebody that the Republicans seem to watch.

NAVARRO: I have to agree with you. I think he's been calculated. You know, he's bided his time. He stroked Donald Trump's ego until he stopped very recently. He's gotten...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But your candidate now, Jeb Bush, is basically making his campaign here in New Hampshire taking on Donald Trump. Can that work?

NAVARRO: Thank god. I think Jeb has got to focus, laser focus on New Hampshire.

We're seeing that it's paying off for Chris Christie.

New Hampshire likes for New Hampshire to be number one and be the priority. This is a state where I think Jeb can be very competitive.

One of the problems is that you have a Kasich and a Chris Christie who are in the race, and those three big...


DOWD: The problem Jeb has, the problem Jeb has -- here is the problem Jeb has. He's a very decent man. He was a great leader and a governor of Florida, it's not the same Republican Party anymore.

The Republican Party now, the mainstream of the Republican Party, is represented by Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

When you take a look at their stands on immigrants, exactly the same. Their stands on Muslims, exactly the same. And so when you take a look at that, Jeb Bush does not fit the Republican Party of 2015.


ROBERTS: ...because it shows him being tough. And that's what he has to show. You know, Trump has really shaped the narrative. So, for instance, in the New Hampshire paper this morning, the headline is "Bush brings energy to townhall." That's all that Trump has been saying about him. And so for him to take on Trump, be tough, and see if it works -- now what's happened is everybody else that's taken on Trump...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not to the same degree...


NAVARRO: Actually, I think the only person that's had the guts and showed it to it publicly is Jeb Bush.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bobby Jindal did it, Rick Perry did it.

NAVARRO: Well, they're no longer relevant...


DOWD: When you have a guy with high (inaudible) attacking a guy with high (inaudible) and leading, it helps the guy that's leading. And that's Jeb Bush's problem in this race.

BRAZILE: You know, Republicans really need a Lee Atwater, I mean bringing back the dead, god bless his soul. Lee Atwater. You need somebody who can go after Donald Trump's strength. I mean, that's the problem. You hit him at his weakness, but you've got to go after...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what does that mean, exactly?

BRAZILE: Look, the guy is a big bluster, big bloviator...


BRAZILE: Bully. And you've got to -- you need somebody who will go after that. If you're not going to do that, then Donald Trump becomes...

DOWD: The problem has been that many of the Republicans have made fun of his voters...


NAVARRO: Not for a long time. I think people have recognized that this is a real problem, there's real angst in the Republican base and in the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We talked about the what ifs, though, we talk about the what ifs if Hillary loses Iowa. What if Donald Trump gets beat in Iowa, Matthew Dowd? We did have that story in the New York Times this morning saying he's lagging in organization. Does that matter? And does he stop winning when he loses. Is that it for him?

DOWD: I think -- the breadth of Cruz's win matters. So if it's Donald Trump close, then I think you go into New Hampshire, I think if this happens, then Ted Cruz finishes second in New Hampshire, and that actually hurts more Jeb, Kasich, Rubio in the course of this. Then it basically becomes a two person, very competitive race headed into South Carolina where I think Ted Cruz has a lot of base of support. It becomes a total two person race.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Trump is strong in South Carolina.

DOWD: Yeah, but when that bump happens, as Ted Cruz is to win Iowa, this thing becomes a two person race.

NAVARRO: I think you see Trump going nuclear. You know, I think he's really gotten...

DOWD: Go nuclear?

NAVARRO: You know, I think he's really taken a liking to the -- you know, running for president thing.

ROBERTS: His whole thing is I'm a winner. And so being a loser could be an issue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's what we're going to find out...

NAVARRO: Incredibly interesting to watch, though.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The candidates that the Democrats are most concerned about, more the establishment candidates, really bound up in a pack there in New Hampshire right now. Marco Rubio, Governor Christie, Jeb Bush, John Kasich all right neck and neck.

BRAZILE: That's right.

Look, Marco Rubio has a problem. I mean, he ran as somebody -- when he ran for the senate that he was going to reform. He ran against immigration, then he was for immigration. We don't know where Marco Rubio stands. I think he has to sort it out himself.

Meanwhile, I think those, like Governor Christie, who is spending time here. Governor Christie is doing the right thing. You've just got to figure out where you can win. And if Governor Christie comes in first, second or third place, I think he has a little legs under him.

NAVARRO: You know, I think it's important that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who I think are very evenly matched, and such talented politicians, very different styles. I think they need to move on from this back and forth. It's like, you know, young bucks locking horns over...


NAVARRO: ...but it's been going no now. I mean, this immigration battle of he said, he said, what you have said back in that year. It's almost like a...


DOWD: One thing to keep in mind with the Republican base, we've said all this thing about it, is Hillary Clinton, if she wins the nomination, is going to be one of the weakest general candidates that we've seen in the Democratic Party in a long time.

The majority of people who don't trust her. The majority of people don't like her. The country is off on the wrong track. And they want different policies than Barack Obama.

I'm not saying she can't win. She's very vulnerable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You get 10 seconds.

BRAZILE: You know what, her strength is connecting with people and understanding what they need and she will fight for them, so I don't think she's a weak candidate.

ROBERTS: And they like her policies.

BRAZILE: That's right.

NAVARRO: She's gotten better at connecting. She wasn't very good at that six months ago.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's all we have time for today. Thanks to all of you. Have a great Christmas everyone. All of you at home, have a Merry Christmas as well. I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.


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