'This Week' Transcript: Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Reince Priebus

This is a rush transcript for 'This Week' on March 6, 2016

ByABC News
March 6, 2016, 9:37 AM

— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' ON March 6, 2016 and it will be updated.(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Starting right now on THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos, split decision: Ted Cruz crushing the billionaire frontrunner in the Kansas and Maine caucuses.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX,) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This now represents a movement.

ANNOUNCER: While Trump captures two major victories of his own.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would love to take on Ted one-on-one.

ANNOUNCER: Is this now a two-man fight to the finish?

And as Trump's own party revolts...

MIIT ROMNEY (R), 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.

TRUMP: Mitt is a failed candidate.

ANNOUNCER: Is the GOP breaking apart?

John Kasich and Republican Party chair Reince Priebus are here live.

Plus, Bernie's bounce back?


ANNOUNCER: After big wins this weekend, can Sanders steal Hillary's momentum? Bernie Sanders joins us live.

And, an exclusive look at the fight against ISIS.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: There are jets, there are helicopters everywhere.

ANNOUNCER: Martha Raddatz on board the USS Truman taking you inside its campaign against terror.

From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: And what a week it has been. Super Tuesday, that stunning Republican debate. And with votes in five states Saturday, the race for president may now be taking a new dramatic turn.

For the GOP, a big night for Ted Cruz. He trounced Donald Trump in the Kansas caucuses, beating him by 25 points, surprised Trump in Maine, too, with 46 percent, Trump at 33, John Kasich and Marco Rubio far behind there.

Trump did get two wins in his southern stronghold, taking Louisiana primary with 41 percent, but Cruz just three points behind.

And it was a tight finish in Kentucky, Trump at 36, Cruz at 32.

Add is all up, and Cruz won more delegates Saturday than Trump and tightened the gap in the overall race. Trump is now at 378, Cruz 295, Rubio 123, Kasich trailing down at 34.

For the Democrats, Bernie Sanders swept the caucus states, winning Kansas handily with 68 percent of the vote, Clinton got 32. He came out on top in Nebraska, 57 for Sanders, 43 for Clinton.

But it wasn't even close in Louisiana. Clinton beat him 71 to 23. And that added to her delegate lead last night. She is now up overall by more than 200 even before you count those Democratic super delegates, which give her an overwhelming margin.

So how can Bernie Sanders come back? He is here now to tell us. Senator Sanders, thank you for joining us this morning.

And you were admirably candid last Saturday after South Carolina. You said you get decimated. What's your take on last night?

SANDERS: Well, I think we did great overall yesterday. We won, as you mentioned, by over two to one in Kansas, we did very well in Nebraska. There's going to be a caucus in Maine. And if the turnout is high, I think we're going to win there. That would mean that we'd have won eight primaries and caucuses.

And what impresses me very much, George, and what I mean when I talk about a political revolution, in Kansas they had the largest voter turnout in their caucus history. That was the case in Colorado where we won as well.

In fact, in every primary and caucus that we have won, we have won by double digit numbers. And we're winning all across the country.

I think geographically, we are looking good. I think we have a path toward victory.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: You've still got that demographic problem, though, you've still got that -- you've winning in these states that are overwhelmingly white like Kansas and Nebraska. Any state that has more than about 10 percent African-American vote, she's killing you.

SANDERS: Well, we are -- well, I think you're going to see those numbers change as well.

And what we are noticing, and this is very interesting, it's not just racial, it's more generational. We are doing better and better with young African-Americans, young Latinos, and young whites. In fact, in many instances we ware winning those demographics. With the older people, we're not doing as well. And that's something that we're going to have to work on.

But I think here in Michigan where there is a caucus coming up, where there is a primary coming up on Tuesday, I think the issues of trade, where NAFTA and permanent normal trade relations have decimated communities all over Michigan, all over Illinois, all over Ohio, I have had helped lead the opposition to these disastrous trade agreements. Secretary Clinton, by and large, has supported them all. I think that's going to give us a lot of momentum here in the Midwest.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: Yeah, in fact, you put out a tweet this week, and I want to put that up on the board right now. It says the people of Detroit know the real cost of Hillary Clinton's free trade policy. It shows those abandoned buildings, those abandoned homes in downtown Detroit.

Is that really fair, though? I mean, Detroit has been hollowed out since the race riots in 1968.

SANDERS: Well, what is fair, George, and honestly I didn't know this until a week ago, that in 1960 it turns out Detroit was one of the wealthiest cities in America. Flint, Michigan, which today is mired in terrible poverty, was an extremely prosperous city. There is no doubt -- I don't think anyone debates this, that these disastrous trade policies -- NAFTA, permanent normal trade relation with China, have cost this country millions of decent paying jobs and resulted in a race to the bottom, where many of the new jobs being created pay significantly less than those jobs used to pay years ago. That is the result of a disastrous trade policy.

I'm not going to say it is the only problem that Detroit or Flint has, but it is a significant part of the decline of many, many communities in America. Companies shut down in this country. They go to China, they go to Mexico, pay people low wages, bring their products back in to the United States. Very bad policies for the American worker.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: At the same time, there's a new poll out this morning in Michigan. The NBC/Marist poll, which still shows you pretty far back. 57 to 40. That's a lot of ground to make up in just a few days.

SANDERS: Well, you know, it's a funny thing about these polls, George. And we started this campaign, as you well know, at 3 percent in the polls, 3 percent. We have come a very, very long way, closing the gap nationally with Secretary Clinton. I'm very proud that in many of these matchups that take place -- Sanders versus Trump, Clinton versus Trump, do you know who is doing better against Trump? Bernie Sanders is.

And in almost every state that we have contested, we start off in Iowa, we started off 50 points behind, New Hampshire 30 points behind, won New Hampshire, tied in Iowa.

We are closing the gap here in Michigan, and I think we're going to surprise people on election night.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: But as you know, the delegate map is working against you. Democrats have proportional representation. She now has about a 200 delegate lead. That's bigger than any lead at this point than Barack Obama had over Hillary Clinton back in 2008.

So, don't you have to do something brand new to try to change the dynamic? You'd have to win by massive numbers in just about every state.

SANDERS: Well, here's what I think. You're right, I mean, that -- your numbers are correct.

But you know, we're still fairly early in the process. I think this may be 18-19 states that have voted. We think we have an excellent chance to do well out on the West Coast in California, state of Washington, Oregon; we think we have an excellent chance to do well in large states like New York. We think we're going to surprise people here in Michigan.

So I think that time is on our side because the more people get to hear our message -- and that message is that we need to reform a corrupt campaign finance system in which billionaires and super PACs are buying elections -- look, one of the key differences between Secretary Clinton and me, she has a super PAC, millions of dollars from Wall Street are coming in to her campaign.

We have raised, George, almost $5 million individual contributes average $27 apiece. People appreciate that. They're tired of super PACs buying elections.

So I think we have momentum on our side; more people hear our message, the better we are going to do.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: Senator Sanders, thanks for joining us this morning.

SANDERS: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: We're going to turn now to the GOP, a tumultuous week for the Republicans with headlines describing a party in crisis as it deals with the rise of Donald Trump.

Here's Jon Karl with more on the battle to control America's Grand Old Party.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even with his Saturday stumble, Donald Trump just dared his rivals to try to unite against him.

TRUMP: Marco Rubio had a very, very bad night. I think it's time that he drops out. I would love to take on Ted one-on-one. Oh, do I want to run against just Ted.

CRUZ: We get head-to-head, head-to-head I beat Donald Trump.

KARL (voice-over): With two wins, Cruz narrowed his gap with Trump at the end of a week where party elders hit the panic button, the hashtag #NeverTrump lighting up Twitter.

TRUMP: The Republicans are eating their own.

KARL (voice-over): And something we've just never seen before, the party's last two presidential nominees lashed out at the man on the verge of taking over the Republican Party.

ROMNEY: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. He's playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.

KARL (voice-over): Now the party's power brokers are banding together to try to bring him down, running scathing ads like this one on Trump University.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Donald Trump made millions while hardworking Americans got scammed.


KARL (voice-over): He also drew fire this week for flip-flopping on torture and immigration.

TRUMP: I'm changing. I'm changing.

KARL (voice-over): Trump's rivals are still holding out hope they can keep him from getting an outright majority of delegates before the convention. Marco Rubio and John Kasich are banking on winner-take-all primaries in their home states just nine days away.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to win Florida. We've continued to play the delegate math in this campaign because we understand that this is going to be a very different kind of primary, where the delegates are going to count.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to win Ohio and that's going to create a whole new ballgame.

KARL (voice-over): If they both can beat Trump on their home turf, a contested convention this summer could actually happen. But the guy in second place says that could tear the party apart.

CRUZ: They've seized on this master plan, we go to a brokered convention and the D.C. power brokers will drop someone in. If that would happen, we will have a manifest revolt on our hands.

KARL: Republican leaders I've spoken to believe last night's results are a sign that Donald Trump is losing momentum and a contested convention is now much more likely to happen. It's also the only realistic chance of defeating Trump. It may all come down to the big contests over the next nine days, 150 delegates up for grabs this Tuesday, with Michigan the one to watch there, and 367 delegates at stake on March 15th, with the biggest prizes, the winner-take-all states of Florida and John Kasich's Ohio.

If Trump is going to be stopped, George, he's going to have to be stopped there.


STEPHANOPOULOUS: OK, Jon Karl, thanks very much.

Let's go to John Kasich right now. He joins us this morning as well.

Governor Kasich, thanks for joining us this morning. You're laughing --


KASICH: Sounds like a -- hey, George, it sounded like a sporting event, you know.


STEPHANOPOULOUS: Well, a little bit like a sporting event there in numbers as well as statistics. And the numbers don't like here. You are way behind in all the states again last night, three-fourths and a third. You're 0 for 19 overall.

So how do you justify staying in the race?

KASICH: Well, first of all, George, we did better than anybody thought we'd do last night. We picked up delegates in three states. And we have our game plan.

Look, you were there when you put your game plan together in the old days, back when you weren't as a broadcaster, and we have our game plan. Our game plan was to do well in New Hampshire, which we achieved. We did better than people thought in South Carolina. And we continue to pick up delegates.

Now we are closing fast in Michigan. We're going to have a good result out of Michigan because you see, it's like March Madness. Now we have now moved to the Midwest. We've now moved more to my territory. I will win Ohio. And it'll be a whole new ballgame and I'll be able to compete in a lot of these states.

And let's face it. There's some places in the South I didn't -- you know, we just didn't compete there really aggressively, we didn't compete in caucuses last night. We still got delegates. So just hold on, George, you know, look at Mississippi, look at Michigan and then look at Ohio --


STEPHANOPOULOUS: -- you say Michigan first of all, brand new poll out this morning from "The Wall Street Journal" and Marist and NBC, has Trump at 41, Cruz 22, Rubio 17. You're in fourth place at 13. You're not closing the gap.

KASICH: No, that's -- well, I mean that -- you've got your polls and there've been a lot of other polls that are out. Just watch. We've got a lot of momentum up there since that debate. People have been very positive. I was there for a couple days. I will be back and I can tell you that we are closing the gap. And you will see a better result than what you expect and then, of course, we go to the -- to the gravitational center of the political universe in Ohio.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: Ohio always is. That is for sure. And of course --

KASICH: It's amazing.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: -- that is your home state. But if you look at the numbers right now, even if you win Ohio, there's no realistic path for you to get the number of delegates you would need before that convention.

So your entire strategy now is basically a spoiler strategy, isn't it?


KASICH: George, first of all, let's talk about what the strategy ought to be. The strategy ought to be who has the record and the vision to run the United States of America and to be the leader of the free world. Every -- look, I've been endorsed now, I think, by 30 major newspapers in this country.

What do they all say?

He's the guy that can do this. He's the guy that can bring people together.

We're not running for class president. This is not Valentine's Day, where we stuff the ballot box. OK?

Secondly, my message is starting to really get out there, George, and you know -- and I just had a commentator tell me the other day, if you don't start name-calling, you're not going to get anywhere. You see, I'm not going to do that. And I think people are realizing it. And I tell them --


STEPHANOPOULOUS: -- at the same time -- let me just interrupt you right there because you've been -- this has been a -- your consistent message all year long. You're the experienced guy; you're the guy that can make the system work. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz are promising to shake the system up. And they're the ones getting the votes.

KASICH: Well, George, I've shaken the system up more than anybody who's on that stage. As you know, I've never been establishment. You know how many toes I had to step on to get the budget balanced in Washington, to reform the Pentagon and take on Defense contractors, what I've done in Ohio. I'm not an establishment guy.

The problem is you guys didn't give me any coverage. For six months, I wallowed at 1 percent in the polls.


Because I'm not name-calling --


STEPHANOPOULOUS: I've had you on my show from the very first day you announced --

KASICH: George, I'm not just -- I'm not -- look, I'm not just talking about. You know -- look, you want to look at the numbers?

You want to look at the amount of coverage people get when they name-call as compared to the discussion about policy and who can run the country?

That's --


KASICH: -- indisputable. You know that.

So here's the situation. Look, I'm going to be competing up north. The calendar worked in the south. It didn't work great for me. We never worried about that.

Our strategy was always to survive and get to the north. And now we're getting to the north. And forget that Marist Poll. I don't know who took it. I don't know what it's all about. If I thought that was true, I would tell you we're not doing better. We are doing better...

STEPHANOPOULOUS: But you know the numbers. But you j you...

KASICH: -- and we're going to win Ohio and I'm going to be competitive all...


KASICH: -- across the north.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: -- but you know the numbers. And you've said this already. You know that you're -- you're banking on the possibility that a brokered convention would turn to you. That's your only way to -- way to victory.

KASICH: George, no one is going to have the numbers.

What are you talking about?

It would -- I would have to win 68 percent of the remaining contests, OK, 68 percent of the remaining delegates. Marco would have to win like 64. Ted would have to win like 60. Donald Trump is going to fall short.

This is not like -- this is the way it's going.

Now, if Trump, you know, wins all the rest of these things, he'll go to the convention with the right numbers. But if he doesn't have the right numbers, then we are -- we're in a -- we're in a multi-ballot convention.

What's -- what's the big deal about that, other than it's exciting?

And you know what this year?

Is there anything else to be expected with the way things have gone this year?

So let's just -- and you know I'll tell you what would be great about it. Now, I agree with Ted Cruz from the standpoint, we can't let a bunch of Washington insiders pick the -- the nominee.

You know why?

I'd have no chance at that, because they don't like me, OK?

Plain and simple. But think about how much education our kids are going to get, about the way in which we pick a president. It will be fantastic in this country, so spending their time, you know, looking at some of these Hollywood stars. They're now going to -- there's nothing wrong with that. But now they're going to spend more time thinking about how we pick a president.

I think it will be very cool. But...

STEPHANOPOULOUS: You don't think we're going to be watching a Republican Party split apart?

KASICH: George, I think at the end of the day, the Republican Party is -- is a -- is a reflection of the nominee. And, frankly, I went down to CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee, OK?

They said, you know, Kasich, we don't know if he's a conservative. I got two standing ovations down there. People were energized. The fact is I beat Hillary Clinton by 11 points, more than anybody else. We can get the crossover votes. And my agenda is a -- I've got a shock and awe agenda for the first 100 days of Congress.

So the fact is, is we'll bring the party together. I really don't worry about that...


KASICH: I just worry about making sure to get on your show so people can hear my message of economic growth and providing some economic security for Americans.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: You got it today.

Governor Kasich, thanks for joining us.

KASICH: All right, George.

Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: So you just heard it from Governor Kasich right there.

Are we headed to a brokered convention?

Will it split the GOP in two?

Glenn Beck and party chairman Reince Priebus join us next.


STEPHANOPOULOUS: And we are back in two minutes with Glenn Beck, Reince Priebus and the battle for the soul of the GOP.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've received a giant middle finger from Washington, DC. We're going to use Donald Trump to either take over the GOP or blow it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how anybody can trust the Republican Party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What Trump has tapped into, Glenn, is that we're winners. It's American nationalism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I oppose Hillary ideologically and if it comes to a choice between her and Trump, she is the lesser of two evils.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The rise of Donald Trump has set up a fierce debate on talk radio.

Here's the man at the center of it all, Glenn Beck, founder of TheBlaze.

Glenn, thanks for joining us this morning.


STEPHANOPOULOUS: Now, you're part of this "never Trump" camp. But if you listen to those callers, it sounds like the GOP splits no matter what, that there's no bridging this divide.

BECK: The GOP has one last chance to listen to the people. And the people that -- and I understand it; they're very, very angry because the GOP did not listen the first time around. They didn't listen to the Ron Paul people who were way of the curve, then the Tea Party people, and they rubbed our nose in it. And they are tired. And they have created Donald Trump.

The people are speaking clearly. And there's two ways to go: anger and nationalism, which has been done before in history.


BECK: And you can go for nationalism, you can go for anger --

STEPHANOPOULOUS: Donald Trump is Adolf Hitler?

BECK: If you look at what's happening in -- with Donald Trump and his playing to the lowest common denominator and to the anger in us, you know, Adolf Hitler, we all look at Adolf Hitler in 1940. We should look at Adolf Hitler in 1929. He was a kind of a funny kind of character that said the things that people were thinking. Where Donald Trump takes it I have absolutely no idea, but Donald Trump is a dangerous man with the things that he has been saying.

Now, the GOP is playing unbelievable games right now trying to make sure they get their way, and they're trying to go for a brokered convention. I'm against Donald Trump, but I'll tell you one thing, if he gets -- if he gets close enough and the GOP tries to play games, I won't vote for Donald Trump ever, but I will stand with his right, because the people have spoken. And what the GOP is doing is they are stirring things up because they are more afraid of Ted Cruz than they are of Donald Trump.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: So you're supporting Ted Cruz. How does Ted Cruz though bring the party together as well? Isn't he as divisive in some ways as Donald Trump?

BECK: If you -- if we had reasonable people -- I mean, look, Marco Rubio is a really nice guy, but he is being stirred up by the GOP establishment and being told, hey, you've got to stay in. Same with Kasich. We want a brokered convention? We don't want a brokered convention. And if those guys would get out, those votes would go right to Ted Cruz. Maybe some of them would go to -- but very few -- would go to Donald Trump. And Ted Cruz would be mopping the floor. And everyone counts him out, but this is the guy that George Washington said, in his farewell address, you don't go -- you don't go to the parties. This loyalty oath that the party is expecting everyone to take, and then Donald Trump asked everybody to raise their hand yesterday for loyalty oath, was a little disturbing. I don't have a loyalty to parties; I don't have a loyalty to personalities; I have a loyalty to the Constitution of the United States.

George Washington and all of our founders said -- George Washington, at the end of the constitutional convention, "Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair." Meaning there's going to come a time when people don't know what to do. You'll run to the Constitution. The wise and the honest will run to the Constitution.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: Does that mean that -- you just said you don't believe it's fair to deny Donald Trump the nomination if he has the lead going in --

BECK: Of course not.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: So you've got a lot of people talking --


STEPHANOPOULOUS: You've got a lot of people talking about a third party, including Senator Ben Sasse, if Trump does get the nomination. What does that mean?

BECK: That's not necessarily -- wait a minute. That's not the games on the convention floor. A third party -- I won't vote for Donald Trump. I won't vote for Hillary Clinton. And anybody who says a vote against Donald Trump is a vote for Hillary Clinton, stop playing those games. You know, I just saw on your deal, one of the callers said, you know, they're the lesser of two evils. Well, I'm not going to vote for evil. I don't care if it's lesser than the other evil; I'm not going to vote for it.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: So you're looking for a third option if Trump gets the nomination.

BECK: Yes, but not the options of the party playing politics to break us apart at the convention. That leads to civil war on the floor and quite honestly it could lead to civil war in the country. You cannot lie to people, play with their feelings. People actually believe in something, and that's what the GOP has forgotten. They believe in themselves; they believe in their own power; and they are using man to be able to entrench themselves in that power and in that profit. You cannot continue to disenfranchise people and play with their emotions.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: Glenn Beck, thanks for joining us this morning.

BECK: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: Let's bring this now to the chair of the GOP, Reince Priebus. Reince, thank you for joining us this morning. You just heard Glenn Beck right there who thinks your party is headed to civil war.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMMITTEE: Well, look, we've got a process and I've said it repeatedly whoever has the majority of delegates is going to be the nominee of our party. Those delegates are obviously in many cases bound to the outcomes of these primaries and caucuses. And so, those are the rules that are laid out. And there are no plans to undo the rules, or change the nomination process mid-stream.

So, we're going to be 100 percent for the nominee, George. And so that's where we're at. And that's where I've always been. And that's what I've always said.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: But after last night -- in the past, you've called the idea of a brokered convention an extreme hypothetical. After last night, is it a more real possibility that no one gets the 1,237 delegates they need before Cleveland in July?

PRIEBUS: You know, I highly doubt it, George. I mean, I just don't see that happening.

It doesn't mean it's impossible, it just means that you don't know what next week is going to bring, or the week after, or a month from now. I would say that if we have an interview in a month and it's still some sort of tied scenario, then I think people start talking about it more clearly.

But I just think these are hypotheticals at this point, there's a long way to go. There's over 1,650 delegates I think to go, maybe I'm off by a little bit, but it's pretty close to that amount. That's a long way to go, George.

So, I think this is premature. And we'll wait and see what happens.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: You saw -- you talk about...

PRIEBUS: The one thing I do know is that we're not going to have -- you know, if someone is going into the convention and they have the delegates, they're going to be the nominee?

STEPHANOPOULOUS: Even if they don't have 1,237?

PRIEBUS: Well, they have to make sure they have 1,237. I mean, obviously. But just like I'm not going to do anything to prevent someone from getting 1,237, that's not an appropriate role for the chairman, I'm also not going to do things to make sure somebody gets 1,237. It's up to the delegates and it's up to these primary voters in these states that their will be done. And that's what we have to do in the process.

So, I agree that there should be no activity that alters or plays games with that process.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: You've got a lot of other party leaders, though, Mitt Romney the most prominent this week saying they'll do whatever they can to stop Donald Trump. He will not vote for Donald Trump. You just heard Glenn Beck saying the same thing, he will not vote for Donald Trump.

So, are you facing the prospect where you have the potential nominee of your party being opposed by your previous two nominees and a previous president?

PRIEBUS: Well, but -- and this is a little different angle. But that's different -- saying you're not going to support someone is different -- and it's their right to say those things and to do those things, than taking it a step further and saying that the party, therefore, is somehow going to do something you know inappropriate at a convention to create a scenario that is unfair. That's not what we're doing.

So -- but to your point, it's up to them. I mean, if Glenn and Mitt Romney and others don't want to support a certain candidate, that's certainly within their right to do. And it will play itself out over the weeks and months to come. And we'll see what happens.


STEPHANOPOULOUS: Finally, before I let you go I just want to ask you another question. You had this -- your party had this well known, what's called an autopsy review of the 2012 election where you came out with what went wrong and how to fix it. And I want to play a part of it.

You said the Republican Party is one of tolerance and respect. And we need to ensure the tone of our message is always reflective of these core principles. In the modern media environment, a poorly phrased argument, a poorly phrased argument or out of context statement can spiral out of control, reflect poorly on the party as a whole. If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or a candidate does not want them in the United States, they will not pay attention to our next sentence.

Boy, you look at the tone of that debate on Thursday night. You see all of your top candidates now not for comprehensive immigration reform, but for some form of deportation.

How did you get so far off track?

PRIEBUS: Well, look, you know, it's a contentious primary. And obviously, George, there's plenty of drama and intrigue. I agree. I think the tone should improve. And I would hope that at the next debate, things are improved over the last debate as far as tone and rhetoric. And I agree with every word that you just read from our growth and opportunity report. And I think it's really important. I think dignity and respect is something that should be at the center of everything that we do.

And I also think that we're all called to be (inaudible) and light in this world and the words that come out of our mouths. And so, yeah, I'm in board with the sentiment that you just read and what our party put out. And I hope that the next debate will be a little bit of an improvement on that.

STEPHANOPOULOUS: Reince Priebus, thanks for joining us this morning.

PRIEBUS: You bet. Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: More on Ted Cruz's big night. The civil war within the roundtable.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And speaking of Trump, he's on track to become the Republican nominee. So to all of you voters out there who have thought for years I hate Hillary, I could never vote for her, to you, I say welcome.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I've got Trump to the left of me, jokers to the right and here you are stuck in the middle with me.



STEPHANOPOULOS: Laugh, having a little fun with what could be an epic battle in the fall.

Let's talk about it on our roundtable with Matthew Dowd, Cokie Roberts, Democratic strategist Van Jones from CNN, and Ana Navarro, Republican strategist.

And we've got to begin with trying to sort through this week, Matthew Dowd, between, like I said, Super Tuesday, a being Donald Trump sweep on -- on Super Tuesday. That debate, he was piled on. Mitt Romney came out. And then last night, it seemed like Ted Cruz making some headway.

So where do we stand at the end of the week?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the biggest -- I mean if you want to look at last night and what it determined going forward, the biggest loser last night was the Republican establishment and of course they've lost badly. Marco Rubio finished third or fourth in every single state. They've put all their chips and money in Jeb Bush. He's gone.

They put -- then put all their money and chips into Marco Rubio and he's now on the verge of being gone. He has Florida as one last stand in the course of this.

I think -- and as you look at this -- the course of this, as the voting has taken place, establishment -- that the outsider candidates have gone from 50 percent of the vote to 60 percent of the vote to 70 percent of the vote. And in Louisiana, they were 80 percent of the vote in Louisiana in the course of this.

I think this race is becoming right now a two and a half person race. So it's...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Who's the half?


DOWD: -- that Donald -- no, I actually don't think Rubio is the half. I think John Kasich is the half, because if John Kasich -- I think John Kasich has a better chance of winning Ohio than Marco Rubio does of winning Florida.



NAVARRO: -- I -- look, I -- I -- first of all, I do agree with you that last night was a very bad night for Marco Rubio. I think getting in the gutter with Donald Trump really hurt him. You don't out-mudsling Donald Trump. And you took the most optimistic, uh, poetic-speaking orator of the Republican Party and you turned him into Beavis and Butthead. It did not work.

But I do think that Marco is much better organized in Florida than people think. I don't think the gap is as big as some of the polls reflect. Florida is a huge state with a lot of absentee ballots. Organization matters. Marco should and has the best organization in Florida.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But where -- but where does that leave it, Cokie Roberts?


STEPHANOPOULOS: He's behind right now. If Marco Rubio wins Florida and John Kasich wins Ohio...

ROBERTS: Then it...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- neither one of them can get a majority of delegates.

ROBERTS: Then when we do head to the convention, that's what happens. If they -- if they start winning winner-take-all primaries, then we start heading to the convention. And -- and Glenn Beck was very interesting about that, because the truth is if -- if Donald Trump has a vast number of delegates and the Republican Party tries to find some way to take it away from him, there will be civil war.

And, you know, the truth is that they have only themselves to thank for this. Forget their policies. That's one whole set of things.

But the fact is is that Donald Trump was awful about Mexicans, awful about Muslims, awful about women, awful about the disabled. And they just kept their mouths shut.

It took the Ku Klux Klan to get the Republican leadership to start...



STEPHANOPOULOS: -- and it brought Mitt Romney out this week, Van Jones.

There does seem to be, depending on how you look at it, some evidence that Donald Trump was slowed down...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- by the events last week. He didn't meet his poll numbers in any of the states last night.

JONES: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He actually lost -- even in Louisiana, lost to Ted Cruz on the votes taken yesterday by a little bit.

JONES: Well, the great irony is, even though everybody says, you know, Mitt Romney can't affect anything, this can't affect anything, it actually turns out that when everybody starts firing at a target, that target suffers.

The problem is you wait until March to do it.

DOWD: Right.

JONES: This -- listen, when you have a full-on phenomenon now around Trump -- this is not just a candidacy...

DOWD: Right.

JONES: -- this is an insurgency with deep authoritarian feeling to it. Once you've got that going in a country, any country, that's dangerous.


STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to bring that to Matthew Dowd...


STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on a second, because I want to bring that to Matthew Dowd.

One of the things we've seen from Donald Trump, though, over the course of this campaign, he has proven to be resilient, to take a hit and to come back. Is -- you know, and this is -- this will be another test right now.



STEPHANOPOULOS: There's been a pile-on.

Do his voters bring him back or is this the beginning of a spiraling down?

DOWD: Well, no, I don't think it's the beginning of a spiraling down. I think what Donald -- Donald Trump is a -- is -- has -- has been a powerful candidate in this, but he's a deeply flawed candidate in the course of this.

And I think Donald Trump, at every moment in this race, has had an opportunity to rise faster and gain momentum and start winning going away, but because of his own mistakes, his lack of discipline on certain things, his veering off into the candidacy, keeps his cap down in the mid-30s or maybe even 40...


DOWD: -- and that's a problem in the course of this.

I think if Donald Trump had conducted himself and made -- spent some time learning some policy, and maybe didn't say some crazy things in the course of this, Donald Trump -- this week, he would be running away with this.

He's beginning to cap himself.

But in a race that looks like the way it looks like, he can go in. He can pick up a lot of delegates...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is he still the favorite?

DOWD: He's still the favorite.



NAVARRO: You know, I -- but -- but -- but now, the difference is that Ted Cruz is the strong second favorite. While Marco Rubio and Donald Trump were engaged in a yo mama is to dumb contest over the past two weeks, it's not been John Kasich that emerges as the adult in the room, even though he has been, because nobody remembers he's there.

It's been Ted Cruz. He had a good debate last week. He's going all in in Florida.


NAVARRO: He's opening up 10 offices. He's going to be spending a lot of time there...

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, but this...


NAVARRO: And let me tell you...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- here's the question...

NAVARRO: -- it's not about him winning Florida, it's about him...


NAVARRO: -- keeping Marco...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's the question...

NAVARRO: -- from winning Florida.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- I have. I mean...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- if this strategy works for Ted Cruz and he hands this -- the state to Donald Trump, what then?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, then, Donald Trump becomes the nominee. (INAUDIBLE) --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- if he gets Florida and Ohio, it's over. But if Kasich takes Ohio, then you know, we're still fighting this thing.

But the fact of Cruz is the other reason we are where we are because the leadership so dislikes Ted Cruz but also thinks that he will bring the party down to disaster --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- allowed Trump to fester on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, here's what -- and our party, Democratic Party, you have a rebellion. It looks like -- if you look at the math that our rebels will probably lose. The question is do they stay in the party and support Hillary or not?

In the Republican Party you have a rebellion where the rebels are going to win. The question is will the establishment stay? And what -- what's such a remarkable repudiation of the establishment is you're -- usually if you have a rebellion and the rebellion splits, the incumbents win because you can smash -- either of the rebel group movements now can win.

The Cruz -- the Cruz movement is bigger; the Trump movement, both are bigger than --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- number on it, though, Matthew, that I think if you look at (INAUDIBLE) today, they've gone through all the exit polls; only 49 percent of Republican primary voters are satisfied with Donald Trump, 79 percent of Democratic primary voters satisfied with Hillary Clinton.

DOWD: Yes, and there's less of a satisfaction (INAUDIBLE) numbers with Ted Cruz than there actually is with Donald Trump. We talk -- I talk about that -- Donald Trump's flaws, Ted Cruz had some serious flaws. And his path, I mean, this has been the easiest part of his path and he's still in second place.


DOWD: -- the part of the party's problem is that over the last 20 years, blue-collar voters have made up what the Republican Party is. And what's happened in the course of this, the elites in the establishment have not paid attention. They've not -- they've passed trade deals with taboo collars don't -- blue-collar people don’t like. They've passed tax policy, which the blue-collar people don’t like. They've gone into wars which the blue-collar people don't like.

And now there's a situation where the blue-collar people are now taking over the party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the -- but you look at where Cruz has won, I mean, yesterday, where Cruz was in states where under 20,000 people showed up --

DOWD: Caucuses --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- in caucuses, right. And --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- closed caucus, Kansas, 72,000. That's more but still where Trump won there were 225,000 in Louisiana, three -- I mean 300,000 in Louisiana, 225,000 Kentucky. So those are a whole lot more voters.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's a big part of his argument is that he's bringing voters into the Republican Party right now.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you know, but at look, we also have Ted Cruz right now is the guy who has beat Donald Trump seven times. In six of those states, he's won (INAUDIBLE). And you are absolutely right as a proud card-carrying member of the Republican establishment, I can tell you we don't like Ted Cruz at all. And everything in life is relative and it's about the choices in front of you.

And of the choice in front of us is Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, like Lindsey Graham is saying, all of a sudden, this guy is growing on me. Maybe like mold but growing on me nonetheless.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Democrats want to run against?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, listen, I am much more afraid now of Donald Trump than I ever thought I would be because of what he can do in the Rust Belt. He can go into a Michigan. He can go into an Ohio. He can go into a Pennsylvania and say Hillary Clinton signed NAFTA. I'll tear it up. And that changes the math.

He can go and talk to African American voters. People assume African Americans won't listen to Trump. But the reality is there is a wing in the African American party that's been uncomfortable with Mexican immigration and Latino immigration for a long time --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Matthew Dowd for a second.

If it looks like Donald Trump is going to be the nominee, though, do you see more Mitt Romneys or more Chris Christies?

DOWD: In what?

What do you mean -- ?


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- accepting or rejecting Donald Trump on the Republican side?

DOWD: I think there's the establishment now is probably going to stand back and say, wow, we've made a bunch of bad bets in the course of this and maybe us getting involved with some candidate --


DOWD: -- I think going to the question you asked Van is it's right now the more -- the more -- the stronger general election candidate for the GOP between the two of them is Donald Trump versus Ted Cruz when you look at the --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- see more of both. You're going to see some folks in the establishment not accepting or liking the idea of Donald Trump but maybe coming to grips with that and breathing into a brown paper bag but some are realizing, OK, maybe he's better than --


JONES: Look, since there are two parties here, I would like to say a little bit about the Democrats.

I think Bernie Sanders has a shot in Michigan for the very same reason. I think that Hillary Clinton's big weakness is -- there is her support for free and not fair trade.

If Bernie can break through and show that he can appeal to African American workers on that basis, it does begin to change a little bit the character of his movement beyond --


JONES: -- but here's the deal. Don't forget, beyond this victory, he's still there. Howard Dean's organization became democracy for America or Obama's became organizing for America. There's a future for Bernie beyond this. The question is will it be --


DOWD: -- won as many states other than Trump --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but the same idea, he's won states again. Yesterday he won states with 29,000 votes, 28,000 votes and she won --



STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you, guys, that was great.

And coming up, "THIS WEEK's" exclusive look at America's anti-terror campaign with Martha Raddatz.


RADDATZ: Coming up, I'm Martha Raddatz on the deck of the U.S.S. Truman in the Persian Gulf at the heart of the fight against ISIS.



STEPHANOPOULOS: Overseas now to Martha Raddatz, who spent this week in the Persian Gulf on the U.S.S. Truman, launching pad for America's campaign to wipe out ISIS. She brings us this exclusive inside look at that crucial effort.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, takeoff.

RADDATZ (voice-over): They are flying in the dead of night over enemy territory, armed with 1,000-pound bombs, zeroing in on their target.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We only have about a 30-minute window.

RADDATZ (voice-over): We followed this heart-pounding, breathtaking mission with the fighter pilots beating back ISIS, crossing Iraq into Syria through a gathering storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you can do, though, (INAUDIBLE).

RADDATZ (voice-over): We joined the mission hours before on the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman, even from high above the Navy's massive aircraft carrier delivering a powerful message.

Deployed to the Persian Gulf, the Truman is the mother ship of the carrier battle group in the heart of the fight against ISIS, home to more than 5,000 sailors and a jaw-dropping amount of military might.

This is what they call the bomb farm, hundreds of precision guided weapons, millions and millions of dollars' worth of ordnance, ready to be loaded onto the aircraft.

Rear Admiral Bret Batchelder, an F-18 pilot himself, commands the battle group increasingly focused on ISIS.

RADDATZ: It really does seem to have intensified in the last couple of months.

REAR ADMIRAL BRET BATCHELDER, U.S.S. HARRY S. TRUMAN: After the attacks in Paris, I think there has been an uptick in the aggressiveness. So we've had a constant stream of taskings (ph) since we got here. And flight sorties have been to Iraq and Syria each and every day.

RADDATZ (voice-over): That constant stream has meant more than 13,000 flight hours since the ship was deployed in November, when the flight operations were underway and aircraft is launched or lands every 60 to 90 seconds.

The last 18 seconds of the landing on the aircraft carrier is the most critical. When they call the ball, an aviator term for essentially lining up the jet so that the tail hook will catch the steel wires on deck and bring the jet to a screeching halt.

Landing on a moving target the length of a football field is a dangerous and delicate maneuver. Miss it and you have nanoseconds to pull up and try again.

But to the pilots of Strike Fighter Squadron 25, it is routine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you've heard the phrase, let's be brilliant at the basics tonight. This is a pretty standard mission for us. We should be able to execute it flawlessly.

RADDATZ: Lieutenant Charles Wickware (ph), call sign Wingnut, and Lieutenant Commander John Hiltz, call sign Johnny Kittens, have more than 800 carrier landings between them.

Let me start with you Lieutenant Commander, because you out rank him -- sorry, I should do that...

HILTZ: I'm taller, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not by much and not by much.

RADDATZ: The duo likes to joke, but they are some of the navy's best pilots. Wickware (ph) has been in the navy 11 years, growing up in Hawaii and started flying gliders when he was just 14. He wanted to be a pilot for as long as he can remember.

So did John Hiltz. A Kentucky native, he played basketball for Notre Dame before joining the navy where he would be chosen for the elite Blue Angels demonstration team before heading into his combat role.

HILTZ: We're going to gun and ammo. We'll take our blood shifts (ph).

RADDATZ: Tonight, Lieutenant Commander Hiltz leads the detailed mission brief. We were allowed to hear exactly what the mission would be.

HILTZ: Our target is picked out. We're going after that oil infrastructure in Syria. There will also be some thunderstorms that may impact the execution.

We've got a 30 minute window to execute. And we'll make sure that we do so.

RADDATZ: The pilots gear up. The G-force suits, the oxygen mask and helmet.

Do you have any rituals before you go up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to the bathroom, say a prayer. It's been a Hawaii haole boy, I give the shocka after I give the salute.

RADDATZ: The pilots head for the jets just as the sun goes down for the final check.

You've been in Afghanistan, in Iraq before. Is it different going after this kind of enemy?

HILTZ: I think it is. You don't have as many Americans to work with on the ground. That, I think, makes it even more important to be as precise, because a little more difficult you don't have as many eyes on the ground to develop those targets.

RADDATZ: Do you feel in any way that the rules of engagement are too restrictive to the mission?

HILTZ: I don't. It's very important for us to integrate with those forces on the ground and make sure that we are a part of the solution and not operating in a way that is in any way careless or even cavalier.

RADDATZ: The weapons are loaded, final check complete. The mission is a go. Lieutenant Wickware (ph) gives the sign, and he's off, catapulted from zero to 160 miles an hour in seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the one element where you are almost completely out of control. Those few seconds as it accelerates you down that catapult stroke. It's the length of a football field. If it's night, sometimes you have no stars, no horizon, you're launched right into darkness.

RADDATZ: That target, the oil pipeline in a remote area of eastern Syria, an effort to cripple ISIS's financial resources.

But before they hit their target, the jets must refuel, mid-air, connecting with the tanker to gas up.

HILTZ: Affirm visual, you are left side joining.

RADDATZ: The pilots guiding their probe into the tanker's basket, tens of thousands of feet in the air.

HILTZ: You're over hostile territory running out of gas, so you need to get that gas. And if you don't, then a, we can't complete our mission. Even worse, we rip off one of our fueling probes, then we can't refuel in that case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you can do to avoid some of the weather, it would be great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, we'll try that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, it looks like there's a little gap that you can shoot there. Not sure.

RADDATZ: An intense storm makes the refueling process even harder. Lightning strikes illuminate Wickware's (ph) night vision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 6-1 enrage (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 6-2 enrage (ph).

RADDATZ: But finally, with the jets again ready to go, the target is in sight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3, 2, 1, pickle.

HILTZ: You get a pretty significant -- but as you release 500, 1,000, or 2,000 pound weapon.

RADDATZ: The two pilots release their weapons simultaneously, hitting the target with a quick intense flare. But the mission is not over yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You still have to come back and land on a moving aircraft carrier deck at night. Really nobody else around the world operates at night the way America's navy does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not expect that approach (inaudible) traffic.

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: It is an intense rush, and at night time your eyes can play all sorts of tricks on you in the dark. And you have to rely on your training to be able to focus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is turning in to the final bearings.

HILTZ: While you're doing it, you don't realize how amped up you are. You know, your body is flooded with adrenaline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once your aircraft comes to a stop, that's when your legs start shaking, and you really start to feel the effects.

RADDATZ: We met up with the pilots seconds after landing safely on deck again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was not exactly routine. We had to climb above a thunderstorm and then to employ, we had to drop down below it, below the weather, so we could get the bomb, damage assessment.

So, it was not as scripted, but we got the results we wanted.

HILTZ: You get used to those kind of changes.

RADDATZ: You're kind of used to things not going exactly...

HILTZ: And that comes with experience, too, things not going as planned.

RADDATZ: But a s the military moves closer to trying to help take back major cities under ISIS control, the danger will only increase.

HILTZ: Every time we take to the sky, there are risks that are inherently placed on us throughout the (inaudible).


RADDATZ: And with an unconventional enemy hiding among the civilian population, expect the targeting to become more difficult as well -- George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you, Martha. And thanks to her for that dramatic reminder of what's at stake in these debates.

We'll be right back after this from our ABC stations.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And before we go, some good news, there were no deaths of service members overseas in the month of February.

That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT". And I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA".


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