'This Week' Transcript: Kellyanne Conway, Robby Mook, and Gary Johnson

'This Week' Transcript: Conway, Mook, Johnson

ByABC News
September 25, 2016, 9:07 AM

— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' on September 25, 2016 and it will be updated.




HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I am so looking forward to debating Donald Trump. I can't wait.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, they say she's been practice for the debate. Some people think she's sleeping.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump toe-to-toe on the debate stage for the first time.


CLINTON: Donald Trump is unfit.



TRUMP: She is a dangerous liar.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our brand new poll showing the candidates in a virtual tie ahead of the high stakes showdown.

Can Clinton win over undecided voters and put those questions about trust in the rear-view mirror?


CLINTON: Let's make sure love trumps hate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And can Trump make the sale and prove he's qualified for the job?


TRUMP: Let's just win on November 8th.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning, we talk to both sides' campaign managers here live, just one day before the blockbuster face-off -- full insights, analysis and more, only on THIS WEEK.

From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK.

Here now, chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos.


It's been compared to the Super Bowl, the first Ali-Frazier fight, even man's landing on the moon. Toss away the hyperbole, you still have an extraordinary event, the most watched political showdown in American history.

Tomorrow night's first debate, Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump. Take a look inside the debate hall at Hofstra University. The candidates take the stage there 36 hours from now. One hundred million Americans expected to tune in. Social media will be crackling with commentary from millions more.

And this morning, we have everything you need to get ready -- both campaign managers, expert insight from our roundtable and the candidate not on the stage, Gary Johnson, who could play spoiler in a race that's tightened up in the last month.

Our new poll out this morning has Hillary Clinton holding at 46 percent, Donald Trump climbing to 44 percent, his best number since the spring.

The battle lines are drawn. Trump has a massive 59 percent advantage among white men who haven't graduated from college. Clinton counters with a huge boost from white women who have graduated from college, now leading Trump by 25 percent.

Overall, men are with Trump by 19 points, women with Clinton by 19 points -- the biggest gender gap in a generation.

Eighty-seven percent of Republicans are now with Trump, 84 percent of Democrats behind Clinton.

The big question for tomorrow, who will impress those voters in the middle, still making up their minds?


CLINTON: I am not a single issue candidate.


STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Hillary Clinton is the most experienced debater in modern history -- 34 presidential primary debates under her belt.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a matter of principle and I'll...

TRUMP: You are the single biggest liar...

CRUZ: -- and I'll tell you...

TRUMP: -- you probably are worse than Jeb Bush.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, Donald Trump is hardly a rookie. He's done 11, took out 16 rivals.


TRUMP: Let me talk. Let me talk. Be quiet.


TRUMP: I'm out of time...


STEPHANOPOULOS: But this debate is one-on-one -- 90 minutes before a huge TV audience that doesn't much like either candidate.

TRUMP: And we have a little debate coming up very shortly, right?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Trump's biggest challenge, close the gap with Clinton on world affairs, qualification and temperament.

TRUMP: And I'm going to be very respectful of her. I think she deserves that. And I'm going to be nice. And you really never know exactly how it's going to turn out and that's why we're going to have a lot of people watching.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Clinton's campaign worry Trump could win just by showing up sounding reasonable. And voters' expectations may be working against her. Forty-seven percent in our poll think she'll win. It's only 33 for Trump,


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook. Robby, thanks for coming in...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- this morning.

So the expectations may be working against you. Most voters think you’re going to win tomorrow night.

What’s your biggest worry?

MOOK: Well, first of all, I think what needs to happen at this debate is the candidates need to present their capacity to serve as president and commander-in-chief. We think Hillary Clinton is going to do that.

What we’re concerned about is that there might be some sort of double standard here. You know, Donald Trump can’t lie on that debate stage and -- and win or even get a passing grade. Donald Trump cannot demonstrate that he doesn’t have a command of the issues and get a passing grade.

So all that we’re asking is that Donald Trump show that he is ready to be president of the United States.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You guys have been pushing that pretty hard, this idea of a double standard, and saying it’s up to the moderator to point out falsehoods. But the debate commission has been pretty clear that they think it’s the job of the moderator basically to get out of the way and just ask the questions.

MOOK: Well, all that -- again, all that we’re asking is that, if Donald Trump lies, that it’s pointed out. It’s unfair to ask for Hillary both to play traffic cop while with Trump, make sure that his lies are corrected, and also to present her vision for what she wants to do for the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But isn’t that what a debater is supposed to do?

MOOK: Well, I think Donald Trump’s special. We haven’t seen anything like this. We normally go into a debate with two candidates who have a depth of experience, who have rolled out clear, concrete plans, and who don’t lie, frankly, as frequently as Donald Trump does. So we’re saying this is a special circumstance, a special debate, and Hillary should be given some time to actually talk about what she wants to do to make a difference in people’s lives. She shouldn’t have to spend the whole debate correcting the record.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And then you do want to talk mostly about Hillary Clinton and her plans.

How do you get over that huge hurdle right now, that overwhelming number of Americans who don’t see her as honest?

MOOK: Well, look, George, first of all, I’m glad you asked this question, because it’s been out there a lot. Hillary has recognized that she has a lot of work to do to earn people’s trust, and as we were discussing, we think this debate is a fantastic opportunity for her to present not just what she is going to do to make a difference in people’s lives, but she actually has a long history of getting this done. People can absolutely trust her to make a difference in their lives. They can’t trust Donald Trump to do...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what's the...

MOOK: -- the same thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what’s the number one point you want to make tomorrow night about Donald Trump?

MOOK: Well, look, like I said, this is -- this is the time for the voters to pick a president. We’re going to have a lot of people really tuning into this election for the first time. They’re going to see these two candidates on stage. I think they are going to see that Donald Trump is unfit, unprepared, and over his head. I doubt he will have a command of the issues. I certainly...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think he’ll take care of the debate by himself?

Is that what you’re expecting from Donald Trump?

MOOK: Well, I think Hillary is going to have to press the point. I think that she’s going to have to, at times, challenge him to reveal what his plans are.

You know, for example, he has not revealed any plan whatsoever to defeat ISIS. He says it’s a secret and that he knows more about it than the generals do. This is a time for him to present those plans. And maybe he will. But we’ll have to see.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There's a little bit of psychological warfare going on. You guys invite Mark Cuban to the debate. Donald Trump responded with this tweet yesterday, saying, "If dopey Mark Cuban, of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit on the front row, perhaps I’ll put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him."

Gennifer Flowers has tweeted "The New York Times" saying she’s going to be there.

MOOK: You know, this debate is supposed to be about issues. It’s supposed to be about how these candidates are going to make a difference in their lives. It’s a time for them to reveal their plans.

If this is what Donald Trump wants this debate to be about, that’s up to him. He is a reality TV star. He’s very experienced at providing television entertainment. The presidency is not about entertainment. It's about serious decisions...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don’t care if Gennifer Flowers is there?

MOOK: That’s Donald Trump’s decision. We just want Hillary to have an opportunity to explain her plans to the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This week, you know, we just talked about our poll, showing basically a dead heat. Right now, 46 to 44. And Hillary Clinton was quoted this week addressing the polling numbers and the (INAUDIBLE) of the case she’s made against Donald Trump.

Here’s what she said.


CLINTON: Now having said all this, why aren’t I 50 points ahead, you might ask?

Well, the choice for working families has never been clearer. I need your help to get Donald Trump’s record out to everybody.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, what is the answer to that question?

Maybe not 50 points ahead, but this is a such close race right now against a candidate you’ve said is the most unqualified candidate in American history.

MOOK: Well, first of all, these contests are always very close. And, in fact, we put out a memo in early August saying that this was going to tighten up. In your own poll, you didn’t actually show Hillary really losing any support; it was Donald Trump consolidating some of his base.

I still think that we can win this election by a wide margin, but Hillary pointed out, we’re all going to have to work hard to get that message out. There’s a lot of noise out there.

I think the other thing that was in your poll that will come home to roost at some point was that 60 percent of the voters didn’t think Donald Trump is fit to be commander-in-chief. They think Hillary is going to be better at fighting for the middle class. They think Hillary is going to be better at dealing with a crisis.

So, again, that’s where we welcome this debate. This is an opportunity for Hillary’s qualifications to shine.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, at the same time, he’s getting more of the Republicans who voted for Mitt Romney than Hillary Clinton is getting Democrats who voted for Barack Obama.


MOOK: Well, there is -- it depends. Obviously, there’s shifts happening demographically. Hillary is getting, you know, more Republican women than ever before. She’s winning them by double digits. President Obama lost college educated women.

So there’s a lot of -- a lot of shifts going on. But we feel very confident that we have the coalition in place to win. There’s still a lot of undecided voters. And in many ways with this debate coming up, we’re just starting. This race is just beginning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Meantime, the candidate not on the stage is coming up on this program, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate.

Is he taking votes from Hillary Clinton right now?

MOOK: He’s taking votes from both candidates, but your own poll showed that his numbers are -- are -- are dropping. I don’t think that they’re -- that either of the third party candidates are really going to factor into the head-to-head in this race. I -- this is fundamentally a race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and I think you’ll see that movement as we get closer to election day and certainly after this debate, when I think voters are going to see a tremendous difference between these two candidates. And in particular, I think they’re going to be very concerned about the threat of Donald Trump actually getting into the Oval Office.

And a lot of voters understand that if they put their votes to one of these third party candidates, it could at some point make it easier for Donald Trump. And I don’t think anybody voting for any of these other candidates wants that to happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What’s a win tomorrow night?

MOOK: I think a win is Hillary having the opportunity to speak directly to the voters about the big difference she can make in their lives, how she’s going to create jobs, how she’s going to get the costs of health care under control, how she’s going to help families afford college.

We saw at the convention, when she has an opportunity to speak directly to the voters, talk about her history, talk about how this campaign is a mission to help kids and families, she’s going to do really well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Robby Mook, thanks very much.

MOOK: Thanks.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined by Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.

Welcome, welcome back to THIS WEEK.

You just heard Robby Mook right there define a victory.

What's a victory for Donald Trump?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: A victory for Donald Trump tomorrow night is answering the questions and showing America that he's ready to be president and commander in chief on day one.

I notice from "The Washington Post" ABC poll, George, just released, the number one and number two issues to Americans are economy and terrorism and Donald Trump is leading Hillary Clinton on who you trust more on both issues.

So we certainly hope this debate tomorrow night will be about substantive issues.

But I just have to push back a little bit on my colleague, Robby, there, Donald Trump is out there every single day talking about issues. He was in five or six swing states just this week and every single time it was a policy speech.

So tomorrow will be nothing new for him. It's Hillary Clinton and her super PACs that have run a quarter of a billion dollars of negative ads and negative outreach about Donald Trump and she refuses to spend a lot of time out on the stump talking about issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard his concern. He talked about that double standard. He's afraid that Donald Trump will be able to get away with lying. That's what he said.

Your response?

CONWAY: I think they are really afraid that Hillary Clinton is just not a very good candidate. A majority of Americans don't much like her and, according to your own poll, don't trust her. Donald Trump is actually leading Hillary Clinton on the attribute of who is more honest and trustworthy in your own ABC poll that came out this morning.

So I think they're worried about many things. Hillary Clinton should have been in the much better position. She's not known for her abundance of self-awareness or being nimble or resilient. They never saw Barack Obama coming in 2008. They never took Bernie Sanders seriously earlier this year. He won 22 seats and millions of voters. And they certainly never anticipated the Trump comeback that we've seen over the last --


STEPHANOPOULOS: But on this issue of honesty, you know, the independent fact searcher PolitiFact have looked at about 250 statements of each candidate. They have 48 "pants on fire," the worst kind of lie, they said, comments by Donald Trump, only 6 for Clinton; 89 false statements by Donald Trump and only 27 for Clinton.

CONWAY: You know, if you're running against a Clinton, veracity is certainly always on the table. I mean, this is a woman whose five people were involved with her e-mail scandal, were granted immunity. She's not very fond of the Second Amendment, of course, but she seems very fond of the Fifth Amendment, including her attorney, Cheryl Mills (ph), who was granted immunity and then somehow was able to represent her as an attorney.

So Hillary Clinton's casual relationship with the truth is well known to Americans. I'm sure we'll see it on full display tomorrow night. And I really don't appreciate campaigns thinking it is the job of the media to go and be these virtual fact-checkers and that these debate moderators should somehow do their bidding.

They picked on Matt Lauer after the commander in chief debate forum. We thought he did a great job but they didn't like the fact that Hillary Clinton was asked about her e-mail server and her route in Iraq. That's not Matt Lauer's fault. And Lester Holt's -- he's a -- he's a respected, brilliant newsman. He'll do a good job tomorrow night as a moderator. It's not his job --


STEPHANOPOULOS: That's what you're saying right there. But it's not what your boss has said. Donald Trump this week is saying, oh, boy, Lester Holt is going to be under tremendous pressure. He's a Democrat when, in fact, Lester Holt is a registered Republican.

CONWAY: Well, as I say, he's certainly going to be a good debate moderator tomorrow in that I trust that all of these moderators, George, for all the debates, including the V.P. debate next week, will be asking questions that benefit the voter.

Voters deserve and they, indeed, expect a good debate on the issues. This will be the first time Americans have seen Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the same stage and they're going to be able to make their choice based on what they see and what is said.

And I can understand why the Clinton camp is very nervous because Donald Trump has got great present stature. He's a brilliant debater. Newt Gingrich put it best. the former Speaker recently said Donald Trump is the best debater he's ever seen. He's like the Babe Ruth of debating. He really shows up and swings and does a great job.

And I -- you know, he's a brilliant businessman who has got a great record and he's -- you know, we're very much looking forward to tomorrow night.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We also saw that tweet from your boss about Gennifer Flowers. She said she wants to be at the debate tomorrow night.

Why put out that tweet?

CONWAY: Well, why -- no. The question really is why does Mark Cuban have to put out tweets saying it's the humbling at Hofstra?

I'm going to be there for the takedown of Donald Trump?

I mean, I expect Hillary Clinton --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Donald Trump.

Why did he -- why did he send out that tweet?

CONWAY: Because he wants to remind people that he's a great counterpuncher. They started this one by saying that they would give a front row seat to Mark Cuban, who, by the way, until very recently, was very favorable towards Donald Trump and his candidacy, had some great criticisms of Hillary Clinton and her education plan at the very least.

And, now all of a sudden is for Team Clinton. This debate should not be about what billionaire can Hillary Clinton put in the front row. This debate should be about how do we defeat radical Islamic terrorism, how do we stimulate the economy; 29 percent of Americans, according to your own poll, say that they're better off under the Obama --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Gennifer Flowers there?

CONWAY: She has not been invited by the campaign. She has a right to be there if somebody else gives her a ticket. But you know, I do think also it shows the poor judgment, a lack of nimbleness of the Clinton campaign that they actually put a statement out last night about Gennifer Flowers being invited, that it shows how easily provoked Donald Trump is, no, you just put out a statement and reminded people who had no -- taught people who had no idea who Gennifer Flowers is, that she's the woman who had -- said she had a 12-year affair with your husband when he was governor.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You talked about Mr. Trump being out on the stump this week. One of the things he said this week is that African American communities are in the worst shape they've ever been.

President Obama responded in an interview with Robin Roberts.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think even most 8-year olds will tell you, that whole slavery thing wasn't very good for black people. Jim Crow wasn't very good for black people.


STEPHANOPOULOS: So are African American communities really in the worst shape they've ever been?

CONWAY: Seems to me that everything that Donald Trump is saying and it's too bad that the president is so glib about these issues.

But Donald Trump --

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president's glib about race issues?

CONWAY: No, no, no, he was very -- he -- no, George, he was just very glib about what the -- you know, calling -- referring to an 8-year old. What Donald Trump is talking about in his speeches is bringing -- is rebuilding the inner cities, is bringing more jobs there, is tackling full-on poverty and joblessness and homelessness in the inner cities and crime.

I mean, there are 3,000 people have been shot in Chicago this year, 500 dead.

And we're not going to have a serious conversation about crime in the inner cities?

And so I think that it's very -- I really applaud Donald Trump for having this conversation in and about the inner cities. He went to a black church in Detroit several weeks ago, taking his case directly to the people. You don't see many Republican candidates do that, particularly when they're running for president.

So I appreciate the fact that President Obama has his perspective. But I think Donald Trump should also be applauded for actually trying to make a difference in these communities.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the --- one of the issues the African American community has had with Mr. Trump is this whole birther issue. He's only been asked about it once since that press conference last week.

Do you expect the issue to come up tomorrow night?

And if it does, will Mr. Trump apologize to President Obama?

CONWAY: So Donald Trump stated very clearly a week ago Friday how he feels about this issue. He said these three very crisp, very important things. Those are his words. And I expect that he would say them again in the debate.

I don't know if it will come up. That's up to Lester Holt and I guess Secretary Clinton if they feel like raising that. But this is an issue that Donald Trump has addressed very recently in his own words. So --


STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apology?

CONWAY: -- that's a very personal thing. What Donald Trump -- what Donald Trump has said is the people who raised this at the beginning should apologize. He wasn't running against Hillary Clinton in 2008. He wasn't running against Barack Obama in 2008 in a very vicious, nasty primary for president.

That was Hillary Clinton. And according to --

STEPHANOPOULOS: But Hillary Clinton and her campaign did not bring this up.

CONWAY: Really?

The volunteer guy in Iowa who then was fired, Patti Solis Doyle telling Wolf Blitzer last week, yes, it started with him?

People -- the McClatchy former news chief in D.C., saying that Sid Blumenthal came and asked him to go and investigate Obama's ties in Kenya?

And McClatchy actually sent a reporter to Kenya. Donald Trump was busy being a successful businessman that year. It was Hillary Clinton who, again, did never saw Obama coming. So I guess they resorted to desperate tactics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Kellyanne Conway, thanks for coming in --

CONWAY: Thanks for having me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, the man who didn't make the stage tomorrow night, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, he joins us live.

And our powerhouse roundtable standing by, predebate insight and analysis from our experts.


STEPHANOPOULOS: As we said, he won't be on the debate stage tomorrow night, but libertarian Gary Johnson could determine who wins the White House. His 5 percent in our latest ABC News/Washington Post poll is greater that the two point difference between Clinton and Trump. And in some critical battleground Johnson doing even better. Take a look at these polls. In Virginia, he's at 8 percent. In Colorado and Iowa, 10 percent and Wisconsin 11 percent.

Johnson is on the ballad in all 50 states. The first third party candidate to do so since Ross Perot in 1966.

So, if the presidential contest is as close as it appears today, the former New Mexico governor could tip the balance in key states.

We're going to talk to Johnson after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think if you were able to get on the debate stage, that you could pull even with Trump and Clinton in these polls?

GARY JOHNSON, LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I do. And it wouldn't have anything to do with my debate performance either, based on that. (inaudible) standing up there for the whole debate and not say anything (inaudible).


STEPHANOPOULOS: There was Gary Johnson earlier this week, the Libertarian candidate for president, their nominee right there.

Governor Johnson, thank you for joining us this morning.

What was that about?

JOHNSON: Well, the fact that 65 percent of Americans don't even know who I am, so what do I need to do if I was in the presidential debates? I would just need to show up and a lot of people would become aware that I am actually a candidate.

George, I just find it incredibly interesting that I'm polling higher than Perot was polling when he was allowed into the debates and I would just like to point out to everybody, Presidential Debates Commission made up of Republicans and Democrats that just have no intention whatsoever of seeing anyone other than a Democrat or a Republican on the stage.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Actually, in our poll you're not polling higher than Ross Perot as back in 1992, you're 5 percent in our poll. I think Ross Perot was at 6 percent or higher.

But in the past you said you couldn't win without a debate. That it's quote, game over if you don't get in the debates. So, why keep going?

JOHNSON: Well, it still is an ongoing process to get to 15 percent. Your poll is incredibly low and I recognize polls. Hey, you know, you're at 15 percent in the polls one day but 5 percent, wow, this is out of the blue. If in fact, it is an accurate poll, then, you know, who is to say. But those numbers that you were quoting earlier -- you know, earlier this week I'm leading among independents. I'm tied for lead among millennials, active military personnel. I am leading among active military personnel.

So nobody is talking about balancing the federal budget, nobody is talking about the threat of a run-away government, nobody is talking about reforming Medicaid or Medicare, and nobody is talking about really Black Lives Matter, individual liberty, freedom, isn't that what the constitution is all about?

And then the military interventions, that we do involve ourselves in regime change and as a result of that the world is not a more safe place. Neither Trump or Clinton believe in free markets. I do believe free markets would lead to more U.S. jobs, growing economy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're hearing from Clinton and her allies that this concern that a vote for you is a vote for Trump, you're hearing that from Bernie Sanders, you're hearing it from others, and also Tim Kaine also had this to say, drawing a comparison to 2000.


SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: ...against the ticket is the Al Gore/George W. Bush race in 2000, the third party candidacy of Ralph Nader cost Gore electoral votes in New Hampshire and Florida. And if Gore had been president, we probably wouldn't have had a war in Iraq.


STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what do you say to those who think you're electing Donald Trump?

JOHNSON: I say the people who are voting for me are voting for Gary Johnson. And look, I take great pride in the fact that I am actually offering an alternative here -- smaller government, personal freedom, balancing the federal budget, looking at Medicaid and Medicare.

Look, vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Gary Johnson. 50 percent of people right now registering to vote are registering as independent. How is it that we only have two candidates that can represent the views of the United States? You know, I don't buy it. And I'm going to sleep well at the end of all this giving people a first vote, not a second vote, not a lesser of two evils but actually people that are going to be able to vote their conscience and vote for real change and that's how you're going to change things in this country. Vote for the person that you believe in. That's how you bring about change.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if you quadruple your vote you're not going to get elected president, so either Trump or Clinton will almost certainly be the president. Which one worries you the most?

JOHNSON: Well, they both do.

Look, Donald Trump, immigration, I think we should be embracing immigration. We should not build a wall across the border. Hillary's answer to everything is growing government. Taxes are going to go up. Neither one of them are talking about reforming the entitlements and neither one of them support free trade, that they're both claiming that they're against it but Hillary, of course, one day she's against it, one day she's for it. Trump, going to force Apple to make their iPads and their iPhones in the United States. Trump, he wants to bring back waterboarding, torture or worse. Haven't we fought wars over not doing that kind of thing?

We are the beacon on the hill. I don't think life in America has ever been better. We get along with each other better. We communicate better with one another. Our kids are smarter than ever. We do have issues, issues -- discrimination, black lives do matter. They're getting shot at the rate of six times that of whites. We have had our heads in the sand with regard to the discrimination that does exist.

And George, I'll tell you I've had my head in the sand on this issue. But I think we're going tocome to grips with this faster, better than ever before and it's back to the fact that we do communicate.

The internet. Amazing. There's going to be an onslaught on the internet with legislation that's really going to try and restrict our abilities to compete equally with one another. The government is for sale.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you one final question, you've said you're for free markets and you're against government regulation. And this -- and this week, a -- a comment circulated that you made in 2011, where you said we have to think about climate change as a long-term issue.

And here's what you said.


JOHNSON: I think that we should. And the long-term view is, is that in billions of years, the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right?

So global warming is in our -- in our future.


STEPHANOPOULOS: So that's you.

Does that mean we don't do anything about it now?

JOHNSON: No, George. Come on.

Can't -- can't we have a little humor once in a while?

And that is long-term. I mean the plate tectonics, at one point, Africa and South America separated and I am talking now about the Earth and the fact that we have existed for billions of years and will going forward.

Look, what it points to, also, is the fact that we do have to inhabit other planets. I mean the future of the human race is of -- is space exploration.

So, no, we should be prudent with the environment. We care about the environment.

Look, clean air, clean water. I think the EPA exists to protect us against individuals, groups, corporations that would do us harm. Pollution is harm.

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

JOHNSON: George, thank you very much for having me on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And as we count down to the big debate, our Powerhouse Roundtable weighs in next.


STEPHANOPOULOS: During this year's primary debates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were a study in contrasts. She was usually buttoned down, hyper prepared. He improvised, often mugged for the camera.

Tomorrow night, they will display vast differences on policy and past experience. But presidential debates are often defined by the messages the candidates don't intend to send.

There was Al Gore's heavy signing and eye rolls during his first debate with George W. Bush.

And that lurching into Bush's personal space at the town hall two weeks later.

George H.W. Bush famously checked his watch during his 1992 town hall with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. Then Clinton sealed the deal when he got up close and personal to answer a question on the economy.

And that first televised debate in 1960 is always remembered for Richard Nixon's sweat against a crisp and cool JFK.

So will tomorrow night be scored on style or substance?

Should the moderator and those of us covering the debates call out errors and lies or leave that to the candidates and campaigns?

The roundtable weighs in on what's at stake next.



RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NYC MAYOR: My advice I have for him, since, you know, I've known him for 28 years, is to be himself.


OBAMA: Be yourself and explain what motivates you.



DR. BEN CARSON (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The key thing, I think, is to be yourself.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's important for him to control the tempo of the debate.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not about knowing more facts, it really is more about the tone.



MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: What I would tell her to do is smirk a lot at his answers.



ED RENDELL, FORMER CHAIRMAN, DNC: I would just have a big smile on my face and then zing him. Zing him with a smile on your face.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Everybody's got advice for the candidates tomorrow night.

Let's talk about it now on our Roundtable.

We're joined by our chief political analyst, Matthew Dowd; Maggie Haberman from "The New York Times"; Democratic strategist, Jamal Simmons; and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos; and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of "The Nation."

I want to get to that advice in a minute, Matthew Dowd.

But let's begin with the -- the threshold question.

We know a lot of people are going to watch tomorrow night, probably 100 million people.

We also know that in the past, generally, debates have tended to reinforce where the race is already going rather than make a big difference.

Is tomorrow night different?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think tomorrow night has the capacity to be different, but I think there are -- singular debates have mattered in the course of a race and have adjusted the race.

In 2004, George W. Bush was leading by 6 points before that first debate. He did very badly. The race went to tied.

The same was true in 2012. Obama had a consistent lead before that first debate. Kerry did well and then Kerry...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it kind of bounced back...

DOWD: -- (INAUDIBLE) and then...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- to where it was...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Romney had to go back to 1980 and Ronald Reagan...


DOWD: I think this race trades on such small margins, this is a race that trades between 0 and 5 or 6 points, that any movement in that by 2 or 3 points, and it's pretty much set for 85 percent of the country. But that movement in the 2 or 3 points can make a difference in the race.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a good point.


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- the margins matter this year?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": And I think that's right. And I think the debate's -- to your point, there -- we remember the moments but they're not one-on moments. Obama lost that first debate; he won the other two. The race basically went back to where it was.

This is going to be playing for a very small number of undecided voters who will potentially be turning in. We know a ton about these candidates. The public knows a ton about these candidates.

The X factor, I think there's two; one is this is the first woman on a debate stage in a general election. I don't know how that's going to play for an audience that is still low information and just tuning in.

And Trump's a Trump. He has never done a one-on-one debate and that really can't be understated. In the primary debates, he was one of 10 and he would recede into the background.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- that is the big difference tomorrow night for Donald Trump, 90 minutes, only one opponent, one moderator on the stage.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: But he has also been on our TVs, on every screen we've got now, incessantly for years. So has Hillary Clinton. I mean, these candidates are in our soup. They're everywhere. And they're like two cups of water that are already full.

The American people know these people. We have been with them a long time, which is why it's going to be very hard for anyone's opinion of them, I think, to change. It's hard to pour more water into that full cup.

So now what could change?

Why do we have debates anyway?

Well, you know, were it just about policy or IQ, we would give them the SAT. No, we put them against each other because we know a president is going to face something unexpected. And at some point maybe the fate of the country will lie in that person's hands.

Are they strong enough?

Do they have the strength and character and stability at that moment?

That's what we're going to be looking for.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, "THE NATION": You know, there's a democratic purpose to debates, to inform the voters. Call me crazy. I'm waiting for a big debate about serious issues.

But I was struck by something Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager said, George. It seems to me to say that the role of journalists is not to fact-check, which I think will be a vital role in the debate tomorrow night -- is to say that journalists are stenographers, not those who hold the powerful accountable.

Whoever they may be. And this -- but, no, but I think we're at a place, a very dangerous place in our country, where journalism -- it's a rewrite-the-rules election. It's a rewrite-the-rules moment for election.

We have talked about media malpractice. There's been some very good journalism in the last months. But it is vital tomorrow night that the moderator hold the candidates accountable, particularly Donald Trump. And it's not Left-Right. It is not about liberalism. It is about journalism.


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- the question I asked Robby Mook, why isn't that the job of the candidate on the stage, Hillary Clinton's?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It is. And of course people are tuning in to this. This is cats versus dogs, lions versus tigers, boxers versus wrestlers. Everybody wants to watch something that's going to be a spectacle. The job of Hillary Clinton is going to be tough if Donald Trump shows up and has basically has done what he's done the last few weeks, which is the "I'm not crazy" tour.


Like I'm somebody you can trust to do this. And if he shows up and he's calm and relaxed and sort of does this job for 90 minutes, people will say, well, maybe he's not crazy.

Her job is going to be to sort of show people that she can be transparent. And I would love for her to say something like, hey, look, you know, I've been in the most elite rooms in this country and the world for the last couple of decades. And when I'm in those rooms, you know what I'm going to do?

I'm going to fight for police accountability, I'm going to fight to make sure we have a public option in health care. I'm going to make sure you get that free college. Plant her feet with the people who actually vote for her, not some of the people who are just trying to --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- advice on the roundtable?


DOWD: I do. I'm going to go to two points to this.

One is we do need to figure out a way to discover a common set of facts. And journalists need to be involved in it.

Two sets of facts does not help our country just to go to a place of common good. We need a common set of facts.

But I've heard some people, many people's advice that said the candidates need to be themselves. I think they need to not be themselves. These are two candidates that are disliked and distrusted by a majority of the country.

Donald Trump has to figure out a way to be less visceral and more cerebral and Hillary Clinton has to figure out to be less cerebral and much more connected at a heart level. It's a little bit like "The Wizard of Oz," with the Tin Man and the Scarecrow. One has got to figure out a way to show their brain and the other one's got to figure out a way to show their heart.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think everyone says she needs to be cool and collected. I think she needs to be passionate, passionate about the issues to speak to the country, which still feels she's cool and collected and cold. And, as you said, I mean, speak to the people out there who have not yet come on board. There are --


VANDEN HEUVEL: -- and not get defined by Donald Trump, not get in the weeds. And I think for Donald Trump, the problem is, let's be honest, he's not going to show up as Woodrow Wilson or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But if he shows up as Trump 2.0 or Trump 9.0, he's going to get a lot of plausibility.

CASTELLANOS: -- remember that these elections are not just about the candidates; they're about the voters. And we keep talking about style and all of that.

We're picking the leader of the government; 70 percent of Americans think we're on the wrong track. It's going to be very hard for Hillary Clinton to make the case that she's changed.

We can talk about cool and cerebral and those things and I think they're all important but what about us?

Where is Hillary Clinton going to take us that's different than the direction we're going in now?


CASTELLANOS: -- Trump is change.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's what he hopes to talk about tomorrow night.

But I want to bring this question of honesty and what our job is back to you, Maggie Haberman. "The New York Times," "The Times" got some attention last week when they called out a Trump lie on the front page of Saturday's paper.

You did another article in the paper, doing that this week.

Whose job is it?

And is the Hillary Clinton team right when they complain about this double standard, they say, well, voters think she's dishonest in part because the media hasn't done its job, calling out the dishonesty of Donald Trump?

HABERMAN: It's not the media's job to run a campaign against Donald Trump and I think that that is where we're getting into the nub of what the Clinton campaign argument is.

I heard Robby Mook earlier, saying essentially this will be unfair if...

And I think that when a campaign sounds like it is complaining that often, that's not a winning posture.

I think it is the media's job to point out where there is an absence of facts and in the case of the word, "lie," as we applied it to Donald Trump a week ago, if you're going to -- if you're not going to say a lie about saying that the President of the United States is not a citizen, then I don't know when else the world would apply.

And so everything is not a lie. But I do think that it -- Trump represents a unique challenge for reporters. And I think that is really important to remember. It is a blizzard of things that he --



SIMMONS: -- you know, I used to watch westerns with my grandfather when I was a kid. And he's like that classic character who sells potions in the town. And by the time you realize you still have the gout, he's on to the next town and you can never hold him accountable.

And that's the tough part. People have to zero in on the one or two things that really matter about Donald Trump. Hillary's job may be to do that on the -- at the debate, zero in and not let him off the mat.

Will he go at it?


CASTELLANOS: -- people see Donald Trump as more honest than Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is a false equivalence.

CASTELLANOS: -- excuse me -- but the point being that when he says things like, you know, Americans in our inner cities are in the worst shape ever, he speaks in hyperbole because, in today's media culture, that's how you get attention.

And by the way, if you're living in a city that's crime-ridden and your kids are failing in school, for you, this is the worst time ever.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You think most people buy that?

CASTELLANOS: I think most people understand what he is saying and that is that things ought to be -- we don't have to settle for the way things are now, that the cities, our inner cities especially -- and these are little islands of poverty and despair.

And more of the same is failing those people and we need to do something about it.

So yes, I think people understand what he's saying.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think the president called him out pretty well. I mean, what did Trump say, that African Americans are living in the worst times that they've experienced?

I mean, an 8-year old would say, what about slavery?


VANDEN HEUVEL: -- talking about salesmen. We've talked on this show about media malpractice. There are different media in this country. David Farenthold (ph) at "The Washington Post" is doing remarkable work exposing Donald Trump's university, the charity.

But I think the role of journalism is to call out lies. I think this country went to war in Iraq because a media failed to do just that. And it has been -- and so Trump poses unique challenges. But we have been there before and I do think the role of the media --

HABERMAN: -- there's a difference between whether the media has been calling Trump out consistently, which I think the media has done much more of than you're allowing for --

VANDEN HEUVEL: -- in the last few months.

HABERMAN: No, I disagree with that -- and whether voters care.

DOWD: And whether or not --


VANDEN HEUVEL: There's a difference between "The New York Times" and cable TV. And let's be honest. What's happened to our media on cable TV -- and it is acknowledged now, I think -- there is a conflict between media as a profit center and media as a factual reporting, truth-telling institution.


DOWD: -- of each side want the media to become their --

VANDEN HEUVEL: -- it's not a Left-Right thing.

DOWD: Wait, wait, I'm just saying that the -- when you have this conversation, the partisans want the media to become their arm of their campaign. Ultimately this will campaign is going to be decided by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The media's not going to determine the results of this. I think the biggest failing so far in the last two weeks is the fact we have only two candidates. And I agree with Gary Johnson. He's on 50 ballots. He's polling better than Ross Perot did.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's not polling better than Ross Perot.


DOWD: He's polling better than Ross Perot did, when Ross Perot got on the -- got back in the race in '92 in the summertime.

And when you take a look at this race, it's the -- and the fact that the debate commission, which is stacked by the two political parties, rigged this in such a way that they can't get on stage, it doesn't help the country.

VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, the debates used to be run by the League of Women Voters. You get this committee -- commission. And the campaigns come in and bully it.

And I do think we need a debate with the third party candidates, who rise to 2 percent or 5 percent. However, as Bernie Sanders said to me in "The Nation" interview, this is not a year for a protest vote.


VANDEN HEUVEL: There's too much at stake.

DOWD: We're talking about Mark Cuban and Gennifer Flowers being invited by the campaigns and not Gary Johnson?

VANDEN HEUVEL: No, there should be a debate with the third party candidates because you need those ideas in our bloodstream.


SIMMONS: There should be a debate about the fact we have American cities right now with people on the streets who are literally trying to burn them down and nobody is really talking about that in the context of the debate. And frankly the Clinton campaign could do more do plant their feet on that issue and really set it out.

But Gary Johnson talked about it today.

STEPHANOPOULOS; Just about out of time. I want to go around the table. Will there be a winner tomorrow night? If so, who will it be?


VANDEN HEUVEL: Who defines winner. Debates should not be duels.

DOWD: There will be a winner. I think Hillary Clinton is going to come out of this debate and she's going to take this sort of solid four or five point lead that she had before the conventions.

HABERMAN: I don't know who the winner will be. I guarantee they will both blame Lester Holt in one direction or the other.

SIMMONS: And we have seen Trump actually on one on ones, doesn't do well with the president of Mexico, he didn't talk about the wall. When he went to the church in Flint and the pastor told him to stop doing politics, he backed down.

But later Trump wins the -- he's like a Twitter thug. I mean, he goes out there...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's a good point, we'll end on that point. A lot will depend on what happens on social media after the debate and the echo chamber in he days after.

Thank you all very much.

Up next, the unlikely diplomat taking center stage in New York.


STEPHANOPOULOS: He may be the most colorful diplomat on the stage: Boris Johnson. The former mayor of London who became Great Britain's foreign minister after that surprise Brexit vote.

He's called President Obama part Kenyan, compared Hillary Clinton to a sadistic nurse and promised to avoid certain parts of New York to avoid meeting Donald Trump.

But he was here in the city of his birth for the UN General Assembly this week. And we satdown for an interview just as the cease-fire in Syria was falling apart and Syrian government troops backed by Russia launched a fierce assault on Aleppo.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The cease-fire seems to have collapsed. Can anything be done?

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: On the face it, it looks satirical that you got attacks going on in Aleppo whilst we're all sitting here having our delectable disputations about cease-fires and all the rest of it.

Actually, I think it's vital that we continue to talk.

STEPHANOPOULOS: For what purpose though?

JOHNSON: Any chance at all that the Russians can be persuaded to do the right thing by Syria and the world, call off Assad's troops, stop the carnage and the bombing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It does get to the broader question of what kind of game Vladimir Putinis playing not only in Syria, but all over the world. You see him going into Ukraine. Just this afternoon, American members of congress say that Russia is trying to influence our elections here.

JOHNSON: Russia feels, and this will be no surprise to you, that as Putin has said, that the collapse of the Soviet Union was one of the great disasters of the 20th Century and there's if not a (inaudible) spirit there's a spirit of assertiveness, a desire for Russia to have prestige on the world stage.

Now, do you know what, I've got no problem with Russia having prestige. I've got no problem with people thinking the Kremlin is powerful if they use that power and influence to good ends. And one way they can do that right now is tell Assad to stop the bombing in Aleppo. They have the ability to make this happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Vladimir Putin showing up the west?

JOHNSON: You know, if you look back at what happened in the last two, three years, the sequence of events in Syria, the decisions of my country, of your country not to intervene, there's no question we left that door open. We failed to have the imagination to think that was what Putin might do.

We have now got to deal with it.

STEPHANOPUOLOS: Let's talk about Brexit. You're probably foreign secretary becauseof that vote. Is it really going to happen?

JOHNSON: Yes, it is. Teresa May, our prime minister, has said very clearly that Brexit means Brexit and we're going to make a success of it.

STEPHANPOULOS: A lot of people look at the vote and say the themes you emphasized: control of trade, control over our borders, are exactly the themes that Donald Trump is hitting here.

JOHNSON: I think there is a sort of false analogy between Brexit and events in American politics or anywhere else in the world. I don't want to get dragged into the American election.

Brexit was about democracy. The problem is our trade policy was handed lock, stock and barrel 43 years ago to the commission of the European Union. So we've got a chance to take back control of our WTO schedules in Geneva, our World Trade Organization -- how we run our tariffs and do deals.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're familiar with the British comedian and commentator John Oliver?

JOHN OLIVER, COMEDIAN: Let me give you just a taste more of Britain's new chief diplomat, because he's referred to Papua New Guinea style orgies of cannibalism, he's referred to Africans using these words, which I'm not going to repeat, he's compared Vladimir Putin to (inaudible).

JOHNSON: He's huge here but -- and I think he's hilarious. But I don't think -- well I may be wrong, I never watch TV anyway, but I don't think he's as much watched in the UK as he is here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Maybe that's good for you. He calls you the least diplomatic diplomat in existence and everybody is looking back at the...

JOHNSON: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I know exactly what you're goingto say. No, no, no, no, no, no.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's go through it.

JOHNSON: No, no, no, no, no. Well, we can have the reputation.

STEPHANPOULOS: I won't recite it. You go ahead and give me the answer.

JOHNSON: That's right, give you the litany...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hillary, Trump, Obama.

JOHNSON: The catechism of shame and embarrassment and the gaffes. First of all, all those little nuggets are taken out of context.

Number two, actually the amazing thing is people are so not interested.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, nobody has asked you for an apology.

JOHNSON: Not a sausage.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you haven't had to trim your sails at all?

JOHNSON: No. No. I think it would be a -- I think it would be a mistake to try to do so because if you play much cricket? Do you ever play?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not since Oxford.

JOHNSON: Well, the thing about cricket is if you try to do a very cautious stroke in my experience you always get out anyway, so you might as well try and hit the ball to the (inaudible) if you can.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You are back in the city of your birth. So, I have to ask you about your last visit here, because I can't believe it's true. A little girl on the street mistakes you for Donald Trump?

JOHNSON: No, no, no. It was -- she wasn't a little girl, she must have been about 20 or so. And it is absolutely true to say I was having my photograph taken and she said, whatever, gee is that Trump, or something? So, there you go. It is I'm afraid true. Very hard thing to live down, but that is one comment on the U.S. election.

STEPHANPOULOS: I got it. Thank you for joining us.

JOHNSON: Thank you. My pleasure.


STEPHANOPOULOS: He was not going to get dragged into the election. I don't see the resemblance to Donald Trump.

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


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we will be right here tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern. We're going to anchor our live coverage of the big debate with our whole political team. We're going to have Jon Karl, Tom Llamas, Cecilia Vega, all at Hofstra University. Martha Raddatz, she's going to moderate thenext debate, also David Muir, Byron Pitts, Matthew Dowd and Cokie Roberts.

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