-- Below is the "This Week" transcript for March 29, 2015. It is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.
ANNOUNCER: On ABC's This Week, unfit to fly: the terrifying new details. Why that German co-pilot may have made his deadly decision. How we make sure it never happens again.
March Madness: critics blasting Indiana's new religious freedom law, calling it a license to discriminate. Will it spark a Final Four boycott? Our exclusive interview with Indiana's governor.
It's on: firebrand conservative Ted Cruz officially kickstarting the 2016 presidential race. He's first, but is he going to be a real contender?
Plus, our exclusive interview with a man revving up a run against Hillary. Could this Democrat take her down?
From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos begins now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Good morning. As you just heard, we have a lot to get to. Indiana Governor Mike Pence standing by live to take on the backlash over his state's new law, calls to boycott the Final Four. We're also going to get the latest on those high stakes nuclear talks with Iran.
But we do begin with this week's terror in the sky.
We have new details this morning on the physical and mental state of that German pilot as he made his deadly decision. And we're going to dig into what if anything to be done to prevent another horror like. ABC's David Kerley starts us off.
DAVID KERLEY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: As investigators this morning continue to comb through the life of 27 year old Andreas Lubitz, impacts of his deadly decision already affecting aviation. Listen to another Germanwings co-pilot address his passengers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My crew today and me, we are all here to fly with you...
KERLEY: An attempted reassurance as airlines and passengers are asking questions.
First, should pilots be more rigorously screened psychologically? In Lubitz's apartment, investigators found prescriptions and a doctor's note crumpled and discarded saying he was unfit to work. Prosecutors saying he kept an illness from his employer.
Still, Lubitz passed screenings from Lufthansa and was issued a medical certificate from the FAA after his training here in the U.S.
But initial clearance usually requires little if any time with a psychologist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pilots are required to self-disclose if there are any psychological issues or treatments. Obviously, in a volunteer system like that it has limitations.
KERLEY: Second, how to look for warning signs. There are new reports now that depression may have led Lubitz to take extended time off during his flight training in Arizona. Should that have raised red flags?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. People fall through the cracks.
The reason, I think, is that there is no set standard for how we're supposed to evaluate these people.
KERLEY: And then there's the question that already has some airlines acting: should pilots be allowed in the cockpit alone? On the Germanwings flight, the pilot can be heard desperately banging on the door trying to get back in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But really, this is kind of a simple fix, put the flight attendant in the cockpit when the pilot steps out.
KERLEY: Lufthansa now saying it will do what U.S. airlines do, mandate that two people must be inside the cockpit at all times.
For This Week, David Kerley, ABC News, Washington.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And let's get more on this now from former FBI special agent Brad Garrett, also Dan Atwell, he's been a leader in aviation for more than 20 years as a pilot, at the FAA and an executive in the airline industry. Welcome to you both.
And Brad, let me begin with you. You've done a lot of profiling of criminals, of murders. Does this Andreas Lubitz, this co-pilot, fit any kind of a profile of a mass murderer?
BRAD GARRETT, FRM. FBI SPECIAL AGENT: The closest he comes, George, is maybe more like workplace violence mass murderers, where people lose their job, then lose their identity, and typically when men lose their identity and everything is tied up in that and you add mental health issues, in particular depression to it, they want to annihilate what they can't have any more. And he also wanted to make a name for himself. And so it sort of fits that profile.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's the thing, there's one report in a German newspaper that he might have told a former girlfriend he wanted to make a name for himself, you're going to be hearing big things about me. And people have gone back and studied eight crashes over the last 10 years or so and discovered that five of the pilots who dealt with something like this had sent off some kind of warning signs.
GARRETT: I will tell you, George, as they do an autopsy of his background, they are going to find red signs, both in the depression era, statements he's made, talk in a very black, dark or stormy way, there will be a number of statements that would be red lights to people who know this type of behavior that are just not going to be picked up through normal testing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that does get to the question, Dan, and well should there be more rigorous psychological testing. Now it's sort of on the honor system with these pilots.
DAN ATWELL, AVIATION EXECUTIVE: We are screened incredibly closely, and scrutinized. And there is a form of a psychological...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's just a questionnaire, isn't it?
ATWELL: It is. It is a questionnaire. We don't in the process see a psychiatrist or a psychologist. And I think maybe additional screening at least on a recurrent basis every few years would probably be helpful.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Others have pointed out that maybe one of things that's going on here is a lowering of standards. You don't require the same amount of hours in the cockpit. And that prevents you from getting the kind of peer observations you would get with someone who was putting in hundreds and hundreds of hours in that cockpit.
ATWELL: Well, I can understand that opinion, but developing those hundreds and hundreds of hours takes years. And you're in front of many, many peers -- flight attendants, other pilots, check pilots, supervisors, instructors. There's many opportunities. And it really is sort of a team feeling at an airline and in flying organization, everybody is looking out for each other and every one, every pilot, every crew member is empowered to step in, to make decisions, it isn't -- it isn't autocratic.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The problem there, Brad Garrett, not if they're locked out of the cockpit. We've seen these reforms going on in Europe now, two people in the cockpit at all times, as we have now in the United States.
How about some of these other things that people are talking about now, cameras in the cockpit so there would be closer observation, maybe even giving air traffic controllers the ability to intervene and fly the plane remotely?
GARRETT: Well, I think certainly cameras, George, are a terrific idea, because you can watch in real time if it's relayed or you can put it in a black box format and capture it if the plane wrecks, you'll be able to recover it to see exactly what happened.
I'm not against the remote control part of this, although as we have experienced in so many other parts of the cyber world, if somebody is able to penetrate that, just think of the scenario we might have.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that the danger?
ATWELL: Of course. It is already in effect being used with unmanned aircraft. But of course if you have ATC has the ability to take over an airplane you introduce all kinds of complications, and of course opportunity for more bad things to happen.
GARRETT: OK, Dan Atwell, Brad Garrett, thanks very much.
We're going to turn now to that growing outrage over Indiana's new religious freedom act. Critics say it sanctions discrimination against gays and lesbians, some calling for a boycott of college basketball's final four in Indianapolis. We have an exclusive live interview with Indiana Governor Mike Pence after all the latest from ABC's Rebecca Jarvis.
REBECCA JARVIS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: With thousands taking on Indiana's governor and legislator over the state's new religious freedom act. Governor Mike Pence announced overnight he's willing to clarify the intent of the legislation. Critics say the law, signed Thursday, gives businesses a license to discriminate, allowing them to refuse services to gay couples for religious reasons.
And now there are new questions about its impact on next week's NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis. NCAA President Mark Emmert saying the association is deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events. We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student athletes and employees.
And the NBA and Indiana Pacers saying all fans, players and employees, should feel welcome at all events.
Put supporters note 19 other states have similar legislation, designed to keep government from forcing organizations to provide services against their religious beliefs.
GOV. MIKE PENCE, (R) INDIANA: And if I thought it was about discrimination, I would have vetoed it. In fact, it doesn't even apply to disputes between private individuals, unless government action is involved.
JARVIS: But this morning, backlash brewing, from Apple Chief Tim Cook saying we are deeply disappointed, to Jason Collins, the NBA's first openly gay player asking, is it going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me?
And now a new Twitter hashtagh #boycottIndiana growing online.
All of it braying those promoting business in Indiana.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't necessarily align with the brand position that is Hoosier hospitality.
JARVIS: For This Week, Rebecca Jarvis, ABC News, New York.
Was it a mistake to sign...
GOV. MIKE PENCE, (R) INDIANA: Good morning, George, thanks for the opportunity.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So was it a mistake to sign this law?
But, look, I think -- I understand that there's been a tremendous amount of misinformation and misunderstanding around this bill, and I'm just determined -- and I appreciate the time on your program -- I'm just determined to clarify this. This is about protecting the religious liberty of people of faith and families of faith across this country, that's what it's been for more than 20 years, and that's what it is now as the law in Indiana, George.
He put up this example. He said, "Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage."
So this is a yes or no question.
Is Advance America right when they say a florist in Indiana can now refuse to serve a gay couple without fear of punishment?
This is not about discrimination, this is about...
PENCE: -- empowering people...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But let me try to...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- pin you...
PENCE: -- government overreach here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- down here though, on it, because your supporters say it would.
And so yes or no, if a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?
PENCE: George, this is -- this is where this debate has gone, with -- with misinformation and frankly...
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's just a question, sir. Question, sir.
Yes or no?
PENCE: Well -- well, this -- there's been shameless rhetoric about my state and about this law and about its intention all over the Internet. People are trying to make it about one particular issue. And now you're doing that, as well.
The issue here -- The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been on the books for more than 20 years. It does not apply, George, to disputes between individuals unless government action is involved. And in point of fact, in more than two decades, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never been used to undermine anti-discrimination laws in this country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir, I'm...
PENCE: Look, the...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- I'm just bringing up a...
PENCE: -- the question...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- (INAUDIBLE) from one of your supporters.
PENCE: -- I think the real question here...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was one of our supporters who was talking about the bill right there. It said it would protect a Christian florist who -- against any kind of punishment.
Is that true or not?
PENCE: George, look, the issue here is, you know, is tolerance a two way street or not?
You've been to Indiana a bunch of times. You know it. There are no kinder, more generous, more welcoming, more hospitable people in America than in the 92 counties of Indiana.
And yet because we simply stepped forward for the purpose of recognizing the religious liberty rights of all the people of Indiana, of every faith, we at -- we have suffered under this avalanche for the last several days of condemnation and it's completely baseless.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor -- Governor, I...
PENCE: It's not based in any...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- I completely...
PENCE: -- fact whatsoever.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- I completely agree with you about the good people...
PENCE: And I think people...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- (INAUDIBLE).
PENCE: -- are getting tired of it, George. I really do.
PENCE: Tolerance is a two way street.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So when you say tolerance is a two way street, does that mean that Christians who want to refuse service or people of any other faith who want to refuse service to gays and lesbians, that it's now legal in the state of Indiana?
That's the simple yes or no question.
PENCE: George, the -- the question here is if the -- if there is a government action or a law that an individual believes impinges on their religious liberty, they have the opportunity to go to court, just as The Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Bill Clinton signed allowed them, go to court and the court would evaluate the circumstance under the standards articulated in this Act.
That's all it is. And when you see these headlines about -- about Indiana, a license to discriminate in Indiana and -- and -- it just -- I'm telling you, George, it is a red herring and I think it's deeply troubling to millions of Americans and -- and, frankly, people all across the state of Indiana who feel troubled about government overreach. This isn't about disputes between individuals, it's about government overreach. And I'm proud that Indiana stepped forward and I'm working -- I'm working hard to clarify this. We're reaching out to business leaders. I'm pleased to be on your show speaking across the country on this.
We are determined to make it clear that what Indiana has done here is strengthen the foundation...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir, I'm trying to...
PENCE: -- the constitutional First Amendment rights of religious liberty of our people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm trying to get that same clarity. And it sounds to me like what you're saying is that someone could use their religious faith as a defense against any kind of a suit brought there.
But let's try to get to that clarification you're talking about.
One fix that people have talked about is simply adding sexual orientation as a protected class under the state's civil rights laws.
Will you push for that?
PENCE: I will not push for that. That's a -- that's not on my agenda and that's not been the -- that's not been an objective of the people of the state of Indiana. And it doesn't have anything to do with this law. I mean, George, Bill Clinton signed The Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I remember that but...
PENCE: Then state senate -- then state senator -- I'll bet you do.
Then state senator, Barack Obama, voted for it when he was in the state senate of Illinois, the very same language.
PENCE: This isn't...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Illinois does have the protections...
PENCE: -- about...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- in their state law.
PENCE: -- well, I -- this isn't about individual rights or preferential rights for anyone. It says that everyone has the right to the highest level of review if they feel that the government has impinged upon their religious liberty.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That gets to the second possible fix.
PENCE: But I don't...
PENCE: -- I don't...
PENCE: -- you know, again, I -- I really believe, George, that it is -- it has been breathtaking to many in Indiana, me included, at the fact that Indiana joined some 30 other states and all 50 states in our federal courts, by -- by creating -- by enacting The Religious Freedom Restoration Act and -- and yet for -- from people who preach tolerance every day, we have been under an avalanche...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, sir...
PENCE: -- of intolerance...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- it's not just outsiders...
PENCE: -- and I...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- sir, it is, you know...
PENCE: -- I'm not going to take it lying down.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- (INAUDIBLE) the CEO of Angie's List in your state has put his expansion plans on hold because of this law.
But let me then get to another possible fix. This comes from The Lambda Legal Defense Fund. And maybe this is the kind of clarification...
PENCE: Well, I think that's...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- you're...
PENCE: -- I really believe -- I really believe that is a result -- I mean I've been in touch with corporate leaders, both outside the state. I've been in touch with Mark Emmert at the NCAA. We've been doing our level best, George, to correct the gross mischaracterization of this law that has a -- that has been spread all over the country by many in the media.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's get back to that...
PENCE: I mean, frankly, some of the media coverage of this has been shameless and reckless and...
PENCE: -- the online attacks against the people of our state, I'm just not going to stand for it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be. We've tried to be responsible, as well.
But let me try to get to this clarification.
One suggested fix to the law would say that, "this chapter of the law does not establish or eliminate a defense to a claim under any federal, state or local law protecting civil rights or preventing discrimination."
Is that the kind of clarification you're talking about?
PENCE: George, look, we're not going to change the law, OK?
But if the general assembly in Indiana sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, then I'm open to that.
But we're -- we're not going to change this law. It has been tested in courts for more than two decades on the federal level.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just ask you in a final...
PENCE: In -- in some 30 states and it represents a foundational protection for individuals.
And I've got to tell you, George, there's a lot of people in this country who are concerned about government overreach into their religious liberty...
PENCE: -- and I'm one of them. And I stand with them. And we've defended them in Indiana and made sure our courts in Indiana use the highest standards, the same standards that are in the federal courts in The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just ask then...
PENCE: This is about protecting liberty of every Hoosier of every faith.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A final question, a final yes or no question, Governor.
Do you think it should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays or lesbians?
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's a yes or no question.
PENCE: Hoosier -- come on. Hoosiers don't believe in discrimination. I mean the way I was raised, in a small town in Southern Indiana, is you're -- you're kind and caring and respectful to everyone. Anybody that's been in Indiana for five minutes knows that Hoosier hospitality is not a slogan, it's a reality.
People tell me when I travel around the country, gosh, I went -- I went to your state and people are so nice.
I mean this is not about discrimination. This is about protecting the religious liberty of every Hoosier of every faith. And -- and we're going to continue to work our hearts out to clarify that to the people of Indiana and the people of this great country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes or no, should it be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians?
PENCE: George, you're -- you're following the mantra of the last week online and you're trying to make this issue about something else.
What I am for is protecting, with the highest standards in our courts, the religious liberty of Hoosiers. I signed the bill. We're going to continue to explain it to people that don't understand it. And in -- and if possible, we will find a way to amplify what this bill really is in a legislative process. But I stand by this law. It was an important step forward when Bill Clinton signed it in 1993. It's an important step forward to keeping the promises of our Bill of Rights and our First Amendment and our Indiana constitution, and I'm proud that Indiana has adopted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Pence, thank you very much for your time this morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s get a reaction now from the White House. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest is here with us this morning as well, and Josh, you just heard the governor say right there, this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama signed, voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good morning, George. Appreciate you having me on the show this morning. Look, if you have to go back two decades to try to justify something you are doing today, it may raise some questions about the wisdom of what you’re doing.
Look, it should be easy for leaders in this country to stand up and say that it is wrong to discriminate against people just because of who they love. And the fact is, this isn’t a political argument, George. As you pointed out in your interview with the governor, we’ve seen business leaders all across the country say that they are reluctant to do business in Indiana, not because they don’t like the people of Indiana, but because of this law. Because this law can make it more likely that the customers of those businesses and the employees of those businesses are now more likely to be discriminated against.
So the fact is, you know, Governor Pence is in damage control mode this morning, and he’s got some damage to fix.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So does President Obama support the boycott of the Final Four, and what does he say to businesses who are thinking now of leaving Indiana?
EARNEST: Ultimately, these businesses are going to have to make decisions based on what they think is in the best interests of their business. Ultimately, look, George, it was just a couple of weeks ago that the president gave a speech standing at the foot of the bridge in Selma, Alabama. And the president talked about a couple of things. First, how average Americans all across the country do have the power to change their government, to make their government more fair, but he also talked about the fact that government leaders in this country have a responsibility to support our citizens who are fighting for greater equality and justice and fairness. And when you have a law like this one in Indiana, that seems to legitimize discrimination, it’s important for everybody to stand up and speak out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you, though, about these nuclear talks. I want to switch gears and talk about the nuclear talks in Iran right now. Is there going to be a deal by Tuesday? And if not, is the president willing to extend the deadline?
EARNEST: Well, George, the president has been very clear, that the best way for us to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is by pursuing diplomacy with the international community, to get Iran to voluntarily take steps that would shut down every single path to a nuclear weapon. In addition, what we would seek from Iran is a commitment to comply with very stringent inspections to verify their longer-term compliance with the agreement. That is the best way for us to resolve our concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and to definitely prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Now, at the same time, this is going to require Iran to make some pretty significant commitments, and we’ve been negotiating about this for more than a year. But ultimately, the president believes that we should be able to, over the course of the last year, be able to reach an agreement by the end of March if one is doable. So there are still some significant gaps—
STEPHANOPOULOS: And if not, no extension?
EARNEST: Well, George, we’ve been negotiating for more than a year, and ultimately it’s time for the Iranians to send a clear signal to the international community about whether or not they are willing to make the serious commitments required, and basically live up to their rhetoric, that they are not trying to acquire a nuclear weapon. So if they can make those commitments, they should be able to do that by the end of March.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, the speaker of the House took a real tough shot at President Obama this week on the various foreign policy crises he’s been facing. Here is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The world is starving for American leadership. But America has an anti-war president. We have no strategy, overarching strategy to deal with the growing terrorist threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response?
EARNEST: George, I will simply say that if John Boehner thinks that U.S. troops should be on the ground in Yemen fighting the Houthis, or that we should re-occupy Iraq, or that the United States should bomb Iran to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon, then he should have the courage of his convictions to actually say so.
The fact is, the president at every turn has taken steps by building the international community support for policies that actually are in the best interests of the United States. And whether that’s bringing the international community to the negotiating table, to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, or building a coalition of more than 60 countries, including a large number of Arab countries, to launch air strikes against ISIL, to try to eliminate the extremist threat that exists in the Middle East, these are steps that the president has taken consistent with our national interests, and he does not believe it is in the best interests of the United States to commit more U.S. ground troops to a large-scale ground combat operation in Iraq or in Syria. That if we work with our international partners, we can do a better job of actually protecting the interests of the United States.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Josh Earnest, thanks very much.
EARNEST: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Coming up, he’s getting rave reviews in Iowa, so is Martin O’Malley ready to take on Hillary? Our exclusive interview is next. Plus, the race is on. Ted Cruz, the first official candidate for 2016. Lots of others lining up. The roundtable weighs in on that and all the week’s politics. We’re back in just a minute.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Will this man be the first Democrat to challenge Hillary Clinton? We’re back with Martin O’Malley after this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There's Martin O'Malley jamming with his band. But is the former Maryland governor ready to take his show on the road to the White House?
MARTIN O'MALLEY, FRM. GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND: We have now suffered 12 years in a row of declining wages, thanks to the brand of voodoo economics.
STEPHANOPOULOS: With firebrand Elizabeth Warren on the sidelines, O'Malley is pitching himself to liberals taking on Wall Street, touting his stance on gay marriage, guns, immigration and getting some standing O's in Iowa.
O'MALLEY: Ours is the party of the American dream. And together, we will make that dream true again.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He's already been there five times. New Hampshire is next. And in South Carolina, a hint of how he might take on Hillary.
O'MALLEY: Triangulation is not a strategy that will move America forward. History celebrates profiles in courage, not profiles in convenience.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One more claim to fame, O'Malley's time as mayor of Baltimore helped inspire this character on HBO's The Wire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that doesn't happen, we're going to lose these neighborhoods and ultimately this city.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think there is a resemblance there.
Governor Martin O'Malley joins us right now. Thank you for joining us, governor.
O'MALLEY: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Two threshold questions for anyone even thinking of running. Why are you running? Why are you the best person for the job? What is your answer?
O'MALLEY: I believe that our country is at a defining moment in our history. The American dream has become something that is no longer true for the 80 percent of us working harder and not getting further ahead. And I have the experience through after 15 years of public service as an executive in a big city and also as governor of a state, of getting things done, bringing people together to accomplish difficult things in order to give our kids a better future and create a stronger economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sounds like you have honed that down.
But back in 2007, you were one of Hillary Clinton's earliest supporters. You were chair of her Maryland campaign. You called her the experienced leader America needs. And you added this, you said that no one is better equipped to repair America's alliances abroad and address the urgent needs of our communities at home. No one is better equipped. Is that still true today?
O'MALLEY; Well, I certainly believed that for those times, that she would be the best choice for us as a country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: For those times?
O'MALLEY: For those times.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not now?
O'MALLEY: I believe that there are new perspectives that are needed in order for us to solve the problems that we face as Americans and also the problems that we face as people on this planet. And I believe that new perspective and new leadership is needed.
But more important than that, George, the two phrases I'm struck with all over the country are the phrases that people come up and say to me in every state, which is we need people who know how to get things done and we need new leadership.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What I'm struck by...
O'MALLEY: And that's what I'm hearing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ...that sounds like you just announced for president right here. You said that we need new perspectives, new leadership. You're ready to challenge her, aren't you?
O'MALLEY: Well, I think that our country always benefits from new leadership and new perspectives. Let's be honest here, the presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families, it is an awesome and sacred trust that to be earned, and exercised on behalf of the American people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Those two families Bush and Clinton?
O'MALLEY: Well, right now, George, you know, the -- any two families. But look, in order for us to make an economy again where people can work hard and get ahead, we need a president who is on our side, a president who is willing to take on powerful, wealthy, special interests in order restore that sort of American economy where wherever you start on the earnings spectrum, you can get ahead through your hard work. That's not the economy we have today.
Twelve years in a row of wages declining. And it doesn't have to be this way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Hillary Clinton is not the candidate to take on those powerful special interests?
O'MALLEY: Well, I don't know. I don't know where she stands. Will she represent a break with the failed policies of the past? Well, I don't know. What I know for my own part is in Maryland, we did the things that worked in order to attain the highest median income in the country, in order to create more jobs at a faster rate than our neighbors in Virginia or Pennsylvania. And we also followed policies of inclusion when it comes to marriage equality, the DREAM Act, common sense rights for new Americans like driver's licenses so that they could take care of their families and also reinforce this American dream.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor, I have to say you surprised me, I wasn't expecting you to be this direct in taking on former secretary of state Hillary Clinton this morning. It sounds like you're getting the reception in Iowa that's convinced you you should go forward with this.
O'MALLEY: Well, George, it's not about being for or against any other candidate, it's about being for the national interests. We can become a strong country again with a strong economy that works for everyone again. But we have to put national interests ahead of special interests.
And right now, it's not even a fair fight. It's as if Wall Street owns one party, and is trying to totally intimidate the other party. And we need to stand up and put the national interests first. If we do that, we can restore our economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How would you do that as commander-in-chief? What's the number one national security threat, foreign threat, to America right now and what would you do to fix it?
O'MALLEY: Well, the number one threat -- I mean, the number one responsibility for the president is to protect the people of the United States of America. Would that there were only one threat. There are always threats.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What is the most important? What's the greatest danger?
O'MALLEY: The greatest danger that we face right now on a consistent basis in terms of manmade threats is -- is -- nuclear Iran and related to that, extremist violence. I don't think you can separate the two. I think they go together. In terms of natural threats, clearly, it's climate change. And we have to confront -- we have to confront manmade and natural threats.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, if it's nuclear Iran, is the answer striking a deal with Iran as President Obama has said, or not taking the deal that President Obama is searching for as Prime Minister Netanyahu has argued?
O'MALLEY: Well, it remains to be seen, doesn't it? I'm hopeful -- in our state, we passed some of the earliest and strongest sanctions against Iranian nuclear development of any state in the union. The goal was to drive the Iranians to the negotiating table.
And I think we should support the president in achieving that negotiated settlement. I mean, you see 47 members of the senate writing the letter, it's a sad day for our country. If you hate the president of the United States more than you distrust the ayatollah, then you probably shouldn't be in the United States senate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As I said, governor, you sure sound like a candidate this morning.
But I wonder what you say to the people of Maryland. Polls done back in October, they were asked would Martin O'Malley make a good president. 70 percent said no. And this poll back in October had you well back in the pack of Democrats behind Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.
These are the people that know you best.
O'MALLEY: Well, we came off a -- we had just come off a contentious campaign there. And I think the most important thing, though, is George, that if you look at the record of accomplishments in Maryland, five years in a row creating the number one public schools in the country, reducing violent crime to 35-year lows, history is full of times when the inevitable front-runner is inevitable right up until he or she is no longer inevitable.
And I believe that what people want, especially this year, is someone with proven executive experience, the ability to get things done rather than putting their finger in the wind and looking for popularity, the ability to be honest with people and lay out the choices that we have to make as a free people to build a good economy for our kids.
STEPHANOPOULOS; Well, governor, the announcement sounds like just a formality now. When should we expect it?
O'MALLEY: Oh, I don't know. I will make a decision this spring.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor O'Malley, thanks for joining us this morning.
O'MALLEY: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And there's secretary of State John Kerry, back in Switzerland this morning. The clock ticking on that possible nuclear deal with Iran. The deadline just two days away.
Let's talk now to the chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Congressman Ed Royce.
He joins us now from California.
Congressman Royce, you heard Jose Earnest earlier in the show saying the president will only sign a deal if it gives assurances that Iran cannot be a nuclear state.
Do you believe the president can reach the kind of deal you can support?
REP. ED ROYCE (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, a lot is going to depend upon whether -- whether Iran backs down on a couple of points.
One is they want this deal let -- lifted after 10 years, the caps lifted after 10 years.
The second point, they don't want inspections of some of their military facilities where they've done this research.
And lastly, the IAEA, the international inspectors, have a list of 12 questions that they want Iran to answer on nuclear modeling, on explosive tests, 1,000 pages of documents about their program on a nuclear warhead.
And so far, Iran has only agreed to answer half of the first question.
So at this point, the French obviously are upset about this. Congress is a little upset about the direction Iran is -- is pushing here. And -- and lastly, the -- the comments four days ago by the ayatollah that he was chanting "Death to America!" as the crowd, you know, were -- were yelling "Death to America!" this gives very real questions about why Iran won't -- Iran won't come clean with this -- this evidence to the IAEA inspectors.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So I'll count you in the skeptical camp.
I wonder what you think of what the former U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, wrote this week in "The New York Times." He said that a deal isn't an option. He said, "The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel's 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor in Iraq can accomplish what is required. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran's opposition aimed at regime change in Iran."
Do you agree with John Bolton that in the end, military action is going to be necessary and we should be pushing for regime change?
ROYCE: Clearly, we don't know yet whether military action will be necessary or not. But the -- the point is that in terms of regime change, long ago, it should have been our objection -- our objective here with broadcasting into Iran, since two thirds of the people do not support that government there, to try to support the opposition to the regime.
I would also say that the only reason we're in this negotiation right now is because Congress pushed for tougher sanctions. And I would say we'd be in a much better position today if the legislation, bipartisan legislation that I and Eliot Engel passed to give the ayatollah a choice between economic collapse or compromise his nuclear program, had been brought up in the Senate, instead of the administration sitting on that bill last year.
So we are -- we are limiting the options to use alternatives to military force.
Clearly, the president says at the end of the day, if they're going to get a bomb, the president says he's going to use military force to prevent it.
Our point was, if you use the type of sanctions regime we wanted to put in place, they would have had no choice but to capitulate. And that's the argument right now between Congress and -- and the White House on this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for your time this morning.
Let's go to the roundtable right now.
I'm joined by Bill Kristol, editor of "The Weekly Standard."
Welcome back to Fareed Zakaria, now with CNN and "Time" magazine.
Jennifer Granholm, the former Democratic governor of Michigan.
And another former Michigander, our political analyst, Matthew Dowd.
I want to get into the politics in just a minute.
But Fareed, let me begin with you on this tangle the United States is now in with Iran. We're negotiating with Iran in Switzerland. We're fighting on the same side as Iran in Iraq and we're allied with those fighting against them in Yemen.
Does that make a deal more or less likely or is there no way to know?
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": I think, you know, the Middle East has become so complicated that the fact that there are some places where you have a greater enemy, like ISIS, should not be that surprising.
What's happened is from Libya to Syria, the entire Middle East has become fragile and unstable because every regime has -- has cracked.
And what you've found is beneath the regime, there was nothing. There were no state institutions. There was no civil society. There actually was no country, that people have -- have withdrawn to their oldest identities.
Nobody is fighting and dying for Iraq or Syria or Libya. They're fighting and dying because they're Shia or Kurds or Arabs...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So in that...
ZAKARIA: -- who...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- in that kind of a chaotic world, one of the things the administration is already -- is arguing is that this deal with Iran could be a game-changer, could transform the Middle East.
Do you believe that?
ZAKARIA: I think it -- it certainly would help, because it's important to remember what's the alternative.
The alternative to the deal is either a major escalation militarily. It would not be like the Iraq strike, because Iran has a huge nuclear facility. It would take weeks and weeks of bombing. The Iranians would respond in all the countries that they are -- they are active.
Or, you have a situation where no deal, have sanctions, but the Iranians went from 150 centrifuges to 20,000 under sanctions.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bill Kristol, I know you met Prime Minister Netanyahu this week. You and he disagree.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, no, we agree. He's -- here's a little more moderate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No, disagree with Fareed Zakaria. KRISTOL: Oh, I think he...
KRISTOL: No, I'm -- Prime Minister Netanyahu is more moderate than I am. We had an argument about that.
KRISTOL: No, it's a terrible deal that will, among other things, it will legitimate Iranian hegemony, which is already spreading around the Middle East. The Middle East is on fire and a deal with Iran that -- that, in effect, allows it to be a nuclear threshold state makes them pay no price for anything they've done in the past, the cheating and the lying, that lets Fordow, this entrenched facility in a hillside, continue moving -- continue operating.
President Obama himself said you can't allow that for a peaceful nuclear program. Now, he's going to allow it. It will be a disastrous deal. It will make things even worse in what is already a very bad Middle East.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, I want to move on to politics right now, because, as I said, I was surprised by Martin O'Malley, Matthew Dowd. It sure sounded like Hillary Clinton has her -- her first challenger, first close to official challenger in the race right now.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if -- it finally made sense to me that somebody is finally kind of get -- having an edge in their conversation as a Democrat related to Hillary Clinton.
To me, I still think Hillary Clinton is extremely vulnerable in this country right now, whether it's the general election or the primary. And everything over the last two or three weeks in watching the nature of her campaign and the nature of her response would mean it would encourage somebody like Martin O'Malley or Elizabeth Warren to make, actually, steps forward and really see if they can beat her.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you think, Governor Granholm?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, SENIOR ADVISER, READY FOR HILLARY PAC: I think, first of all, she said she welcomes a primary. And Martin O'Malley, he's...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think she means it? GRANHOLM: I don't think...
GRANHOLM: -- she means that...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that like inviting your uncle over...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- when you don't really want him to come?
GRANHOLM: She is comfortable enough to be able to withstand a primary. And Martin O'Malley, I mean he's a very nice guy, and, you know, I was thinking that he might make a nice member of a President Clinton administration. So he'd better watch it.
But anyway, I think that he -- he and anybody else, she would welcome into the mix. And that would be healthy.
But I also think that ultimately, she will be the next president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You also heard that shot, Bill Kristol, against the two families trading the presidency back and forth.
KRISTOL: I think that's an effective shot for an insurgent Democrat, and, incidentally, for an insurgent Republican. I really think there are an awful lot of Democrats and Republicans who don't want a Bush-Clinton race in 2016. And the only way not to have a Bush-Clinton race in 2016 is to deny one or both of them the nomination.
I talked with Martin O'Malley a little bit. He worked with Gary Hart in Iowa in 1984. As you and I remember, Gary Hart was nowhere at this time in 1983. Mondale was the prohibitive favorite. John Glenn maybe the alternative. Hart got, what, I think 17 percent of the vote or something in Iowa against Mondale's 50 or something like that.
And then he won New Hampshire and almost beat -- almost beat Mondale.
I think someone like O'Malley would have a real shot against...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't...
KRISTOL: -- Hillary Clinton.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- you do see this kind of feeling against dynasties bubbling up.
But is it really something people vote on?
ZAKARIA: I think that the really difficult part for Hillary is, even more than the dynasty, is it's tough for a party to get a third term in the White House. When was the last one? It was Bush Sr. after Reagan. Before that, it was FDR after himself and then Hoover after Coolidge. That's in the last 100 years, three times.
And in each case, notice, that you have to run as the candidate of continuity, because if you're going to run as the candidate of change, people are going to vote for the other party. Hillary's big problem is it's tough for her to run as the candidate of continuity to Barack Obama and it's tough for her to be the...
GRANHOLM: I disagree with that. I think she has got a great case to make on continuity with respect to economic policy.
ZAKARIA: But is she going to run that way?
GRANHOLM: I assume that she will certainly take advantage of the great work that has been done with the Affordable Care Act and with jobs? But let me just say one quick word about dynasties. Dynasties suggest generational passing down. She's not a different generation than a father who handing her this. And plus, she's a woman. Women do not -- are not seen as this dynastic creature. She's going to be different no matter what?
STEPHANOPOULOS: So being a woman is change?
GRANHOLM: I think it's change.
DOWD: Well, I think there is a problem with dynasties in that, if people feel like you're going to inherit it and not earn it. And that's part of the problem.
And the other thing is, I think, with dynasties, is this a forward-looking campaign? And for many people watching what's developed over the last six months, it feels like we're thrown back to the 1990s. I think that is true for Jeb Bush. It feels like a throwback for ten years, and I think for Hillary Clinton, it feels like it's thrown back 20 years.
I think the candidate's going to win in 2016 has to be somebody that says, all that's in the past, I'm going forward in the future. And that's, ultimately I think her problem.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We saw a new generation of Republicans get in this week. Ted Cruz, the first official candidate, seemed like he had a pretty good launch.
KRISTOL: He did. I think he's consistently underrated. But I think that whole generation: Walker, Rubio, Cruz, Jindal, others are underrated. I was talking to the Democrat this week who had seen Rubio give a speech and take Q and A, and said you know what he reminded me a little of Bill Clinton in '92, very able, not quite as prominent nationally as other people were at the time. But after a year of campaigning, I think Rubio, Walker, Jindal, those guys, have a real shot.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And then Fareed Zakaria, you know, we just heard Jennifer Granholm talk about Hillary Clinton being a candidate of continuity on the economy. It seems like the Republican candidates are really focused right now on national security, drawing big differences with Democrats on national security.
ZAKARIA: And they are wrong in political terms. There's no question that the public's view of the Middle East is this is one unholy mess, they're all crazy, they'll suck us dry, stay out.
Bill Kristol's father, Irvin Kristol, once wrote in the 1965, I think it was, he said the job of conservatives in those days was to explain to the American people why they are right and American intellectuals why they're wrong. Obama knows that the American people are fundamentally right about this.
KRISTOL: The American people do not like to see America humiliated around the world. They know that the Middle East in flames ultimately is dangerous for us. I totally disagree of this analysis of the American people.
ZAKARIA: Ground troops in Syria and Iraq are not something anyone would support and it would mean the United States would be in the mid one unholy mess.
KRISTOL: Well, I think that it is an unholy mess thanks to the fact that we have totally withdrawn.
DOWD: I think a big part of the problem is it's not only chaotic in the Middle East, but I think where our politics today in this country is chaotic, but where we have a situation where Republicans are basically thinking that the prime minister of Israel should make our foreign policy and the Democratic administration, the Obama administration, does not trust Republicans enough to tell them even what's in the deal. And so we have chaos in the Middle East, but we also have chaos in our politics here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We only have a few seconds left. Bottom line, Jennifer Granholm, is 2016 a national security election or an economy election?
GRANHOLM: I think that if you look at all the polls, regarding what Americans are most concerned about, the economy always has come out number one. This year, though, under Pew charitable trust, their analysis, it was actually terrorism that was number one.
As long as you have a candidate who is very strong against terrorism and extremists, I think that it will -- as long as that concern is taken care of, with somebody who has been there and who understands that fight, I think that concern will be addressed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I have got to take a quick break. Thanks to The Roundtable. Fareed Zakaria is going to be back to discuss his new book right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I promise you, folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: That line from President Obama represents exactly the kind of thinking Fareed Zakaria trying to counter in his newest book, "In Defense of a Liberal Education."
Fareed's back with us to talk about it.
And Fareed, you make the provocative point, the president ended up having to apologize for that line, by the way. But you make the provocative point that he actually reflects there a bipartisan consensus in Washington that is both dangerous and un-American. What did you mean by that?
ZAKARIA: Well, you know, in Europe, it's always been true that education has been much more skills based, much more job training. By 14 or 16, you're usually streamed. In America, we always took the view, no, it's important to build broad, general skills, critical thinking, intellectual curiosity because, our economy has always moved very fast. It's changed. Your first job is never the same as your fifth job.
I think that the world today much more favors that kind of American liberal education. Of course, science and technology has to be a part of it, but so does English, so does history.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you've come to it with your foot in both camps. You grew up in India, very -- an education based in science, math, a lot of rote learning, but you were really drawn to the idea of a liberal education in America.
ZAKARIA: Yeah, I fell in love with the idea of being able to take physics and poetry. And part of it is I think people don't understand, so much of what you do in life is critical thinking. The stuff that you learn specifically in a trade is obsolete five years later, six years later, but the ability to learn, the ability to get passionate about something is not. That's why Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon, the founder of Amazon says, I want my senior executives to write six-page single-space memos to me, because if you have to write down an argument, there can't be any logical gaps.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what do you say to parents and students saddled with this huge debt? We all know how expensive college can be right now. To think, boy, I have got to be sure that I'm training to get a job?
ZAKARIA: And they've got to have some faith. The data shows that while engineering or technically trained students start out with a slight advantage, it evens out over time. And the most important thing they have to remember is their son or daughter is going to be good at the thing he or she can be passionate about, the thing he or she can work hard at, love. That's the most important thing.
We all know this, if you love your work, it doesn't feel like work. So push them to be passionate to work hard. Obviously, you have to get lucky. But that's true even if you're an engineer.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So any parent should read this book "In Defense of a Liberal Education." Fareed Zakaria, thanks very much. Welcome back.
ZAKARIA: Pleasure, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we be back after this from our ABC stations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we end today with some good news. The Pentagon did not release any names of service members killed in Afghanistan this week.
We also have a correction from last week's show. Facebook discovered an error in their senti-meter, it was actually Ted Cruz had the most interactions.
That's 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.