NEW YORK, APRIL 1, 2012 -- STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to "This Week."
STEPHANOPOULOS: An historic battle at the Supreme Court.
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN G. ROBERTS: Can the government require you to buy a cell phone?
STEPHANOPOULOS: After days of tough questions, is Obamacare going down? How will the decision change the presidential election and your health care?
Then, as Republicans close ranks around Romney, he fires at Obama.
ROMNEY: President Obama's economic strategy is a bust.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the president fires back.
OBAMA: Their philosophy is simple - you are on your own.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Plus, the House passes Paul Ryan's budget. Is it a big victory for the GOP or a campaign gift for Democrats? What's at stake for you? Questions this morning for our headliners, Republican Budget Chair Paul Ryan and the ranking Democrat Chris Van Hollen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American dream. Only takes one dollar.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mega Millions mania. Three lucky winners, but are these lotteries a bonanza for state budgets or bad public policy? That and all the week's politics on our powerhouse roundtable with George Will, former Obama adviser Van Jones, conservative columnist Ann Coulter, Matt Bai of the New York Times, and ABC's Supreme Court expert Terry Moran.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, everyone. A whole lot going on in politics this week, and our headliner is in the middle of most of it. Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan put his weight behind Mitt Romney right before his state's Tuesday primary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: What a leader in our party, what a conservative, really a man –
--and I very much appreciate his support, and endorsement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And after the House passed Ryan's budget, President Obama put it at the center of his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You look at their budget that the Republicans in the House of Representatives just passed. It's no exaggeration – they would gut things that we've always believed were at the core of making America great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Congressman Ryan joins us now, along with the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Chris Van Hollen. Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us. And Congressman Ryan, let me begin with you. I want to get to the budget, but first just a little bit of politics. Mitt Romney is predicting victory in your state on Tuesday. Is he right, and will that effectively end this nomination fight?
RYAN: I think he will win, but we expect a close race. We always have close races here in Wisconsin. And I do think if Mitt wins this - we also have Maryland and D.C. I think Mitt has a really good chance of winning a lot of delegates on Tuesday, and so yes, I think conservatives should coalesce around the Romney campaign and move on to the general election. And I hope a big victory on Tuesday will do just that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You are already on the short list to be Romney's vice president. I know you're not going to say much about that this morning, but many Democrats—
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are actually excited about that prospect, because they believe that this ties Romney even more closely to your budget, which passed the House this week. And you heard the president. They are prepared to argue that this is going to cripple government programs that working Americans rely on. Your response?
RYAN: I am excited about going to the country with the choice of two futures. The president has been ducking this debt crisis all along. The Senate is not even passing a budget. We have the most predictable economic crisis coming in America, a debt crisis, and we're doing something about it. And so I think people are going to see through these partisan attacks. The president has been in campaign mode all along, and I think they want a leader who's going to address problems like Mitt Romney. I don't think they want somebody who's just going to be campaigning all of the time and ignoring the drivers of our debt, which will imperil our economy and our children's future. So I think we need to bring this referendum to the country, and I'm looking forward to this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Van Hollen, what about that charge, ducking responsibility here? You know, every single Democrat in the House voted against Congressman Ryan's budget, but they also voted – every single one – against the president's budget. And as the congressman said, the Senate hasn't – Senate Democrats haven't put forward a budget in three years. Isn't that abdicating responsibility?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, first of all, George, the vote in the House was not on the president's budget. It was a total charade. The president made clear that the House Democratic alternative budget was much closer to his proposal, and that got overwhelming support. Look, the issue is not whether we reduce the deficit. We have to do that. The issue is how. And I'm not at all surprised that Mitt Romney has endorsed the Republican House plan. That plan asks nothing, nothing of the wealthiest Americans, and therefore it hits everybody else. It hits seniors on Medicare, it hits middle-income taxpayers, it guts important investments to keep our economy strong. It would whack our investment in transportation when we have big unemployment in the construction area. So the president has put forward a balanced plan that says we've got to make some tough cuts, but we're also going to close some of these tax loopholes and raise some revenue. Because if you don't look at both sides of the equation, you have to hold harmless the folks at the very top and hit everybody else, and that's what the Republican budget does. It does not have that balance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Congressman Ryan, you also are holding harmless or restoring a lot of the cuts that President Obama would call for in defense, and Democrats have called for. You caused a bit of a stir this week when you appeared to suggest that the generals supporting, who were testifying for the president's budget, were being disingenuous in presenting their budget. You said you don't believe they are giving true advice, or that their budget is really the right budget. And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Martin Dempsey, took exception to that. He said, "There is a difference between having someone say they don't believe what you said versus calling us collectively liars. My response is I stand by my testimony." Did you cross the line there?
RYAN: Yes, I totally misspoke. It was not the impression I meant to give. I talked to General Dempsey on it and expressed that sentiment.
My issue is I think that the president's budget on the Pentagon is a budget-driven strategy, not a strategy-driven budget. He announced the number of the cuts he wanted for the Pentagon, and then he began the strategy review to conform to that number. We take $300 billion out of defense spending versus the $500 billion that the president does in his budget. We think there are savings to be gotten there, but I think the president's hollowing it out. Because in other words, he's spending more money on every other aspect of government. $1.5 trillion in more domestic spending, and $2 trillion in higher taxes. So balance in Washington these days – spend more, borrow more, tax more, have a debt crisis. That to me isn't balanced.
And with respect to the wealthy, we're saying, stop subsidizing the wealthy. Don't subsidize their health care benefits as much. Stop subsidizing corporations with crony capitalism, and close the tax shelters and loopholes that are disproportionately used by the wealthy so that we can get more tax revenue by having a broader tax base with lower rates, which we believe there is an emerging Democrat-Republican bipartisan consensus on doing that, and so we reflect that emerging consensus. Unfortunately, our friends in the White House and the Democratic leadership don't want to be a part of that consensus.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about closing those loopholes, Congressman?
VAN HOLLEN: George, the Ryan plan, the Republican plan, does not ask for one penny, not one penny from the wealthiest for the purpose of deficit reduction. In fact, they are doubling down on tax cuts for the very wealthy. They are proposing to drop the top marginal rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. That generates $4.6 trillion in lost revenue. They say they're going to make that up. They're going to get rid of all the provisions in the tax code that help middle-income Americans, so they'll end up financing tax cuts - another round of tax cuts – for the folks at the very top by increasing the tax burden on middle-income Americans.
And in fact, we had a vote on an amendment in the Budget Committee that says, OK, let's make sure that doesn't happen. Let's hold Americans below $250,000 in income harmless, make sure they don't get hit. Every Republican voted against that amendment. So the reality is, their proposal not only locks in the Bush tax cuts for the folks at the top, but it would finance additional tax cuts for them by whacking middle-income taxpayers. That's just not acceptable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'll move on to health care, but quickly, Congressman, your response to that.
RYAN: Well, that amendment was trying to kill our budget. We're saying, just don't raise taxes. The number Chris is using presumes a huge tax increase in the fall. We don't want a huge tax increase because it's going to slow down the economy. So we're saying, bringing the same amount of revenue we're bringing in today, but do it more fairly, with a better, simpler, more competitive tax system. Take the loopholes and tax shelters away so you can lower everybody's tax rates across the board. That produces jobs and economic growth. And it's not just Republicans saying it. There are a lot of Democrats who agree with us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me move on to the Supreme Court arguments—
VAN HOLLEN: Yes, but the Democrats—
RYAN: We say don't subsidize the wealthy with their spending.
VAN HOLLEN: But Paul, you know that every bipartisan group that's out there has said let's take a portion of the revenue for the purpose of deficit reduction. That way you don't have to whack seniors on Medicare and you don't have to hit student loans and you don't have to gut transportation investments.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I've got to move to health care at this point, and Congressman Van Hollen, let me bring this to you, because the president's health care plan did seem to take a beating, at least in the questioning from the Supreme Court justices. And the president's advocate, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, came under fire for his presentation. I want to show a bit of it.
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DONALD VERRILLI, SOLICITOR GENERAL: Insurance has become the predominant means of paying for health care in his country. For most Americans, for more than 80 percent of Americans, the insurance system does provide effective access. Excuse me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did Verrilli make the best case, and what will it mean if the Supreme Court strikes down health care?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, George, I don't want to get into the actual the presentation and the style. I think the substance is very clear, and it is one that Republicans supported in the past. The notion that every individual should take responsibility for getting their health care, otherwise the free riders in this system end up driving costs for everybody else.
Look, I don't think anybody knows how the Supreme Court rules.
What I do know is that the overwhelming majority of the American people know that the health care system had been broken. When kids and others are denied health care because they have asthma or diabetes or other pre-existing conditions, that's a broken health care system. The Affordable Care Act is designed to address that issue. You saw premiums in the health care industry doubling between the year 2000 and 2008. Profits in the insurance companies quadrupled. That's unacceptable. And when our Republican friends said -- when they voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that was one of their first measures in Congress -- they said they were going to come up with a proposal to address all these other issues. As we gather here today, they haven't done that.
And so I think that if the court were to strike this down, it would be a big loss for the American people. We're trying to finally reduce costs in the health care system and prevent people from being denied coverage by insurance companies.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If it does go down, Congressman Ryan, that will put the burden back on the opponents to come up with a replace part of replace and repeal. What would that be?
RYAN: Well, several of us have actually offered replacement legislation. It would be a decentralized, market-based system that's patient-centered, where everybody has access to affordable health insurance, including people with pre-existing conditions. And we can do it in a way that does not involve a costly government takeover. We can do it in a way that doesn't involve the government effectively taking over and running the health care industry.
If you look at the Affordable Care Act, since it passed, health care costs have gone up. If you look at the CBO, the cost of this law has doubled since it passed. And so if the Supreme Court would interpret that this is constitutional, that the government can make you buy something, then there really is no limit to what the government can do in our lives, and clearly that's not what the founders intended when they wrote the Constitution. So we believe we can have a better health care system without a costly government takeover.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Congressman Van Hollen, what do the Democrats do if this goes down? Do you simply take on the court as the president did in Citizens United, or do you try to come up with a new, perhaps bipartisan plan?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, first, George, obviously we hope that the court will uphold this. Look, you've got -- if they were to strike this down on constitutional grounds, I think most people understand the only approach you can take after to get everybody covered, everybody in the pool, is to go to a Medicare-for-all-type proposal. That's something Republicans have rejected. That's why they had proposed the approach that is in the Affordable Care Act. That's why Mitt Romney took that approach up in Massachusetts, because that is the one way that everybody gets into the insurance poll.
Look, I think if the court were to strike this down, we have to ask our Republican colleagues for the replace half of what had been repeal and replace, and the proposal that Paul and others have put forward, I just want to make it clear. It would say to folks who don't get health insurance, you're going to be taxed more. So, in a sense, it's saying -- it is just a different approach, with one major exception. Because they don't insure everybody getting into the pool, they would allow a lot of free riders to use the health care system. That drives up the costs to everybody else.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Ryan, even the advocate for the opponent's law did seem to suggest that a broader government program might be the cleaner way to address this issue.
RYAN: No, I disagree with that. It's not Medicare for all. What this new Obamacare is, it's basically Medicaid for all, according to all the health care experts, and it's going to collapse our health care system. It's going to drive up costs and it is going to restrict choices.
Now, we believe that there are better ways to go with a patient-centered system. Many of us have offered bills to do this. Tom Coburn, Devin Nunes and Richard Burr and I, during Obamacare's deliberations, offered these ideas to the Democrats and the president. We were completely rejected because they wanted a partisan law, and that's what we got.
So we believe that we can have a system where everybody can have affordable health insurance, including people with preexisting conditions, without a costly government takeover, without all this new spending and without restricting choices and without limiting access to all the different options that people would like to have in a free-market society.
So I think there's a better way to go to address what Chris identified as legitimate problems in health care. But clearly, a government takeover is not the way to go, and we do have what we think are better ideas in addressing this legitimate problem.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're just about out of time. I want to get one more issue in here, gas prices. Congressman Van Hollen, you have already got a group saying -- American Energy Alliance spending about $3.5 million to take on the president on this issue of gas prices and the way the president has handled it. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since Obama became president, gas prices have nearly doubled. Obama opposed exploring for energy in Alaska. He gave millions of tax dollars to Solyndra, which then we bankrupt. And he blocked the Keystone pipeline. So we'll all pay more at the pump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: These arguments seem to be gaining traction. More Americans than ever are blaming the president for that pain at the pump.
VAN HOLLEN: George, it's interesting to hear all these folks who on the one hand say they believe in the free market turning around and blaming the president for this, because we all know there are lots of factors that go into gas and oil prices.
Look, the reality is, you have got a lot of speculation in the oil markets driven in part because of what's happening in the Persian Gulf. The president has reached out to other oil-producing countries around the world. And they have got a strategy now to get more oil on the market. That should drive down prices. It should begin to pop that speculative bubble. And I would point out, part of the Republican budget would strip funding from the one cop on the beat that we have right now, the CFTC, that is supposed to prevent massive and excessive speculation in the marketplace. We all know that a big part of the price, over 50 cents of the price right now, is as a result of that speculation. We should pop that bubble, and the president is doing a good job in trying to accomplish that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Ryan, do you support that program that I think Congressman Van Hollen is alluding to, that idea that a group of international nations (inaudible) United States will release petroleum from their reserves?
RYAN: I call it the political pixie dust in an election year. It really doesn't do a lot. Instead of begging the Saudis to sell us more of their oil, what our budget does is says let's go and explore more of our own oil. Let's get our oil that is locked on public lands by President Obama. Let's open up the Keystone pipeline to bring Canadian oil into our country to dramatically reduce our dependency on foreign oil. It creates jobs here in America. It lowers gas prices, increases supply. And just by passing this legislation, you'll improve the prices in the futures market, because you'll see that all this new American-made energy is coming online. Unfortunately, the president is standing in the way of all of those kinds of reforms, and so he's resorting to what I call these sort of policy gimmicks that in the past really haven't done a whole lot to change the outcome.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the last word today. Gentlemen, thank you both very much.
VAN HOLLEN: Domestic oil production is at an all-time high. I think we know that's a fact.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We've got to go. Thank you very much.
RYAN: That's private land, not public land.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And as our roundtable take their seats, listen to more from the Supreme Court at that historic hearing on health care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA: Everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore everybody's in the market. Therefore, you can make people buy broccoli?
JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG: The rest of us end up paying because these people are getting cost-free health care. And the only way to prevent that is to have them pay sooner rather later, pay up front.
JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY: Here the government is saying that the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act. That changes the relationship of the government to the individual in a very fundamental way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Everyone in place now. I'm joined as always by George Will. Former White House adviser Van Jones, green jobs adviser, also the author of a new book called "Rebuild the Dream." Conservative columnist and best-selling author Ann Coulter. That's what you are aspiring to, Van Jones.
VAN JONES, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Matt Bai of the New York Times. You got a fascinating cover story in the New York Times magazine this week called "Who Killed the Debt Deal?" Excellent and exhaustive, we'll talk about that in a little bit. And our Supreme Court expert Terry Moran. Thank you all for being here.
Let's begin with the Supreme Court. George Will, the CW last week was that -- from the Supreme Court watchers -- was the court was prepared to uphold this. But that barrage of tough questions I think surprised a lot of people. How do you think it came out at the end of the day?
WILL: Well, five minutes into the important argument on the mandate on day two, it was clear that the justices, at least five of them, had decided that the narrative advanced by the critics of Obamacare was valid. That is, that this raises fundamental questions about whether there is a limiting principle on what the federal government can do, or is the Commerce Clause so infinitely elastic the Congress can do pretty much anything it wants and the federal government has plenary police powers. So it is a regime level question. It was clear early on that five justices think that's a serious question. Which takes us back to Nancy Pelosi.
WILL: During the debate over this, she was once asked, are there constitutional problems here? And she said, I think completely ingeniously, are you serious? Are you serious? She has lived her life in San Francisco and the Democratic Party. The idea of limited government is foreign to her as outer Mongolia. So in a sense what we've now done is established that what the justices are doing as they write this opinion is taking seriously what she didn't take seriously.
JONES: Well, first of all, it's so amazing to hear the Republican Party now cheerleading for the free loaders. Listen, if you dive-bomb yourself into an emergency room, don't worry about it, taxpayers will pay for it. We have no -- there's nothing we can do to make sure that people pay on the front end.
Now, listen, you have people on the left who have been saying the whole time, let's go with Medicare for everyone. They said no, that's too much government. So we said fine. We'll go with individual responsibility. You're an American, you need to take responsibility for your individual health care, and now that doesn't work. What does that mean? That means we're going to be going back to a system where right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So it sounds like you believe the Supreme Court is going to strike this down?
JONES: No, no, no. Actually I think they're asking tough questions because tough questions are appropriate. But what I don't understand is what does the Republican Party want here? If we can't have single payer, we can't have a public option, and we can't have individual responsibility, what we're going to have here is more Americans dying.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm going to get to that question in a second, but first let me go back to you, Terry, because the Supreme justices probably already had a first vote Friday.
MORAN: Friday is when they met for the fist time and voted. And while Justice Kennedy has in the past switched and others have--
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it all up to him.
MORAN: Yes. It's his case right now. Clearly, from the kind of questions that George was talking about. And it was a thrill to be in there. But there was one big thing missing in the Supreme Court this week that most big cases have, a sense of real world example of how the law is really operating on a real human being. It hasn't even really taken effect yet. And most of the time in our history, that causes courts to say, wait a minute, we don't give advisory opinions, we let it to go to work.
This is an activist court, just as the courts of the 1950s and 60s were. We've not had half a century of judicial supremacy first on the left now of the right. They will do this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Ann, if it turns out that Anthony Kennedy decides he can find a way to vote for this, what do you think Chief Justice Roberts does, does he allow this to be a 5-4 decision, or do you think he joins the majority to craft a tries to craft a narrower opinion upholding the law?
COULTER: That's an interesting question. I don't think he's like Chief Justice Berger. I think he will not write a silly opinion just to be in the majority. So, no, I think all of the justices will write what they really believe. And who knows how it will come out. I think it is true that eight of the justices could have take the week off.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you read them?
COULTER: I don't know, because you can't tell that much from an oral argument. And I have made that mistake in the past so I'm not inclined to do it again. But if I can tell as for the free loader problem, that's a free loader problem created by congress. So you can't boot strap your way into a commerce clause power by saying well we're going to require every emergency room in the country to treat all comers including illegal aliens with the sniffles and then say and we're going to take care of paying for it from the federal government and that gives up the commerce clause.
COULTER: Because you know who don't have a free loader problem is my candidate for president Mitt Romney, a state can have an individual mandate. The question is, does the congress have a constitutional authority to require some guy sitting at home minding his own business to purchase a product?
STEPHANOPOULOS: That does bring us to the politics of all this. Let me bring this to you Matt Bai, a lot of debate on if this goes down, let's assume that for just a second. How big a blow this is to President Obama or is it in some way liberating to him going into the general election?
BAI: You know, for reasons Terry was just talking about, I think it's kind of a political loser either way, because the history of big social legislation like this there's this period before it kicks in, before people get used to the benefits, where there's a lot of anxiety. Government is doing something big, it's expensive. And then the benefits kick in and people start to build their life decisions around it and suddenly it's an entitlement and you can just never change it even if you should.
We're still in that (inaudible) period here. And I think there's a lot of anxiety in the public, but there's not a sense of all the good things that could -- some have kicked in, but the exchanges don't go up until 2014. People aren't really aware of what the law does in a lot of cases. So I think for the president to be relitigating this either legally or politically is actually not especially helpful for him politically.
WILL: It can't be a good thing going into the fall campaign for the most prestigious institution, the Supreme Court, to announce not only that the president's plan was unconstitutional but that it struck at the very fundamentals of the (inaudible) architecture of limited government. That can't be a plus to a candidate.
This will, I think either way, a 5-4 decision. Unlike, say, Brown v. Board of Education--
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't buy the argument that Roberts might try to go in the majority?
WILL: I think he'll be in the majority and write the opinion. I assume that will be the case.
But this isn't -- it was terribly important in Brown versus Board of Education having a unanimous court, because you were overturning the mores of a region and changing the thinking of society. This would overturn an unpopular law.
MORAN: But at 5-4, it will be all Republicans against all Democrats if the law goes down, just like it was in Citizens United, just like it was in Bush versus Gore. And the risk for the court is that it begins to be seen by a lot of people as just another political hacks up there who vote their partisan interests. And that hurts the long-term interest of the court.
WILL: There is no measurable evidence that Bush v. Gore, much more consequential decision had an effect on the prestige of the court.
JONES: Let me says something here, people say is this going to be bad for Obama or good for Obama? You know something, Obama has health care. Now matter what happens, he has health care. We have got 40 million Americans who don't. And you said this is an advisory opinion. It's not. There are 2.5 million young people right now who have health insurance that wouldn't, there are 45 million -- if it all goes down -- there are 45 million women right now who are getting mammograms and other support who lose that if all goes down.
This is not advisory. Right now people -- seniors right now who are watching who have saved -- 5 million of them -- have saved $3 billion right now. So you're talking about taking that away from the American people, why? So that we have this sort of political point-scoring on an ideology that is a conservative ideology that says individuals should take responsibility.
COULTER: No. I mean, the whole problem with -- it's not health insurance that's the problem, it's medical care that is the problem. And the problems with medical care are 100 percent created by the federal government. You have the federal government already paying for almost 50 percent of all medical care costs in the country. What you need is a free market in medical care. And I think Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will know how to affect that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We've got to take a break right now. Lots more from around here. But coming up, the GOP veepstakes begin.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Ryan.
MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Creative.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Obama's open mike, the Republicans pounce.
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ANNOUNCER: Starring Barack Obama as President Flexible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And what's the roundtable's take on Megamillions mania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, LAST NIGHT WITH JIMMY KIMMEL: If I won the lottery, you know what I would do? I would go straight to the 99-cent stores and blow their minds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is my last election. After my last election, I have more flexibility.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's Adam Clymer, major league (expletive deleted), from The New York Times.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: This is big (expletive deleted) deal.
OBAMA: First of all, are the mikes off?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Great moments in open mikes and back here with the "Roundtable." We do want to get to all the fallout from that in just a minute.
But let's begin, it does look like Mitt Romney could wrap this all up on Tuesday with a big win in Wisconsin, Maryland, and D.C. So it has already started the talk about who is going to be his running mate. You saw Paul Ryan early in the show, not want to talk about it at all, though he is being considered right now.
Let's look at Intrade and who they're putting the odds on right now. Marco Rubio, the big favorite, 31.2 percent, Chris Christie, 9.5 percent, there we have Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Rob Portman from Ohio, Susana Martinez from New Mexico, and there is Paul Ryan.
George Will, at this moment, all of the early money on Rubio, is it the smart money?
WILL: Well, Mitt Romney has two problems. One is the base is not energized. And Marco Rubio would do that. The second is Hispanics. The Republican candidates have spent the last six months competing with one another to see who could pledge to build the longest, tallest, thickest, and most lethally electrified fence to keep Hispanics out of the country, and they have some fence-mending to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that do it, though?
WILL: No. There's precious little evidence, George, that this ever matters. In one election in my lifetime, 1960, Lyndon Johnson on the ticket probably enabled Kennedy to carry and/or steal Texas, depending on your point of view.
You can sometimes move a state, an important state 3 points maybe by picking someone like that. But...
STEPHANOPOULOS: It can reinforce the message. Al Gore reinforced Bill Clinton's message back in 1992.
WILL: I have never met an American who said, I voted for presidential candidate A because of running mate B.
BAI: Yes, but they voted against, you know? They...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and that is the question everybody learns from the last election as well, Matt Bai. So one of thing you're picking up in the air around this potential pick is that most important, coming off the Sarah Palin pick by John McCain, Romney will have to pick someone who everybody recognizes in the first instant, automatically ready to be president.
BAI: Yes, and I'll tell you something else, they're in different positions, McCain versus where Romney is now. And I get that everybody wants a bold choice and a -- I like boldest too, and it's great for us to write about.
The job of a nominee facing an incumbent president at a time of real anxiety is to be reliable and a dependable, acceptable alternative. And in that sense I don't know that he needs bold. I actually think you could make a strong argument that Romney is better served with a Portman or a Tim Pawlenty or somebody who is not as exciting or doesn't bring some new demographic, but has government, has credentials, is traditional, is reliable, and is vetted.
STEPHANOPOULOS: George Will nodding his head. Are you as well?
COULTER: Yes, I mean, you can't have a novelty candidate, I think. That would ring too much like Sarah Palin. I agree with George Will that it be good to have little tea party excitement, and the odds-on favorite, I mean, certainly the betting is on Marco Rubio, I think that would be a mistake.
COULTER: Because the same people who love Rubio loved Rick Perry. I want someone who has been a little more tested, and I agree, not too bold. I'm a great fan of Chris Christie. I think he would be an excellent choice, or someone like Jon Kyl, who does a lot of these Sunday morning shows. He has been tested. He's steady. He's not frightening. And he can certainly step into the job.
But who knows?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And he has national security credentials.
COULTER: Yes, he does.
MORAN: One thing that vice presidential candidates do -- nominees do, is they tell us something about the internal workings of the presidential candidate. And Romney does have a problem. We don't really know him. He hasn't really connected in a way that people get how his mind works, what kind of decision-maker he is. What kind of man is he?
This will tell us something. If he chooses a Portman, a Pawlenty, somebody which basically reinforces his own kind of blandness, it will be a problem.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No -- well, that -- but on the other hand, Van Jones, maybe he does, and this is picking up on the other points you all were making as to avoid a -- any pick that looks transparently political and calculated, that could be his biggest problem.
JONES: I think that's right. And one thing I think is interesting is, if you want to do something shocking, you want the tea party base excited, nobody has talked about Condoleezza Rice.
But think about this. She checks off a lot of boxes, as far as women, she's a person of color, if the optics matter. But she's actually tested. She is actually a national figure. She has foreign policy experience. She was secretary of state. And she's sitting there.
Now people say, you know, you want to do something bold, put Condoleezza Rice on the ticket and watch the Obama campaign go crazy.
COULTER: Not a chance. Too much like a Sarah Palin. It will not be a woman.
WILL: Well, there might be a problem with the Rubio choice. And it's this. We talk casually and carelessly about "the" Hispanics, as though it was a homogeneous group.
JONES: A very good point, sir.
WILL: The fact is, I don't think someone in the barrios of Los Angeles identifies with an immigrant refugee, if you will, as we would say, from Cuba.
JONES: It's very true, and, in fact, you know, the Mexican community, the Puerto Rican community are very different politically and socially than the Cuban immigrant community.
COULTER: Well, nor do legal, eligible-to-vote Hispanics necessarily identify with the illegal aliens. And the idea that they do is preposterous. They're the ones who are losing jobs to illegal aliens. It's the people sitting around this table who like illegal aliens.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But right now, Mitt Romney far, far behind with the entire Latino vote.
Let's move on to all the fallout from open mike. Boy, Mitt Romney pounced right away on that gaffe by President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the president of the United States is speaking with the leader of Russia, saying he could be more flexible after the election, that is an alarming and troubling development. This is no time for our president to be pulling his punches with the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, George, Prime Minister Medvedev called it -- said this all smelled of Hollywood. But you really did see that the Romney campaign saw an opportunity here.
WILL: Just as Republicans saw an opportunity when the president, speaking during the campaign, and he didn't realize he was being recorded, spoke about those Americans who cling to their guns and religion.
And what this does, what people say when no one is listening, or so they think, gives you some insight into who Mr. Obama really is. And this reinforces a narrative, which is that he's kind of slippery, very aloof, and mildly disdainful of those people who inhibit his flexibility, aka, the American public.
BAI: Are we really -- I mean, just to put it in perspective, are we really shocked that the president of the United States thinks that he may have more political maneuverability after he's re-elected than he does during an election?
Do we think that this set off -- you know, at the Kremlin, this set off waves of jolting surprise that he might have more flexibility? I mean, this is a Washington...
JONES: I think that's right. I mean, first of all, everybody knows you're not going to be negotiating arms treaties in the middle of election campaigns. So he said when he wanted to talk about, he didn't say what he wanted to talk about, number one.
But this president, I would think you would give him a little bit more credit. This is a president who recognizes that the number one threat to American security is a loose nuke in the hands of terrorists that cannot be deterred.
He has picked up Ronald Reagan's mantle of trying to get us to nuclear disarmament. And he is moving forward aggressively. Everybody from Kissinger is giving him credit.
And yet when the conversation happens, it's jump on a verbal gaffe. He said when he wants to talk about it, not what he wants to talk about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the Russians have been resisting a lot of things the president wants to do there.
COULTER: Well, you wouldn't need to wait until after the election with more flexibility if this were going to be a popular policy, to give in to, as Romney correctly says, one of our leading geopolitical enemies.
And the fact that he's making deals -- or planning to make deals with someone who's going be sending -- or a country that is sending nukes and dangerous materials to terrorists, and it is a problem for the United States. I think it's as bad as the guns and religion remark.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me stay on this issue of flexibility, because, Matt, you hit it in your piece about last August, the debt limit negotiations last August, and you reach an interesting conclusion, you said, basically, you think that there's a much better chance of breaking this fiscal stalemate in Washington, if the entire cast of characters stays in place. If you have the president reelected and the House Republican majority with Speaker Boehner in place, why?
BAI: I do, because from what we know of Mitt Romney thus far as a candidate, he does, as George points out, he'll probably get this nomination with as little support among his party's base and activists as any modern nominee, more so.
Do we really think there's a crisis coming at the end of this year, a three-pronged crisis in the budget? There's going to have to be an accord or some very painful (inaudible).
STEPHANOPOULOS: The spending cuts, the tax cuts expire. You hit another debt limit, all within the space of about six weeks, September and January.
BAI: Exactly. It would have taken me a minute to put it all down, and it was very nicely digested (ph).
So, you know, he -- that was pretty good. So you know, do we really think the first thing Mitt Romney's going to do, before he's got a staff, before he has a cabinet, before he takes the oath of office, stand up to the base of that party, distance himself, say I'm going to do this whether you like it or not . I'm cutting -- he might. I don't know (inaudible). He might --
BAI: If you look at where the president is, he and the Speaker already have a blueprint set up for this. That had it about 80 percent of the way toward an agreement. He knows if he's reelected, he has about 18 months to solidify his legacy as president, because then you get into the midterms in the presidential. He's very motivated. I guarantee you Speaker Boehner is still motivated --
STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you make of that analysis?
WILL: I think Mr. Romney, if he does make that calculation, is going to discover the Constitution on his own, that is that he can't raise taxes, that he has to deal with two fractious Houses of Congress, both of which hate one another more than they hate anyone else. He's going to find that he's very constrained.
MORAN: And that hatred is a problem, because the problem ahead of the country is the kind of national challenge that can only be addressed by a grand bargain, which right now, given the poisonous atmosphere there, is impossible and it's what's frustrating the American voters.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One amendment that I might make to yours is that it might be somewhat easier for the president to do it if actually Republicans get control of the Senate, so there's a pure division --
BAI: Or the other way, George, which is if the president is reelected you can bet that some of the freshmen who came in in 2010 probably get washed away in that tide. And the Speaker might have a little more maneuverability within his own caucus.
COULTER: I think this is kind of a strange discussion, as if getting a deal is all we want here, how about what the deal is? And I mean, according to Timothy Geithner, within 10 years, spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the national debt is going to consume 8 cents of every federal dollar. That's the issue.
All Democrats want to do is raise taxes and pretend that spending isn't out of control. Republicans want to cut spending and neither of them want to tell their bases what they're doing. We so need Mitt Romney and a Republican Congress to cut spending. We can't -- you can't -- this is a monster that has gotten out of control. We have to cut spending.
BAI: That's not fair in regard to what I've heard about today in terms of the grand bargain negotiations, because they had actually agreed, or come very close to agreeing on entitlement cuts, on chained CPI for Social Security.
They had actually -- it's not as radical as the Ryan plan or even as Bowles-Simpson. But it was a pivot in a responsible direction that I think would have not only put the nation on the course to fiscal trajectory perhaps, but to start bridging inequality as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring this to Van Jones, because one of the things that could elect Mitt Romney is something that you write about in "Rebuild the Dream," and that is a great sense of distrust and disillusionment, especially among the younger voters that came out in record numbers four years ago to elect President Obama.
And "Huffington Post" has done a video which gets at this, which you call the burst of the hope bubble.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a single mother, who lost her job. But, I still have hope.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My house got foreclosed on. But I still have hope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in (inaudible) day. But I'm still hoping.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Obama, thanks for not doing much so that we still have the same amount of hope that we had before that last time since you told us to have hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: They may, Van Jones, but there's an awful lot of evidence out there, a lot of others don't.
JONES: Well, you know, I think that probably the majority of people who are in the Democratic Party, progressive independents or what I would call post-hope Democrats -- we're Democrats, we did the vote and hope.
And when we -- what happened was, we sat back and we let the Tea Party crowd dominate the protests world in the streets. For the first time, we had the biggest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. And there was not one left wing protest. The right wing was marching. The left wing was munching popcorn, hoping that Obama would do it.
I think what we've learned is this: you've got to have -- it takes two kind of leadership, not one, to change a country. You have to have a head of state willing to listen, and willing to move, but you have to have a movement willing to do the movement.
LBJ didn't lead the civil rights movement. You had a head of state who was there, but it's when people began to express themselves that you get real change. What my book about, what my organization Rebuild the Dream is about, is getting young people back involved. The big number one issue right now for these young people is, how do you get in the middle class?
We're sending away the manufacturing jobs? You can't climb that ladder. College is becoming unaffordable. You can't climb that ladder. You got a whole generation falling off the cliff. We think that if the president and any other politician who wants to, picks up the issue, or how are we going to get this young generation into the middle class, they'll win the election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the Republican Party, Ann Coulter, trying to figure out how to harness and maintain that energy created by the Tea Party.
COULTER: Yes, yes. And (inaudible) -- I think it's had a very good influence on the Republican Party. And it was a genuine grassroots movement, unlike I might add, the anti- -- or pro-ObamaCare protesters outside the Supreme Court this week.
I do not think that it's true, as I think someone said here today that -- I guess about the base, that the Tea Party doesn't support Mitt Romney. In a lot of the states, he's gotten --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- until the last several weeks.
COULTER: In Michigan, the people who hate the Tea Party were most likely to vote for Rick Santorum.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In the meantime, there are also a lot of protests still this week coming out of the shooting of Trayvon Martin down in Florida. All kinds of new questions raised by that surveillance video we now saw for the first time, that came about 40 minutes after the incident.
And some say it shows no signs of a life-and-death struggle, that Zimmerman had claimed. And there was also a moment on the House floor where Congressman Bobby Rush went to the House floor and pulled out a hoodie and gave this speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BOBBY RUSH (D), ILL.: Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker. Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, going on six weeks now, George Will, this thing -- seems like this entire issue gets increasingly unmoored from exactly what happened that night.
WILL: Well, precisely. I mean, this is why we have what's called due process. We have institutions that are juries and grand juries and prosecutors who are supposed to look at the evidence and come up with the answer.
The root fact is, though, Mr. Jones, that about 150 black men are killed every week in this country. And 94 percent of them by other black men.
And this is -- this episode has been forced into a particular narrative to make it a white-on-black when "The New York Times" rather infamously now decided that Mr. Zimmerman was a white Hispanic, a locution (ph) that was not -- was rare until then, and I think they abandoned by Friday.
JONES: Well, let me say, you know, this -- I think this hits pretty close to home. You know, I'm -- as an African-American parent, I have two boys. I think I'm going to have to go broke dressing them in tuxedos every day so they can walk down the streets to buy a Snickers bar or Skittles. I don't -- the standard just seems to keep up and up.
This kid was not in a gang. He was not gang involved. And yet somehow somebody saw him, and, you know, let's give Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt. Let's assume that he was trying to do something good.
Let's assume he was trying to be his brother's keeper, but for some reason, when he saw this young man, this child, he didn't see his brother, he saw the other. We've got to look at ourselves about this. Now, this does not take away from any other problems that you're talking about. But this is disturbing.
As a black parent, I don't know how to protect my sons. And I think that the other thing is that when you are a victim of a crime, if something happens to your child, the only upside is that the police are going to be on your side.
If your child dies at the hands of somebody who's armed -- until now, here I am as a black parent, I got to dress my kid in a tuxedo and if he gets shot, I don't know if the cops are on my side.
STEPHANOPOULOS: At least one detective on the scene thought that maybe charges should be brought. But, you know, what's also on trial here at this point are all of these "Stand Your Ground" rules.
MORAN: And Florida's in particular, because right now there's this kind of macabre national game show, OK, is there a cut on the back of Zimmerman's head or not? Is that Zimmerman screaming or Trayvon? Those are questions that, in our system, we give to a jury.
MORAN: And the problem with the Florida law is that it short-circuits that process. Florida, unlike any other state that has a "Stand Your Ground" law, makes it very difficult to trust our system, trust the jury, let them find the facts and do justice.
COULTER: That is completely wrong, this has nothing to do with the "Stand Your Ground" law.
MORAN: Florida's law, it does.
COULTER: You have two completely different narratives of what happened, including one in which the hoodie was not relevant and certainly not the race.
But we know basically what the two narratives are, and in neither one is the "Stand Your Ground" law relevant, because in one case, you have Zimmerman, the white Hispanic, tracking down the suspicious looking kid, just because he's black, blowing him away. Well, there's no (inaudible) -- the question is, did he have to retreat? No, he's the one doing the stalking.
And the second narrative, he's on the ground being beaten up by Trayvon Martin. There's no possibility of retreating when you're on the ground. That is -- all 50 states of the union have a law that if you need it for self-defense. This does not implicate the "Stand Your Ground Law."
COULTER: ...only if you have to retreat.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ...if you retreat is going to be...
COULTER: ... on the ground is not relevant.
MORAN: The police don't have to believe one narrative or the other. The police have to look at the fact that somebody...
MORAN: ...discharged a firearm into another human being on the public thoroughfare..
MORAN: ...what happened here.
COULTER: ...only is relevant if someone had an opportunity to retreat. And the law says you don't have to retreat. In neither narrative is retreating an option. It has nothing to do with the "Stand Your Ground" law. This is simple self defense on -- at least George Zimmerman's...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's going to have to be the last word. We're out of time. I am sorry for that. And I'm going to take a couple of your questions when we come back. Plus the remarkable story of an American hero.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week the Pentagon released the names of eight service members killed in Afghanistan. And a special remembrance for Sargent Dennis Weichel. Serving in Eastern Afghanistan when a young Afghan girl dashed in front of a huge armored vehicle in his convoy. Weichel pushed the girl clear, saving her life at the cost of his own. Sargent Weichel at just 29, a father of three served in Iraq as well.
(UNKNOWN): Being a young father, he saw his own children in -- in the -- in that Iraqi -- in the eyes of the Iraqi children and I'm sure the same -- he felt the same way with the Afghan girl.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He was awarded the Bronze Star and will be laid to rest tomorrow in Rhode Island.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, today, "Your Voice THIS WEEK" where you get to ask the questions. I take a shot at answering them. And the first one comes from Scott Finley. He says: "George, you know you will deal with spin in virtually every political interview you conduct. What kind of goals do you set yourself before an interview?"
Most important, be prepared, know the facts, be ready to press on any inconsistencies or what the spin leaves out so that everyone watching at home can make up their own mind on the issue when it's done.
And also Amy Brody would like to know: "Who is taller, Katie Couric or George Stephanopoulos?" I can't believe you asked that question. Of course, I'm taller. Of course, in heels, she does catch up. But you can check it out for yourself tomorrow, all week long, she's going to be co-hosting on "GOOD MORNING AMERICA," as Robin takes a little break.
And if you've got a question for me, send it in on Facebook, Twitter, or any time on abcnews.com.
That's all for us today. "WORLD NEWS WITH DAVID MUIR" has the latest headlines tonight. Thanks for spending part of your Sunday with us. I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."