NEW YORK, Feb. 05, 2012 -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
ROMNEY: Another great showing. Thank you, Nevada.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Fresh off another win, the frontrunner looks unbeatable, but this man vows to fight on. Our exclusive headliner, Ron Paul. Then...
OBAMA: Recovery is speeding up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... the best jobs report in three years. The highest stock market in four. Is the recovery finally taking off? Or will it stall again? What will that mean for the economy and the election? That debate with the architect of President Obama's plan, Larry Summers, chief economic adviser to Mitt Romney, Glenn Hubbard, and economist Diane Swonk. Plus...
BRINKER: The scurrilous accusations are profoundly hurtful.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... how did mammograms become a political football? That and the rest of the week's politics and some Super Bowl predictions from our powerhouse roundtable, George Will, Arianna Huffington, Matthew Dowd, and Dana Loesch.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos. It's your voice, your vote. Reporting from ABC Election Headquarters, George Stephanopoulos.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, everyone. This year's race for the White House came into clear focus this week, as President Obama got his best economic news in months and Mitt Romney secured his claim to the nomination with back-to-back landslides, that big win in Florida Tuesday and yesterday in Nevada. With about 70 percent of the caucus vote counted so far, Romney's at 48 percent, Newt Gingrich has 23 percent, and right on his heels, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, and he joins us now.
Congressman Paul, thanks for joining us this morning.
PAUL: Thank you. Good to be with you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you're in third place right now, fighting for second in Nevada, but you did come in second in 2008. It must be hard not to be disappointed by not having that secure yet.
PAUL: Well, you know, the votes aren't all counted yet, and there seems to be a bit of chaos out there, even though it was a small caucus vote. There was a lot of confusion. So, yes, if you go from second to third, there would be disappointment, but also on the positive side, we will get a bloc of votes. We will still get some delegates. And we still will pursue, you know, our plan to go into the caucus states. And we'll have to wait and see how things go.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Congressman, where do you get that first win?
PAUL: Well, you know, it's hard to say exactly when, but we have three or four caucus states that we believe our numbers are doing pretty good, so we have to just wait and see and continue to do exactly what we're doing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is also vowing to stay in this race straight through to the convention. He continued his pretty much scorched-earth campaign against Mitt Romney last night. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: The vast majority of Republicans across the country are going to want an alternative to a Massachusetts moderate who has in his career been pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase, and who ranked third from the bottom in creating jobs in the four years he was governor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of other Republicans, including Rick Santorum, who's still in the race, think that that kind of continued attack against Mitt Romney is going to hurt the Republican Party in the fall. Are you worried about that?
PAUL: I don't worry about a lot of things. I don't worry about that. I worry about myself. I worry about the message. I worry about the country. I worry about the wars going on. I worry about the economy in the real sense of what it's like to have runaway inflation. Those are things that I worry about, and that's what energizes my supporters, and that's why we get these thousands of people coming out.
So I don't worry about some of these details, because I don't see a lot of difference among our other candidates or between the two parties. It's all big government spending. Nobody wants to cut anything. Nobody wants to stop the wars. So that's what I worry about, getting the country on the right track.
And I get energized because I know there's a large number of people who are looking for another option. And in some ways, I agree with Gingrich about saying that Romney doesn't satisfy a lot of people.
Let me tell you: There's a lot of people not satisfied with any of the candidates out there. And that's why in many ways we're seeing a lower turnout right now. And that should, if party -- building a party is their only goal, they ought to wonder why they haven't offered something else. And that's what I'm trying to change and offer them some real changes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're exactly right, lower turnout in Nevada than four years ago, lower turnout in Florida than four years ago. And you've always said that your campaign is much more of a crusade, much more of a mission. But what exactly do you hope to achieve? What kind of stamp do you expect to put on the Republican platform this year?
PAUL: Well, the first thing you want to achieve is get as many votes as you can and get as many delegates and set your target high. And, of course, you set it for victory, but you have to live within the real world. But in the campaign, that is what the goal is, is to galvanize people, energize people, get them out and vote.
But some people want it either/or. You either believe in something and you're not in the race or you're in the race and you don't believe anything. I don't understand why you can't believe in something and still be in the race. This is the way I ran my congressional campaigns, and I was able to stick to my principles, vote that way, challenge the establishment, get re-elected.
So it's a bigger challenge, of course, to do this in a nation, but we've done this, you know, in the early primaries, like Iowa and New Hampshire, and we've been able to achieve that to a degree. But that is my goal, to make sure that campaigning and political activity represents true beliefs and a true understanding of what we're doing, rather than saying superficially, "How do you win the race? How do you become the nominee?"
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm taking you at that point, and that's why I'm trying to get at the deeper question. You said back in 2008 that you wanted to make a permanent mark, be a permanent presence on the American political landscape. And do you think you've been able to do that? And what changes have you actually affected?
PAUL: Yeah, I do, but I don't take all the credit for it, but there's been a big change in this country, because there's a different understanding now. There's a lot more people talking about free-market economics rather than Keynesian welfare-ism and interventionism. So there's a large segment. Intellectually, that is the case.
But among the young people, there is a revolution, an intellectual revolution going on with the young people, and there are people who have sat on the sidelines for years, the independents that I talk to. Obviously, we're not in a large majority right now when the election comes, but all -- anybody who cares about what I'm talking about has to come to the campuses.
Last night, we had -- in a small college in Minnesota, we had 1,300 people coming out, and they're energized. It has not been translated into an absolute political change, but, believe me, the intellectual revolution going on, and that has to come first before you see the political changes, and that's where I'm very optimistic.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think you can change Mitt Romney's mind on any of these big issues? And will you endorse him if he gets the nomination?
PAUL: Yeah, I think Mitt could change his mind. He's changed his mind in the past. If he hears from our young people and voters and we continue this, yeah, he's going -- he's going to change his mind, if there's a political benefit to it.
So I think they all will change their mind, because they don't approach this with firm convictions. And if they do have a firm conviction, most of the time it's embedded, you know, to a flawed economic policy and a flawed economic system, flawed monetary policies.
So, yes, they're open to it, but they're only going to be open to it and they're only going to change their mind when the emphasis come from the people and people's attitudes change. Government is a reflection of the people. So both -- I want to change the government, and I want to change it through the electoral process, but I also want to change the hearts and minds of people. That is where it really starts, and that is where we're making the progress.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you have been consistent in that. Congressman Paul, thanks very much for your time this morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We turn now to this week's big news on the economy and what it means for the fall election. An upside surprise in Friday's unemployment report showing 243,000 new jobs in January powered the stock market to its highest level since the financial crisis. President Obama responded with cautious confidence; Mitt Romney was fiery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: These numbers will go up and down in the coming months, and there's still far too many Americans who need a job or need a job that pays better than the one they have now. But the economy is growing stronger.
ROMNEY: Not so fast, Mr. President. This is the 36th straight month with unemployment above the red line your own administration drew. The real unemployment rate is over 15 percent. Mr. President, America has also had enough of your kind of help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And joining us now for some economic analysis and debate, Larry Summers, President Obama's former adviser and former Treasury secretary. Here in the studio, Glenn Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School, who's advising Mitt Romney. And economist Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial in Chicago.
Thank you all for joining us. And, Mr. Summers, let me begin with you.
This unemployment report on Friday, one of the best reports the president has seen, the country has seen in months, but we have been here before. Last year, February through April, more than 200,000 jobs created every single month, then the economy hit a wall. Is this year different?
SUMMERS: No one can know, George, but unlike many of the favorable past reports, if you look beneath the surface of this one, almost every indicator within it is favorable. The growth is mostly from the private sector. The alternative survey, the household survey, suggested 500,000 or more jobs were created. The revisions of past months were favorable. People are working a longer week. Paychecks are going up. The number of vacancies, firms looking for work, are going up.
So almost everything -- I mean, frankly, I'm obviously a strong supporter of the president, but I was surprised by how favorable these numbers were. And so you have to revise upwards your view. But we've got a long way to go, and there are no certainties. This is no time for complacency. That's why every day that the Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut, every day that the Congress fails to extend the unemployment insurance is a day we're taking more risk than we need to with this economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring -- let me bring this to Glenn Hubbard. Governor Romney in his speech last night and on Friday pointed out the lingering problems including that -- you know, that stubbornly high underemployment rate. What's behind that? And do you concede, though, that this is a very strong report?
HUBBARD: Well, first of all, it is a good report, and we should all be happy with that. But it's also important to know we'd have to have reports like this straightaway every month for two years to even get us back to December 2007 peak. And a lot of what's driving the unemployment rate is a drop in the labor force participation rate. That is very bad news.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... people have dropped out of the workforce.
HUBBARD: That is very bad news for our economy. And, of course, we have high underemployment. The real question for policy is, how do we grow faster and create jobs more? The president's agenda is squarely against that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But don't you agree that if the tax cuts and the unemployment benefits are not extended, that that could end up hurting this recovery?
HUBBARD: I think the jury's out on that. I mean, clearly we need a big change in tax policy in the country, but that's a very big change. I think there's a serious debate over the payroll tax and the unemployment insurance benefits, but there also needs to be a serious debate on what we can do in tax policy, in health care, in regulation and financial reform to actually create jobs. The administration's been standing in the way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ms. Swonk, what is the biggest challenge to this recovery that is gathering steam?
SWONK: Well, what we're starting to see is some new business formation which has been one of the biggest things absent along with the housing market. Let's face it, without the housing market, you do not have the backbone of the recovery along with new business formation. That was the backbone of job gains in the 1990s, and we're starting to see a little flicker of new business formation, but not enough. And it's really kind of like being caught in a traffic jam, where for many people -- although we've moved forward and sort of seeing things free up a bit in recent months -- some people's engines and their batteries are just dying out and they're being left behind in that traffic jam. And so the unevenness of the recovery is really an issue at this stage of the game.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a brand-new metaphor for me. I haven't heard the traffic jam before.
But let me go now to Mr. Summers, though, and get him to respond to the argument we just heard from Glenn Hubbard that the recovery -- and from Mitt Romney -- that the recovery would be doing even better, going stronger and longer but for President Obama's policies.
SUMMERS: Well, let's start with this. Unlike the past, these numbers really were good. Employment is up. Labor force participation did not decline. This was unemployment reduction generated by more jobs.
Look, a ton of this is coming from the president's policies. It's coming from the program he put in place to contain what was a situation worse than the Great Depression in 2009 and the steps going forward that the president proposes are the right ones.
Surely we can put more people to work fixing the nation's schools, fixing the nation's roads and airports at a time when the federal government can borrow money below 2 percent, at a time when construction unemployment remains at record levels. Surely, as the president has challenged the Congress, we need to do more to help those still facing the prospect of foreclosure and the housing market. And, surely, this is the time when we need to protect the economy from the kind of mistakes that took place in the financial sector before.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in...
SUMMERS: That's why the calls for many, many people on Glenn's side to repeal the new financial regulations seem to me to be very dangerous and inappropriate (ph).
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's get his response right now.
HUBBARD: Well, I think it's important to know we've had a lot of experiments with the president's economic policy, and it's been very aggressive, but if you look at the consensus forecasts of economists for growth the rest of the year, it's not even at the economy's potential growth rate. There is no wind at the back from policy. That can change.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But nonpartisan analysts, including Congressional Budget Office, have said that if the stimulus hadn't been put in place, we'd be in even worse shape.
HUBBARD: Well, the question is, could we have done much better? And could we have done it in such a way that would have had better fiscal consequences? I think the answer for most economists is yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring another question to Diane Swonk. You know, there are a lot of other X factors out there that could upend this recovery, a lot of focus on Europe and whether or not they're going to continue to make progress on their debt problems, also concerns about a potential conflict with Iran. That certainly was ratcheted up this week, concern that perhaps Israel would attack Iran, and the International Monetary Fund has said that oil could rise $20 to $30 a barrel if Iran stops exporting its oil. That could push gas prices up to $5 a gallon. How serious is that concern?
SWONK: Those are very serious concerns. And I would add to that list, I mean, not only having high oil prices when we have weak global demand -- let's face it, that's not inconsistent -- that is inconsistent.
The other side of it is the political uncertainty in the United States, and you see it being played out between Larry and Glenn. And I like both Larry and Glenn. I know them both. But the political debate is not helping the situation on the economy. Uncertainty in the political arena has never been higher, with the exception of maybe August of last year, and we know that caused a pause in economic decisionmaking, both by households and by firms.
I think, you know, both sides of the aisle need to start talking to each other than at each other so they we get some decisions made to be able to have some certainty. We all know that the federal deficit needs to come down over the long haul, to have a plan for that in the future, even with potholes in the road, I think Glenn and I could agree on many tax reforms. I know Larry and I could agree on bringing entitlement reforms.
We could sit there and as economists and as people in the United States agree on what we need to do in our priorities going forward, if we all give a little bit, and then in a context of a plan, the United States is very good at, when we know where the potholes in the road are, we have the most flexible economy the world has ever seen of its size. We can either brace for those potholes or go around them. And that's what we're missing at this stage of the game.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Glenn Hubbard, that debt crisis in August did hurt the recovery, correct?
HUBBARD: Absolutely. And policy uncertainty is a big deal. The entire tax code is about to expire. We have a huge debate over entitlement programs. It's time for the two sides to level with the American people about how they would do it. Governor Romney has said -- he has a specific plan to bring down spending. He has a very specific tax plan and specific policies. We really haven't heard anything from the president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... hasn't called for more revenues, which you think needs to be part of the solution, correct?
HUBBARD: I think we have to have a tax system that can deliver a healthy amount of revenue, and I think we have to have a spending system that comes down to within our limits to pay. Governor Romney's been very clear about what means to him. The president has said nothing. And that really contributes to the uncertainty.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and let's pick up on that point, Larry Summers. The president...
SUMMERS: Glenn, we've got -- Glenn, we've got some -- we've got some responsibility...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I just want to -- you can respond, but I want to also put a question mark -- question behind that. A lot of people look at this and say there does have to be major tax reform and entitlement reform. The president made a push last year, but was not willing to do that again in the State of the Union.
SUMMERS: George, look, the first thing we got to do is make sure this economy grows and make sure we're able to build on this momentum. And that goes to the things the president's trying to work with the Congress right now.
There is no question that we need long-term deficit reduction. There are a lot of good ideas in the Bowles-Simpson report. There's a lot of good ideas in the $4 trillion proposal that the president made last summer, that Congressman Boehner went part of the way with him on, and then eventually the Republicans just walked away from that proposal.
The president's budget will be out on the table. We're going to have to debate these issues during this campaign, and we're going to need to come together as a country.
But I would hope we could all agree that we've got to do this in a balanced way. Everyone agrees that most of what's going to happen is going to come on the spending side, but the president believes that it's essential that we curb tax expenditures that go to a very small fraction of the population.
SUMMERS: The kind of stuff that produces, for example, $50 million IRAs. And that question is, is that something we've got bipartisan agreement on or not? I'm not really sure at this point.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, I want to get Mr. Hubbard to response, and as I then -- quickly, because we're running out of time, want you each to say, bottom line, will the unemployment rate be lower today -- lower on Election Day than it is today?
HUBBARD: I think the key question for the president's budget is, will the president be putting out a budget that does bring down the glide path of spending and bring down the debt-to-GDP ratios? I think we know the answer's no, but we'll wait to hear it.
Your question about unemployment may be slightly below where it is today, but the true effect of unemployment rate, still way too high.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Diane Swonk?
SWONK: Looking for the unemployment rate to nibble close to 8 percent, but, again, of course it's too high. We're coming out of a financial crisis. And all this political bantering's not helping it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Larry, last word.
SUMMERS: Down. Down for the unemployment rate. We're on the right road, but we've got a long way to go.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you all very much.
Up next, our powerhouse roundtable weighs in on all the week's politics. The fight over money in mammograms, have the culture wars returned?
Donald Trump's big announcement. How much does it matter? Late night loved it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): Donald Trump expected to make a major announcement about the presidential race just hours from now in Las Vegas.
STEWART: Thank god. I haven't been this happy to see an orange face again since the end of "Finding Nemo." I mean, oh!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And on Super Bowl Sunday, the roundtable predicts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Upcoming HBO movie on the 2008 campaign, "Game Change." This film still being written this year in the primaries and the caucuses. I'm joined, as always, on our roundtable by George Will, Arianna Huffington, the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Media Group, Dana Loesch, the editor of BigJournalism.com, also conservative talk radio show host, and Matthew Dowd, our ABC News political analyst.
And let's begin with the big events on the Republican side this week, George. You had Florida, big win for Mitt Romney, and he follows it up with another one in Nevada last night. Seems like the inevitable nominee.
WILL: He is I think the inevitable nominee, but in Florida, turnout was down 14 percent over 2008. Granted, in 2008 there was a ballot initiative that may have pumped up -- still, enthusiasm seems to be down.
In Nevada, where it's really ground zero for the pain of the economic downturn, you would have thought enthusiasm for the Republicans would be up, down again there.
The Romney people have always said, we're not counting on enthusiasm to produce winning, we're counting on winning to produce enthusiasm, and I don't see that happening yet. Now, he's -- the second-place candidate, Newt Gingrich, has no debate, which is his strength, until February 22nd. In the South, he's already lost the biggest southern state in Florida. He's not even on the ballot in his adopted home state of Virginia. I think this is over.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet, Dana Loesch, he says he's going to continue to go on. There were some rumors last night that he might get out of Nevada. He called a press conference I think at 11:15 at night to say, no, I am staying in. Also didn't take the advice of a lot of people to, if you're going to stay in, go positive. He was tough again on Mitt Romney last night.
LOESCH: Yeah, I was a little bit little shocked at the tone of his address last night, especially when contrasted with Romney's very positive speech and Rick Santorum's very positive speech. It was -- whoever gave him that advice is horrible. He should -- he should have stopped talking at one point.
But I hope that it remains diversified at least until Tampa. I think it's -- I've kind of gone back and forth over this. At one point, I wanted all of the non-Romneys except for one to get out so all of the support could coalesce around that particular candidate and they could -- because when you look at New Hampshire, when you look at Iowa, and especially when you look at the results of Florida, all of the votes for the non-Romneys, for Ron Paul, for Rick Santorum, for Newt Gingrich beat the votes that Mitt Romney was receiving.
So I think there is a chance, when you talk about having someone coalesce around the non-Romney candidate, but at the same time, I don't know if that's -- that's just presupposing that that support would go that way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In Nevada, where you saw him start to get support, Romney, among Tea Party voters, among very conservative voters.
DOWD: Yeah, absolutely. He was getting it across the board, and I know the Newt Gingrich folks like to say, well, it was a heavy Mormon population. You take out the Mormon population, he still wins the race by 16 points, so it was an unbelievable victory.
I was thinking about this, having watched Newt Gingrich's response yesterday, which I totally agree with where he was going with this. Who would have guessed that the gold standard, decriminalize drugs alternative was the rational alternative...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ron Paul.
DOWD: ... candidate to Mitt Romney in this race? To me, watching Newt Gingrich -- you know, he says he has this 45-state strategy or this 46-state strategy, he's going to go all the way to Tampa. I think he needs a five-state strategy, based on Elizabeth Kubler's Ross stages of grief, because last week he was in denial, this week he seems to be in anger. He's probably going to go to bargaining next, then depression. He's finally going to get to the state of acceptance.
He has to -- what he did yesterday only shot himself in the foot. I think Mitt Romney continues to wrap this up. By the time we get to the end of February, he'll have won five or six in a row.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Arianna, I was talking to some people in the Romney campaign this week who are so snake-bit by Newt Gingrich, they want to keep the pressure on, they want to keep going after him when they have to. On the other hand, you finally did see Romney last night put all his attention on President Obama. He seemed to believe he had wrapped this up.
HUFFINGTON: Yes, and something happened last night, George. You know, if you look at all these months, there were so many Republicans absolutely focused on anyone but Romney. And last night, you saw that shift, and you had almost that feeling, "OK, Romney," of kind of reconciling themselves with the inevitable that he will be their nominee. But the speech that Romney gave last night is not a general election speech.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You didn't think so?
HUFFINGTON: So I wonder at what point he's going to pivot. I mean, to say, "I'm the American candidate," to say I want a military that is so powerful that no one can challenge us, nobody believes that. To say basically he can balance the budget without any tax hikes...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... most people wanted a military that -- that no one can challenge?
HUFFINGTON: Meaning that nobody can challenge America ever because the military is going to be so powerful, it makes you long for Ron Paul, talking about, you know, Iraq being the unnecessary war based on false assessments and lies. You know, this whole bluster is not going to work in a general election. You see it with independents. Independents are not going for Romney.
STEPHANOPOULOS: His unfavorable rating has gone up among independents, among all voters, George.
WILL: Exactly, because there's a cost to this kind of campaigning, which is why he ought to stop it as soon as he can. But beyond that, he won two events this week, but he may have lost the narrative of his campaign, which was the economy's horrible and only I can fix it. Now, he's been running on his resume, on his previous career. That may not work.
Foreign policy, I mean, the American people hear we're winding down Afghanistan, they say, "Great." They cut the defense budget, and some conservatives say that means we can't intervene as much as we have in the past. People say, "Wonderful."
We're drawing, what, 7,000 troops out of Europe, out of 80,000 there, 65 years after V-E Day? I mean, the whole Republican narrative since McGovern was nominated in 1972 has been, "We're the party to trust on national security," and I don't see the big difference anymore.
DOWD: To me, that's a huge -- what's a big huge change that's happened in this race is what's happened on unemployment this month and the jobs that we're at, is the conversation you just had, and it's beginning to show positive signs. If that continues, and it -- we'll probably start seeing a change in approval numbers, we'll probably start seeing a drop in wrong track numbers. We'll probably start seeing that start to happen.
And when that happens, Mitt Romney is going to have to make a very difficult choice in this, because it's been all negative Barack Obama, no positive, and then the American public is going to start saying, well, it's starting to move, starting to move.
To me, Mitt Romney feels like he's snake-bit or the curse of the Bambino, which is this old thing that happened to the Red Sox fell on him. So in 2007, Mitt Romney runs as a social conservative when people wanted sort of an economic outsider message. He didn't do that; he loses the nomination process. Now he's about to win the nomination process against what he thought was an incredibly vulnerable president who now could turn out to be not so vulnerable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Dana, you were just talking about how conservatives continue -- you want them to continue to put pressure on Romney through this nomination fight, but doesn't that make it harder for him to do what he needs to do in the general election and grab more of the center?
LOESCH: Not necessarily, because I don't think watered-down conservatism has very much worked in the general elections. And I don't think that Romney's really lost it yet on the economy, in terms of proving a disparity between President Obama and himself, especially when you consider -- just, what, in November of 2011, we've lost 300,000 -- 300,000 -- over 300,000 jobs, which is more than the jobs that we've gained, these past job numbers.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the trend is what matters in an election year, isn't it?
LOESCH: Yeah, but we've still lost 1.2 million people from the workforce. It's a 30-year low. But...
HUFFINGTON: The problem is that he could actually run an economic populist message. He could focus on the things that are still not working, the fact that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Like Trump?
HUFFINGTON: No, he's -- not with Trump, but, you know, that was another...
DOWD: Or with myself.
DOWD: ... multimillionaire to run an economic populist message.
HUFFINGTON: Actually, I wonder if Trump looks in the mirror today and looked at the Nevada results and said, "I'm a kingmaker. I did it." But seriously...
DOWD: If he didn't look in the mirror, that would be news.
HUFFINGTON: I wouldn't put it past him. But, seriously, he could actually look at the fact that we now have long-term unemployment at unprecedented heights. You know, we have...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Almost half the unemployed.
HUFFINGTON: Almost half the unemployed, 5.5 million people. He could focus on the fact that youth unemployment is still astronomically high, 23 percent among 16-year-olds to 19-year-olds. Are we concerned that the unemployed young can become unemployable?
He's already focusing on the fact that we have 3 million to 5 million people too discouraged to look for work. So he could play on that message, but then he doesn't have any answers, he doesn't have any solutions. They're probably going to be against extending unemployment benefits, which expire on February 29...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's take that question, George Will, you know, because the president -- Governor Romney is getting a lot of advice from the Wall Street Journal editorial page and others saying he's going to have to big on issues like taxes, come out with a brand-new economic plan. Smart?
WILL: I think it is, because, again, he can't run on a record saying, "I know how to create jobs and no one else does." At this point, George, in 1984, when Reagan was gearing up for his re-election campaign, unemployment had fallen from 10.8 percent to 8 percent. It kept falling to 7.4 percent, and he carried 49 states. As you say, it is the trend.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the big difference, Matthew Dowd, from 1984 and Reagan is that there was a lot of pent-up demand in the economy...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... the economy was fueled by housing...
WILL: But the economy was growing at 8 percent...
DOWD: But I think there's another big difference. And I think that time will tell about how much this will really impact his numbers, as I say, because he's got to change the wrong -- Barack Obama has got to change the wrong direction. He's got to change his job approval in order to get re-elected. That may happen, and we may see that happen.
But the huge difference that I see, there's still this gulf between jobs getting created and people feeling like the country is going in the right direction and they feel it. There has not been a rise in 2010 dollars in per capita income in 10 years, in 10 years, through the entire Barack Obama presidency and the Bush presidency.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Which is why...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... want to throw whoever's in out.
DOWD: And so during Reagan's rise and Clinton's rise, people felt it. Jobs got added, and their income went up, and they felt like they could spend more money. People haven't felt that in 10 years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, meanwhile, we're also seeing a lot more focus, again, with all this talk on the economy, we're also starting to see focus on social issues this week on at least two major fronts.
I want to start out with this whole controversy over the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation. They took away their funding from Planned Parenthood. Huge backlash created online by the supporters of Planned Parenthood. It turned -- and also the president of Planned Parenthood came out and said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARDS: This is a relationship we've had for many years. It came as a total shock and a real disappointment. We provide more than 700,000 breast exams every single year, and we've been very proud of our relationship with the Komen Foundation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: By the end of the week, Dana Loesch, the Komen Foundation reversed it, said they are open again to providing money to Planned Parenthood, which created a lot of concern among those who are anti-abortion.
LOESCH: Yes. Well, when you consider the amount of money that Planned Parenthood -- or that Komen donated to Planned Parenthood and the amount of accessibility that Komen funded, it's really not a lot. I think it's something around 800,000 screenings that Planned Parenthood either provided referrals to or -- they either provided referrals to mammograms to different clinics that actually are licensed to do mammographies and own mammography machines or they do the most basic of basic screenings. They did 800,000 of those usually about a year.
Now, Komen funds 34,000 of those, so that's like 4.25 percent. That's like nothing. If they can't afford to Planned Parenthood by themselves pay for less than 5 percent of the breast cancer screenings, then they can...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's not what this was about.
HUFFINGTON: No, absolutely not. But what we saw here is social media at work. It was really extraordinary. Planned Parenthood has now raised over $3 million, and...
WILL: Five times what was at stake in the Komen...
HUFFINGTON: Yes, five times what was at stake. But what was fascinating was that it was very clear, this is a beyond left and right issue. This was about women's health. This was an attempt to politicize it.
By the change in leadership at the Komen Foundation, including Karen Handel, who ran for governor of Georgia on the platform of the life -- the pro-life platform and against Planned Parenthood. So the attempt to politicize this issue backfired, and people said this is not a left-right issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're shaking your head.
WILL: This is not about women's health. This is about providing 300,000 abortions a year. They -- Planned Parenthood cleverly cast this to say we are in the mammogram business. They're not in the mammogram business. They're in the referral of mammograms.
This showed two extraordinary things, George. First, the American left cares about ending wars and they care about poverty and they care about the environment. What they really care about, when they're not perfunctory, is when you touch abortion, and historians will marvel that American liberalism in the first part of the 21st century is defined as defense of abortion. Furthermore...
WILL: Second -- wait just a -- just a moment. Second, all these people describing themselves as pro-choice said it is illegitimate to choose not to be involved in abortion. And a much more important decision politically that was taken this week was the Obama administration saying that Catholic institutions have no choice -- and this was applauded by pro-choice people -- have no choice but to provide contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I do want to get to that, as well. First respond to the Komen, and then let's get to that other issue.
HUFFINGTON: Well, first of all, this is (inaudible) presenting this as a left-right issue, to say that...
WILL: I didn't do that.
HUFFINGTON: To say that the people who raised money, who signed petitions were on the left and that didn't care about breast cancer, that it didn't care about prevention is absurd. And if you look at what Planned Parenthood does, an enormous amount of what it does is about prevention.
And what it showed, this whole campaign that was generated by people, by social media this week, showed the new power of that, to actually reverse decisions very, very quickly.
LOESCH: They hacked their -- their website. They hacked Planned Parenthood's website. They bullied them on Facebook. I mean, that's definitely -- that's a new media strategy.
DOWD: I think that this demonstrates -- to me demonstrates the corrupt nature that's happened in politics has now bled into the privates, but (inaudible) view as the private sector, which is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you mean by that?
DOWD: That there is now -- a private foundation can give and dispense money any way it wants. It can choose to give money -- people could have said when they first gave the money to Planned Parenthood, was that a good idea? Nobody sort of screamed and yelled. But all of a sudden they say we're going to take $700,000 back of private donations, which most people that gave money to Susan Komen Foundation had no idea they were going to go to -- be going to Planned Parenthood.
And so now what we see in Congress, this bitter response any time somebody does something, everybody screams and yell. Whether or not Congress should be investigating Planned Parenthood we can have an argument over. I don't think they should be in the middle of that. But I don't think Planned...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... who say this is democracy at work...
DOWD: I think this is a -- this is a corrupt, poisonous part of democracy at work. I think foundations should be able to make a decision, and if Planned Parenthood wants to go out and raise the money...
HUFFINGTON: Well, they can make a decision. Nobody stopped them. There's no legal enforcement on what the Komen Foundation is going to do. They reversed the decision in an incredibly disingenuous way, saying that the reason they had withdrawn the funding was because Planned Parenthood was under investigation. Well, right now, the Hershey Foundation has $7.5 million from the Komen Foundation. It's attached to the Penn State University, which is under investigation. They haven't touched that money.
LOESCH: Two quick points. First, Planned Parenthood was under congressional inquiry because of underage girls going into Planned Parenthood...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Where they were providing abortion services.
LOESCH: ... and they were alleged to hide statutory rape. The second issue is that, on average, the Komen Foundation would give a little over $500,000 to Planned Parenthood. That was less than Cecile Richards' paycheck from Planned Parenthood.
Now, you would think at some point in the past -- it's been a year to the date since Live Action called Planned Parenthood clinics in 27 different states to ask whether or not they had mammography machines. You would think that at that point -- they'd had a year -- Planned Parenthood would invest in obtaining licenses to operate and own mammography machines and give mammograms so they could have avoided this whole thing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get to the issue that George Will raised, as well. The president under his health care plan saying the Catholic hospitals and other institutions have to provide insurance policies that cover contraception, drew a sharp response from House Speaker Boehner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: This mandate violates our Constitution. I think it violates the rights of these religious organizations. And I would hope that the administration would -- would back up and take another look at this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Arianna, even some of the president's prominent Catholic liberal supporters said he went too far here.
HUFFINGTON: Well, actually what the White House has said is that they have a year in which to work with Catholic institutions to find ways in which they can provide contraception for their employees, many of whom are not Catholic, and they have a year during which to work that out. The churches are not going to be affected. We're talking about Catholic hospitals that employ a lot of non-Catholics.
DOWD: One disclosure. I'm on the board of a Catholic hospital in Austin, Texas, so with that being said, one of every six people in this country go get their medical care at a Catholic hospital. And I think what most people feel like is, when that -- they're on the front lines, they're not making money, there are nonprofits that are doing all this stuff, to be able to be put in the position of the federal government where they basically have to now decide what they're going to do about that, whether they're going to have to, you know, receive money, provide services on all that kind of stuff, I think was a -- not only a huge political mistake, but I think it was a huge substantive mistake, toward a system that basically provides most of the health care in this country, which are Catholic institutions, which came to this country before anybody else did and provided those things, for the administration to do that I just think is a bad decision if they want to provide health care for America.
WILL: On the political side, in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, particularly, there are lots of blue-collar Catholics who hear this as more bullying. The dialectic in this country goes like this. You declare a right. You have a right to abortion, contraception, fine. Then you say, well, we have a right, it has to be subsidized by the federal government. And then institutions that don't conform to our values have to be bullied into it, and this all in the name of choice. It's an astonished Orwellian piece of rhetoric.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Arianna, I know that some believe -- and in the president's campaign -- believe that this will end up actually working for the president. Taking George's point, they think that that's an old view of the Catholic voter and that, secondly, the Republican Party has put itself too far outside of the mainstream on these social issues.
HUFFINGTON: Well, yes. First of all, we're talking about contraception. We're not talking about abortion. And we are talking about the fact that so many of the employees of Catholic institutions are not Catholic. So this is (inaudible) another basic right. And the fact that, again, this is politicized is taking us away from the major issues we should be debating right now.
WILL: Excuse me. Is it -- why isn't it politicizing abortion when Komen decides to subsidize Planned Parenthood, which is in the abortion business, but politicizing it when you withdraw that money?
HUFFINGTON: Well, right now, they're making a decision, which they claim was based on the fact that they misrepresented a decision at the beginning. You know, this is -- the Komen Foundation is coming out of it worse than anybody. They mishandled it completely.
DOWD: And I don't think it's about whether or not Catholics believe in abortion, whether or not they believe in choice, or whether or not -- that's not what this is about. I think what -- just what George said. I think people that run these institutions and are in these services think, and that is, why is the federal government doing this, when we're providing all this care, doing all this stuff -- why is big government getting involved in our business, which we know what to do?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Newt Gingrich put a finer point on it last night, said it's part of a war by President Obama on religious liberty.
LOESCH: Well, there's a lack of choice. It's a stunning display of irony when you look at all of this. For instance, Komen is excoriated over their choice -- the private charity to do what they want with their money. And here you have the government now saying that you don't have a choice to be able to practice your religious liberty and these institutions have to comply with this particular mandate that goes against their freedom and liberty. So it's irony.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. It is Super Bowl Sunday. Before we leave, I want to get everybody's predictions. But, George, first...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... I know you're not always the biggest fan of the Super Bowl.
WILL: Football is a mistake. It just is. It combines two of the...
STEPHANOPOULOS: On Super Bowl Sunday.
WILL: ... it combines two of the worst...
DOWD: Seventy million people are going to make a mistake and watch the game?
STEPHANOPOULOS: A hundred and twenty, I think.
WILL: This is the second-highest calorie day in American life, second only to Thanksgiving, and people are betting and eating, is what they're doing today. Football, as I say, combines violence punctuated by committee meetings called huddles. It just replicates the worst aspect of American life. That said, when it's over, pitchers and catchers report in two weeks, and we can go back to reading the newspapers.
You want a prediction?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want a prediction.
WILL: I usually root for the team whose victory would make the most liberals unhappy.
Boston and New York, I don't know how to choose. So I'll say probably Boston has a higher concentration, so I'm for the Giants.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Giants. All right, he's going to go for the Giants. Matthew Dowd?
DOWD: I'm a -- I'm a Detroit Lion fan. They're not in the playoffs, but I'm -- so I'll root for the NFC team which is the Giants. I think they win by seven. I only pick seven because I think if the unemployment number has a seven in front of it, Barack Obama's re-elected.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And if it doesn't -- I think that's a pretty safe bet, actually, if it gets down to seven. Not a lot of predictions for that today. Dana Loesch?
LOESCH: Well, I'm from St. Louis, so we are the home of the Rams, and we're not allowed to like football. So that's -- well, I feel...
STEPHANOPOULOS: The whole middle of the country is being left out this year.
LOESCH: Well, you know, I've -- I've been sulking through the entire season, so I feel really bitter today. But I get it. You know, we've had two great World Series, you know, whatever, but it would be nice to have a good -- a football team that has as much success as the two teams playing today.
But they're two Northeastern teams, so I'm mad and I'm bitter about it. If you wanted to make people mad, you could shamelessly say, I'm supporting the Patriots because Patriots. So Giants I think will win.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Giants again.
HUFFINGTON: Well, first of all, I predict that there will be a car company (ph) commercial that somebody is going to find offensive. And...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is for sure.
HUFFINGTON: ... and that half the people are going to find the show -- the half-game show disappointing. And I do predict the Giants. And, OK, I'm going to read to you a whole prediction that our sports editor gave us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Uh-oh. We have 10 seconds.
HUFFINGTON: I don't understand it, but here it is, 24-21 with a field goal, that it will be a close game, decided by whatever defense can put more pressure on the opposing quarterback. I have no idea what it means.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, but you gave it. I'm going to take the Patriots.
Coming up, a little bit more football and politics, John Berman's take.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: If I would have been able to get in the NFL like I hoped when I was a kid, why, I'd have been a football star all my life. But I...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And on this Super Bowl Sunday, the Patriots versus the Giants is the marquee match-up, but as John Berman observes in our "Close Up" this week, the campaign has been a full contact sport just about every day.
BERMAN (voice-over): Where can you find crushing hits, flashy ads...
CHARLES: You've got the right one, baby...
BERMAN: ... and absolutely fantastic hair? Sure, you get that one day a year at the Super Bowl, but you get that every single day of the campaign season. Here are the crushing hits.
ROMNEY: He ultimately had to resign in disgrace.
GINGRICH: He's so desperate to be president, he doesn't think the truth matters.
BERMAN: Here are the flashy ads.
(UNKNOWN): ... only one man who will fight for American jobs.
BERMAN: And, of course, here, the absolutely fantastic hair.
ROMNEY: That's not all that's in my hair, I'll tell you that. I glue it on every morning, whether I need to or not.
BERMAN: Politics is not like football. Sometimes it seems it is football.
GINGRICH: This is like the opening two minutes of a Super Bowl.
BERMAN: It has owners like Newt Gingrich.
GINGRICH: I own one share of Packers stock.
BERMAN: It has cheerleaders, like George W. Bush, and it has players, like Mitt Romney. No, seriously. This Mitt Romney was named after this Mitt Romney, who played quarterback for the Bears in the 1920s. He was a not-so-distant relative.
They have the same doting wives. Gisele on Tom. I feel like Tommy really needs our prayer, our support, and love at this time.
Callista on Newt.
C. GINGRICH: I pray that God gives him the guidance and the strength.
BERMAN: It's totally interchangeable. And what about those ads?
(UNKNOWN): Hey, kid.
BERMAN: If you thought the "Mean Joe" Greene ad was a tearjerker...
(UNKNOWN): Thanks, Mean Joe.
BERMAN: ... you've never heard of a super PAC.
(UNKNOWN): How can we trust him on anything?
BERMAN: Yes, more than anything, politics is a full-contact sport, one the New Yorker suggests President Obama enjoys watching.
ROMNEY: The idea that I'm anti-immigrant is repulsive.
GINGRICH: Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?
BERMAN: And yet all those hits will leave a mark. There is one key difference, though: Football, you win and you get a trophy. Politics, you win and you're supposed to do stuff.
(UNKNOWN): The only thing...
(UNKNOWN): No, you don't...
(UNKNOWN): ... we are guaranteed is...
(UNKNOWN): No, you don't.
BERMAN: And the doing stuff sometimes gets lost in the full contact.
(UNKNOWN): Hell, no, you can't!
BERMAN: But, hey, at least there's still the hair.
That's my "Close Up" on "This Week." John Berman, ABC News, New York.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And I will be back to answer some of the questions you had for us this week, but, first, we remember and honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice.
This week, the Pentagon released names of three soldiers and Marines who died in Afghanistan.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally today, your voice this week, where you get to ask the questions and I take a shot at answering them.
But before we begin, we have a new feature for you every Sunday. Take a look at the bottom of your screen. That's a Twitter stream, a way for you to join the conversation on our air every week. Just use #thisweek when tweeting.
And our first "Ask George" question today comes from Deanna Shepheard. "I would like to know if Romney has to foot the bill for the Secret Service? He is not president, so he shouldn't get those services paid by the taxpayers."
I disagree. Every nominee gets those services paid by the taxpayer. And also, any candidate that is deemed a major candidate by a bipartisan committee in the Congress, in consultation with the Secret Service, gets it, as well. I think that is the right decision. This is a small price to pay to protect our presidential candidates. The trauma of a successful attempt against any of these candidates would far outweigh this cost.
And another question comes from Tina Conver, who asks, "Hey, George, when is Ali going to appear?" I think the shorter answer is, don't hold your breath. We've actually talked about that at home, but politics is not exactly Ali's thing, but she is on Twitter every day, also on Yahoo with her new show called "The Daily Shot," and she is actually going to be on "GMA" on Tuesday, because she's got a new book coming out called "Ali in Wonderland," a very funny take on her life. That is my shameless self-promotion, family promotion for the week, so turn in to "GMA" on Tuesday to see Ali. And if you've got a question, send it in on Facebook, Twitter at #askgeorge, or anytime on abcnews.com and Yahoo.
That's all for us today. "World News" with David Muir has the latest headlines tonight. And check out otusnews.com all week long for the latest from our political team.
Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."