-- Below is the "This Week" transcript for March 1, 2015. It is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.
Assassination: who ordered the murder of Vladimir Putin's biggest critic? The massive march happening right now.
And, shut down averted: congress keeps DHS open for now. Does our security hang in the balance?
MARTHA RADDATZ, HOST: Good morning. As we come on the air, breaking developments on several fronts across this region all with significant impact on the U.S. We've just returned from the Turkish-Syrian border where ISIS is unleashing a new round of terror. More on that shortly, but first the latest from our global team on three crisis zones around the world.
Chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran has all the new details. Good morning, Terry.
Nevertheless, they came out to march today, dissidents in their thousands. And think for a moment what it takes to do that in Russia now.
It was supposed to be a march for peace, against the war in Ukraine. It was scheduled to be led by Boris Nemtsov, once a deputy prime minister, possible leader of Russia, but Putin out maneuvered him and now Nemtsov is dead, murdered on Friday night right outside of the Kremlin.
And Putin is personally in charge of the investigation. His investigators say that they believe it was others in the opposition who killed Boris Nemtsov, trying to make a martyr out of him, or maybe they say it was Islamist radicals who did it, or maybe Ukrainians.
The protesters say they know whoever pulled the trigger, it is the climate of fear and intimidation that they believe Putin has created that lead to this killing.
Boris Nemtsov is just the latest high profile Putin critic to be killed. Few in Russia think he will be the last -- Martha.
RADDATZ: Thank, Terry.
It's a visit a top White House adviser has called destructive to U.S.-Israeli relations.
ABC's Alex Marquardt now on the latest fallout. Good morning, Alex.
ALEX MARQUARDT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martha. That's right, Prime Minister Netanyahu taking off just a short time ago today calling his trip a historic mission to secure the future of Israel. Netanyahu has been widely criticized in Israel for destroying the relationship with President Obama by accepting this invitation from House Speaker John Boehner. In his speech to congress on Tuesday, Netanyahu is expected to call for more sanctions against Iran. He has accused the Obama administration of working on a deal that would still allow Iran to develop materials for nuclear weapons.
Secretary of State John Kerry says that's not true and that anyone discussing the specifics of the deal doesn't know what they're talking about, because negotiations are still ongoing -- Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Alex.
Now the manhunt for the world's most wanted terrorist, the brutal ISIS executioner known as Jihadi John. It turns out, Mohamed Emwazi was on the radar of British intelligence for years. This morning, many are asking could authorities have done more to stop him?
Chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is on that story. Good morning, Brian.
BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martha.
Since he finished his studies at the University of Westminster here, Mohamed Emwazi had been closely tracked by the British spies at MI5, but they weren't able to stop him from slipping out of the country to join ISIS where he presided over the brutal murders of three American hostages and at least four others.
Emwazi came of age in London at a time when Islamic extremists here were urging young Muslims to carry out Jihad against the U.S. and Britain. And we went to find one of them this week outside the city's biggest Mosque, activist Anjem Choudary (ph) who said he did not know Emwazi, but refused to condemn his brutal acts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSS: So as of now you don't want to condemn it.
ANJEM CHOUDARY (ph), ACTIVIST: I know what I want to condemn, I want to condemn you guys for being the tongue of the biggest terrorists in the world, who are the Americans and their allies the British.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROSS: Now that Emwazi's name has been made public, the search for him has only intensified. But Martha, as you know, knowing his name is one thing, but knowing where he's hiding in ISIS held territory in Syria is quite another -- Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Brian.
We just came back from that wide open Syrian border just across from the key town of Kobani where it took a four month long effort to push ISIS out, leaving Kobani nearly leveled. So how long would it take to completely degrade and destroy ISIS as the president has called for. Let's bring in our exclusive guest Secretary of State John Kerry.
Secretary Kerry thanks for joining us.
Secretary, I have seen this threat firsthand over the last month in this region, walking along the Syrian border this weekend and the situation really seems bleak. In fact, the New York Times described it this way, "the reports are like something out of a distant era of ancient conquest, entire villages emptied with hundreds taken prisoner, others kept as slaves, the destruction of irreplaceable works of art, a rampage reminiscent of Tamerlane or Genghis Khan.
And these were actions by ISIS just this week. So do you stand by your recent comments that we're on the road to beating ISIS?
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What I said was we're on the road to success and that begins in Iraq. And yes, I stand by it. We are growing in the capacity on the ground, Martha. Each time the Iraqis had now gone forward in an offensive effort together with allies, the coalition. We have routed ISIL. And the fact is that in Iraq, they have gained back a fixed significant percentage of the area that ISIL was controlling.
Now Syria is a different matter, Syria is a bigger challenge. We will need people on the ground that will not be American forces, but we are working on that. There's training and equipping of the opposition that begins this month. Arab countries in the region are stepping up their efforts. I have meetings this week with all of the GCC. I'll be meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
There's a great deal of energy and effort being put into this, and I am confident that over time we will beat, we will indeed degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, yes.
RADDATZ: Let me read you a few comments from this week. A top FBI official testified we are losing the battle in countering ISIS online. Director of national intelligence James Clapper says this has been the most lethal year for global terrorism and the latest figures show more foreign fighters who have joined ISIS in the past six months than have been killed.
You said this week to congress that we're living in a period of less daily threat to Americans with fewer violent deaths than any time in the last century. Can you understand why the American people just aren't feeling that?
KERRY: Well, I understand. Of course I understand it, Martha, because people are thinking about the day-to-day vision of what is happening on the ground in Syria, in Libya where 21 Coptic Christians have their heads cut off, where a soldier is burned in a pilot in a cage, where American journalists have been beheaded publicly. We understand that.
But I still stand by what I said, which is in large terms, compared to the last century, there are in fact fewer people dying of the means that -- you look at state war, violence, health, et cetera.
But that's not what's important, what's important right now is what James Clapper said. There is an uptick in the level of terrorism and specific incidents of people being killed, and that threat is very, very real. Nobody is trying to minimize it. President Obama has put together a coalition of countries that have come together. We're all super focused on this. And we are focused on the Internet, cyberspace battle also. We have a center that is being stood up in Abu Dhabi. It will be...
RADDATZ: Mr. Secretary...
RADDATZ: Mr. Secretary, I want to move forward to Mosul. And I know your efforts by setting up these internet -- in Mosul, it is a hugely important city, second largest city, when will the Iraqis be ready to retake Mosul? Will it happen this spring? Will it happen in the fall?
KERRY: Martha, contrary to what was in the newspaper earlier sometime I think in the week, we're not going to advertise when that will happen. It will happen. But we're not going to talk about the strategy, we're not going to lay out the plans.
The Iraqis are working hard to come up to speed. There's a lot of effort being put into this. And we will do it when the moment is right and when we know we can proceed forward with the confidence that we want.
RADDATZ: I just want to say, Mr. Secretary, it wasn't just in the newspapers. It was Central Command that said it would probably be this spring.
I -- I want to turn to...
KERRY: Yes, but that -- that's a...
RADDATZ: -- Israel, as well...
KERRY: -- as I think you see...
RADDATZ: -- as you are headed overseas, as you said.
KERRY: -- Martha...
RADDATZ: -- as you said...
KERRY: -- as I think you've seen, that has been contradicted and I think walked back. And there are a number of different options out there. So nobody should count on what they've read or what they've seen. This will happen when we are ready. It will happen on the coalition schedule. And it will happen when there is confidence that it will be successful.
RADDATZ: But maybe this year?
KERRY: I'm going to get into timetables. It will happen.
RADDATZ: OK, let's -- let's move back, then, to Israel and Iran. You're headed over for further negotiations.
While you're gone, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be addressing Congress.
Susan Rice said it was destructive to U.S.-Israeli relations.
Do you agree with that?
KERRY: Well, look, we're not -- the prime minister of Israel is welcome to speak in the United States, obviously. And we have a closer relationship with Israel right now in terms of security than at any time in history.
I was reviewing the record the other day. We have intervened on Israel's behalf, in the last two years, more than several hundred -- a couple of hundred times in over 75 different fora in order to protect Israel.
I talk to the prime minister regularly, including yesterday. We are not -- you know, we don't want to see this turned into some great political football.
Obviously, it was odd, if not unique, that we learned of it from the speaker of the House and that an administration was not included in this process.
But the administration is not seeking to politicize this.
We want to recognize the main goal here is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And on that, Israel and the United States agree.
And the testimony, in fact, to the efficiency with which we've been able to pursue that is the interim agreement that is in place today.
Israel is safer today because of the interim agreement that we created. The 20 percent enriched uranium has been reduced to 0. We have stopped the centrifuge production. We are inspecting inside of their facilities. We have stopped the Arak plutonium reactor in its tracks.
Israel is safer today and that is the standard that we will apply to any agreement going forward. It is to guarantee that we will know that Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon under the procedure that we're putting in place.
RADDATZ: Secretary Kerry, one of Iran's vice presidents said today that Netanyahu's speech actually serves Iran's interests. I was recently in Iran and -- and there were a lot of people who wanted disagreement.
Does Netanyahu's action actually help Iran?
KERRY: Yes, I'm -- I'm just not going to play the game of walking -- walking into a debate about Iranian propaganda with respect to this visit.
As I said, the prime minister is welcome in the United States at any time. We have an -- we have an unparalleled close security relationship with Israel and we will continue to.
President Obama has done more to ensure the security of Israel by the creation of Iron Dome, by the development of weapons that are specifically calculated to be able to deal with Iran's nuclear weapon problem. And the president has pledged that they will not get a nuclear weapon.
Now, I guarantee you, we have said again and again, no deal is better than a bad deal. We're not going to make a bad deal.
But remember, Martha, there were many people who opposed the interim agreement and said that was terrible.
The fact is, the interim agreement has been adhered to. It has been inspected. We have proven that we have slowed Iran's -- even set back -- its nuclear program. And we are going to continue now to the next step to see -- I can't promise you we can.
But we are going to test whether or not diplomacy can prevent this weapon from being created, so you don't have to return to additional measures, including the possibility of a military confrontation.
Our hope is diplomacy can work. And I believe...
KERRY: -- given our success on the interim agreement, I believe we deserve the benefit of the doubt to find out whether or not we can get a similarly good agreement with respect to the future.
It is better to do this by diplomacy than to have to do a strategy militarily, which you would have to repeat over and over and over again, and which I think everybody believes ought to be after you have exhausted all the diplomatic remedies.
RADDATZ: Secretary Kerry, just a final question, and very quickly, if you will.
I want to turn to Russia and the murder of one of Putin's most outspoken critics.
Do you have any intelligence -- does the U.S. Have any intelligence or suspicions who may be responsible for that murder?
KERRY: No, we have none and we wouldn't comment anyway, Martha. But we don't have any. And the bottom line is that will hope there will be a thorough, transparent, real investigation, not just of who actually fired the shots, but who, if anyone, may have ordered or instructed this or been behind this. Four men jumping out of a car, I think it was four, in the middle of Moscow in daylight is -- is not sort of a common affair.
And so our hearts go out to the Russian people. This was a man who was deeply committed to a better relationship with the world. As deputy prime minister, he worked hard to improve the relationship with the United States. He was known as an activist, as engaged and engaging. And we are enormously saddened to hear of his murder and we hope the authorities will join the world in producing the credible, transparent investigation necessary to find out who did -- who was behind this and who did it.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much for joining us Mr. Secretary.
KERRY: Thank you.
RADDATZ: And have a good trip.
KERRY: Thank you so much.
It's good to be with you.
RADDATZ: And now let's bring in Chairman Peter King.
Thanks for joining us.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Thank you, Martha.
RADDATZ: You know the threat. The public knows the threat. This was the first big test after the Republicans swept Congress. And if there's anything Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree on, it's funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
Let me read you some of the words describing what yesterday's brinksmanship meant for your party. "Humiliating," "Congressional Republicans are their own worst enemies." And as one of our colleagues put it, "The American people deserve better."
What do you have to say for the Republican Party?
KING: Martha, there's an element within our party, there's a wing within the Congress which is absolutely irresponsible. They have no concept of reality. Listen, I am as opposed this immigration action as they are.
But the fact is, it's essential that we fund the Department of Homeland Security. We -- we saw what happened in Denmark, in Paris, what ISIS is doing with the beheadings. We had the people being arrested in New York just the other night.
And for these people to be threatening to defund the Department of Homeland Security at a time when our threat has -- our threat streams have never been greater at any time since 9/11, it's absolutely irresponsible.
I said the other night, when I was at the Republican meeting, that they all right self-righteous and delusional. And they just don't realize what's happening.
We're talking about maybe 40 or 50 people at most, out of a caucus of 247, out of a Congress of 435. We cannot allow such a small group to be dominating and controlling the -- what happens in the United States Congress, especially at a time when we're confronting terrorism...
RADDATZ: So -- so, Chairman...
KING: -- when we have American lives at risk...
RADDATZ: -- Chairman King, what do you do to bring the party back together?
And does Speaker Boehner keep his job?
KING: We have to stand behind John Boehner and John Boehner has to find a way this week, as soon as possible in the week, once Prime Minister Netanyahu finishes his speech, to bring the -- the clean bill to the floor of the House for a vote, an up or down vote. That's all we're asking for is democracy. Let that come to a vote.
There's no doubt it will pass.
And this was a -- this was a -- an appropriations bill that the Republicans put together. This was or bill to begin with. It passed the Senate 68-31.
We cannot allow this small group to block it.
Once we -- this comes to a vote, we get it behind us, we go forward, then we really, as Republicans, have to stand behind the speaker and make it clear we're not going to allow this faction to be dominating and to be impeding what we're trying to do. It's important that we lay out our agenda.
Otherwise, we have no chance of winning the presidential race in 2016.
RADDATZ: Chairman King, I just want you to answer this very quickly in reaction to Secretary Kerry.
RADDATZ: Are we living in a period of less daily threat to Americans and to the people in the world?
KING: Yes. Yes, right now, the threats are ongoing (ph) to the U.S. any time and we are not winning against ISIS.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much.
And coming up, we're on the Syrian border, where ISIS is on the rampage again. We'll talk to Christians under fire from the terror group plus another ABC News exclusive -- the new director of the Secret Service. How the agency is preparing for new lone wolf threats to the president.
Back with more of our special edition of THIS WEEK in just two minutes.
RADDATZ: We're back now with a closer look at a region under siege. This weekend, we drove to the Turkish border with Syria, witnessing firsthand how violent extremism has put followers of different faiths in grave danger and how this conflict is leaving a permanent scar on the land and on its people.
RADDATZ: We traveled hours to reach this border, a border like no other, where we pass those who fled Syria's upheaval now without a home and with little hope. But finally, we see across the border the sight of a rare victory against ISIS, Kobani, the Syrian border town where Kurdish fighters prevailed over the brutal extremists. Still, the destruction from the battle has left a devastating mark.
It is easy to still see the destruction in Kobani. Almost every building in that town was struck during months of U.S. airstrikes.
ISIS was kicked out of Kobani, but not before most of its inhabitants were displaced.
Almost everyone from Kobani fled when ISIS moved in, but they won't be going back any time soon. They're all in refugee camps. This one alone 45,000 people.
And now a new crisis is developing for the region's persecuted Christian minorities. Following the border east, some 100 miles from Kobani, we travel to this Turkish town. This is the town of Marden (ph). Here, up ancient stone corridors, lay churches and mosques, a place where religions have coexisted for eons, where persecuted Christians are now finding sanctuary.
Why target Christians?
This man says, "they want everyone to be part of ISIS, all the world, so of course they wouldn't accept Christians in Syria."
This week, ISIS militants abducted dozens of Assyrian Christians from a string of villages in northeast Syria. Some reports say as many as 350 Christians were kidnapped from their homes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We might be helpless, but we are never hopeless.
RADDATZ: Father Emmanuel Ukana (ph) is an archbishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, who had been in touch with many of the fleeing families.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been crying for them. I feel (inaudible) crucified with them. This is why we're asking please, let us have an end to this continuous chapter of persecution once and forever.
RADDATZ: Long persecuted in the Middle East, the Assyrians are one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. They still speak a version of Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.
The abduction is only the latest shock in what has been a harrowing year for the region's minorities as ISIS swept through. Last August, 40,000 of Iraq's Yazidi population fled to Sinjar mountain. U.S. airstrikes and humanitarian aid alleviated the situation until Kurdish fighters finally liberated the Yazidis in December.
Then, another blow, ISIS released a video showing the slaughter of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach.
This week, ISIS posted a video claiming to show the destruction of priceless Assyrian antiquities as well thousands of years old, now ruined forever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Indeed, it's the most difficult days we are passing now.
RADDATZ: And as the threat to Christians in Syria grows, another Christians leader we spoke to left us with a simple request. On Sunday morning at mass, remember to pray for us.
RADDATZ: We're now joined by Matt Bradley who has covered this region for years for the Wall Street Journal. And Matt, you and I have been talking over the last year. Last time we met in Baghdad, we heard the secretary of state's assessment about what's happening in the battle against ISIS. What have you been seeing?
MATT BRADLEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, for the past several months the administration has been flogging this idea that they are making some gains against Islamic State and that the battlefield momentum that Islamic State first had when they took over Mosul and advanced to within shouting distance of Baghdad back in June that they have reversed that tide.
But there's really very little evidence to point to that. In fact, most of the gains made by anti-ISIS forces have been modest and they have been problematic, because they have been done by Shiite militia groups, by Kurdish Peshmerga, and other people who have vested interest in trying to gain land, in trying to subjugate Sunnis in the western part of the country. So a lot of the on the ground victories have really been either very small or somewhat mixed in terms of results and in terms of where this country is going. It's been more fragmenting.
RADDATZ: So when you look at retaking Mosul, that they're saying is going to happen with those Iraqi forces, do you think it's possible in this year?
BRADLEY: Well, the Pentagon has just sort of climbed down from their original statements, which said that this was going to be happening in April or May. That was always going to be an optimistic assessment. And it -- that announcement really caused a lot of outrage, not just in Washington, but also in Baghdad where a lot of these Iraqi military generals were saying why are we announcing plans for this? Why are we telling the enemy when we're going to be attacking and how many soldiers we're going to be using?
So this has been really difficult for a really vexing issue for a lot of people in Iraq and a lot of people in government.
RADDATZ: But the Iraqi security forces from what you've seen. Let's all remember as we've talked about they -- they ran about a year ago.
BRADLEY: And not much has really changed in terms of the Iraqi security force's ability to fight against Islamic State.
That's why when this assessment was announced they said 25,000 soldiers, Iraqi soldiers versus only 2,000 ISIS troops in the city of Mosul. And that's really hard, urban warfare. That means that it's going to be street by street fighting, really a lot of losses.
Now the -- it doesn't look like they're going to really be able to take the city within the timeframe that they've announced.
RADDATZ: And Syria, just quickly on Syria, that's another story.
BRADLEY: Syria, there are no U.S. troops on the ground in Syria, so that's going to be very, very difficult. The United States has already pummeled the town of Kobani, which you visited. And it's been really -- it's been really hard to put U.S. -- people with U.S. interests on the ground trying to reverse the Islamic State's gains.
Even the Kurdish Peshmerga in Syria and even a lot of the other anti-ISIS rebels, are not going to be, you know, really projecting the goals that the United States wants to see in a new Syria. So it's very problematic.
RADDATZ: Thanks. Always great to see you, Matt, thanks for coming.
Coming up, amid threats from ISIS and lone wolves, is the secret service up to the task of protecting the president? We'll ask the new director of the secret service. It's an ABC News exclusive.
And later, our powerhouse roundtable weighs in on a presidential contender, comparing the fight against ISIS to taking on protesting public (inaudible). We're back in just two minutes.
RADDATZ: We're back now.
Joining you from a region where the threat of ISIS is ever present. Back home, the biggest danger posed by the terror group remains its ability to inspire lone wolves as we saw this week with the arrest of three men accused of wanting to wage Jihad and fantasizing about executing President Obama.
This morning, senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas brings us an ABC News exclusive with the man charged with doing whatever it takes to protect the first family.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Three Brooklyn men this week accused of supporting ISIS with one allegedly willing to assassinate the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is real, this is the concern about the lone wolf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've always been concerned about the lone wolves, I mean, regardless of what organization they may be attached to.
But, you know, we have to set up a security perimeter, security plan that addresses all those what ifs.
THOMAS: The what ifs have the secret service training day and night.
Make no mistake, this is deadly serious business.
But the Secret Service's ability to protect the president has been called into question after a series of embarrassing and very public failures: soliciting prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, agents drunk on a presidential detail in Amsterdam, and perhaps most damning of all this man jumping the fence at the nation's most famous address making his way deep inside the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think when you fail, and we have failed, we own it, now it's up to us to correct it. There's no excuses.
THOMAS: We met exclusively with the man picked by Mr. Obama to fix what's wrong with the Secret Service and repair its image: Joseph Clancy, a retired Secret Service veteran called by to duty.
As for those failures...
JOSEPH CLANCY, SECRET SERVICE: There is anger, but then there's a thought of how do you fix this? How did it go wrong and how do we fix it?
THOMAS: The White House fence jumper, that's a preparation issue. That one had to hit you right in the gut.
CLANCY: Absolutely. On that particular day, we had a convergence of failures.
THOMAS: And what about that sordid behavior?
Was it about training? Was it about a cultural issue? What do you think was the root of those issues?
CLANCY: There was a lack of discipline. I think individual lack of discipline, but also we've got to do a better job of mentoring, coaching, teaching and training our people that this is unacceptable.
THOMAS: And to the critics in congress who say they wanted an outsider? What say you?
CLANCY: I'm going to earn their trust. And I take things day by day, minute by minute, but we need to earn their trust.
THOMAS: While Clancy admits the failures were devastating, he does not believe they truly reflect the people of his agency.
CLANCY: I would not have come back if I didn't believe in the men and women of the Secret Service. We all want to fix this. And they're working diligently to try to get this thing back on track.
THOMAS: We were there as a new class of Secret Service officers were being sworn in Friday. Clancy was on message.
CLANCY: But now it's for real, now you've got to be on your game all the time.
THOMAS: But the agency's attempt to improve his image comes at a highly pressurized moment in Washington with congress threatening to block funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Secret Service.
CLANCY: The president, the first family, the White House are going to be secure. We're going to complete our mission.
THOMAS: And all this partisan bickering comes as the Secret Service faces new threats.
Recently a drone penetrated the White House perimeter.
CLANCY: And I personally briefed the president on the events of that day. And he had very specific questions.
He was very concerned, as he should be. Technology changes and we're working with the private industry as well that those that are producing these drones and it's a global issue.
THOMAS: As for the fence.
CLANCY: The fence should go higher. We're trying to create time and distance so our people can react.
THOMAS: And Clancy said the fence will look different.
CLANCY: We've had our technical people testing raising the fence, putting additional features on top of the fence. We expect that to be in place in the near future.
THOMAS: And his message to any would be fence jumpers?
CLANCY: Well, I'd have them look at the film on October 22 when the K-9s were released.
THOMAS: This dog at training Friday seemed to want to send a message to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...to the president. (inaudible)
CLANCY: I wouldn't suggest it.
THOMAS: For This Week, Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Pierre.
Now much more ahead, including the mixed reception Jeb Bush received at this week's conservative confab in Washington. Our powerhouse roundtable weighs in on that.
And the llama drama that dominated social media until being overshadowed by the great dress debate. What does this say about our collective attention span? But you please stay with us.
RADDATZ: We'll have more from Istanbul in a moment, but first I want to bring in my colleague Jon Karl who joins us from Washington. Good morning, Jon.
JON KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martha. Coming up, Jeb Bush into the lion's den. How did he do at CPAC? Rand Paul won the straw poll, but the real winner may have been the guy who came in second.
Plus, Elizabeth Warren's eyeopening comments about Hillary after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The two top vote-getters this year were Senator Rand Paul and Governor Scott Walker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: It was Rand Paul winning the straw poll at the annual Conservative Political Action conference for the third year in a row. But Scott Walker was a close second. Virtually every Republican even thinking about running for president was there.
And so was ABC's David Wright.
DAVID WRIGHT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An influential gathering of conservative firebrands, predominantly young. Ideologically pure and mostly well groomed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make sure you carry your bible with you and your woman.
WRIGHT: Stopping at CPAC is practically required of any serious GOP presidential hopeful.
(on camera): How important is it to make a good impression?
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think it's more important not to make a bad impression.
WRIGHT (voice-over): The impressions that count not just the view in this room, but also Republicans and Independents watching at home. But that can be tricky.
(on camera): You're preaching to the choir here, to some extent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dad was a minister. And one of his colleagues years ago used to say you preach to the choir because you want the choir to sing.
WRIGHT (voice-over): Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker got a warm reception at CPAC, but made an unforced error in his answer to this question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should you become commander-in-chief, how would you deal with threats such as ISIS?
WRIGHT: Walker cited his experience standing up to the Wisconsin teachers union.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody was beheading anybody in Wisconsin.
WALKER: No. But I said nobody else has that experience, nobody else except for the president.
WRIGHT: Contrast that with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. As he took the stage, there were audible boos.
WRIGHT: A few Tea Party members even staged a walk-out.
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm marking them down as neutral and I want to be your second choice.
WRIGHT: But Bush didn't back down on his call for immigration reform, even though he knows many in this crowd disagree with him.
BUSH: We should give them a path to legal status, where they work, where they don't receive government benefits, where they don't break the law, where they learn English and where they make a contribution to our society.
WRIGHT: Bush not just trying to win over the room, but, also playing to the crowd beyond. The format of Q&A from conservative talk show hosts, who did not just throw softballs.
Laura Ingraham tossed this zinger at Chris Christie.
LAURA INGRAHAM, TALK SHOW HOST: Explosive, short-tempered, hot-head, impatient. And that's just what your friends are saying.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: He's the word they miss. The word they miss is passionate.
WRIGHT: If you ask these folks, as CPAC did in its annual straw poll, the Republican standard bearer should be this man, Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian promising the largest tax cut in U.S. history.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: My tax plan will get the IRS out of your life and out of the way of every job creator in America.
WRIGHT: Rand Paul has won the last three switch parties at CPAC, as his father did before him.
But how many Republicans will agree in the primaries and caucuses, we shall see?
It's still early days.
For THIS WEEK, David Wright, ABC News, National Harbor, Maryland.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KARL: Thank you, David.
The roundtable is here.
ABC's political analyst, Matthew Dowd, ABC's Cokie Roberts, syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham, and LZ Granderson from ESPN and CNN.
So let's start with the straw poll. Let's look at the actual results of the top five vote-getters we have here. Of course, Rand Paul on top, not a surprise, three years in a row. Walker a very close second. Jeb Bush coming in fifth -- Matthew, we know the -- the straw poll doesn't mean that much...
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well...
KARL: -- otherwise we would have had Presidents Paul for...
KARL: But was this a breakthrough moment, again, for Scott Walker?
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know if it's a breakthrough moment for Scott Walker. I think what it shows is the momentum right now behind Scott Walker. He's given basically two speeches in the course of his presidential nomination race and he's now surged to the lead in Iowa. He's -- he's either tied or in the lead in New Hampshire. He's either tied nationally.
And so I think it's a continued moment for him. I think one of the interesting things about this is that, to me, this shows the desire of the Republican Party to nominate somebody that's not necessarily quote, unquote, the establishment figure.
COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: But...
DOWD: I think that really existed in 2012, but there was nobody that could take it away from Mitt Romney. They want somebody outside of Washington.
ROBERTS: But -- but Scott Walker is one in two very conservative venues. And the truth is, is that everything he says makes it worse for him. And that business of I've stood up to public employees unions and I can stand up to ISIS...
DOWD: Actually, I would argue that it makes it better for him in the Republican primary.
ROBERTS: In the Republican primary, perhaps. But I think that it makes it worse for him in terms of the media primary, the money primary and in a general election...
KARL: Laura, what about that comment?
I mean he didn't -- he didn't compare ISIS to the protesters. That's not what he did. But he did say because I stood up to them, I can stand up to...
INGRAHAM: It was an offhand comment. Ronald Reagan, in 1980, I think it was right before the New Hampshire primary, made a similar comment. He said after dealing with Jack Warner of the Warner Brothers studios, the Russians can't be any tougher. That was kind of Reagan's sense of humor.
And, of course, the same people who are caterwauling about Scott Walker -- how can you say this -- it was like an off-hand comment. I think this is the way CPAC is always seen through the media lens. I'm not saying it's all that definitive -- we know it's not -- for picking things.
But it is, I think Matthew is right, it -- it's taking a bit of a pulse of where the grassroots are, a little bit more libertarian still at CPAC.
But it was interesting, Jeb Bush had to bus in people. "The New York Times" did an amazing report on this about how he had to get lobbyists from K Street, the buses actually left from K Street -- I wouldn't have wanted that if I were...
INGRAHAM: -- actually physically organized people, left from K Street, and bussed people into CPAC.
Now I think it's really smart. The Bushes, they're playing JV here, they're playing varsity...
ROBERTS: And also...
INGRAHAM: -- and it's really, really smart for him to do that. Let me just finish.
So I think Jeb showed up and I think, you know, he did -- I think he acquitted himself very well.
But the -- the problem is -- the problem is the grassroots doesn't like him. And he can bus in as many people as he want -- wants, he'll get the donors, he'll get big money donors down in Florida, in Beverly Hills, Palo Alto...
KARL: But you've got to give...
INGRAHAM: -- that's the real game here.
KARL: Go ahead.
GRANDERSON: I think the sweet sound of him being booed at CPAC was music to the ears of Independents...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
GRANDERSON: -- because the further he looks...
INGRAHAM: We're not in the general...
GRANDERSON: -- away from...
INGRAHAM: -- yet. That's the problem.
GRANDERSON: We're not in the general, but at least he doesn't look that crazy. And if he doesn't look that crazy...
GRANDERSON: -- that means.
INGRAHAM: To you, yes.
GRANDERSON: -- that means everyone else gets (INAUDIBLE).
ROBERTS: But the truth is...
GRANDERSON: -- oh, well, maybe what he says...
GRANDERSON: -- actually makes sense...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
GRANDERSON: -- because they don't like...
INGRAHAM: Well, that's why I said he actually acquitted himself...
INGRAHAM: -- well at CPAC. But I was trying to think of more...
ROBERTS: Look, Mitt Romney...
ROBERTS: -- did himself in. And he did himself in at -- at organizations like this, because he kept pandering and saying what he thought conservatives thought he should stay.
And so he -- it was not his opponents who did him in, it was himself.
Jeb Bush managed to avoid that trap. now I think the person who won at CPAC was John Kasich. He didn't show up. And I think that's the wisest thing...
DOWD: Well, and I...
DOWD: -- I think Cokie is right. I think there is still a great opportunity for somebody else to get into this race, whether it's John Kasich or Mike Pence. I still bet on some Great Lakes governor winning the Republican nomination.
But let me postulate something about this forum in this.
What would happen if a candidate showed up that had liberalized abortion laws, that had the largest tax increase in history, that had given weapons to Iran, that had tripled the national debt, that had given amnesty to three million immigrants...
KARL: Stop talking about Ronald Reagan now.
DOWD: What would happen if Ronald Reagan, with that record, had shown up at this conference?
He would have been booed.
ROBERTS: But this is a different Republican Party.
DOWD: It's very different.
INGRAHAM: OK, so...
DOWD: That's the concern.
INGRAHAM: So -- so Ronald Reagan would be booed at today's CPAC?
First of all, that's ridiculous. As we know...
INGRAHAM: -- the Simpson-Mazzoli bill...
DOWD: With that record...
DOWD: -- with that record?
INGRAHAM: The Simpson-Mazzoli bill dealt with three million people and with the promise of enforcement.
KARL: This was the amnesty bill...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that -- that...
KARL: -- in 1986.
INGRAHAM: I, you know, who knows what Reagan would say today about where we are...
GRANDERSON: They didn't even want to...
INGRAHAM: -- with immigration. We don't know.
GRANDERSON: They didn't even want to hear about...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But...
GRANDERSON: -- these (INAUDIBLE) let alone any...
GRANDERSON: -- amnesty conversation.
INGRAHAM: But the...
INGRAHAM: -- the idea that Reagan would be applauding the fact that we have 18 million people or however -- whatever number we're using today...
INGRAHAM: -- of people who are here illegally
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laura...
INGRAHAM: -- he would be probably...
ROBERTS: But you -- the main thing...
INGRAHAM: -- horrified.
ROBERTS: -- the main thing Ronald Reagan was a great pragmatist. And he...
INGRAHAM: That's not what you guys were saying about Reagan about how many...
KARL: Let's bring it back to present day. I just want to ask you...
ROBERTS: But he would have understood that these people are here and are going to be voting.
KARL: But Laura, does Jeb Bush deserve credit for going into the lion's den as he did and sticking to his guns?
KARL: You disagree with him vehemently on immigration. But he didn't pander...
INGRAHAM: I think Jeb -- I mean, I think he did -- he was a really good governor of Florida. I think that was then, this is now. A lot of things have changed since then. He's been out of the game for a long time. But he has an amazing network of big donors, organizational skills and he actually is -- he knows how to work a room like that.
I think in that setting, he did about as well as you could do. But he did have to bring in people and bus them in.
Now I'm not -- I'm just saying that's what he had to do. It would have been interesting to see how he would have handled it if he didn't bus in the people.
DOWD: Jeb Bush just does not fit the time. Jeb Bush is too old, it's too long ago, the wrong last name. To me, if I were Hillary Clinton I would want to run against Jeb Bush.
DOWD: Because I would want to say Clinton legacy, Bush legacy, let's vote on it. That's the problem with Jeb Bush.
GRANDERSON: I wouldn't go with the 2.0 thing again, mentioning Hillary Clinton in the same sentence, though.
KARL: but I've got to tell you, you talk to the Clinton folks, the candidate they worry about most is Jeb Bush.
But let's turn to Hillary Clinton, very interesting moment this week when Elizabeth Warren was asked directly about Hillary and offered an interesting response.
Do we have that?
OK, so she was asked directly do you think that Hillary Clinton can be that warrior to the middle class we need? And she didn't answer yes. She said, well, I don't know. That's what primaries are about.
ROBERTS: She's clearly not on board with Hillary Clinton. And even though she has given some lip service to that. And I think the election in Chicago has now probably...
KARL: Rahm Emmanuel...
ROBERTS: Rahm Emmanuel not having -- for the first time in Chicago history being forced...
KARL: Despite the fact that President Obama was there...
KARL: It's shocking with his personality that he wasn't able to win that?
GRANDERSON: It's not his personality, it's the simple that he didn't take the time to understand the people who didn't look like him and didn't necessarily have the same money that he had. That is a direct reprimand in terms of his policies, the way he handled closing the schools, the way he's been handling the violence in Chicago, that's what that was about, that was not about anything else than you can't just say President Obama is my home boy and then all the black people and minorities are going to show up on your side.
KARL: But can I ask you, the only thing that happened to Hillary Clinton this week is you had another story about the foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation. You know, we now learn that some of those didn't even go through the vetting, at least from Algeria didn't go through the vetting, $500,000 at the State Department.
Stories looks bad.
INGRAHAM: Thanks to high heaven. We'll see if the American media continues to follow this probe as we see the beginning of right now.
Saudi Arabia, other Middle Eastern governments, when she was secretary of state. She seems to have skirted some of the rules during the time of her tenure as secretary of state. Then she moved away from that. Now the donations, I guess were coming in again from foreign entities.
Again, I always say, if this were a Republican...how would this ultimately play out? I think for her to be able to make this case of I'm a new type of leader. I'm not exactly a carbon copy of Barack Obama, she has to portray herself more a little bit like Elizabeth Warren. I'm a champion of the Middle Class. I'm more of a populist Democrat.
KARL: She also gave an over $300,000 speech...
DOWD: The problem is it can't be words, it has to be actions. And that's the problem with these stories that come out, because it all smells.
KARL: OK, before we go to a break, the internet almost exploded this week with llamas on the loose. And then, of course, there was the dress and that is the inspiration for our puzzler. Here is the question. How many page views did the Buzzfeed story on the dress, the story that got it all started, how many page views did it get? We'll be right back with the answer.
KARL: So how many page views did that Buzzfeed story get on the dress? We'll lets see the whiteboard.
DOWD: I say 20 million.
KARL: 20 million? You're way off.
10 million? Way off.
INGRAHAM: 17 million.
KARL: You're the closest. The final answer 37 million page views as of this morning. And there's more. The viral sensation with the llamas, the llamas on the loose, that received tweets of 4,000 per minute, according to Twitter.
Let's put that into context, CPAC at the height with 300 tweets per minute.
INGRAHAM: The llama should have come to CPAC.
ROBERTS: I think it's just great, good sense on the part of the American people.
ROBERTS: Yes, absolutely. I mean, come on, it's much more fun to watch the llamas running around than it is to watch a bunch of people making faces.
KARL: What's doing on Matthew?
DOWD: To me, I also think it's symbolic, actually, of how we are today in this country view things. We see a kid, an African-American kid in a hoodie. Some people think one thing. They see a police officer. Some people think another thing.
They see a Muslim on the street, some people think from their own perspective one other thing.
So to me, whether or not you saw black and blue or gold and white or whatever it happens to be, it's actually symbolic of how we approach life today.
INGRAHAM: There are so few issues where we come together as a country to kind of talk about, really.
People -- everyone kind of have an opinion about this and be heard. It was kind of funny.
KARL: There was something nice, wasn't there, about having a disagreement that was not based on race, it was not based on politics, it wasn't based on anything except how your eyes work.
GRANDERSON: I guess you can couch it as being nice. I just thought it was sad, because there's so many really, really important stories that broke this week. And we were obsessed over llamas and dresses. And I know people will say well we need a break from all the hard news, I think we stay in that constant break of hard news and we avoid it. And that's the reason why you have people so excited about llamas, and not really excited about the news about Hillary possibly getting...
INGRAHAM: Maybe the politicians should be better and they'll pay more attention to the politicians than llamas.
GRANDERSON: Yeah, I think we've had some very compelling politicians. I don't think we are...
INGRAHAM: Llamas and the dresses at CPAC, that's a winner.
GRANDERSON: All right, well it sounds like a CPAC event, actually.
KARL: Thank you, everyone. Let's get back to Martha Raddatz -- Martha.
RADDATZ: Well be right back with the final thought from Istanbul after this from our ABC stations.
RADDATZ: Now a final thought from here in Istanbul. While so many crisis zones may feel far away from the shores of the United States, one religious leader we spoke to yesterday reminds us that conflict can transcend all borders, it's not just an issue for any one country, but for all of us. And he hopes the world won't forget what's happening here in the region.
And we end with some good news, the Pentagon did not release any names of service members killed in Afghanistan or Iraq this week.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out world news tonight. And we'll see you again next week. So long from Istanbul.