WASHINGTON, March 17, 2013 -- SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Good to be with you, Martha.
MARTHA RADDATZ: It's great to have you here. I call it the so-called charm offensive because you don't seem particularly charmed. You wrote that outreach is always positive, but then you wrote you had heard it all before, saying it's going to take more than dinner dates and phone calls from the president. So, were those dinners and meetings a good thing, or did it make no difference at all?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, it's always a good thing to-- engage in more conversation-- engage more members in the conversation that-- have not been involved up to this point. But when you get down the-- the-- the bottom line, if the president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people, we're not gonna get very far.
If the president-- doesn't believe that the goal oughta be to balance the budget over the next ten years-- I don't-- not sure we're gonna get very far. And this is the whole issue. We have a spending problem here in Washington and it's time to solve the problem.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Well, when you talk about that he has to get beyond the Democratic dogma, but the Republicans have taken a very hard line as well.
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Hard line? The president-- you got $650 billion worth of tax hikes on January the 1st. When are we gonna deal with the spending problem? It's as simple as that.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Let's talk about your relationship with the president. Where's your trust level with the president? I mean, you're talking about these meetings as if they really didn't mean much.
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: No. The president and I, as I have made very clear, have a very good relationship. We're open with each other. We're honest with each other. But we're tryin' to bridge some big differences. If balancing the budget-- were easy, if solving our long-term spending problem were easy, somebody over the last 20 years would've done it.
Now, Bill Clinton, President Clinton-- reached out to Republicans in the mid-'90s. We were able to come to an agreement on a plan that would balance the budget and it did. And it's part of his legacy. And I would hope the president would realize-- that this could be part of his legacy as well.
MARTHA RADDATZ: So, do you trust President Obama?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Absolutely.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Absolutely?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Absolutely. There's no issue there. We have a very, very-- good relationship. (NOISE) We have differences and we talked about our differences.
MARTHA RADDATZ: President Obama says these meetings are intended to find members of the common-sense caucus who he can make a deal with. Seems to be an effort to go around the leadership. So, are you not a member of the common-sense caucus?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, I think-- most people would think that I'm part of the common-sense caucus. S-- we appreciate the outreach. We appreciate the engagement from the president. But it's gonna take more than this if we're serious about solving our problems.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Well, let-- let's move to those problems. The debt crisis, the budget. Listen to what President Obama told George Stephanopoulos about the debt this week.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (VIDEO): We've already cut-- $2.5-- $2.7 trillion out of the deficit. If the sequester stays in, you've got over $3.5 trillion of deficit reduction already. And, so, we don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next ten years, it's gonna be in a sustainable place.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Is he right that we don't have an immediate crisis?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: We do not have an immediate debt crisis. But we all know that we have one looming. And we have-- one looming-- because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They're gonna go bankrupt. Washington has responsibility-- to our seniors and our near seniors-- that we firm up these programs so that they're there for the long term. Because if we don't do it, not only will they not get benefits, we will have a debt crisis right around the corner. We have time to solve our problems. But we need to do it now.
MARTHA RADDATZ: H-- how long do we have to solve our problems?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Nobody knows where this is. It could be a year or two years, three years, four years. The-- it's not an immediate problem. But we can all--
MARTHA RADDATZ: So, you agree with the president on that?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: The Amer-- yes. But his point, as he went on to say in that interview, is that we don't-- we don't really need to do anything at this point. And I would argue that we do need to do something.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Well, one of the things--
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: The American people know you can't continue to spend money that you don't have. And that's what the president wants to do. The president also said in that interview that his goal wasn't merely to balance the budget. What-- he talks about a bal-- balanced plan. What's balanced about a budget that never gets to balance?
MARTHA RADDATZ: Let-- let's-- let's take a listen to exactly what President Obama said about balancing the budget.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (VIDEO): No. We're not gonna balance the budget in ten years. My goal is not to chase-- a balanced budget just for the sake of balance. My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to work? And if we do that we're gonna be bringin' in more revenue. If we've controlled spending and we've got a smart entitlement package, then potentially what you have is balance.
MARTHA RADDATZ: A quick response to that?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: That's exactly the point. Balancing the budget will, in fact, help our economy. It'll help create jobs in our country, get our economy goin' again, and put more people back to work. The fact the-- the government continues to spend more than a trillion dollars every year that it doesn't have scares investors, scares businesspeople, makes 'em less willing to hire people.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Is the grand bargain dead?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: I don't know whether we can-- come to an-- a big agreement. If we do-- it'll be between the two parties on Capitol Hill. I believe that it's time to do regular order. We're going our budget-- next week--
MARTHA RADDATZ: But far less likely--
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: --a bold-- a bold plan--
MARTHA RADDATZ: --a grand bargain?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: --to balance our budget over the next ten years because it'll help American families and help preserve the American dream. The Senate is likely to finish their budget-- after-- the Easter recess. Hopefully-- we can go to conference on these budgets and hope springs eternal in my mind. We've got big differences, but if people want to begin to solve this problem, we're gonna have an opportunity to do it.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Senators Graham and Ayotte and other Republicans have said they're open to new revenue if the president is willing to do significant entitle reform. Is that something you could consider? And the Democratic leadership is reportedly now willing to sign onto entitlement reform if revenue is also on the table. Would you say no to that?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: The president got his tax hikes on January the 1st. The talk about raising revenue is over. It's time to deal with the spending problem.
MARTHA RADDATZ: President suggested cuts to Social Security and means testing Medicare. Is that enough? What more does he have to do on entitlements for you to consider additional revenue--
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: We need to--
MARTHA RADDATZ: --or is that just no way?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: --we need to put the entitlement programs on a sustainable path. They're not today and Americans understand this. And the sooner we make changes to these programs to put 'em on a sustainable path, the easier it will be to make those changes.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Well, let me ask you this simple MARTHA RADDATZ: Is there any ratio of entitlement cuts to new revenues that you would--
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: The president got his--
MARTHA RADDATZ: --say that the is three to one, four to one--
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: --tax hikes. The president--
MARTHA RADDATZ: --nothing?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: --got his tax hikes on January the 1st.
MARTHA RADDATZ: So, the answer to--
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: He r-- he--
MARTHA RADDATZ: --that is no?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: --he ran his election on taxing the wealthy. He got his tax hikes. But he won't talk about the spending problem and that's the problem here in Washington. This year, the federal government will bring in more in revenue than in any year in our history.
And yet, we will still spend a trillion dollars more than what we bring in. The American people have to balance their budgets. Businesses have to balance their budgets. Why shouldn't Washington balance its budget? It's good for our country.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Let-- let's move on to the Republican Party itself and-- and the CPAC conference this week. Two Republican Senators and possible presidential candidates spoke at CPAC, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rand Paul. But they had very different messages about the current state of the GOP. Senator Rubio saying, "We don't need any new ideas. The idea is call America and it still works." And this is what Rand Paul had to say.
SENATOR RAND PAUL (VIDEO): There is nothing conservative about bailing out Wall Street. Our party is encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom. The GOP of old has grown stale and moss covered.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Who's right? Has it grown stale and moss covered?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Listen, I think-- the issue with our party is pretty simple. There's nothin' wrong with the principles of our-- of our party. But Republicans have not done as an effective job as we should in terms of-- of talking about our principles in terms that average people can appreciate.
Why balancing the budget, as an example-- would be good for American families. Lower interest payments. Continue-- pursuing-- the American dream. We've gotta do a better job of helping people understand-- what our principles are in terms that they deal with every day.
MARTHA RADDATZ: What-- what really went wrong here, specifically, when it comes to Congress? A new Washington Post ABC poll shows that 53% of Republicans disapprove of Congressional Republicans. So, talk about what went wrong.
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, it's-- we're-- we're locked in a big struggle. America is as divided as it's ever been. And-- and-- and-- and we've got big issues that-- the country wants us to deal with and they're very hard to deal with. M-- and when things don't get accomplished, people get upset. I don't blame 'em.
MARTHA RADDATZ: There was a surprise this week. Senator Rob Portman, who is a close friend of yours, a conservative from Ohio, said he has had a change of heart about gay marriage. He will now support gay marriage after learning his own 21-year-old son Will is gay. Has Portman shared this with you?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: He has, in fact-- called. Listen, Rob's a great friend and a long-time ally. And-- I appreciate that he's decided to change-- his views on this. But I believe that marriage is a union of-- of a man and a woman.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Can you imagine yourself in a situation where you reversed your decision, as Portman has, on gay marriage if a child of yours or someone you love told you they were gay?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Listen, I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. All right. It's-- it's what I grew up with. It's what I believe. It's what my church teaches me. And-- I can't imagine that p-- position would ever change.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Will Portman said it was not a choice. So, how do you justify denying him a right to marriage?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Listen-- I think that Rob-- can make up his-- his own mind, take his own position. But I've made clear my position.
MARTHA RADDATZ: I wanna get quickly to a couple more topics. Gun legislation: Will you commit to have a vote on the House floor on any gun legislation the Senate is able to pass?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: If they pass somethin', I've made clear that we will review it. In the meantime, our committees are continuing to have hearings-- trying to get to the bottom of what-- what can we do-- to help minimize these senseless crimes. I mean, listen, all of our hearts go out to the victims of these mass shootings. But we really need to understand what-- what is it that we truly can do to ensure that this doesn't happen?
MARTHA RADDATZ: Do you see any gun measures passing in the House?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: We'll s-- we'll--
MARTHA RADDATZ: Background checks?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: --we'll see what the Senate does-- we'll review it, and we're gonna continue-- to have our hearings and review this issue.
MARTHA RADDATZ: On immigration, will House Republicans ever go along with an immigration reform bill that includes-- that includes a pass to citizenship?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: There's a bipartisan effort in the House and a bipartisan effort in the Senate. And I've done everything I can over the last several months to encourage-- these bipartisan discussions. This morning, I met-- with four Republicans who've been in conversations with-- senior Democrats for four years. And they're, frankly are-- essentially have an agreement.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Do you personally—
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: But they've got—
MARTHA RADDATZ: --support a pathway to citizenship?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Listen. What I'm gonna do is to continue to support this bipartisan working group. It's important that we resolve this issue. And the only way we're gonna resolve it is to do it in a bipartisan fashion. There are lots and lots and lots of issues—
MARTHA RADDATZ: And you won't tell us—
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: --and if the—
MARTHA RADDATZ: --if you personally support it, though?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Listen. My job as Speaker of the House is to help facilitate a process-- for reaching a conclusion. And we're not gonna get to conclusions-- by leaders-- spiking out positions this early in the process.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Just to quote here, you're the highest-ranking Catholic Republican in Congress. This week, we saw the conclave elect Pope Francis, a Latin American. What does this mean for you? What does it mean for Catholics in the country?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, this is the first time that we've had-- a pope from the Americas. So, I think it's-- it's a giant step-- forward-- for the church. Latin America-- is a very, very Catholic continent. And-- and I do believe that-- Pope Francis-- is the right person-- to really bring reform to the church.
MARTHA RADDATZ: And what kinda reform?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, they've got a number of-- issues-- at the Vatican that I think-- need fresh eyes. And he's clearly made a commitment-- to clean up some of the problems-- that the church has had. And it's pretty clear-- from his humble nature-- that-- that-- his papacy-- will be one that-- I think a lotta people will appreciate.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Thank you so much for joining us this morning, Speaker Boehner. Great to have you here.
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Thank you.
RADDATZ: Coming up, our powerhouse roundtable ready to take on the charm offensive.
Plus, conservative stars align at CPAC and that historic pick by the Catholic Church. Back in 90 seconds.
ANNOUNCER: This week with George Stephanopoulos, brought to you by Pacific Life for insurance, annuities and investments, choose Pacific Life, the power to help you succeed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROB PORTMAN, (R) OHIO: My son came to my Jane, my wife, and I and told us that he was gay and that it was not a choice. And that, he, that's just part of who he is and he had been that way ever since he could remember. And that launched an interesting process for me, which was kind of rethinking my position. I now believe that people ought to have the right to get married.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Republican Senator Rob Portman on his dramatic change of heart, reversing his position on gay marriage after his son told him that he was gay. We'll get to that in a moment. But first, let's introduce the roundtable. George Will, ABC's Matthew Dowd, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra and Audie Cornish, host of NPR's All Things Considered. Welcome to all of you.
I want to start with you, George Will, you heard what John Boehner said, which is probably not much of a surprise, still taking a very hard line on any new revenues, even if entitlement reform is offered. How do they break this stalemate, especially after the so-called charm offensive?
WILL: First, any charm offensive that is labeled a charm offensive thereby loses some of its charm because it looks tactical. But beyond that this week, while the charm offensive was going on, two budgets were produced. The Democrats at long last, after 1,500 or so days, produced a budget in which, Patty Murray, the chairman who produced this, said Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare and Social Security, the four drivers of our fiscal crisis, not a dime will be touched from them.
The Republicans produced a budget under Paul Ryan where Ryan said, and this is his so-called austerity, federal spending will grow 3.4 percent over the next decade. His radical idea is in 2024, senior citizens will shop for health care, imagine that? That is it. You have two -- her budget hasn't the slightest chance of passing the house with a trillion dollar tax increase.
Ryan's budget hasn't a prayer of a chance of passing the senate because it depends on repeal of Obamacare. So what we what we need are some more elections.
RADDATZ: Carly, it is dueling budgets. No chance?
FIORINA: Well, I don't think either budget, as George suggests, represents a blueprint for a compromise. You know, I continue to hold out hope with pressure building people on both sides on the aisle will actually set forward with some fundamental reform. We need fundamental tax reform.
RADDATZ: To make it simpler?
FIORINA: To make it simpler. But which if done right would raise revenues without raising rates. We need fundamental reform of some of our entitlements. And I guess the other thing, getting lost in this whole discussion is the reality that not every dollar spent by the federal government is spent wisely and well. We have lots of room to spend money more wisely and less of it.
RADDATZ: Congressman Becerra, do you see hope? You -- in talking to you, you see a little hope there?
BECERRA: I actually do. And I think there...
RADDATZ: What is that based on?
BECERRA: Well, some of us are having conversations on other matters like immigration, which is perhaps more intractable than the budget. And I think there's a really good chance that we'll make progress there. But I also think that John Boehner, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, you name it. I think people, Americans, just want to see us move forward. And so I think they want to see us get something done. And so I think -- you're going to see a break in this stalemate soon.
Now, you got to remember, if folks are going to talk about spending you got to talk about the tax code, because the biggest spending we do is through the tax code. Over a trillion dollars is spent every year through the tax code, it's all of those loopholes. And if you want to get rid of spending, you can't leave out all of the stuff through tax code where we give away all sorts of stuff to very small groups of special interests...
FIORINA: We actually agree on this.
BECERRA: Audi, let's put you in the middle. You covered congress.
CORNISH: I covered congress. And when it's quiet, when lawmakers are laying low, I think that sometimes that means things, conversations are actually happening, right? When people are flapping their wings against the cage and screaming into the microphones it's because they don't feel heard, they don't have access, and they're not part of the discussions.
So -- and another thing, to say about the charm offensive is you have got a whole class of lawmakers who this is all they know, not having contact with the White House. I mean, maybe it is meaningful if there's follow-through for them to understand that there had been administrations where there is contact, there is communication.
DOWD: To me, that I think the biggest, one of the biggest faults I have with the president in all of this -- and we've had two presidents in a row who basically underutilized one of the most important powers of the presidency, which is the social power of the presidency.
And this president, who actually called me and I met with in the aftermath of the horrible midterm elections that hurt the Democrats and helped the Republicans. And the number one thing I said to him was he had not used the power of the presidency in order to build relationships.
What the president seems to do is go to somebody and be nice to them when he needs a vote from them, but he doesn't go to them and build a relationship and build a constant relationship, so when he needs a vote it's there. And I think...
RADDATZ: So, you're saying too late?
DOWD: Well, I think it's too little, too late. I think it's great that he's doing it, but I wished it had started four or five years ago when he began the White House.
RADDATZ: Of course this week, we had the conservative conference CPAC, which we were talking about with Speaker Boehner. And there was a real division on ideas for the future. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FRM. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: We're not here to put a fresh coat of rhetorical paint on our party, we're not here to abandon our principles in a contest of government giveaways, that's a game that we will never, ever win.
JEB BUSH, FRM. GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Way too many people believe that Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay. Many voters are simply unwilling to choose our candidates even though they share our core beliefs, because those voters feel unloved, unwanted, and unwelcome in our party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: A lot of differences there. Carly, you were there, what do you see? What does all this mean?
FIORINA: Well, I think there frankly is way too much talk about the Republican Party, its futurist ideas. I think honestly most Americans don't care about the state of either party. What they care about is the state of their job, their family, their community. I think they're tired of thinking about the next election. We just finished an election. They've put people to work.
So, look, I think it's important whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, I happen to be a Republican, I happen to be a conservative, I think what we need to do is talk about things that we think will work for the American people. Stop having all of this political conversation and start having a real conversations about getting things done, making people's lives better.
RADDATZ: George Will, any stars come out of this for 2016 that we're all going to be paying attention for the next four years that we already haven't started paying attention to?
WILL: First, here's the New York Times headline on the CPAC conference "GOP Divisions Fester at Conservative Retreat." Festering an infected wound, it's awful. I guarantee, if there were a liberal conclave comparable to this, and there were vigorous debates going on there, the New York Times headline would be healthy diversity flourishes at liberal conclave.
Republicans have been arguing, social conservatives and libertarian free market conservatives since the 1950s when the National Review was founded on the idea of a fusion of the two. It has worked before with Ronald Reagan. It can work again.
What I did see at CPAC was the rise of the libertarian strand of Republicanism, which has an effect on foreign policy, that is a pullback from nation building and other kind of ambitions abroad that they never countenance from government at home, and a since of live and let live with subjects such as decriminalization of certain drugs and gay marriage.
RADDATZ: Congressman, anybody make you nervous there at 2016?
BECERRA: No, no. I think...
DOWD: The whole thing makes me nervous.
BECERRA: What I see is a party that's in disarray that's trying to figure out where it goes. And what was it, Senator McConnell, Republican Senator McConnell said a cry -- he doesn't want to be a part of a crybaby caucus. And I think that what Republicans are trying to do is figure out what path they choose.
Let them choose. Once they've decided, the American people want to know where are we going to go, let's go there as Americans not as Republicans or as Democrats.
RADDATZ: Audi, Marco Rubio is seen as a reformer, especially on immigration? But he didn't really even bring it up, why not?
CORNISH: No, he didn't. And obviously it's such a complicated thing. There were immigration panels and breakout sessions. This was a huge topic of conversation. Maybe he didn't want to be pigeon-holed, maybe as one Latino conservative said last week, you can't expect Marco Rubio to win the Latino vote for you. And he's obviously staking out some ground there and trying to go with the traditional sort of three stools of the Republican Party.
RADDATZ: Matt, you're just shaking your head. The whole thing makes you nervous. What do you think?
DOWD: Well to me, imagery an who is there and what you say is important. And I don't think divisions are a bad thing. I actually think that a conservative message that is built for the 21st Century would be a good thing. CPAC to me reminds me of going to the land before time. And it's like going to a Flintstones episode in my view.
RADDATZ: Are you talking dinosaurs here?
DOWD: No, it's like a bunch of dinosaurs, most of them are throwbacks in time. It's like who's running for Grand Poobah of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes is what it looks like to me.
When you have Sarah Palin, who is a -- it's an amazing situation to me, it's between her and the Kardashians, I think you add it up, between a Palin connection (ph) and the Kardashians, there's 10 reality shows that have been built around that.
I don't think it's helpful to the Republican Party. I think there are some people, Marco Rubio in there, who will become and are stars of the party. I think CPAC's time has come and gone. And it's time for somebody to put together a 21st Century conservative agenda.
CORNISH: But what's wrong with hashing those ideas out publicly? I mean, what's wrong with having that conversation in a way that the public can see and understand, that there is real conversation...
DOWD: I just wouldn't do it in the Mezoic era. I just -- that's what I think part of the problem is.
RADDATZ; Let's more on to another big topic for the Republicans this week, and that stunning announcement by Rob Portman that he now supports same-sex marriage. Obviously a personal decision for him, the only Republican senator to support same-sex marriage. George Will, does this go anywhere?
WILL: He will not be the last, because the demographic tide here is large, powerful and execrable. I have said on this program before, opposition to gay marriage is literally dying, it's an older demographic. And if you raise the question among young people, they're not interested. And I dare say this is one of the good things about CPAC. As you saw at CPAC, this was another division and again, a healthy one. It's largely young people attend CPAC. And this is not at the top of their agenda. It's not even on their agenda
RADDATZ: I might take awhile for them to die out, though, George.
DOWD: I think that there's been an amazing -- and George is right, there has been amazing -- in the last ten years, I think there's been almost a 20-point change in people's perception of gay marriage in this country. I think Rob Portman is another domino in this whole effect.
I think Republicans, any Republicans that stand in the way of this, are standing in the way of march of history on this.
Rob Portman I know well. I did debate prep with Rob Portman in years past. He's a good person. And the people that I think that have criticized him and said, oh, by the way, hHe only did it was a personal thing that affected him personally, he wasn't going to do it otherwise. To me, why do we criticize people for that? The person that started MADD, it was a personal thing. The people that -- many people who have come out against gun control have been personally affected by it. If somebody's path to the truth, or somebody's path to a place where we actually think they're open and compassionate is a personal decision, god be wtih them.
FIORINA: I think we have to be careful, because John Boehner's views, which are different from Rob Portman's views, are equally sincere. And I think when we get into trouble on this debate when we assume that people who support gay marriage are open and compassion and people who don't are not. It's why I believe the right way to solve these very personal issues is to let people vote on them, don't have judges decide it, don't even have representative government decide it, let people vote on it in the states.
I think people of both points of view, accept the democratic process. What they don't always accept is a bunch of self-important, self-appointed judges saying this is culturally the new norm.
DOWD: Martha, it was not only welcome news that Rob made this statement, but I think it's part of this march on progress. But, it seems like, it's going to take Republicans so long whether it's on immigration or rational gun safety laws or on trying to make sure that we focus on jobs not on just deficit to try to get Republicans to join the mainstream and be part of America and the 21st Century to say, let's move forward together.
RADDATZ: Audi, quickly if you will, is it generational from you what you seen on the Hill?
CORNISH: This is definitely met with a meh by people I know.
RADDATZ: A meh?
CORNISH: Yeah, sort of like, eh, you know, maybe.
And -- but also I think what's remarkable, you aren't seeing a lot of like fits of outrage and like very angry e-mails coming through from people on the other side of this. So, maybe, there's a shift going on regardless of what you think.
RADDATZ: An historic week for the Catholic church. Matt Dowd, I know you're so excited to talk about this, it's first Pope from the Americas, Pope Francis.
Happy St. Patrick's day to you, first, Matthew Dowd.
DOWD: Oh, thank you. Happy St. Patrick's Day to everybody out there, Irish or not Irish.
To me, I think this is a really, really important moment. It was an important moment even before this pope was chosen, because of what's going on in the Catholic church, these immense scandals that are happening, the lack of transparency, lack of openness, and many people thought lack of concern for the most poor and vulnerable in our society.
Not only is he the most diverse pope that we've had in centuries and centuries, but the fact that he picked the name Francis I think is very pointed and very apropos. I mean, obviously St. Francis from Assisi who gave up all this wealth and basically was told in his mind that he was told he needed to fix the church, and he went back -- basically friend of the environment, friend of animals, friend of the poor, friend of the vulnerable. And what the pope has seemed to say, and he's told in his stories, is he picked the name because he wanted the church to be a poor church and of the poor.
And even if the pope doesn't make progress on the issues that many people think he needs to make progress on certain social issues and on women maybe becoming priests, if he can the church a more humble church and a church of more humility that focuses on the poor and vulnerable in society, that will be a huge advance.
RADDATZ: Carly, just watching those ceremonies, what did you think? 100,000 people.
FIORINA: I know. And what I struck me, I saw a picture of a man and his son in a church, I believe, in Argentina, and they were literally both fell to their knees when they heard the news. And for me that was so touching, because whether you're Catholic or not, I think what it reminds us, is that people do believe in something larger than themselves. And if they don't believe, they want to believe.
I thought that it was a moment when so many people in the world were united in a sense of spirituality, whether they were Catholic or not.
RADDATZ: Quickly, Congressman Becerra.
BECERRA: My parents pray the rosary every day at night. The son of immigrants, I'm a son of immigrants. I know see that the pope is a son of immigrants. And in America, that may an omen of what's to come about how we will treat immigrants. I think that is phenomenal.
RADDATZ: Thanks all of you for joining us. Great roundtable.
A reminder, we'll have live coverage of the pope's inaugural mass on Tuesday. Much more ahead. The president heads to the Middle East and new cyber attack warnings. What are the risks to all of us. George joins former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, former national security adviser Stephen Hadley and General James Cartwright.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Right now, we think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously, we don't want to cut it too close.
They're not yet at the point, I think, where they have made a fundamental decision to get right with the international community, but I do think that they're recognizing that there's a severe cost for them to continue down the path that they're on and that's there is another door open.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: President Obama speaking to Israeli TV as he sets off for the Middle East this week.
George Will is back, along with Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state for President Clinton; Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser for President George W. Bush; and General James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Welcome to all of you. This is indeed a powerhouse roundtable, I would say.
Secretary Albright, let's talk about what this trip is really about. It doesn't appear to have anything to do with any peace process. It seems to be about Iran. Why is he going?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it's very important. The president in his first trip of the second term to go to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his new government and to discuss generally issues, I think, in the Middle East.
There are an awful lot of things to talk about -- Iran, Syria and the region generally. And I'm sure that the peace talks or the lack of them is something that's going to be part of the discussion. But it's important, the president also wants to talk to the Israeli people; he's going to give a speech to the public, not to the Knesset and he's --
RADDATZ: And he's not very popular with the Israeli people, according to the latest polls.
ALBRIGHT: I think he's more popular than people think. I think that they understand the American position, and basically that the United States is there in an indissoluble relationship with the Israelis. And that's very clear from the president's actions and from American foreign policy issues.
RADDATZ: Mr. Hadley, do you agree with that? Is he going over there really to talk about Iran?
HADLEY: I think Madeleine has it right. He will talk about Iran. But I think actually the most important part of it is what he says to the Israeli people. There are some messages that they want to hear that were unequivocally committed to Israel security, the security has a right -- that Israel has a right to defend itself against terror. That he supports Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people whose roots to the land go back millennia.
There are things that they need to hear from him to reestablish the tie between an American president and the Israeli people. We can then talk about peace process -- Iran, Syria -- but I think the most important thing is really what he says to the Israeli people.
RADDATZ: But let's go to Iran, General Cartwright, all I remember from last fall is that picture of Benjamin Netanyahu in front of the U.N. with that ticking time bomb, and he basically drew the line this spring, this summer, for any sort of action against the nuclear facilities in Iran.
Do you still think that? You heard what President Obama said. Do you think the Israelis have changed their minds about that timeline?
CARTWRIGHT: My sense is that there's some ambiguity. Nobody knows exactly what the timeline is.
And so one of the good things about this trip is that it's coming without some sort of promise of a big announcement. In other words, we're going to listen, we're going to go compare our facts. We're going to get some sense of where we're going, both on the Iran issue but also on Middle East peace at large.
As to where both sides are, what they're doing, a chance for the president to reach out and say this is what we're thinking without saying this is our agenda and this is the way it's going to end up. I think that's very important.
I think that carries a very powerful message, because clearly, nobody knows exactly what's happening in Iran. And clearly nobody knows exactly how Middle East peace should evolve. And there are questions about these issues. And it's a good time to listen as well as to talk.
WILL: I agree that the president is there to establish a kind of a trust with the Israeli people, but not so that he can move forward with an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
The Israelis have been living with terrorism at high or low levels for 60-some years. That's not the problem now. He wants their trust so they will give him time on Iran. But listen to what the president just said. The president said --
RADDATZ: So he's stretching out the diplomacy --
WILL: Yes, but he said that they may be as much as a year away, but let's not cut it close. A year is close, given the -- to say no more fallible nature of the U.S. intelligence (inaudible).
RADDATZ: And if Netanyahu has also -- has already made that threat, in the way, by holding up that timeline, he has to kind of stick to that, doesn't he?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that, from what I understand, the Israelis now understand that the Iranians have slowed down some of their enrichment possibilities and diverted some of them to peaceful uses for medical purposes. That was told to me by Israelis at various times.
And so I think they are trying to develop that ambiguity that the general was talking about, because I think nobody is ready to just abandon diplomacy. And what you have seen with the P5+1 and it's a slow discussion, but, in fact, there are negotiations going on. And there's some talk about bilateral ones.
RADDATZ: General Cartwright, you think they can move that?
CARTWRIGHT: My sense is that there is some ambiguity out there and that nobody is sure. And you don't want to have a situation in which you're not ready. But you also don't want to rush the answer. And so this is an opportunity to compare notes.
HADLEY: It's an opportunity for one other thing. Again, on the theme that he has -- his primary audience really is the Israeli people. I think what he has to say is, if diplomacy fails and it comes time to do something about Iran, I, as President of the United States --
HADLEY -- will do it. We're not going to put this on Israel and we know that the Israelis, in terms of public opinion, they do not want to do something unilaterally; they do want to do anything with the United States. And I think the president has to say clearly if something needs to be done about Iran, we, the United States, will do it.
RADDATZ: I want to move on to another threat, of the North Korea threat, if we can, and the announcement this week that we're adding 14 interceptors, missile interceptors, because the North Korean threat is so high and they've moved faster. Let's listen to Secretary Hagel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The reason we're advancing our program here for homeland security is to not take any chances, is to stay ahead of the threat.
ADM. JAMES WINNEFELD, VICE CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We believe that this young lad ought to be deterred by that. And that if he's not, we'll be ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: General Cartwright, that was a pretty alarming statement, I thought, and to have Hagel come out and to have Admiral Winnefeld say that they have moved faster than we thought. Is this alarming? Should we be scared?
CARTWRIGHT: Well, it's alarming in the rhetoric side of the equation here. And it is clearly asked the administration or propelled the administration towards a shift in the missile defense program. It's a program that has always been labeled as one that tries to pace the threat. In other words, don't build something until you need it.
Clearly, the shift that's going on inside the administration is to reduce the reliance or the focus on the regional capabilities that were put out. These are the Patriots and the SM3s off the ships.
And to start the focus, again, back on the strategic --
RADDATZ: On the homeland.
CARTWRIGHT: -- on the homeland. And these are the ground-based interceptors in California and Alaska.
RADDATZ: It's those mobile missiles, those mobile inter-continental ballistic missiles.
CARTWRIGHT: The threat -- the threat is the mobile missiles potentially, which has not really emerged yet. But it is time to make sure that we're ready for it. And the infrastructure has been put in place in Alaska for these missiles. That's not a problem.
The issue is how fast do we want to build missiles to put into those silos to be ready? And are they ready? Is there more testing that could be done? And so we're basically seeing a shift of money off of the regional side into the strategic side. I think that's one key point here.
The second key point is that, from -- at least from my perspective, what is being spewed in the way of rhetoric out of North Korea is a focus on, we're going to attack the homeland -- our homeland -- we're also going to attack the South Koreans.
If that's true, if we're worried about that, there's another part a this. You never really want to worry just about a strategic attack; you have to focus on your special operations forces and your border capabilities in the United States to make sure that this is not an asymmetric approach to the problem.
RADDATZ: Secretary Albright was in North Korea in 2000. What happened after that? Why are we in the place we are today?
HADLEY: Well, the Clinton administration had active diplomacy with North Korea. They were making some progress. We had a conversation offline about the transition between the two administrations, which is probably less than perfect.
The Bush administration pursued diplomacy in September 2005, got a commitment from North Korea that we would get out of the nuclear business, but of course, in parallel with all of that, North Korea was pursuing an enrichment program, another route to a nuclear weapon that was done covertly and in violation of the understandings we all --
RADDATZ: Were chances missed?
ALBRIGHT: I believe so. I mean, I had some really remarkable discussions with Kim Jong-il. We had a missile moratorium. We also were in the middle of discussions with them. They said that they would -- we could leave our troops in South Korea, we came back, you know, Americans were confused about the election of 2000 and I'm sure that Kim Jong-il was also. And I do think it is unfortunate that the cards that we left on the table were not picked up.
But the story on North Korea is a complicated one of threats, and discussions, and diplomacy. You are dealing with a very erratic leadership in North Korea. And what concerns me now is that the kind of language that is coming out of North Korea, I think, is well-balanced by what the president has decided on the mobile missiles.
WILL: I'm puzzled by the language coming out of Washington. I would like to see struck from the language of our diplomacy the words "acceptable" and "unacceptable." Last week, at the Asia Society in New York, Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser to President Obama, said the following.
"The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state." Unless I'm missing something, it has been a nuclear state for more than a half a decade.
RADDATZ: That was a puzzling statement.
WILL: What does it mean? Obviously we have a problem dealing with a regime that may be a little bit crazy because deterrence depends on rational calculation on the other side. Stalin, for all of his defects, was a rational calculator. We don't know if Iran is. We certainly don't know if this odd fellow who runs North Korea is rational, and therefore subject to deterrence.
RADDATZ: We had another kind of threat this week that we talked about, the Worldwide Threat Assessment, you had the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, talking about what he thought was the biggest threat to our homeland now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: When it comes to distinct threat areas, our statement this year leads with cyber. And it's hard to overemphasize its significance.
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: The seriousness and the diversity of the threats that this country faces in the cyber domain are increasing on a daily basis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: General Cartwright, you spent a lot of time looking at cyber security, cyber attacks. Obviously there's a difference here. It's not just spying, it's taking down a grid, how serious the threat? What do we do about it?
CARTWRIGHT: Well, the threat is emerging and it's emerging quickly. And it's not just from one actor, it's not just the Chinese, it's a threat that covers both industry...
RADDATZ: President Obama pretty much pointed the finger at the Chinese.
CARTWRIGHT: He did. And I think that was appropriate. But what we've got to do and what we have said multiple times, at least what I have said is, we have to start talking about not just a pure defense, we have to start to build an offensive capability.
What I thought was important about this week's news was the fact that we started to have that conversation about offensive capabilities, about there being a price for these kind of attacks.
RADDATZ: And that means you go after someone else's network, you go after the Chinese. That's complicated in so many ways. Would we protect our allies if they're attacked?
HADLEY: It is very complicated. But I think General Cartwright is absolutely right. The announcement that was interesting this week was that Keith Alexander announced that there were going to be some 17 offensive cyber teams.
If you only play defense you're going to lose. It's just too hard to be able to parry every strike. What you need to do is change the calculus so that those people doing these attacks understand that they will pay a greater penalty than the benefits they get. There are complicated legal issues, policy issues, but unless we get into that space, these attacks will not stop.
RADDATZ: I want to go to something you're all very familiar with. We have a new poll. It's the 10-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. You were certainly involved in that. A Washington Post poll shows on this 10-year anniversary, 58 percent, or six in 10 Americans, say the war in Iraq was not worth fighting.
The poll also shows the support for the war in Afghanistan is similar with 56 percent of Americans saying the war was not worth it. We have a very short time here, but I want to start with you, Mr. Hadley, because you had a hand in both of these wars. Would you do it differently?
HADLEY: They clearly took longer, cost more in terms of lives and treasure of Americans, coalitions, and the people in those countries. But we have accomplished something in Iraq. We have a government that is not a threat to our national security, is an ally in war on terror. And unusual in the Middle East where Sunni, Shia, and Kurds are trying to work together for a democratic future.
It's a big investment, an important investment. And we are risking that investment by sitting our hands while Syria melts down and where Syria's violence will destabilize Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey.
WILL: You asked Mr. Hadley if he would do it differently. The question to me is, would we do it at all? If, in 2003, we had known what we know now, the absence of weapons of mass destruction, the difficulty of governing and occupying a society in which, once you lop off the regime, you're going to have a civil war and a sectarian tribal society, the answer is, I think, obviously, no, we would not do it again.
ALBRIGHT: But can I say...
HADLEY: But we make these decisions based on what you know at the time. We made that decision based on what we knew at the time...
WILL: Which is why I said if we knew then what we know now.
HADLEY: ... and I think that's -- right...
RADDATZ: If you knew what you knew now, would have done it?
HADLEY: I think the American people wouldn't have supported it. But my point is, we did it. We got something of value. And we should be protecting it and not squandering that enormous investment we made.
ALBRIGHT: I can understand why these two poll numbers go together. I supported President Bush on Afghanistan because that is where the people that attacked us on 9/11 came from. The administration -- the Bush administration took their eye off the ball in Afghanistan in order to go to Iraq for God knows what reason.
And we now are in a position where neither war is being supported. And we are worried about what is going to happen next. I fully agree with Steve that we now have to worry about what infrastructure there is in Iraq, also in Afghanistan, and the spillover this has on Syria.
RADDATZ: Thank you all for joining us. This was indeed a powerhouse roundtable. Thank you. And Secretary Albright will stick around to answer your questions for today's "Web Extra."
Coming up, our colleague Bob Woodruff with a special look back on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War.
RADDATZ: The "Sunday Spotlight" is up next, but first, the "Sunday Funnies."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Well, after tours of the White House were canceled due to budget cuts, Donald Trump has offered to pay for them. Yes, all he is asking is that they rename it the Trump White House and Casino.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW": Listen to this, less than 24 hours, listen to this, less than 24 hours to come up with a brand new pope. Listen to this, it took a year, it took a year to replace Regis, took a year!
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": A supreme court judge has overturned New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on large sugary drinks. Well, that's great, isn't it? I mean, our government can't come to an agreement on the sequestration. But when it comes to real issues like our soda, the rulings are swift and decisive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: That's 21-year-old Lance Corporal Tim Donley, U.S. Marine Corps, a double amputee, singing with the legendary Roger Waters, founder of Pink Floyd and a band of wounded warriors at the standup for heroes event in New York City.
This week marks the ten-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a conflict that left 4,488 Americans dead and more than 32,000 wounded. We asked our own Bob Woodruff who was there during the ground invasion and who would be among the wounded, to take a personal look at the decade of war in our "Sunday Spotlight."
BOB WOODRUFF, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It is hard to imagine it was ten years ago, what a decade it has been for the U.S. military and a personal journey for me. My team was embedded with the marines when the war began. All of us were ordered to wear chemical suits as protection against weapons of mass destruction, which we later learned did not exist.
That night, U.S. military has an advantage over every other army in the world.
Many of us witnessed tragedy and lost friends.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's it going, Bob?
WOODRUFF: Jesus Del Solar (ph) was a marine sniper in the unit I was embedded with. The 20-year-old was killed just days into the invasion, stepping on an artillery shell. My war reporting in Iraq ended suddenly, less than three years after it began, struck by an IED, unconscious for 36 days.
So, I joined together with the hundreds of thousands of service members who survived, but remain wounded. The war would continue without us, getting far worse than anyone ever imagined.
STAFF SGT ROBERT MILTENBERGER, U.S. ARMY (RET): Listening to the soldiers tell you that, hey, tell your brother that I love you, watching his eyes roll back in his head, that he's real close to dying.
WOODRUFF: When President Obama took office in 2008, he vowed to bring all of the troops home, three years later, he did.
My colleague, Martha Raddatz who made more than 20 trips during the height of the violence in Iraq, was with the army on a dusty base in southern Iraq as they made their final preparations to leave the long war behind.
RADDATZ: This the last daylight these soldiers will see in Iraq.
WOODRUFF: Crossing through the border, reflection turned to joy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We made it!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you guys! And we'll be home in like a week. Can't wait!
WOODRUFF: Back home the healing began for those who survived and for the families of those who did not.
This week, Martha sat down with retired General Peter Chiarelli who served two tours in Iraq and wrote more than 500 letters of condolences. He has his own kind of scars.
RADDATZ: And what would you think when you were writing those letters?
GEN. PETER CHIARELLI, U.S. ARMY (RET): I don't go here. You're tearing me apart. You really are.
RADDATZ: Ten years is a good place to remember this stuff.
CHIARELLI: Yeah but, that's really tough.
RADDATZ: So you have to ask the question, and I know it's the simple cliche question that everyone says, was it worth it?
CHIARELLI: Well, I've got to believe it's worth it.
RADDATZ: Bob's experience in Iraq and his serious injuries compelled him and his family to form a foundation to help wounded veterans, especially those with traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress. Bob joins us now.
Welcome, Bob. It's great to have you here.
WOODRUFF: Martha, great to be here with you.
RADDATZ: Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been at least 126,000 cases of post -- of traumatic brain injury and 70,000 PTSD, posttraumatic stress disorder. Is the country ready for it? What can we do with all of these veterans coming home?
WOODRUFF: Well, first of all, are we ready? I think certainly a lot better than we were ten years ago when this war began. And we never predicted these kinds of numbers and how long it lasted. We didn't know the kinds of injuries and how to deal with them like the ones from the IED, the improvised explosive devices.
The lives have been saved, but those that have come back have in many ways invisible injuries as you mention with PTSD and TBI, traumatic brain injury.
So that's changing now as we get a lot closer, but there's a big number. And as you said, there are going to be increasing.
RADDATZ: We have both spent so much time with these wounded veterans. What do they want? How do you want to be treated by America? How do they want to be integrated?
WOODRUFF: Integrated is probably the right word. You know, they don't want to be called heroes a lot. They really want to be treated just like others in the neighborhood. So if people want to help them, do it in your community, try to become friends with them.
You know, there's a big Chinese wall, as I say, between the 99 percent of us who are civilians and that 1 percent in these two wars that have served. We got to bring those and that kind of integration, to bring them together as friends, because that is the one that is really the best way for them on their recovery.
RADDATZ: Well, I've got to say, Bob, your recovery still makes me tear up every time I see you. And you have done remarkable work with these veterans. Thanks very much, Bob. Bob's organization is called the Bob Woodruff Foundation. You can find it at remind.org.
And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice.
This week, the Pentagon released the names of nine service members killed in Afghanistan.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News with David Muir tonight.
George is back next week. And we hope you will be, too.