NEW YORK, March 24, 2013— -- A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday morning, March 24, 2013 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to this week. Sunday showdown.
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OBAMA: The task of perfecting our union moves forward.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Obama's big gun, Jim Messina.
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BUSH: Because you did the incredible work, we are celebrating today.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Bush's architect, Karl Rove. The winning campaign chiefs face off for the first time on our powerhouse roundtable, only on This Week. Plus, the president overseas. We'll get insight on what comes next from our foreign policy experts, including ABC's Global Affairs Anchor, Christian Amanpour, and The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, fresh from the president's trip.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Reporting from ABC News Headquarters, George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. You're going to see President Obama touching down at Andrews Air Force Base late last night after his first trip to Israel as president. We're going to analyze the mission, and what comes next for that volatile region, later in the program. But first, the big debates Obama is returning to here at home; guns, immigration, gay marriage and the budget. And for that, a This Week first, Jim Messina and Karl Rove join our powerhouse roundtable. Welcome to both of you.
Along with our This Week veterans, Donna Brazile, Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, and Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran. Thanks to all of you. And Karl, let me begin with you. Saturday, 5:00 am, the Senate finally passes a budget, the first in four years for the Democrats. The House has already passed a budget. Very stark differences between the two. Everyone waiting for President Obama to weigh in as well. But I guess my question to you is, despite those stark differences do you see this as the beginning of negotiations toward a compromise?
ROVE: I frankly take this as a constructive sign. I have not yet understood why the Senate Democrats have not passed a budget resolution for the last four years. It gives the guidelines for the Senate to go pass appropriations bills under what's called, protection. That is to say that they don't require 60 votes, as long as they live within the limits. And this sets up then the normal flow of Congress. With the House passing a budget with less spending. The Senate with Democrats passing a budget with more spending, and going to conference and working out the difficulties.
It's -- requires hard work. It requires work by the committees, but that's the way that things actually give and take. When we get into a situation where everything has to be dictated from above, like with these continuing resolutions, we set up unnecessary...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Jim, the president seems to have had the same insight. He's now started to go around the Republican leaders, and work one-on-one with Republican Senators?
MESSINA: Well, he's done that for four years, and I think he -- I agree with Karl, he...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not that much.
MESSINA: ...look, I was there the first two years. I spent a lot of time sitting with him, talking to Republicans in both the House and the Senate. That's what he's done. That's where the record is. And that's what you've seen him doing the past few weeks. I agree with you that we are working across party lines. I think the Senate passing the budget is a good step. It's along the lines of the proposals the president has laid out, and I think it will move us forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, one of the things you're seeing, Donna Brazile, is as we head into this next phase, the president's poll numbers have been dropping. Now below 50 percent, basically even now with Republicans on the economy. Even though he had a very big advantage after the election.
BRAZILE: Well look, when you're in the business of trying to form a -- a compromise, get the other side to even come to the table with some common-sense ideas, I'm not surprised the president is -- is a little lower than 50 percent. But you know, we have a budget now. We have a moral document, a blueprint for the -- the policy debates that are going to take place this summer. One of the interesting things, I enjoyed watching this at 2:00 am, and I'm sure some other people were up as well, is that we got...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Don't know if they were watching CSPAN though.
BRAZILE: ...well, I don't get those other channels, George.
BRAZILE: But -- but we -- we -- they had an opportunity to talk about the Keystone Pipeline. They had an opportunity to talk about a biannual budget. They had an opportunity to talk about immigration. So this gave the Senators more than an opportunity to talk about big issues as well as the -- the budgetary matters.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Also Terry Moran, they managed to score a lot of political points with all those amendments.
MORAN: They did. And while this is a normal piece of legislative business, and that's very encouraging, no more cliff-diving, at least on this issue. One does wonder why they did it at 5:00 in the morning. You -- you know why -- it has to work in such a strange and dysfunction way at -- at the end of the day. But it is a good thing that they got it done.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're nodding your head?
NOONAN: Yeah. It -- it does seem a little strange that they work sometimes on The Hill in a slightly Banana Republican-esque kind of way, where they're making moves at 3:00 am while all of America is asleep. That having been said, somebody, I think you George, mentioned the president's numbers deflating a little bit in the past few weeks. I don't think we should forget this is not all just, quote "budget related", it is -- I think it tracks perfectly the sequester drama, in which I think a number of Americans started to think the White House is playing games on this.
And -- and I think it also tended to track a few other things, like a sense that the president may not get down in the middle of things, and get them going. Also there is Obamacare, which each day is being followed by some newspaper story saying, there's a new part of it that the Senate decided they had to vote out. And there's a new part that's going to cost you $1,000 more a year. All of this comes together, and I think is somewhat damaging...
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the questions...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ...what effect it has on the president's...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ...to get all the items on his agenda passed. I =- I do want to move to another one, because there was significant action this week on -- on guns. We saw Senator Harry Reid basically say he's not going to include the assault weapons ban in his base package on gun control. And it's turned all of the fire in this issue of background checks. One of the things we saw overnight, Mayor Bloomberg of New York starting a $12 million ad campaign in target -- to target swing Senators.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guns are for hunting and protecting my family. I believe in the Second Amendment, and I'll fight to protect it. But with rights, come responsibilities. That's why I support comprehensive background checks so criminals, and the dangerously mental ill can't buy guns. That protects my rights, and my family.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Jim Messina, it's no secret there was a lot of resistance from Democrats on the assault weapons ban, including Harry Reid. You saw Mayor Bloomberg right there. He's going to be advertising in both Democratic and Republican districts, Democrat and Republican states. You know, you work with Organization for Action, the president's super-PAC, you support the president's agenda. Are you going to target ads against Democrats, as well as Republicans on this issue?
MESSINA: Look, we're going to work out -- reach out to members of both parties on this. Background checks are supported by over 92 percent of Americans, including a majority of NRA members, a majority of Republicans. There's clear consensus in the states on this issue, and we're absolutely going to talk to members of both parties.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, so you'll be -- you'll be advertising in Democratic districts?
MESSINA: We'll figure out what advertising it is, but we're talking on grassroots -- last week, we over 100 events across the country, in both Democratic and congressional -- or and Republican congressional seats. We had over one million volunteers in the first month along, getting involved on this and other issues. And we're absolutely going to be advocating on the president's agenda.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're still seeing, Karl Rove, the National Rifle Association digging in against universal background checks?
ROVE: Look, if you -- if you say should we keep the mentally ill and the -- and the criminals from getting guns, everybody would say yes. But that's not what this is about. We're talking about, in this instance, having a registry where if a grandfather wants to give a treasured shotgun to his grandson, or granddaughter, he has to register with the government and go and get approval as the government to give that gun to his grandchild.
ROVE: Well, I would say -- also transferring. And in addition, Senator Schumer for some reason or another, insists upon keeping a registry of guns. Now, if there's one thing that scares a lot of people who believe in the Second Amendment, is the federal government keeping a national registry of gun sales, and gun purchasers, and gun owners. And -- and -- and...
STEPHANOPOULOS: (Inaudible) how does the background check make any difference?
ROVE: It -- it does make a difference. You -- you -- you find out if somebody can, or cannot purchase a gun. Right now I can go into a gun store in Texas to purchase a weapon. I have to go through a background check. They have to ascertain I don't have a criminal record, and that I can purchase a gun. And -- but what we're talking about here is different than that. And -- and why it's different than that...
ROVE: ...and why it's different than that is politics. There could be a lot of mutual agreement found on closing some of these so-called gun show loopholes. We could probably get agreement on a -- a widespread basis of people saying, look you go to a gun show, you walk in, you get -- you -- you pass a check. You give -- you get your little stub that allows you to purchase a weapon, and that's it. But this goes far beyond that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What's the answer to that?
MESSINA: Look 40 percent of all gun sales currently don't go through background checks. The background checks have stopped two million people from -- from getting guns they should not get. But we know there are loopholes all over the place. And Karl, just saying no, what the NRA and your party is doing right now, isn't moving us forward.
ROVE: Let -- let's be clear about this, this was prompted by the Sandy Hook murders. Those guns were legally purchased with a background check. This would not have solved something like that. Let's be very careful about quickly trampling on the rights of people who -- and look, you want to get something done? Then stop scaring people. Don't say we're going to keep a registry of all of these guns, and...
ROVE: ...and let's not make it so unhappy...
MORAN: Stop scaring people? You're scaring people with this Orwellian sense that black helicopters and the government, if we register guns, they're going to confiscate Americans guns. That kind of paranoia fuels...
ROVE: With all due respect, it is not paranoia.
MORAN: Who is going to confiscate all of the guns in America?
ROVE: People have a fear of this. Why do it? Why do you need it?
MORAN: Lots of things are registered in the United States of America...
ROVE: Yeah, but -- but...
MORAN: ...because they're...
ROVE: ...do we register that are constitutionally...
MORAN: The result of this is that the only votes really that have been taken since Newtown have weakened gun control in America. Some of those votes the Senate took last week to prevent the Justice Department, for example from taking a look at gun shop owners inventory to make sure there haven't been thefts, voted down by Republicans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Peggy, maybe things haven't changed much after Newtown at all?
NOONAN: Here's where I think the problem is, I think Congress is attempting to act in a way that ignores a central fact. The central fact is that nobody in America really trusts Congress. If you're Congress, and you admit nobody really trusts us, then you make simple, discreet, five-page bills, not these big comprehensive things that involve assault weapons, and this and that, and putting it forward and then having everybody, say whoa, I'm not sure I trust you.
The reason Americans don't trust these big bills is because they think so much mischief is hidden inside.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I take your point on that, but doesn't extending a background check from gun stores to gun shows, doesn't that fit that bill as kind of simple -- simplicity?
NOONAN: If we're at the point where that is a simple bill, on its own, existing on its own, I think it could go forward and do well as long as it takes care of certain things that may be going too far.
BRAZILE:: But Senator Reid thinks he can get through cloture if he puts the background proposal up first and then couple it with gun safety measures to keep our schools safe and then perhaps open it up to additional amendments. Look, I think there's still room for negotiation. Senator Manchin of West Virginia is working with the NRA. Gun owners, 82 percent of them believe that this is something that should occur.
And I do believe that we're going to have some action. On assault weapons, which I don't believe that we have the votes on that. But I still believe that Senator Reid should allow the amendment to come up and let both parties go on record saying where they stand on assault weapons.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is likely to happen.
I want to move on to something else we saw this week . We saw a pretty remarkable report coming out of the Republican National Committee and their chairman Reince Priebus. The growth and opportunity project, he called it, 100 pages diagnosing what went wrong for the Republican Party in the last presidential election. Here he was introducing it.
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REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Focus groups described our party as narrow minded, out of touch and, quote, stuffy old men. Our message was weak, our ground game was insufficient. We weren't inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital. And our primary debate process need improvement.
So there's no one solution, there's a long list of them.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Karl Rove, you go through it and it was pretty candid, fairly harsh diagnosis of what wrong in the last election, in the last several presidential and national elections. But, in some ways it didn't seem as if the solutions matched the diagnosis -- fewer debates, fewer primaries, maybe an earlier convention.
Well, look, there are tactical challenges for the party and those are easily described. And you can define them (inaudible). But the party also faces strategic issues and those aren't easy to either define or to provide the answer. And it's unlikely to come from the national chairman.
One of the interesting things that's happened is if you look in recent months, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, a number of other party leaders have come forward with very interesting speeches talking about the future of the party. And this is the process that each party goes through after having lost a presidential election.
And I think this is a constructive process. And I see a lot coming out of it. One strand that you see in most of these speeches is that the Republican Party has to change from being simply a party of green eye shades to being a party that stands for the right of every American to rise as is a party that emphasizes economic growth and prosperity over green eye shade issues. And I think that's probably right. Because that allows us to make our argument in every corner, every community in America in a powerful way.
And coming from voices like Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez and Marco Rubio gives us some greater credibility in those communities.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you think the report got what went wrong for the Republicans?
MESSINA: Absolutely not. Look, I think there is great things in that report. And I think it got it right on the tactics. And I agree with Karl.
The problem is, it misses the entire point. They didn't lose 71 percent of the Latino votes because of tactics. They didn't lose over 60 percent of the youth vote and women by double digits because of tactics or outreach or data. They lost it because they're wrong on the issues and their party has moved so far to the right that they no longer speak to the majority of Americans.
A Pew poll came out this morning, an interesting column saying that the Republican brand is at its lowest ebb in 30 years -- 33 percent approve, 58 percent disapprove. That's not about tactics, that's about issues.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Andrew Coe (ph) and Peggy Noonan who wrote that report, says that he hasn't seen a situation like this, where a party was so far out of center since the Democrats, Gene McCarthy in 1968.
NOONAN: You know, I tend to think that the go GOP's central problems have to do with things we don't talk all that much about. One is what happened in 2008 and the continuing repercussions of the crash. The repercussions where the party stands, what its positions are on how to create growth, that is becoming in part within the party, a rising disagreement -- not disagreement, but a rising difference of emphasis between those who are saying the way we have to go is growth right now and those who are saying we've got to handle this debt and deficit thing. They're sort of different approaches.
Another is that I think the Republican Party has to make clear what its foreign policy is. It has had two wars for the past 12 years, people are still settling in and thinking -- I mean, the voters have said, we don't like that. We're not for that. The Republican Party has to make clear what it stands for and it's going to have to have a little bit of debate to get there.
So I think those two big things, and the policies that spring from them, will make all of the difference and so will an eventual compelling presidential candidate, somebody who is involved right now is going to work his way through. At the end of the day, it is the candidates who resolve a lot of unresolved things by taking a stand and speaking for forcefully for it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was Bill Clinton after Dukakis's loss in '88.
BRAZILE: That was Bill Clinton after Walter Mondale lost, after Jimmy Carter lost. We had a dynamic governor who was reform minded, who took those reform issues and brought them into the national forefront. He really helped recharge the Democratic Party.
But, you know, the Republican Party is out to lunch. I watched CPAC Charl -- I mean Karl.
BRAZILE: Charles was a former friend.
ROVE: I thought I was a current friend.
BRAZILE: But you're always a friend, but you owe me some chili.
ROVE: But you owe me some fried chicken.
BRAZILE: Oh, well I saved your life with malaria (ph) once.
ROVE: There you go. Yes, you did.
BRAZILE: Yes, indeed.
BRAZILE: It's all right, we go back a long way.
But here's the thing, the Republican Party is out to lunch. It's not just mechanics. It's not just communication. I mean, it's the party that continues to reject the majority of the American people and they feel it They don't want to be associated with a party that talks down to them, that's condescending, that attacks their rights and then call them victims.
So, I think they're out to lunch. And as far as I'm concerned, I will give them a bus ticket pass to continue to stay off the national radar.
MESSINA: When I was covering the White House and Karl was in it with George W. Bush, it was a Republican Party that was looking to that tomorrow and reaching out, winning 40 plus percent of the Hispanic vote. I remember there was an event in the East Room where President George W. Bush, said on Thomas Jefferson's birthday, I'm happy and proud to welcome both sides of the Jefferson family, the descendants of Sally Hemings.
A Republican couldn't get away with that today. It's...
NOONAN: I disagree. But it was a gracious moment.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We are starting to see a change this week, actually something happened this week that does signal some opening to the 71 percent who voted for President Obama -- Latinos. You saw Rand Paul, interestingly really break the dam on immigration. A lot of people saw the speech that he gave and said this could be the signal that immigration reform passes this year.
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SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: We aren't going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants. If you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place to you. In order to bring conservatives to this cause, however, those who work for reform must understand that a real solution must ensure that our boarders are secure.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Now Karl Rove, it is true, that is not the kind of language you heard during the Republican primary debate, certainly not Mitt Romney, but a big shift.
ROVE: Let's be clear. Before we assign the Republican Party to the dust pin of history, 30 out of 50 governors of the United States are Republicans. Republicans have -- elected in 2010 the largest number of state legislators since 1920, a majority of state legislators are Republicans.
The U.S. House is Republican. The Senate would have been Republican had it -- were it not for bad candidates. I suspect we have a lot of agreement that were it not for the Sharron Angles and Todd Aiken and Richard Mourdocks of the world there might even actually be a Republican Senate majority. And this president got reelected with a smaller percentage of the vote than he got elected four years ago. And nobody believes that he got reelected because of compelling, positive, forward-looking agenda for America. He irradiated Mitt Romney and made him a plutocrat with a wife who is an open practicing equestrian, as my friend Haley Barbour says.
So let's not kid ourselves. We have two robust parties, each have got their own problems. The Republican Party has got its problems, the Democratic Party has got its problems. And we're likely to see a competitive political environment for decades to come.
Now as to Rand Paul, good comment. Republicans need to help resolve the issue of immigration reform in order to get this issue behind us.
And I think it's interesting,Mitt Romney got 27 percent of the Latino vote. In the battleground states with exit, polling he got 32 percent. And in the battleground of battlegrounds, Ohio, he got 42 percent of the Latino votes. Now maybe that's a little bit of small sample and so forth and so on, but nonetheless the fact of the matter is that the more he was able to make these arguments about the economy and deficit and debt and the Affordable Care Act...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But don't you have to get certain things out of the way, then, doesn't the Republican Party have to pass immigration reform, seem to passing it avoid having the appearance that they're not welcoming?
ROVE: Republicans have to play a role in that, absolutely.
And, look, we have to -- it can't be solved just simply by that.
My former White House deputy, Rubin Boralis (ph) has taken the leadership of an effort in California to help recruit and elect Hispanic Republicans at the local level. Last fall they elected 100 Hispanic Republicans to school boards, new elections to school boards, city councils, local units of government. Their goal is to elect 300 this year. That's the kind of concerted effort that we need to make.
And we need to take our spokesmen, like Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval, governors of New Mexico and Nevada and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and get them out there along with the rest of the party, communicating around the country.
It's amazing to me. In Texas, a Republican naturally campaigns everywhere in Texas, including Latino communities, African American communities, Anglo communities, rural, urban. but in other states that's just not normal. We need to make it normal
STEPHANOPOULOS: The other place that the Republican Party is going to seem more welcoming on social issues. Big week coming up this week on gay marriage, the Supreme Court is looking at two big cases. Interestingly before this, we saw Hillary Clinton come out this weekend and say that she was for gay marriage.
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HILLARY CLINTON, FRM. U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones. And they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship, that includes marriage. That's why I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna Brazile, interestingly, her first message since stepping down as secretary of state.
BRAZILE: Absolutely. But you know it echoes something she said a few months ago at the UN, gay rights is human rights. This a big moment this week. Two big cases, Terry probably knows more about them than I do. A moment for the country to finally get on the right side of history. Dr. King said that the history of the world is long, but it always bends toward justice.
A moment to look at the proposition 8 in California and declare it unconstitutional. And repeal DOMA. These are two big cases and it's going to have a major impact on our...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Terry, you do cover the Supreme Court for us. I want to ask you about this, because it seems to put two justices, especially, in an interesting position -- Justice Kennedy, of course, the traditional swing vote for the justices, but maybe even more, Chief Justice John Roberts, 58 years old, likely to be chief justice for a long time. You see how support for gay marriage has surged in the last year. Even if he personally may be against it, he's likely to look and see, you know, in 10, 15 years when I'm sitting on the bench, it's going to be 70 percent support in the country.
How does he grapple with that?
MORAN: That's a great point. There's an institutional challenge to the court in the astonishing speed that the country has changed its mind on this. The people are way ahead of the elites. Hillary Clinton when she ran for president was against gay marriage. The president when he ran for president was against gay marriage.
The Supreme Court, within a generation outlawed sodomy for gay people but not for straight people. Now they overturned that decision. And he doesn't want to be that chief justice, I think, caught on the wrong side.
At the same time, this is a court, and these are justices, who I don't think want to declare once and for all the way Americans should live. I think they want to let the people do what the people are doing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, it's interesting Peggy Noonan, Justice Kennedy in a speech in Sacramento this month said, a democracy should not be dependent for its major decisions on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say.
NOONAN: Yeah, Americans don't take it well and don't accept it as a resolution when their black robed masters in Washington decide to put on them what they decide is the right thing. One of the great sins of Roe versus Wade, the abortion decision of 40 years ago, was that it decided everyone has to do it one way, instead of leaving it to the states.
It seems to me it is certainly in line with conservative political thinking, but I think it would be acceptable certainly to liberal thinking, that when there are these gnawing, disagreeing questions going on in America, if you can't solve it here, you can say everybody can solve it down there. Let's state by state make their decision. You will immediately have New York having some of the most liberal decisions on this issue.
You will perhaps have Utah or Arkansas, having less liberal decisions. Work questions out that way as much as possible.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Karl Rove, can you imagine the next presidential campaign, a Republican candidate saying flat out I am for gay marriage?
ROVE: I could.
But you know what, let's stay here for a moment. One of the interesting things to me is going to be -- we've talked about Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy. I'm interested in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How so?
ROVE: Well, she has had comments in the past about Roe V Wade, which Peggy mentioned.
ROVE: And said in essence...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Went too far, too fast.
ROVE: Too far, too fast.
NOONAN: We over did, yes.
ROVE: And maybe should not have imposed one national view from the court. And what we may see is a decision here that in essence has not a 5-4 decision, but a 6-3, 7-2 that says leave it up to the states. In fact, we could see an 8-1.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And interesting, Jim Messina, even the president is not willing to go quite that far yet. I sat down with him two weeks ago and he went farther than he ever had before in saying that gay marriage is a right guaranteed by the constitution, basically said he can't imagine circumstances in a state where a ban could be upheld, but still not going quite that far in enunciating the straight constitutional principle.
MESSINA: Look, I think he's been clear in his position. The country has had a discussion led by him on his evolution. I think I agree with Terry, the country has moved dramatically on this in ten years. 37 percent support ten years ago, now 58 percent, including 81 percent of young people, part of the problems Karl's party have right now with young voters is people look at them on this, on contraception and think they're completely out of touch.
I think the president in this -- on these two cases has laid out our arguments. The solicitor general is arguing the case in front of him. The president has said very clearly, we do not favor discrimination, that's why we have come out against prop 8 and we have come out against every state's attempt to regulate this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- go ahead.
MORAN: One of the things that happened, Senator Portman coming out this week saying his son's gayness and that's changed his mind. Gay people have liberated themselves in this country. And there are tons of Republican legislatures in the federal government and in the state government who have sons and daughters, brothers and sister, colleague and friends who are coming out and saying, how can really you stand against us on this issue of our love and our hearts? And that is how the change is happening.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is this movement inevitable?
NOONAN: George Will said something here a few weeks ago, he said, look, opposition is literally dying out, it is the older Americans, not the younger Americans.
One of the things that I like, by the way, about a compromise in which state by state does it, it's not only localities and keeping power local, it also takes a little time. Sometimes it's good when everything takes a little time to settle itself.
May I note by the way, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a famous court liberal, her acknowledging very recently was in I think The Times today, that the Rove Versus Wade decision, the abortion decision, had gone too far and was an overreach. That is an epic statement from an American liberal left jurist.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is the last word for right now. Thank you all for a terrific roundtable.
Jim and Karl are going to stick around and answer your questions for our web extra. Check it out at ABCnews.com/thisweek.
And up next, take a look at these long ATM lines in tiny Cyprus. Do they mean your 401(k) is at risk? Our foreign policy experts weigh in on that and President Obama's mission to the Middle East when we come back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: More roundtable coming up. First take a look at the President's picks for March Madness.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right Mr. President, we have a new term. Previous term you went one in three.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: But I think we can do better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. Four new years.
OBAMA: Four new years. We'll see what we can do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Notre Dame against Ohio State. I don't know if you saw the uniforms that Notre Dame wore.
OBAMA: That's one reason why they shouldn't go anyplace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. ULV (ph) Syracuse.
OBAMA: Good match but I like Syracuse. Mainly because Biden told me if I didn't take them, he wouldn't talk to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who goes to the final four?
OBAMA: I think Louisville this year have the horses to go, go real far. For the championship and going back to the Big 10, I think this is Indiana's year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. All right, thanks.
OBAMA: Great to see you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We've got a terrific business-like relationship. You know, he is very blunt with me about his views on issues and I'm very blunt with him.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: Barack it's a great pleasure for me to host you here in Jerusalem.
OBAMA: And I want to express a special thanks to Sara as well as your two sons. I did inform the Prime Minister that they are very good looking young men who clearly got their looks from their mother.
NETANYAHU: Well, I could say the same of your daughters.
OBAMA: It's true. Our goal is to improve our gene pool. By marrying women who are better than we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: A little bonding for Bibi and Barack right there. We're going to talk about that trip and a lot more coming up now on our next roundtable. Joined by ABC Global Affairs Anchor, Christiane Amanpour, Jeffrey Goldberg of "The Atlantic" magazine, thanks for joining us, you were on the president's trip this week, Rana Foroohar, the Assistant Managing Editor of "Time" magazine, and Dan Senor, formerly of the Bush administration, also the author of "Start Up Nation, the Story of Israel's Economic Miracle."
And Jeffrey let me begin with you. You were on the trip, you labeled it Operation Desert Schmooz.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yeah.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now the White House made it pretty clear from the start that people should not expect like a re-ignition of the peace process here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what exactly did they want to achieve, and did they meet the goal?
GOLDBERG: Well I think they did achieve their goal. Their goal was to re-introduce the President to the Israeli people. To go over the head of the Prime Minister, his new best friend, if necessary, in order to create space for future negotiations.
His goal with Netanyahu I think they also probably achieved this, was to just sort of put his arm around him. Netanyahu is in an insecure position in the Middle East. Put his arm around him and say, look I've got this Iran thing, I know you don't quite believe me. But I'm going to explain why I have this so you don't have to worry. And you certainly don't have to go off and attack Iran without me.
And that was, I think they probably achieved more than they thought they would achieve when they left.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, ABC GLOBAL AFFAIRS, ANCHOR: Well look, I think as Jeffrey said, this was, everybody wanted to see President Obama in Israel. Certainly the Israeli's had felt they had the cold shoulder for all of his first term. Was famous, the chilly relationship, which looked it sort of schmoozed up and warmed up now in this term.
But I think he's right. You know, he went to the Convention Center in Jerusalem, he talked to the students, the young people there. It was very moving. He gave a whole case as to the importance of the Israeli-Jewish relationship. How the American relationship was very close. And then he laid out Iran, peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis and did the whole conclusion.
From what Israeli officials told me, peace between Israelis and Palestinians was not high on the agenda. That was not the objective of this. It was you know, nice to say it, and very, very important. But it was about Iran. And the real question is, does this trip further what when it comes to Iran? Is it about cementing American to go to war if Israel so chooses? Is it about diplomacy?
The Israelis gave him a big cheer when he said this should be resolved --
STEPHANOPOULOS: It was interesting, we saw the Prime Minister. I want to bring in Dan Senor, but first show what Prime Minister Netanyahu said about Iran. He basically extended the timeline once again before military action would be necessary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NETANYAHU: If Iran decides to go for a nuclear weapon, that is to actually manufacture the weapon. Then it probably, that will take them about a year. I think that's correct. But we do have a common assessment on these schedules, on intelligence, we share that intelligence. And we don't have any argument about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was an interesting point he made, that the United States and Israel now in synch on the intelligence. We saw Prime Minister Netanyahu at the U.N. last year say it was six to nine months before Iran would have a weapon.
DAN SENOR, AUTHOR OF "START UP NATION, THE STORY OF ISRAEL'S ECONOMIC MIRACLE": Right.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now it's another year. So he does seem to be extending the timeline a little bit. Dancing, is that because he believes that Barack Obama in the end, is going to be willing to strike militarily?
SENOR: I think he was struck as were many, about how strong the President's language was on Iran in Israel. So last Spring at the APAC Policy Conference, President Obama said that his policy is prevention. Prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, not containment.
What he said in Israel is, we will do everything we need to do. And containment won't work. It's not a policy preference, it will not work. In a sense the President was taking on his own at home, saying containing an Iran nuclear program is unworkable. And for him to say that in Israel, on the ground, standing with the Israeli Prime Minister, was a powerful statement.
So I think it had the effect of reassuring the Prime Minister. And the fact that the President seems, as Jeffrey said, to have discarded or at least seriously subordinated the Palestinian issue. He's taken the foot off the pedal on the Palestinian track. So he's telling Israel, we're not going to pressure you on the Palestinian track. We're no longer calling settlements illegitimate, we're calling them, non-constructive. And we are actually going to sound tougher on Iran, is giving the Prime Minister the space to move --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that tough talk mean some kind of military action is inevitable in this second term for President Obama?
RANA FOROOHAR, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I really don't think so. I think a lot of people will say, if not publicly, privately, that a military intervention in Iran would be really catastrophic. Economically, politically. And I actually think that there are signs that it may be a better moment for diplomacy than we think.
Last week with Iranian New York and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, for the first time since the Republic was founded, actually said that he was open to discussions. He didn't say that these were off the table. That he wanted to move forward with diplomacy and actually lauded the President. That's taken amongst Iranians as a big sign. And something really different.
So I think that this is a moment he's, the talk has been tough on the part of the President, but this is a moment perhaps to step back and let the Iranians move forward a little bit.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You agree with that?
GOLDBERG: I don't. I definitely think it's preferable not to have military action. I think though that we've been fooled in the past by statements from the Iranian leadership. They are moving in a definite action. One of the main worries of American military planners and Israeli planners, is that they're going to use this time, the Iranians are using this time, to install faster centrifuges in fortified bunkers.
And the real worry on the part of the Americans right now is that Iran will sprint toward a bomb in between these international inspections. In other words, they're going to collapse the time to the point where it would only take a month or two to actually cross the nuclear threshold. And this is the big worry.
AMANPOUR: So what I hear from experts on all sides is that you know what, they don't actually have to make the bomb. It is all about capability. And they may already be there. They may already not be far from there. The question is, will they take the decision to convert it to that? And as yet, obviously, there's no indication that they have.
But the Iranians can play this out for a while like this. And so can the Americans. Some really do believe that this is the only way it's going to proceed for the next several months. Keep it on this sort of cooker. This slow burning cooker, where you have diplomacy, you don't have the breakout to the weapon and you see what comes out of it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's Iran. The boiling point already may have been reached now on Syria. And the President was questioned when he was in Israel on why he has not yet stepped in with more military aid for the opposition yet?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think it's fair to say that the United States often finds itself in a situation where if it goes in militarily then it's criticized for going in militarily. And if it doesn't go in militarily, then people say, why aren't you doing something militarily? My response at this stage is to make sure that what we do contributes to bringing an end to the bloodshed as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Maybe I'm over reading Dan Senor, but the words that stuck out there for me were "at this stage."
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we know the President is getting pushed from several members of Congress, Democrat and Republican to take more robust military action. He's been reluctant so far. Members of his administration have been for it. And even though he was still pushing back a bit. He did leave the door opened.
SENOR: Sure in fact when I talk to government officials in the Arab world and in Israel, and I say what do you think of the U.S. foreign policy these days? The one word they say is Syria. Syria is a case study in U.S. foreign policy failure. Two million people internally displaces, a million people refugees in Turkey and Jordan, 70,000 dead. And this is a country that's allied with Tehran. So strategically it's like embarrassing. It's embarrassing for the U.S. and it's worrisome to Israel and the Gulf Arabs.
But I think one thing the President said in Israel which was encouraging to many who want action Syria. When he talked about chemical weapons, he didn't just say Syria using chemical weapons is a game changer, Syria moving chemical weapons and distributing them to the hands of terrorist groups, which is what the Israelis wanted to hear.
So I actually think he is now lowering the threshold for some kind of action.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you see --
AMANPOUR: And it's very interesting that, because chemical weapons was the big question this last week, Tzipi Livni the new Israeli Justice Minister said publicly that they know that chemical weapons were used. The Americans are saying no. So what does that mean about a red line? And who's determining whether they were used or whether they weren't used?
And then you know, you've got this whole issue, I've just come back from Europe. The British and the French are going to lower the barrier and probably allow the Syrian rebels to be armed.
SENOR: They're further ahead than the U.S.
AMANPOUR: Way, way ahead. So is the U.S. going to be leading from behind again?
GOLDBERG: On the broader point, it's so interesting, we just marked the 10th anniversary of a militant intervention by the United States. Which had obviously huge consequences that we're living with today. This Syria case is an example of consequences of non-interventionism.
In other words, a President of the United States cannot really catch a break in the Middle East. Either you're intervening too much, you're not intervening enough, there are, we might wind up a couple years from now thinking, man, we really should have done something a couple of years earlier to stop what is unfolding in Syria from unfolding.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We face some of the same problems. We're not even really sure who this opposition is and who we would be arming.
FOROOHAR: Yeah, well when it comes to arming too, how that gets done is interesting. And I would go back to some of the successes of Obama's trip. And I think one of the big, unheralded successes is Netanyahu's apology to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. Because that creates an interesting new alliance.
Not just between Israel and Turkey who have so much in common really, and were really moving forward diplomatically before the incident with the flotilla two years ago. But it also creates a sort of interesting new Sunni alliance if you will, Egypt, Turkey, Qatar. So it could be as these anti-Assad countries sort of ally under one banner, that gives Syria pause.
AMANPOUR: She's right on that, the Israelis, the Turks, all of those are very concerned about this. But I also think we don't know who the opposition is, is a bit of a straw man.
GOLDBERG: Totally agree.
AMANPOUR: Because yes there are bad --
GOLDBERG: We can shape that, we can shape the opposition to a certain degree.
AMANPOUR: Right! And the fact of not being there, means we have no equity, no investment, no shaping, no nothing. We don't really know them. And the fact that all these bad guys are there is because of the vacuum that has been created by --
GOLDBERG: The consequence of non-intervention.
GOLDBERG: No, you make an excellent point. And I think Netanyahu is not the kind of guy, you know this, who's apt to apologize. Go around apologizing for things.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah I was surprised he did it.
GOLDBERG: He's not a big --
AMANPOUR: He's a lion.
GOLDBERG: He realized that Israel and Turkey have a common, dire problem. The threat of Syrian chemical weapons.
GOLDBERG: And he had to swallow his pride and say, I'm going to work with this guy on this.
AMANPOUR: Maybe he wanted to be, you know, brought down off the ledge.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We only have a couple minutes left. Rana I want to bring you in, you're an economic expert here. And talk for just a minute about Cyprus. I think the idea that that tiny nation could set off shockwaves throughout the entire global economy and affect our stock markets is kind of amazing to a lot of people.
On the other hand when you hear that one of the things that they're considering is actually taxing everyone's bank account, I think that sends a shudder of fear through everyone with a bank account.
FOROOHAR: I think it does. I mean if you look at the size of Cyprus, it's tiny. It has an economy about the size of Vermont. So it's .2 percent of the Eurozone. But what it underscores is the fact that years on into the European Debt Crisis, there's still no common way to resolve a country that's going into sovereign collapse, to get a banking system out of bankruptcy. Europeans don't know, when these things happen, what will happen.
And as you say, the first proposition in Cyprus actually would have included a tax, a one-time tax, essentially taking depositor's money, mom and pop folks in Cyprus, could lose their money. That's now presumably off the table and it looks like the Cypriots are going to be trying to hit some of the Russian offshore money that's in Cyprus.
But the bottom line is, if you live in another beleaguered country in Europe with bad public finances like Spain or Italy, you might well be thinking about going to the bank and taking your money out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I would think that's probably right.
SENOR: And the former Chairman of Cyprus' Central Bank said, just the fact that the EU, the ECB, was floating this idea and the authorities in Cyprus were floating this idea means this is the beginning of the end of the euro. That if people have no confidence that they can deposit their funds in a bank and not get whacked, not get a haircut when there's some sort of crisis --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Back to Rana real quickly, another deadline tonight for another possible agreement.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think we will see real reactions in our own financial markets this week?
FOROOHAR: I think that if there's no deal tonight and the beginnings of a disorderly collapse and exit from the euro on Monday, absolutely. If there is an agreement and it looks like there's a timeline for Cyprus to work this problem out. Where it doesn't cause social instability in that country, then I think we'll be okay. And nobody knows yet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We will all be watching. Thank you all for a terrific roundtable. And when we come back, a life of service after a political standard. Fall to Grace is in our Sunday Spotlight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Sunday Spotlight is next. Right after the Sunday Funnies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIMMEL: There he is filling it out. Everybody watches him do everything. It's a lot of pressure. Obama picked Indiana, Louisville, Florida and Ohio State to reach the Final Four. He had Indiana to win but Republican's in the House blocked that and he was forced to take Fresno State.
LENO: And we're learning more and more about the new Pope, Pope Francis I, interesting, I read that he turned to the priesthood after he was dumped by his childhood sweetheart. Dumped by your sweetheart, come to the priesthood. You know what that means? We should one day expect to see Pope Taylor Swift.
FORMER GOV. JIM MCGREEVEY, R-N.J.: One has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth. Not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is. And so my truth is that I am a Gay American.
It's remarkable how grace works in our lives. You know when we're broken, we're beginning to understand that there's a potential to have a different value shift. To live a different way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what I (inaudible) so happy because he's just so uplifting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His love radiates, like, and you can tell it's genuine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: What a journey it has been for Jim McGreevey since he stepped down as New Jersey's governor back in 2004. Now with a prison ministry. That story is told in the new HBO documentary "A Fall to Grace." And we're joined now in our Sunday Spotlight by Jim McGreevey and filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi.
Thank you both for coming on. And Jim, turn back the clock, 10, 15 years. I imagine when you thought ahead to 2013, you thought a lot more about the White House than a women's prison?
MCGREEVEY: Sure. I think that was the driving impetus to think about politics and the inevitable, what I would hope to be the inevitable next step. But the blessing of 2004 and my resignation is that I had the opportunity to reassess my values, what was at my core. And a dear friend said to me, if you could do anything at this point in life, think about pursuing what your passion would be.
And I think when I was in high school and also law school, I thought about entering into the priesthood of the Jesuits then. And so I had an opportunity to reassess where I was. And to go deeper into my sense of values.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He calls it a blessing, Alexandra, you describe him as a broken man. And I guess what a rich story to show how a broken man creates a path to redemption.
ALEXANDRA PELOSI, FILM MAKER, DIRECTOR: Right, just in time for Easter. We're trying to put the idea out there that everybody deserves a second act. Everyone deserves redemption. We've all made mistakes that we're not proud of. And we all think that in this time of year it's good to talk about getting forgiveness for our sins.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it wasn't easy to convince him to do this, huh?
PELOSI: No, he never really wanted me around. The first time I went out and I met him and his partner and I said, I'd like to make a movie about you. And they said please go away, no. But here we are two years later.
STEPHANOPOULOS: She wore you down?
MCGREEVEY: She did. And what was so special about Alexandra was the trust that she incurred with the women. Because we, at some point we actually took a vote, in the jail and said, do we want to continue this. Because Alexandra and a little handheld camera was in their faces as they talked about some of the most difficult aspects of their lives.
And she gives meaning and purpose to these women. And if any good comes out of this George, hopefully it's that you know, as we drive by those high concrete with barbed wire, we understand there are human beings behind those walls. And America's five percent of the world's population but we're 25 percent of the world's incarcerated population. We're number one, we're ahead of Russian and then Rwanda.
And so I think what Alexandra's film shows is the importance of providing treatment particularly to the 70 percent of persons behind bars who are active addicts.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know when I first heard your story, I thought about Chuck Colson who also had a prison ministry after his own brush with political scandal. What is it about this ministry?
MCGREEVEY: It's redemptive, as Alexandra says. And for me, I remember when the dean of the seminary suggested I do prison ministry -- frankly it was a safe place for me to go. Because I didn't think I would be subject to recrimination. And then you spend time with people who are broken. And you see, the sense of goodness within them.
But you have to work with them. And I also achieve a parallel blessing, they working with me to move to a more, what I would perceive, Godly place.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And everyone can see a whole lot more of this story in "A Fall to Grace" it's going to air this week on HBO, Thursday night. Thank you both for coming in.
MCGREEVEY: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week the Pentagon released the name of one soldier killed in Afghanistan.
And that is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News with David Muir tonight and I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.