Will Private Emails Hurt Hillary's Chances in 2016?

The "This Week" roundtable weighs in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential prospects.
8:50 | 03/08/15

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Transcript for Will Private Emails Hurt Hillary's Chances in 2016?
Oh, a week of stories over Hillary Clinton's e-mails capped by that skit on "Saturday night live." Now it's become a pretty familiar pattern but will this story evaporate like so many in the past or does it spell real trouble for the upcoming campaign? Jon Karl examines those questions in our "Closer look." Hi, everybody. Reporter: Last night Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea got a rousing welcome at a meeting of the Clinton global initiative. Hillary Clinton didn't say anything about the topic du jour but president Obama did telling CBS he was unaware that she conducted official business using personal e-mail. When did he learn about it? The same time everybody else earn learned it through news reports. Reporter: The president praised secretary Clinton as a great secretary of state but made it clear he does not handle his e-mail the way she did. My e-mails, the blackberry that I carry around, all those records are available. Reporter: The president said he is glad Mrs. Clinton has now turned over her e-mails but there's still plenty of democratic angst some of it from those closest to president Obama. Why did she use a separate e-mail? How did she secure that? By not answering these questions, they're allowing the story to fester in ways that are unhelpful. Reporter: The issues now swirling this morning, how did Clinton break the rules? State department policy during her time as secretary of state required that if state employees use private e-mail for official business, they must turn it over to be entered on government computers. Mrs. Clinton did not do that until nearly two years after she stepped down as secretary and then only e-mails selected by her staff. And then there are the ghosts of Clinton's past. The new dustup brings up past controversies including secrecy and the Clintons. The secret health care task force that worked with her on the failed effort to pass a health care reform bill in the early 1990s. The rose law firm billing records that mysteriously went missing for two years when she was first lady finally turning up in the private residence of the white house. Here's what Mrs. Clinton said back in those days about more low-tech recordkeeping. Are you keeping a are you keeping good notes of what's happening to you? Heavens no. It would get subpoenaed. I can't write anything down. Reporter: The big political question, what is the impact on campaign 2016? The last time she ran for president, Mrs. Clinton did have something to say about secret e-mails when they belonged to republicans. We know about the secret wiretaps. We know about the secret military tribunals. Secret white house e-mail accounts. Reporter: But now that it's her secret e-mails, Mrs. Clinton seems to have been caught flat-footed. Not a good sign for a soon-to-be presidential campaign. For "This week," Jonathan Karl, ABC news, Washington. Thank you. Let's talk about this now with the team from Bloomberg politic, John heilemann and mark Halperin and our dueling strategists, donna Brazile and Nicolle Wallace from "The view" who worked for both George W. And Jeb bush. Welcome to you all and, mark, let me begin with you. I think we've seen a version of this story that Jon Karl hinted at five or six times. Generally the Clintons underreact and hunker down, the critics and media overreact. Is it different this time? Will it make any difference? I said a few weeks ago on this show I thought she was easily the most likely president of the United States. I now think not only is she because of this as a symptom and a cause, I now think she's not only easily the most likely, I don't think she's any more than most likely. This is -- go that's a big shift. Yeah. Because of e-mails? A big shift. Because of what this says as a symptom. Exhale. Not as a cause, as a symptom. Exhale. What she's doing here in terms of lack of response, lack of a sense of what people think of her and combined with what I thought was an extraordinary weak performance at her speech the other day, her husband can get through these things because he's a politician of a lifetime. She cannot. If this is the way she's going to run her operation, if this is the mind-set she's going to have, I don't think she's going to be president. The problem with, of course, recording anything about the Clintons is we overexploit it then we talk about it until we find something else to talk about. Reporters are looking through the rear view mirror to see if that's any way to manage her campaign or run the white house. We've known for two years secretary Clinton used a private e-mail account. That was the norm for cabinet officials and government officials and, yet, you know, we've used this week to talk about how is she going to use this to talk about everything else? I think she will survive it. I think she will overcome it. I think when she announces if she announces, this will not be part of the conversation. That may be, but, donna, let me bring this question to Nicolle Wallace. I guess that begs the question of why not get ahead of it. If you knew you were responding to the request of the state department, responding to the request from congressional committees why not be more public about what you were dog? I think their calculation is -- if you want to know what it's like to run for a president as a republican, watch what Hillary Clinton is going through. The media hyperventilation over everything the Clintons do reminds me so much of how they treated bush and Cheney and I said earlier this week and I thought someone's head was going to explode in the media. This is a media problem for her, no doubt. Journalism and journalists view themselves as the safeguard and the guardians of the public interest. They think the public has an interest and so do the republicans on the benghazi select committee. But these were e-mails. Not encrypted NSA taps. They will eventually come out and I think what's instructive to me is how the media is now writing her off because she didn't turn over her e-mails. We don't know yet if this is a political problem but it is most certainly a media problem. Okay, John heilemann, Hillary Clinton has been hurt with mark Halperin, how about democrats? You're not seeing a big uprising among democrats. Maybe some anxiety behind the scenes. Look, we're at the point of the campaign right now where on both sides this is about really the establishment, right? This is not -- voters are hardly engaged on either side but at this moment it not just this e-mail thing and I'm not quite as pessimistic as mark or I've changed my views about her quite as much but this story comes on the back of the stories about foreign donors at the foundation, it comes on the story about other questions about the foundation and business groups that were giving to it. She's had an extraordinarily bad run. This is a punctuation of some number of weeks of stories that are damaging to her because they go to the whole massive questions that are now going to get asked and looked into. This story is going to go on for a long time because of the fact that the subpoenas are being issued, because of the fact there's still e-mails she kept on her private server that respect even the ones she turned over to the state department. There are huge questions and for establishment democrats I think the answer, George, to answer your question is, I think for establishment democrats it increases what has been a persistent unease about her from 2008 that still lingers from 2016. That unease to open the door to Barack Obama eight years ago. I don't know if there's anybody awake in the wings right now, but I know a lot of establishment democrats getting that kind of queasy feeling in their stomach again that they had back in 2007 and 2008. Martin O'Malley stepping up his activity this week although not speaking on this but gets to the question, mark Halperin, what does secretary Clinton do about it? Does it speed up her plans to get in? Does she change her operation? Does she turn over all e-mails to the national archives. If I may respond quickly to two things Nicolle said. The press does have an obligation. This is not just a political story. What she did, withholding documents not available for subpoenas or requests is regardless of party. That is not -- I disagree with that. We're talking about political consequences. I think it's -- We're also talking about what's right and how government is supposed to -- It's far more devastating to say to Diane sawyer I was flat broke. People understand that those riding in a limo for two decades is flat broke. I'm sure she has political problems. I'm not sure that making the media mad is one of them. I'll just say, she's still -- any democrat who is nominated will have huge advantages. She's still an extraordinarily strong figure and raise a lot of money, et cetera. I don't know what she'll do. Our reporting from our colleague Jennifer Epstein was they think her saying it's up to the state department and cannot address it, I think she must -- She expects those e-mails to be released. She expects every last one of those -- But, donna, what else did she do -- Look, her personal -- what she needs to do -- We don't know. Let donna. She must -- You say speak publicly. What should she do? First of all, she should start talking about the economy and start talking about, you know, all of the important issues facing the country. She needs to get out here and run a campaign if she's going to run, and she should not worry about what the 300 e-mails that the house benghazi committee is looking at. Look, she is a strong candidate. And let me just tell you, there's nobody in the democratic party I just talked to and we just had a big democratic meet meeting and I heard from governors and others, nobody is drinking pepto-bismol right now. People feel pretty confident that if she decides to run, she's going to be a strong contender and these e-mails aside, she has an answer on the economy and jobs and what the American really care about. We have to take a quick break. Republicans on benghazi sh, those e-mails will come out.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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