'This Week': Presidency in Crisis

ABC's Jonathan Karl, Rebecca Jarvis, Matthew Dowd and David Plouffe on Obama's rough week.
3:00 | 11/17/13

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Transcript for 'This Week': Presidency in Crisis
Good morning. Welcome to "this week." Presidency in crisis. We fumbled the rollout. That's on me. President obama reeling over the disastrous start to his signature achievement. Can obama care be fixed? Can his presidency recover? Or is this obama's political katrina? This morning, our special coverage, a presidency in crisis. Including a key senator who may have her own eyes on the white house, new york's kirsten gillibrand. And -- 50 years later, remembering jfk. All that and the powerhouse roundtable, right here, this sunday morning. Hello, again. I'm martha raddatz. Great to have you with us. If second terms are about building a legacy this was an incredibly tough week for president obama, who this morning is still facing withering attacks on his signature legislative achievement health care reform. And more troubling for the white house, democrats are joining in. We have full coverage of the president's very rough week, let's begin at the white house where jonathan karl has the very latest. Good morning, jon. Reporter: President obama has staked his legacy on the affordable care act, but now the flawed rollout threatens to undermine the foundation of his second term. The president came in front of the cameras and fell on his sword. We did fumble the ball on it. That's something that I deeply regret. Reporter: Six weeks after the bungled rollout of healthcare.Gov, the white house revealed that only 106,000 americans have signed up for obama care. A scant 26,000 of those through the federal exchange. And the president's repeated vow that americans could keep their health care if they liked it. With millions getting cancellation notices, president obama acknowledged a broken promise. There is no doubt that the way I put that forward, unequivocally ended up not being accurate. Reporter: But his proposed fix has only caused more confusion, with some states rejecting the plan as unworkable. Criticism of the white house has been relentless. From republicans -- this disastrous law was destined to fail from the start. Reporter: And now even democrats -- some heads should roll. Reporter: President obama's predicament has prompted comparisons with where president bush was at this point in his preside presidency in the aftermath of hurricane katrina. President bush never fully recovered. Obama's top aides rejected the comparison, but critics say it comes down to a question of credibility and confidence. One that president obama openly acknowledged. There have been times where i thought that we were slapped around a little bit unjustly. This one is deserved. Right? It's on us. Reporter: Republicans, of course, have voted over and over again to either repeal or change obama care. But this week we saw something different, martha, 39 democrats joined house republicans in a measure that would fundamentally change the law. They did that despite the fact that the president had issued a veto threat. Thanks, jon, stay right there. We're going to broaden our conversation with a pair of political gurus, david plouffe, who advised president obama and now is contributor to abc news. Welcome david. Matthew dowd, top strategist on the george w. Bush campaign and our chief business correspondent rebecca jarvis joins us from new york. I want to go back to you first, jon, we heard a congressman say in your piece, that heads ought to roll. Yes, what I'm hearing from the officials, there will be changes to the president's team coming out of this. They're not looking to fire anyone now. The president believes that would be counterproductive. You can imagine, martha, if there were a change at the top, if kathleen sebelius was fired, he would be left with a vacancy at top of hhs and a long drawn-out confirmation battle. Matthew dowd, let's turn to you, it sounds for policy reasons and efficiency reasons, perhaps, they shouldn't have any heads rolling right now, but the optics of this are so bad. To rebuild trust is to bring new people in. To me this presidency and actually the last presidency that I was involved in with the elections they have done a great job of delegation but they haven't a great job of the second half of a mba person which is accountability. To enforce accountability is to bring in new people when something like this happens. I think at some point, the president needs to demonstrate, I can delegate things but I can also hold accountable people. When things are messed up. David plouffe, is that what you would do? I think they're in triage as jonathan said. Once the website gets fixed, what do I need to have confidence going forward to implement this law? Not only in the comes months, but the coming years. That's the fundamental question. You have to have this under control going forward. This law is going to be with us, I think, forever. But certainly over the next three years of his presidency, we'll have more people that need to be enrolled. You have to implement this in a smart and effective way. You have to regain people's trust. Jonathan karl, if heads do now? The big thing right now is getting that website fixed. The president has clashed with insurance companies, but he BROUGHT THE CEOs IN AND THEY Have the same goal right now, the exact same goal, which is getting as many people as they possibly can to enroll in these health exchanges, he does have AN ALLY THERE WITH THOSE CEOs. Rebecca jarvis, give us a reality check. What are americans thinking? The issue is here who is signing up. Right now, the numbers are skewing much older than the insurers anticipated. We were expecting people of the age of 40 starting to signing up through these exchanges. Those who are younger are opting out, and that's a problem for the future years, because ultimately, in order for this to work, the insurers need a pool of people that's both young and healthy as well as the sick and the old. Ultimately, if next year you don't see young people signing up the exchanges, then in 2015, that's when premiums start to go up because the insurers will say, we spent all of this money in 2014 to insure people and we now need to pass along those costs to others. David and matthew, what do you see as far as obama regaining the trust of the american people? Well, to me, this is very problematic for his presidency at this point in time. If you take a look at history when presidents in their second term, drop this level in credibility, trust and approval, they never come back from that. It's very hard. Absence of major crisis. I think the president is in a difficult spot on all of his legislative initiatives going forward in the next three years. Is it a political katrina? First of all there's a kwal tif difference. People dying in can new orleans and people not able to get health care. From a political standpoint it e's eerily similar. I disagree. It's hard on these feeding frenzy in washington to have perspective. The website is working fine and people are enrolling for health care. Hopefully, we won't have another washington dysfunction. It's not just health care. We pass a budget and move forward. The economy continues to strengthen. We could be in a much different place three, four months from now. No doubt that this is challenging time. I think you have to have some perspective here, the story could change. Once the website gets fixed, the political notion, by the way, that next year's election, 2016, the republican platform is going to be getting rid of health care. Millions of people will be signed up. Quickly to jon karl and rebecca jarvis for some final thoughts. Jon, you first, whether he regain the trust of american people. I tell you this, white house officials firmly believe that the worst is behind them. But I've got to tell you, essentially what they have been telling me for several weeks, and of course, over the course of that time, things kept getting work. Rebecca? From the standpoint of the american people the website has to work and if premiums go up in 2015 then there's even bigger problems. Now, new york democratic senator kirsten gillibrand join

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

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