'This Week' Transcript: Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

PHOTO: This Week RoundtableABC News
ABC News Contributor and Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, ABC News Contributor and The Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, ABC News' Cokie Roberts, and ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on 'This Week'

Below is the rush transcript of "This Week" on November 2, 2014. It may contain errors.

ANNOUNCER: Starting right now, a special edition of ABC's THIS WEEK -- Your Voice, Your Vote 2014.

Two days to go. The critical issues at stake -- control of Congress up for grabs this morning. Breaking details, brand new polls.

Who has the edge?

How President Obama's last two years are on the line.

Why the road to 2016 starts right now.

We're covering every angle. The very latest from America's best political news team, from ABC News, a special edition of THIS WEEK, Your Voice, Your Vote 2014.

Here now, chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Good morning and welcome.

The midterm is just two days away, so much at stake control of Congress, governors seats and state legislatures all across the country. And Americans voting this year in a sour mood about the state of our country and the quality of our leaders.

Starting right at the top, President Obama not on the ballot Tuesday. He's barely even seen on the campaign trail, but his record defining the debate. His ratings are dismal.

Our brand new ABC News/"Washington Post" Poll out this morning shows that only 44 percent of Americans view him favorably right now. That's the lowest mark of his career. More than half the country thinks he's not a strong leader or competent manager. And those feelings are weighing down Democrats.

This morning, we're going to hear from the party chairs. Reporters in key states and our powerhouse roundtable.

ABC's chief White House correspondent, Jonathan Karl, starts us off.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For President Obama last night, a first...

(VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: He campaigned with an actual Democratic candidate for Senate.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Vote for Gary. This election is too important to stay home.

KARL: It's the one and only time a Senate candidate will appear with the president during this entire campaign. And this Democrat, Gary Peters of Michigan, isn't even in a competitive race.

And yet, President Obama has played a starring role in this campaign, just not quite the way the White House had hoped.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama Senator, not yours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: In state after state, Republicans have tried hard to make this race about Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Pryor -- O-B-A-M-A.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: And the president recently played right into the Republican playbook.

OBAMA: Now, I'm not on the ballot this fall, but make no mistake, these policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.

KARL: But Democratic candidates in tough races have been running hard -- away from the president. Alison Grimes, who is challenging Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, made a splash not only by refusing to say whether she ever voted for President Obama...

ALISON GRIMES (D-KY), SENATE CANDIDATE: I respect the sanctity of the ballot box.

KARL: But also by running her own ads slamming the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM CAMPAIGN AD)

GRIMES: I'm not Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Mary Landrieu in Louisiana did the same thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM CAMPAIGN AD)

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: The administration's policies are simply wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL (on camera): You don't agree that the president has been considered politically toxic to many of those Democrats running and...

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It won't surprise you to hear that I do not agree with that assessment.

(CROSSTALK)

KARL (voice-over): But just two weeks ago, President Obama's approval rating hit an all time low in our ABC News/"Washington Post" Poll. And in most of the key states, Obama's approval rating is even lower -- 31 percent in Kentucky and just 30 percent in Alaska. And even with unemployment down and stocks up, only 28 percent of Americans think the economy is getting better. Sixty-three percent think the government's ability to solve problems has gotten worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Ebola emergency, the direct threats from ISIS.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: It's a campaign with an anxious electorate, with the ISIS terror threat and Ebola scares making their way into the critical final stretch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Cotton voted against preparing America for pandemics like Ebola.

KARL: Many Democrats are appealing to economic populism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She won't vote to increase the state minimum wage. She's called the federal minimum wage ridiculous.

KARL: Pushing for a minimum wage hike, which polls show voters overwhelmingly support.

But what might be most concerning to Democrats is the fracturing of the Obama coalition.

OBAMA: When women succeed, America succeeds.

KARL: The big gender gap that favored Democrats among women has all but disappeared. Polls suggest even young voters are turning toward Republicans.

And in a bid to boost the African-American vote, some Democrats are resorting to scare tactics. Witness this flier in Georgia warning that a vote for Republicans is a vote for another Ferguson. It's yet another indication Democrats are worried they may be in for a tough election night.

For THIS WEEK, Jonathan Karl, ABC News, New York.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And with that, let's bring in the party chairs.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz for the Democrats, Reince Priebus for the Recub -- Republicans.

Welcome to you both.

And Chairman Wasserman Schultz...

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- let me begin with you.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Good morning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of evidence piling up that this could be a big Republican night. Gains in the House, closing in on control of the Senate.

Has President Obama been just too heavy an anchor for the Democrats?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You know, I'm very proud of this president, George, because he's taken us from the worst economic crisis that we've faced since the Great Depression through 55 straight months of job growth in the private sector. That is the longest sustained period of job growth in American history.

Just the other day, on Thursday, we showed the second straight quarter of significant economic growth, 3.5 percent GDP growth.

We have created more jobs in manufacturing than any time since the 1990s. And we're continuing to make progress. George...

STEPHANOPOULOS: That message is not taking hold. We just saw this new poll coming out in one of the key states overnight, Iowa.

Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate, 51-44 percent over Bruce Braley. That's a state President Obama won.

Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, says he will not be the Democratic leader if Joni Ernst wins.

Do you agree?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think we're going to hold the Senate. And the reason that we're going to hold the Senate, George, is because we have a ground game that I know Reince would take ours over -- over theirs any day of the week.

I mean we've got early vote numbers that are up in the most competitive states, in the most competitive districts all across the country.

We've focused on making sure that we bring our numbers up for voters who didn't cast ballots in 2010, but voted for the president in 2008 and 2012. And I'll tell you what's going on here in Florida, I've been here for the last several days. I've seen, really, the most enthusiasm and the best organized ground game I've ever seen in a midterm in Florida.

That's why Rick Scott is going to go down to defeat on Tuesday...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me take that to...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- and we'll elect...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Chair...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- the first Democratic governor in the 21st century...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me take that to Chairman...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- when Charlie Crist is elected.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Priebus.

Do you worry the Democrats are going to beat you on the ground?

(LAUGHTER)

PRIEBUS: Well, the problem they have is that their message isn't working and we're -- they're -- our ground game is whipping their ground game.

If you look at Colorado, we're up by 105,000 votes right now. Cory Gardner is tied with women with Mark Udall. We're winning Hispanic voters in Colorado. We're whipping them in Arkansas. We are at a dead even early vote right now in Iowa.

We were down by 21,000 votes in Iowa in the early vote in 2010. Joni Ernst is up by 7, according to "The Des Moines Register" yesterday.

We're winning, obviously, in Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota. I haven't even talked about Alaska, Louisiana. And then we're going to see what's going to happen in North Carolina and New Hampshire.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you're -- this may be a rejection election of those in power, but how about the continuing problems of the Republican brand?

Our new ABC News/"Washington Post" Poll shows 72 percent disapproval for Republicans in Congress.

PRIEBUS: Well...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Rand Paul, one of your potential presidential candidates, you know, was very blunt this week. He said, the Republican Party brand sucks.

What do you say to Rand Paul ?

PRIEBUS: Well, let's...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- and those voters?

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean I'm -- I'm very close with Rand. We just did a conference call together two days ago with our campus captains across the country. And...

STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you make of what he said...

PRIEBUS: -- and we both have talked about this across the country.

Well, what he said is that we're actually on the right track and actually we're doing a lot of the things that we should be doing, which is engaging Hispanic voters, black voters, Asian voters, talking to women across the country, not just for four months before an election, but for four years.

The things I've been talking about -- and, by the way, leading the way on in our party for the last two years.

And the -- and -- and if -- I do think if you've been looking at the polls, but we're -- we're winning with women in Kentucky, actually, McConnell is winning with women against Alison Grimes. Cotton is winning with women against Mark Pryor in Arkansas...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman...

PRIEBUS: -- so the -- what -- what Rand Paul is saying is what I've been saying, which is we have spent way too long as a national party showing up at the end and we've got to do better. And that's why, when he made those comments, he made them at the Black Engagement Office in Detroit, that we pay for.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congresswoman, let me...

PRIEBUS: So, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- let me take another question...

(CROSSTALK)

PRIEBUS: We're going to have a good night...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on. I want to bring in Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz...

PRIEBUS: We're going to have a great night and it's going to be...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me go to -- let me -- if the Republicans do have the great night that Reince Priebus is talking about, and, as I said, there's a lot of evidence they will, won't that demand a course correction from President Obama?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, look, George, going into Tuesday, I'll stack up our ground game against Reince's grain -- ground game. And like I said, he's been trying to throw as much money as he could to stand up a ground game. I know he'd take ours over theirs.

We're doing much better in North Carolina and New Hampshire. We've got candidates across the country who are focused on the issues important to the middle class and working families.

And the Republicans have doubled down on obstruction and extremism.

I'd stack up our policies of increasing the minimum wage and making sure that we can fight for equal pay for equal work, which Republicans oppose.

You know, I'd stack up our surrogates. We've got President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary Clinton, President Clinton. And they've got Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Ted Cruz.

So going into Election Day, the advantages that we have are superior to the ones the Republicans have.

The most important things that voters will be asking themselves is who has my back. And they will consistently, across the board, say Democrats have their back. And that's why, in a med -- in a midterm election like this one, where, normally, the president's party loses an average of 29 seats, these races are extremely close. And when we see races close in midterms like this...

STEPHANOPOULOS: A final...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- Democrats win.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Mr. Chairman...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's what's going to happen on Tuesday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- if Republicans don't take the Senate...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- on Tuesday, is it a failure?

PRIEBUS: I think we have to take the Senate. Yes, I would be very disappointed. But, you know, here's the thing. I don't know why Debbie keeps using this have your back line. I'm not going to go there again. But I -- I -- I would encourage the media to look at what the DNC is actually spending on the ground with this ground game. The DNC -- in reality, in this mid-term is not our competition, it's the Senate Democrat Committee that's putting the ground game together, not the DNC and not what Debbie's talking about. And we're winning on the ground.

You can just look at early voting, absentee ballot voting. And their message isn't working. So, if they have such a great message about these things that Debbie's rattled off, then they should be winning across the board and they're not.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you both for your time today.

Now to the candidates.

It is a diverse field. Lots of colorful candidates across the ballot. They caught the eye of ABC's David Wright.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID WRIGHT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Across the country this year, no shortage of characters. From a guitar-playing Democrat channeling Bob Dylan in South Dakota.

To a hog-riding momma in Iowa who clearly knows how to man-handle a hog.

JONI ERNST, REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I'll know how to cut pork.

WRIGHT: So, did I mention, she's packing heat?

There are some interesting newcomers, among them, New York Republican Elise Stepanek, at age 30, hoping to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

And there's Mia Love in Utah who would be the first black woman Republican elected to the house.

In North Carolina, Clay Aiken has struggled to parlay his success on American Idol into a seat in the House of Representatives.

A familiar name can be helpful in politics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for your grandfather. I'm voting for you.

WRIGHT: This year dynasties abound.

In Texas, George P. Bush, son of Jeb, nephew of 43, grandson of 41, makes his debut, running for Texas land commissioner.

And in Georgia, two Democrats, follow in family footsteps -- Jason Carter, grandson of Jimmy, running for governor and Michelle Nunn, daughter of Sam, running for U.S. Senate.

In Massachusetts, an October surprise, The Boston Globe revealed that Seth Moulton failed to mention he won the Bronze Star for valor in Iraq, hadn't even told his parents. Apparently he's modest.

SETH MOULTON: 35 years as a member of the Army National Guard, I retired this year at a colonel.

WRIGHT: Plenty of other candidates play up the fact that they served. Among them, Republican Scott Brown. Having lost his Massachusetts Senate seat, he moved to his vacation home in New Hampshire to run there, switching states. If he's elected, he'll be the first senator from two different states in 136 years.

For This Week, David Wright, ABC News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: The biggest prize Tuesday night, control of the Senate, Republicans need to pick up six seats to win it back. We're focusing on the 16 battleground states most likely to determine the outcome.

And right now, we're joined by three veteran reporters on the ground in some of those most crucial states. O. Kay Henderson from Radio Iowa, Steve Kraske from the Kansas City Star, and in Denver Mark Stewart from ABC 7 news.

And O. Kay, let me begin with you. We talked about that Des Moines Register poll out last night, giving Joni Ernst a seven-point lead over Bruce Braley. And, you know, that poll has such a solid record. It correctly predicted President Obama's win back in 2012. Is that how it feels on the ground like Ernst is breaking this thing open?

O. KAY HENDERSON, RADIO IOWA: It does. Among Republicans they are absolutely jubilant as you've mentioned. Ann Seltzer's polls are sort of the gold standard here.

Democrats immediately used the phrase "outlier" to describe this poll. The point to other public opinion polls that have been released in the past week that don't show Ernst with that wide of a lead. But she seems to have momentum on the ground. Democrats are really digging in and emphasizing that ground game.

By the time the polls open on Tuesday, 40 percent of voters will probably have voted already.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And how about, you know, we heard -- we just heard the chairman Reince Priebus, Republican chairman, talk about the Republican gains in that early vote. How about a reality check on that?

HENDERSON: That is the reality on the ground. Republicans have played the game. The question is, did they pull in people who would ordinarily have voted on election day, or are they truly turning out unlikely voters? And then turning the tables on Democrats who in 2012 really surprised Republicans here in Iowa.

If you remember, the Romney folks thought they were going to win Iowa handily in 2012 and President Obama won by six points.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, that is not the way it turned out. Thank you, O. Kay.

I want move over to Kansas where Greg Orman, the independent taking on the incumbent, Senator Pat Roberts.

And Steve Kraske joins us from there.

You know, this has been such a stiff challenge from Greg Orman. But it does look like Pat Roberts, though, has kind of stabilized and held on. This race, so close right now.

STEVE KRASKE, KANSAS CITY STAR: Well, George, it's impossible to tell right now where this race is going. The polls have Orman maybe a point or two ahead, a compilation of polls suggest that the average that he's ahead by a couple points. Going into election day, it's just very, very hard to tell.

If you do look historically at the trends, though, a Republican incumbent Senator still in the low 40s, his chances of winning aren't very good. But again this is such an unusual race with an independent in Kansas. We've never elected an independent in this state. So, we will have to wait until Tuesday to see where we are.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also have the governor's race there, Sam Brownback in the fight of his life as well. How is that spilling over into the Senate race?

KRASKE: Well, it's hard to say, George. I think Kansans hey are making independent choices on these two races -- different factors, different sets of circumstances affecting both of these races. So I think Kansans are really looking at them independently of each other.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let's go to Colorado now. Thank you, Steve.

I want to -- where we have Congressman Cory Gardner challenging the incumbent Senator Mark Udall. And we are joined by Marc Stewart from ABC 7 there.

And you know one of the things we saw in this race, you saw Mark Udall talking about women's issues again and again and again. In one of the debates, one of the moderators called him Mark Uterus.

Has that emphasis backfired on Udall?

MARC STEWART, ABC 7: Some would argue to an extent, George, but are the Democrats are really standing by this one issue, women's rights, women's reproductive issues campaign. The Democrats think that, first of all, it will solidify their base, which is really important in Colorado, because one-third of the voters are Democrats, one-third are Republicans and the other third are independents. So in order to win, you have to have your base.

So they think that that will drive Democratic voters to the polls. In addition, they think that it will create some doubt, perhaps, among independents, that if Cory Gardner is elected to office, there will be sweeping changes, whether it be with birth control or other issues related to women's rights.

So they feel that by running this one issue campaign they will court people within their party as well as some of the independents.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you know, Cory Gardner has held a pretty steady lead for the last several weeks. We do remember the last senate campaign in Colorado Michael Bennett, the incumbent was behind going in to election day, but pulled it out with the ground game. How is that playing out in Colorado right now?

STEWART: This race will be determined by voter turnout. And they are placing a lot of emphasis on the ground game. Democrats have been very confident saying that they have already knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors.

Republicans, though, are being kind of close to the vest about all of this. They are making a point of not discussing their ground strategy.

But, again, both camps really are saying their ground game is the strongest.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Marc, thanks very much.

Coming up, stats guru Nate Silver lays out the midterm forecast. The roundtable weighs in on where things stand, what to watch for Tuesday night. We're back in just two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: You might remember Nate Silver from 2012. He's the forecast from fivethirtyeight.com. And his statistical take on the presidential election was dead on, correctly predicting how all 50 states would break. He's inspired all kinds of imitators. This time around, all of them are predicting a big election for the GOP. The New York Times giving the Republicans a 70 percent chance of retaking the Senate. Huffington Post at 74 percent, and the Washington Post puts GOP chances at a whopping 94 percent. Let's hear from Nate himself. Thanks for joining us, Nate. Saw your post this morning, 72 percent and climbing for Republican takeover.

NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM: Yes, we saw some new polls this morning in states like Georgia, Kentucky, that have further good news for the GOP.

Looks, it's still a close election. You have six or seven or eight races that can go either way. But like that poll in Iowa last night, which, as you mentioned, is one of the most reliable polls in the country. All these races are being held in purple or red states too. So the bar isn't that high. The polls are clearer now that the GOP will -- will probably win the Senate. We can bet (ph) a 73, 74 percent chance right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: By this time in 2012, you had reached the point where you said it would take a systemic bias in all the polls, they would all have to be wrong for President Obama to lose. You're not quite there on Republican takeover of the Senate.

SILVER: We're not quite there. Because you can carve out a path for Democrats that goes through actually some red states, like winning in Alaska and Georgia and Kansas. Those states, the polls are all close or ambiguous or both. But it looks like in the swing states like Colorado and Iowa, Democrats are underdogs. They're almost certainly going to lose at least four seats. Arkansas looks like it's going the way of the other states like South Dakota that are very red to begin with. Louisiana, Mary Landrieu has a runoff, probably, so she'll have another month to campaign. But Democrats might have to bank on a runoff in Louisiana, a runoff in Georgia, and extending this campaign and winning some of those races as underdogs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, what's the biggest X factor, though? What Donald Rumsfeld might call the known unknown?

SILVER: I think it's the fact that people are not happy with either party. And you know, is there such a thing as an anti-incumbent wave? You're going to see for governorships, probably a lot of incumbents from both parties lose or come close to losing. So how do you square this kind of moderately pro-Republican mood with the very anti-incumbent mood? Could you have a Republican like Pat Roberts in Kansas lose, even though Republicans have a good night overall? So it's a multi-dimensional sort of election. Makes it a bit more complicated. But overall, signs look fairly poor for Democrats.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Interesting point. Nate Silver, you're going to be joining us on Tuesday night as well. We're going to bring in our roundtable now. They're all part of our election eve Tuesday night.

ABC's political analyst Matthew Dowd and Cokie Roberts. Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl. Republican Bill Kristol, editor of "The Weekly Standard" and democratic strategist, Donna Brazile.

Matthew, let me begin with you.

Picking up on the last point from Nate, one of the questions is this: we know that voters are angry and upset with Washington. It'll hurt Democrats disproportionally but not solely.

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, interesting to me, though, is how about these Election Nights coming up is how dynamic they have become. Every time we think there's some predictability, quality to it from year to year, we realize that there's no static quality where the voters are.

In 2004, Karl Rove predicted there was a permanent realignment for the Republicans. 2006, Democrats win the election, 2008, Barack Obama, they win this big election, predict realignment, 2010, they lose a series of elections. 2012, Barack Obama has reset the country. The demographics are going to say Republicans can't win.

And now the Republicans are facing a great night. What is clear to me is even though those seem mixed, the voters are sending a clear signal in all this. They're just tired of the way Washington operates, both D and R.

(CROSSTALK)

COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: And it's going to be interesting, I think in some states you'll see the governorship going one way and the Senate going another. So it's not purely partisan. It is on the governor's level something about the individuals running. On the Senate level, it is the Washington thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They're the big incumbents.

Bill Kristol, looking like a big Republican night, what worries you most going into it?

BILL KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": (INAUDIBLE).

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: I'm --

STEPHANOPOULOS: What, me worry?

KRISTOL: Exactly. Being a Republican over the last couple decades, what is there to worry about? It's great, they control Congress, they're brilliant strategists. Nothing ever goes wrong on Election Night. I've been uncharacteristically optimistic about this one for about six weeks.

I said I thought it could be a plus 10 in the Senate in mid-September. And I actually think it could end up there.

What worries us, of course, is after this they have to do two things, do a good job controlling both houses of Congress, which isn't easy and they need win in 2016 which is a very different thing from winning in 2014.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Looking like a tough night for Democrats, Donna Brazile. And I was struck by something Matthew Dowd wrote this week. He said it was a mistake for Democrats to shun Obama on the campaign trail.

Do you agree?

DONNA BRAZILE, VICE CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Yes. Because in many ways they could have talked about the economy. They could have talked about the things the Democrats are proposing. Raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women.

They could have localized the elections so they didn't have to deal with some of the unpopularity of President Obama with certain groups of Republicans.

But look. It's a tough year because Democrats are basically defending 21 seats in the United States Senate, seven seats that Mitt Romney won in 2012. Six seats that President Obama lost.

I tell Cokie, unfortunately, I only get to go home during midterms because that's the only time that Democrats compete in the South. It's hard to win votes when you don't talk to voters in two years. So I don't predict this is going to be a total bad night, but I wore red for --

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your suit is spreading your message right there.

Jonathan Karl, your piece up at the top showed some of the difficulties that President Obama has had.

How frustrated is the White House by this whole notion that the president couldn't go out there and campaign? Although we saw it bleed out in his rhetoric. He kept wanting put himself back on the ballot.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the guy's frustrated as the President of the United States. To hear him say my policies are on the ballot and then add that extra, "every single one of them."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And remember Democrats were like this --

KARL: -- deep frustration. And I think the day will be pointing to some of the governors' races that he did get out in, because he was allowed to campaign for some of the gubernatorial candidates. And you may see Democrats knock off some key Republican governors. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, that's going to be a very close race. It's one of the few races that Obama appeared at.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get to something else quickly here. It does appear, even the man running the campaigns for the Democrats, now Steve Israel saying it is going to be a grim night. We could see double digit gains for the Republicans.

ROBERTS: Absolutely, you could. I don't think it's going to be massive. There's just not that many seats in play. But I think you are going to see about 10. So that's double digits. But I think it will be about there.

But one of the things in Jonathan's very good piece, he talked about the young vote and about women. And our most recent poll, I think the most disturbing thing for the president and Democrats, is the Hispanics off of him in huge numbers. If that holds true first of all in this election but especially in 2016, that's a longer term problem.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll get to more in 2016 in a little. We have to take a quick break right now. We're back in just two minutes.

How will Tuesday's midterms set the stage for 2016? The future candidates were all over the map.

What do we learn about how they would run?

Who got helped and hurt the most?

That's all coming up.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Some stats there on the money race. And if you were wondering about that $10 in Oklahoma, it was for a Web ad from the Sierra Club against the incumbent senator, James Inhofe.

Now, we're going to take a closer look at how Tuesday's midterms are shaping the next big election, the race for the White House in 2016, wide open right now, so many potential candidates sharpening skills and pocketing favors by campaigning in key states.

ABC's Jeff Zeleny takes a look at how they're doing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The campaign trail is crowded...

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm back.

ZELENY: But those logging the most miles aren't even on the ballot -- at least not this year's ballot.

CLINTON: Too many people only get excited about presidential campaigns. Look, I get excited about presidential campaigns, too.

ZELENY: Just this week in Kansas, Senator Rand Paul moved beyond the state's wild card Senate race and plunged straight ahead to Hillary Clinton.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: (INAUDIBLE) Hillary Clinton says she's (INAUDIBLE) anybody holding (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: Jeb Bush echoed the criticism of Clinton, as he campaigned in Colorado.

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Where she said that don't let them tell you that businesses create jobs.

ZELENY: The potential 2016 candidates are traveling across the country to red hot races for Senate and governor. Hillary Clinton hit 18 states. Elizabeth Warren went to nine. Rand Paul and Jeb Bush each visited eight. Ted Cruz, just four, and Chris Christie, as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, visited 17.

But look at how often some of the top Republicans pass through the golden battlegrounds of Iowa and New Hampshire. Cruz, 11 times; Paul, 10; and Christie, 9. They're introducing themselves to party activists and building chits for the future.

When we visited New Hampshire with Cruz, he brought Republicans to their feet and made an early case for new leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does this increase your interest in running?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I do think the American people, in November 2014 and also in November 2016, are going to be looking for leaders who want to work to restore America's leadership in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That sounds like a yes.

CRUZ: It increases my interest in doing everything I can to change the direction we're on.

ZELENY: While Cruz is among those inching closer to running, other big names like Elizabeth Warren are not. But she's still one of the biggest Democratic draws of the season, appearing earlier this week on "The View."

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: But this really isn't about me. One of the reasons I really wanted to be here today is to talk about the importance of women voting.

ZELENY: Not all exchanges have been so polite, like Chris Christie's encounter with a protester in New Jersey.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, listen, you want to have the conversation later, I'm happy to have it, buddy. But until that time, sit down and shut up.

ZELENY: That moment and all others from this campaign will follow the candidates into their next race, which could be just around the country.

For THIS WEEK, Jeff Zeleny, ABC News, Washington.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we're back now with with our roundtable and a little mini debate over whether "sit down and shut up."..

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- was the right way to go.

But, Matthew, let me begin with you.

You look at all those candidates out there.

Who had the best pre-season?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the one that's going -- probably we'll be talking about most in the aftermath of of this election is probably John Kasich, who we're not really talking about...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor of Ohio.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree with that completely.

DOWD: John -- John Kasich is going to win that race in a key state -- a key state for Republicans, Ohio, by more than 20 points at a time when other Democrats are doing well in governors races.

I think the person that should be most concerned about the results on election night is Hillary Clinton, because what people are voting for is against the status quo. They're voting for change. They want something different. And Hillary Clinton's experience and the time she spent over the last 20 years representing -- it's in most people's mind, the status quo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- it's such a challenge for her, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

(CROSSTALK)

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, you know, Matt, she has enabled Democrats to keep it close. She's campaigned in 30 state for over 40 Democrats. She's made the difference not -- not only in fundraising...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of -- most of which we'll lose.

BRAZILE: Not -- not true. I think Michelle Nunn will pull it out. I -- I -- I think Jeanne Shaheen will pull it out, Kay Hagan because of Hillary Clinton. And the fact that Alison Grimes has been able to come back from the so-called political dead...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Although that...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, also, look...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- really struggling.

COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: The other thing, though, about...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: -- Hillary Clinton that -- that is -- you -- that you have to keep in mind is that just the mere fact of being a woman...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ROBERTS: -- is a change in the status quo. And that is something that is just -- just there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think (INAUDIBLE)...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- she has to worry about this?

Do you think she has to worry about the fact that she represents the status quo?

ROBERTS: Sure. Sure she does. But I still think that -- that there overriding question of electing the first woman president...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: How does the...

ROBERTS: -- just changes that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- how does that question play, though, Bill Kristol, for Jeb Bush?

Is he seen as the establishment?

Is he seen as...

ROBERTS: I don't think he can get the nomination...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- part of the pack.

ROBERTS: -- at all.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, I think -- I mean he could -- if he steps out and has a great agenda for the future, he could overcome that, as I suppose Hillary Clinton can.

But, yes, he is -- he last was in public office 10 years -- almost 10 years ago. He hasn't been on the ballot since 2002.

Think about this (INAUDIBLE) who are the stars on this election night going to be?

Joni Ernst in -- in Iowa, 43 years old. Tom Cotton in Arkansas, 37. Cory Gardner is running an excellent campaign in Colorado, 39.

On the Democratic side, who's the top performing?

Michelle Nunn...

ROBERTS: Michelle Nunn.

KRISTOL: -- in Georgia.

What's she, mid-30s or something like that?

ROBERTS: Forties.

KRISTOL: I've got to think -- I've got to think that the story coming out of tonight is going to be -- out of Tuesday night is going to be young is good, change is good. And I think that's bad for Hillary Clinton...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me...

KRISTOL: -- and bad for Jeb Bush.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- let me bring that to Jonathan Karl.

So does that mean -- is that a good message, then, for Ted Cruz, Rand Paul?

KARL: Well, it's interesting, you know, there's been a lot of talk about how Obama has not been campaigning in any of the key Senate races. Ted Cruz hasn't been out there, either. He has not been (INAUDIBLE)...

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's in Alaska this week.

KARL: Yes. Yes, he's not even in the lower 48 states.

(LAUGHTER)

KARL: I mean he -- he spent the last few days in Alaska. He did make one appearance in Georgia. That is it in the last two weeks. Those are the only two Senate races he has played in...

ROBERTS: And is that because the candidates haven't wanted him or he hasn't wanted...

KARL: A...

ROBERTS: -- to go?

KARL: No, he has not been in demand.

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: -- both sides will misread the results of this election.

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: Both sides will. Republicans will think, wow, we won this election, we don't need to do anything to change the brand, which will send them for a loss in 2016 if they don't change their brand and approach this differently.

Democrats will say, well, that doesn't really have to do with anything, it's the midterm election.

ROBERTS: Right.

DOWD: It was a low turnout election. And they'll...

ROBERTS: And it was already (INAUDIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- say we don't need to do anything differently.

ROBERTS: -- anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

DOWD: And that's got -- that's a mistake in this course of this. Somebody is going to have to step up and be the populist candidate, the candidate of change. And like Bill says, somebody young and probably a governor. That's why I don't think...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: That's why Michelle Nunn's campaign has been so interesting, because she has been that populist voice and she has run, essentially, an anti-Romney campaign against David Purdue...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But I wonder if it would...

ROBERTS: -- and that seems to be at least, you know, bringing...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: At least making it -- making it possible for her.

ROBERTS: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But I wonder if that means that, based on what you all are saying, and let me bring this to you first, Bill Kristol, that the big candidate in 2016 isn't even really on the map yet.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that possible?

KRISTOL: I've thought about that. I think it's possible. I mean I think that Walker, Cruz, Rubio, that generation of Republicans come out of this -- come out of Tuesday night strong.

But I don't -- look, in our day and age, why is it impossible for someone who just wins this year, conceivably, or someone who's in the prime of life right now...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: -- look at Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Right.

KRISTOL: -- to come out and to run in 2016?

I don't think that's impossible.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Who should Hillary be -- Clinton be worried about on the Democratic side (INAUDIBLE)?

BRAZILE: Well, Elizabeth Warren.

ROBERTS: Right.

BRAZILE: I think -- I still believe that her message resonates with the broad American public. I mean she's fighting for, you know, for students. She's fighting for the middle class. I still think Elizabeth Warren is (INAUDIBLE)...

KARL: And -- and, you know you see those "Ready for Warren" people out there, as well. They're not -- and they're not as big as "Ready For Hillary," but they're out there. And when I interviewed Elizabeth Warren in 2012 and asked her would she consider running for president in 2016, she said no, no, no, no, no. Now she's saying I'm not running.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think she's going to run. We'll see.

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: Well, it's a lot less definitive now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Everybody stand by.

We're going to come back and take the best and the worst of the 2014 campaign. The new stars and a whole lot more.

But first, our Powerhouse Puzzler.

As we heard earlier, Scott Brown attempting to become the first senator in 136 years to represent two different states. Here's the question -- name the other politician who represented both New Hampshire and Massachusetts in Congress.

Cokie already knows it.

But you all come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, we're back now with our Puzzler.

Name the politician who represented both New Hampshire and Massachusetts in Congress.

Cokie, you were right out of the box. Also, Jonathan Karl, Daniel Webster.

Everybody got it. And I have to commend you, you were an honest man. You saw everybody else write Daniel Webster, but you still ---

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: --- but you still put your question mark.

ROBERTS: But, you know, his desk is still in the United States Senate. Daniel Webster's desk is there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I did not know that. And there he is right there.

He represented both New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: There you see it right there. Lots of money being spent in those races.

But it's not just on the air waves, it's online too. Social media playing a critical role in this election. Candidates, parties and the press all over Facebook and Twitter.

Alicia Menendez from our sister network Fusion tracking it all. Hey, Alicia.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, FUSION: Hey, George.

You know, since mid-summer, 27 million people, that's about a third of potential voters, have commented on this election using Facebook.

Talk about polls, they only tell us part of the story. That's why we look to social platforms like Twitter, like Facebook, to give us a sense of what people are talking about unfiltered and uncensored.

So, let's take a look at some of the top tweeted about issues in this election.

Number one, President Obama, no surprises there. Republicans have been trying to make this election a referendum on the president.

Number two, terrorism, including tweets about ISIS.

Number three, law enforcement.

While Twitter is not a perfect science, if you look at some of those tweets, President Obama, terrorism, law enforcement, you see national issues coming into all of these election.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not the economy, which is what Democrats wanted to be talking about.

How about on the key races, the key Senate races?

MENENDEZ: OK, on the key senate races, there are five that we are looking at. Number one, Alaska, number two, New Hampshire, number three, Iowa, number four, North Carolina, and number five, Kentucky.

Now you might be surprised, George...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, you've got to tell us about Alaska.

MENENDEZ: ...to see Alaska at the top of that list.

It's important to note that Twitter adjusts their measurements here, they adjust the volume based on population. That maybe why we're seeing Alaska at the top.

But it's also an important race. Over $30 million has been spent in that race so far. A Democratic incumbent who came in with a small margin under the Obama wave. Democrats know that they have to hold on to that seat. And it's one of the last polls to close, meaning it may be the one we're looking to all night long.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's right. And polls so iffy in Alaska as well.

Alicia, thanks very much. We're going to be tracking social all night on Tuesday.

We're also going to unveil our new partnership with Facebook then.

Now let's come back to the roundtable right now. I want to get your best and worst picks for the race.

But first, because I thought that was kind of telling, the issue -- the issues that were talked about on Twitter.

And Donna, we were talking about that during the break as well. The economy not up there. The issue debates that were going on in the last six weeks really did work against the Democrats.

BRAZILE: Absolutely. Because once again it goes back to the whole issue of dysfunction in Washington, D.C. and voters being so dissatisfied with both major political parties. But clearly when your party is in control of the White House, you pay the penalty.

DOWD: This is what i think the big mistake is in how people are running midterms these days. Midterms have basically become presidential elections outside of midterm -- outside of the presidential election. Democrats should have nationalized this race. This race was a national race. Midterms have become nationalized race. They should have said we need a national message to confront the Republican's national message.

There's been only one national message in this. It's been negative by the Republicans and Democrats ceded it, thinking they could just run state by state.

ROBERTS: But I don't think it works. The truth is our midterms are the equivalent of a parliamentary...

DOWD: Not anymore, I don't think.

ROBERTS: Oh, I think so. You know, a vote of confidence. And it's our opportunity as a country to say we don't have confidence. And -- or we do. And so I think that -- I don't think that the Democrats can have a national message in that kind of environment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How can you avoid it?

KARL: And this was going to be a tough cycle for Democrats no matter what. But then you had the twin crises of ISIS and Ebola. I mean, Ebola, like an October surprise coming in. It just made it that much worse.

I mean, real serious...

ROBERTS: Well, except it could have been just the opposite. If you handled those things well, you can show yourself as able to govern.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not when two thirds of the country thinks we're going in the wrong direction. I think it's very hard. Bill Kristol, who had the best campaign of 2014?

KRISTOL: I think Joni Ernst in Iowa who ironically Republican establishment in Washington, the consultant types, they were a little fonder of Mark Jacobs, the wealthy businessman who could self-finance, which is the golden thing for all consultants, more money.

Joni Ernst was the somewhat obscure state legislator. She ran a great campaign in the primary, crushed Jacobs who is a pretty good guy, too, actually, has run a terrific general election campaign. Looks like she'll win in Iowa.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, you and Cokie agree on a candidate.

BRAZILE: Michelle Nunn, because she's a first time candidate. And normally first-time candidates cannot find their groove. But, yet, she's been able to go -- campaign throughout that state, very little mistakes. I think she's run a terrific campaign.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said John Kasich?

DOWD: Yeah. To me the test of a race with how well it's run is whether or not you hear of anything about it. And the amazing thing about that race is it's a swing state in a Midwestern state that's key, I had to look it up this morning who his Democratic opponent was.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: But he's been a total disaster.

DOWD: For John Kasich to win in Ohio by 25 points which is like -- it's an amazing thing.

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: I would say Cory Gardner in Colorado. He came into that race down double digits. He's run a new near-flawless campaign.

I would agree wit you on Michelle Nunn, but aside from Michelle Nunn, I would say Cory Gardner.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, how about the worst campaign?

ROBERTS: Well, the one I did name was -- the worst candidate was the Democrat in Ohio, Fitzgerald. But the worst -- I think Mark Udall has run a terrible campaign. I think that this business...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Colorado.

ROBERTS: Colorado. Going after women on abortion and birth control and all of these things is pandering in a way that women start to just resent.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You agree with that?

KRISTOL: Yeah, Udall just obsessed. He's a moderate Democrat Senator. He could have run as someone who had been a pretty decent senator, presumably. And instead he looked like a crazy person. Cory Gardner is going to take away access to contraception. Do people really believe that some Republican Senator is going to do that?

BRAZILE: But Cory Gardner has changed his position on personhood.

You know, the good thing about I guess the Republican have found their voice in the middle and not on the extreme right that the Democrats position themselves in fighting extremists. And these guys have turned -- and women have turned out to be moderates.

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: Udall should have anticipated.

BRAZILE: No, of course.

KRISTOL: The other thing, is, you know, everyone thinks that moderates, independents, they're pro choice, they're unhappy with Republican conservatives on the social issues. There are pro life Democrats in the country. It's kind of important to hold those votes if you're in a swing state.

Now you can hold them if you say I'm pro-choice, I respect you, you're pro life. We just differ on it. If you just kind of stigmatize anyone who doesn't have the most extreme pro-abortion views, you start losing some of your own voters.

DOWD: The one thing -- and I picked the worst campaign, which was Terry Lynn Land in Michigan, which is...

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was supposed to be competitive.

DOWD: It was supposed to be in a competitive state where a Republican governor is probably going to win and was the idea we're going to stick a woman on the ballot and that's going to solve all our problems. She ran a horrible race, a horrible campaign...

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: ...controversy to it.

The other thing that I think is interesting about this whole dynamic is, it's just all this money spent, all this time spent, is whether or not these candidates actually are going to turn out and listen to what the voters say? It reminds me of the new Nicole Kidman movie, which is "Before I Go to Sleep," which is basically I think the leaders are going to wake up on election day and forget what just happened.

KARL: But wait minute, there's a clear worst candidate this year. It's Pat Roberts.

I mean, Kansas has not elected somebody other than a Republican since before the Wizard of Oz hit the movie theaters. He's managed to run a campaign...

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: Originally he didn't have wi-fi in his office. No yard signs. It's been a total disaster.

BRAZILE: And he stopped campaigning right after he won the primary. Which gave, I guess, the independent an opportunity to go in there and seize control of the --

ROBERTS: Well, and he had no idea that the Democrats would pull out and support the independent, which is very unusual.

DOWD: Why is great. Why is why these things matter. This is why politics isn't static, which is this conversation --

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you say politics matters. Let's talk a little bit about the day after. It does look like a big Republican night. We don't know the exact numbers yet.

Jonathan, you're covering the White House. The president is going to have to come out the day after, do that press conference. Come up with some synonym for taking a thumping or whacking or whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shellacking.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Whatever it is. But it doesn't appear yet that the White House is sending any signals that there's going to be a course correction.

KARL: Not at all. In fact, the White House has made it clear that they are charging ahead with an executive order on immigration. We'll see if they stick to that the day after the election. But they're currently saying they will go ahead with the executive order, doing what they couldn't do through Congress.

This is going to be a big finger in the eye of Republicans and a real message that it's confrontation with the new Congress, not working with the new Congress.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What are the prospects for -- let's assume for the sake of argument right now. We don't know. But for the sake of argument, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate, where are the possibilities for compromise with President Obama?

Where would you look first?

KRISTOL: What they think is there are a bunch of medium-size pieces of legislation they can pass in the first couple of months that will have Democratic support that will be hard for President Obama to veto. If you like your health plan, you can keep it. Keystone Pipeline, some energy legislation. Some things that do -- have had Democrat votes in the House when they have been brought to a vote.

Harry Reid has prevented them from coming to a vote in the Senate. So I think they'll start off playing fairly cautious small ball in the Senate, which I think is prudent, and in Congress. They then have some big choices to make, though, about how much to push on some big issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In about 15 seconds left, Jon Karl mentioned tax reform. You could see some bipartisan movement behind a big infrastructure program.

ROBERTS: Absolutely. Infrastructure is one that you could see. And tax reform, I wouldn't say massive tax reform, but something on corporate taxes is something that both parties seem to like.

KARL: The Republicans need to prove that they can get something done. He has to change --

ROBERTS: I'm not sure --

DOWD: The president has to change the means of governing, not the ends of it. The means of governing is broken. Then he has to figure out a way to change it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the last word right now. Going to see you all Tuesday night. The "Sunday Spotlight" is next. The American father freed from captivity in North Korea speaks out for the first time.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to a rare look inside North Korea from Jeffrey Fowle, the American father and evangelist held captive for nearly six months. He's speaking out for the first time since his release, revealing the surprising way he was treated, his fears about never getting out, and why he left that Bible behind. ABC's Bob Woodruff has the "Sunday Spotlight."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB WOODRUFF, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A homecoming in Ohio, nearly six months in the making, Jeffrey Fowle holding his three children for the first time since his release from detention in North Korea.

Fowle had traveled to the isolated nation on a tourist visa and carrying a Bible. He came up with his own secret mission, to leave the Bible in North Korea even though his wife asked him not to do it.

JEFFREY FOWLE, MISSIONARY DETAINED IN NORTH KOREA: I was motivated by the stories I had heard of the severe persecution of the underground Christian Church there.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): He was taken into custody after leaving the Bible in a bathroom in a club. The North Korean dictatorship prohibits religions not approved by the state.

FOWLE: Two guys came up, they said, is this your Bible? I said, yes. They said come with us, then.

WOODRUFF: What did you tell them you were doing with the Bible?

FOWLE: I admitted I was leaving it behind for hopefully a Christian to find.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): And while North Korea is notorious for its brutality towards political prisoners, surprisingly Fowle said his jail was a luxury hotel.

Yanggakdo, which is where I have stayed at several times during my trips as a journalist.

WOODRUFF: How did they treat you physically?

FOWLE: Physically, I was not abused at all. I had three meals a day. After I was there for about two weeks straight, my interpreter would go out with me for about a 30- or 40-minute walk.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): In July, Fowle spoke from his detention in North Korea, also known as the DPRK.

FOWLE: (INAUDIBLE) the people, the government of the United States, as well as the people in the government of the DPRK, (INAUDIBLE) for them, too.

WOODRUFF: They wanted you to criticize the United States, the government.

(CROSSTALK)

FOWLE: Yes. One statement in there did include the United States and its hostile stance against the DPRK.

WOODRUFF: Do you think the U.S. is hostile?

FOWLE: No.

WOODRUFF: So you had to say something you don't believe.

FOWLE: Yes.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): He is the third American to be held by North Korea recently. Still in custody, Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary sentenced to 15 years hard labor for anti-state activities.

WOODRUFF: Why is that you were let go and not Miller and Bae?

FOWLE: I ask myself that same question every day.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Back home outside Dayton, Fowle vows no more secret missions.

WOODRUFF: If you could do anything different, if you did this again, what would you do?

FOWLE: Stay home. Maybe. I don't recommend doing this. I don't recommend anybody sneaking across the border with a sack full of Bibles or tracts or anything else.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): His family is just glad to have him home again.

For THIS WEEK, Bob Woodruff, ABC News, Lebanon, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Bob for that.

And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice.

This week the Pentagon announced the deaths of two service members supporting our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we'll be back after this from our ABC stations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: We will all be back here Tuesday night. Full coverage of all the election results, as we said, online all night long from 7:00 to 2:00 am with a primetime special across the whole network at 10:00 Eastern.

That's all for us right now. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT," and I'll see you Monday on "GMA."