March 23, 2014 -- Below is the rush transcript for "This Week" on March 23, 2014 and it may contain errors.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Good morning. Welcome to "This Week."
Frantic scramble -- the massive, high-tech search for flight 370 intensifies In the skies, on the water. This morning, all the breaking details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We stand ready to impose further sanctions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The dramatic tug of war between Presidents Obama and Putin. Is the crisis in Ukraine sparking a new cold war?
And cashing in, should college athletes get paid like pros? The critical legal case that could rock March Madness.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts now.
RADDATZ: Good morning, again. I'm Martha Raddatz. So much to get to today, including stats whiz Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight. We have a first look at his exclusive analysis of the midterm elections.
But we begin oversees with Malaysia Air Flight 370. As we come on the air this morning, the search for wreckage is intensifying, focusing on this area where satellites have spotted what might be debris.
But still, more than two weeks into the search, what happened to Flight 370 is a mystery. And we all want answers.
We have complete coverage of that search for answers, beginning with ABC's David Wright who has just stepped off a search plane that was out scanning those waters. David joins us now from Pearce Air Base in Australia -- David.
DAVID WRIGHT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martha. We just spent ten hours aboard that plane, only to come back empty handed.
The crew set off with high hopes, their assigned search area adjusted overnight because of that Chinese satellite image.
We had a few radar contacts, but no visual confirmation of anything significant except for a whale.
Visibility, though, was very poor because of low-lying clouds.
Well, today the French provided investigators with what they say is another satellite photo showing possible debris. And that will keep this search going.
WRIGHT: This vast stretch of sea in one of the most remote parts of the planet is now the focus of worldwide attention. State of the art planes have poured over a region of water bigger than Texas for five days, coming back empty handed. Then yesterday, a dramatic moment of hope, a Malaysian official, briefing reporters, was handed an urgent message.
HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, ACTING MALAYSIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER: The news I just received is that the Chinese ambassador received satellite image of floating objects in the southern corridor and they will be sending ships to verify.
WRIGHT: That image shows what appears to be a large object floating in the water, measuring about 74 by 43 feet. A Chinese satellite took the picture March 18th. The location about 75 miles southwest of the materials spotted in the Australian satellite image released last week. Could it be the same debris?
TOM HAUETER, ABC NEWS CONSULTANT: The two images look very similar, both size and shape. But the important thing is to get someone there to determine what is this thing. Is it an airplane part or not?
WRIGHT: Today, we boarded this Australian P-3 Orion, one of more than half a dozen search planes trying to answer that question.
On the surface of the water, there's a growing number of naval vessels, including two Australian warships, one with a remote sub from Australia, and a merchant vessel and a Chinese ice breaker now on the way.
Even if they do manage to confirm wreckage on the surface. The next step will be even more challenging, the sea here far deeper than where Titanic sank.
On average, 14,000 feet, in some parts, 30,000 feet too deep for a submarine to go. For the families still searching for answers, it is agonizing as the wife of Flight 370's chief steward told ABC's Bob Woodruff.
JACQUITA GONZALES, WIFE OF FLIGHT 370 CHIEF STEWARD: If it's in the ocean, it brings us closure. But at the back of our mind we hope that it's -- you know they say a hijacking and all that, it's somewhere. Then there's hope that he's still alive.
WRIGHT: I can't stress enough how remote this search area is. You spend twice as much time traveling to and from as you do there searching. But this Australian crew we were with today, like the Americans we were with last week, are determined to provide some answers -- Martha.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to David.
Let's go straight to Commander William Marks of the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet which is leading the American portion of the search. Commander Marks joins us on the phone from aboard the USS Blue Ridge.
Commander Marks, let's talk about these new satellite photos. The French have new satellite photos this morning, that makes three areas we're looking at. Do you know how close they all are together and what that will mean for your portion of the search?
COMMANDER WILLIAM MARKS, U.S. NAVY: I have not seen the French imagery yet. I have seen what Australia reported and what China reported. They are really big chunks of radar return. So if that is the case, that's a positive. I could tell you the radar on our P-8 and on the P-3 boat, they're very advanced radars so what we'll do is fly at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. That maximizes our radar search over a swath of about 10 to 20 miles on each side of our flight path.
With that radar looking down on the surface of the water, can see an object as small as the size of a basketball.
RADDATZ: And how long can this search last?
MARKS: We work very closely with our international partners. And we just take it day by day. And we'll have to see how long as a group, decide we can keep going and how long we're requested to go.
What I tell people is, this is like looking for something somewhere between New York and California you just don't know where.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Commander Marks.
Let's bring in ABC's David Curley and ABC News contributor Colonel Steve Ganyard, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot and aviation accident investigator, both have been on this story from the start. Thanks for joining us.
I want to start with you, Steve. You look at that vast search area and it reminds me how small the search area was for Air France. They had debris within five days, and then it took two years. But this area is so huge.
STEVE GANYARD, AVIATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR: It is. The good news is, if you remember earlier in the week, we were looking at 2 million square miles. So the so-called good news is we're only down to a search area the size of the state of Texas.
Now you reference the Air France mishap just because of the similarities. In that mishap, we're probably looking at something the size of Connecticut so still a daunting, daunting search area.
RADDATZ: And if we find the debris, if that is actually debris from the airplane, it doesn't mean we're going do find the airplane.
GANYARD: That's right.
I think we ought to think of this as two separate search areas. We're looking for things on top of the water that still may be floating. But where the airplane went into the water we think is some 350 to 700 miles away. So, even if we do find this debris, I don't think it's going to help us find the airplane that could be 700 miles away at the bottom of the ocean.
RADDATZ: Because of those currents, because of the place that the plane went in.
David, but if they do find debris, if they just find the debris from the airplane, can that give us any clues?
DAVID CURLEY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Some big clues, some very large clues can come out of that, because we don't have much to go on right now.
But if you pick up a piece of wreckage, you can tell whether or not there was a fire. The forensic folks can tell whether or not -- how this aircraft hit the water. Did it come straight nose down, did it skip along. There are tears and things that they can tell from this. And the debris, a lot of the debris inside the fuselage and from the aircraft will have serial numbers on it, which will prove that it came from this 777.
RADDATZ: And remind us if the black box is ever found what we can learn from that.
CURLEY: So we have two black boxes, one is a cockpit voice recorder. It recycles every two hours. So this flight was so long that we may not hear -- we'll hear sounds, we may not hear any voices.
The flight data recorder on a newer plane like this that's 11 years old could have thousands of data points, a least hundreds and maybe 1,000 or more.
And this is everything from what the pilots inputted into the system, what the plane was doing, how the fuel burn was going, it would be a godsend if we can find that flight data recorder.
RADDATZ: Steve, we're entering the third week of this. We have talked to you almost every day. Today as you sit here, what do you think brought the plane down?
GANYARD: There's not still not enough evidence. There's really nothing that's happened in the past week that would suggest anything different in some of the theories we have been talking about for almost two weeks.
Everybody still believes that the marginal evidence, marginally suggests that there was a deliberate act by somebody in that cockpit. So beyond that, we really don't know anything more and we need more facts, and time is running out.
RADDATZ: You know, I was thinking, the world is really riveted by this mystery. We have all gotten on airplanes, surrendered ourselves to two strangers in a cockpit or watched loves one go off and do the same. Is there anything from what we haven't learned, the transponder was shut off, we haven't found the black box. Do you think there's anything that will change going forward, because of this, whether we find it or not?
GANYARD: I think it's a matter of will. After the Air France mishap there were some very good suggestions that the France civil authorities made to say let's prevent this from happening again. None of them were implemented. Maybe now that we've had a second tragedy, something will happen. It's not the technology, it's there, it's just a matter of who is going to pay for it.
CURLEY: And depends on what we find.
RADDATZ: It certainly does.
Thanks to both of you, you both have been so great on this story.
Now to breaking news from Ukraine, Russian forces opening fire this weekend completing a takeover of territory Russia now claims is its own.
ABC's Alex Marquardt and his team have been in the middle of it all. And he joins us now with the latest -- Alex.
ALEX MARQUARDT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martha. This says it all, the parliament here in Crimea's capital waving a huge Russian flag. Those mysterious Russian forces we've seen over the past few weeks here in Crimea now no longer hiding their identity, instead proudly showing off that they and now Crimea are Russian.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): It was one of the last major bases in Ukrainian control, and the Russians wanted it.
Firing warning shots and sound grenades, special forces on Saturday fanned out across Baalbek (ph) Base.
MARQUARDT: This is a very tense standoff between those Russian special forces right there, the Ukrainian soldiers right here who have turned their backs on the Russians. Refusing to surrender. They may soon not have a choice.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Realizing their base was gone, Colonel Yuli Montour (ph) gave an emotional thanks to his men --
MARQUARDT (voice-over): -- who responded with the national anthem.
Crimea is now Russia. Ukrainian symbols erased, the Russian flag raised. The United States and Europe have refused to recognize Russia's takeover, imposing the toughest sanctions on Russia since the Cold War and threatening more.
The latest White House targets: 20 officials, including several in President Putin's innermost circle. Russia responded with sanctions of its own on nine White House officials and members of Congress.
For now, Putin says that will be it, but left the door open for more. As some 20,000 Russian troops mass near the border with Eastern Ukraine, fueling fears at the White House that is Putin's next move. My colleague Jon Karl is with President Obama as he watches closely.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alex. I'm here at Andrews Air Force Base where I will soon be heading on President Obama's trip to Europe. It's a trip that is sure to be dominated by the crisis in Ukraine.
The president is meeting with the European leaders and the group of seven industrialized nations to talk about what further steps they can take to put pressure on Russia. There's real concerns about what Putin will do next.
Privately, White House officials will acknowledge there's virtually no hope of getting Russia to withdraw from Crimea. This is about all about trying to prevent Putin from going any further.
And the big picture here, is there has been a fundamental change in U.S.-Russian relations. Now at their worst point since the Cold War and unlikely to improve any time soon -- Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Jon.
Everyone now wondering what's Putin's next move and how will the West respond? This high-stakes faceoff between Russian and American presidents has a familiar ring.
RADDATZ (voice-over): For decades and decades, it was the stuff of nightmares.
SEAN CONNERY, "HUNT FOR THE RED OCTOBER": While we conduct missile drills.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Both imagined --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The planes are fully armed with nuclear weapons.
RADDATZ (voice-over): And real.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ordering an air and naval quarantine of Cuba.
RADDATZ (voice-over): East versus West.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ich bin ein Berliner.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Good versus evil.
Spy versus spy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A United States Air Force plane shot down on Russian soil.
RADDATZ (voice-over): A Cold War with the hottest possible weapons at the ready. Massive nuclear arsenals to deter through fears of mutually assured destruction. That Cold War came to a crashing end more than 20 years ago.
But fast forward to today --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cold War.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cold War.
RADDATZ (voice-over): With more than 20,000 Russian troops on the border of Ukraine, and thousands more firmly in control of Crimea, it is a sobering reminder that Russia remains a formidable foe.
ROGER COHEN, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I don't want to be alarmist, but the situation is dangerous. It's combustible. President Putin has done something we have not seen in Europe since 1945, since the end of World War II.
RADDATZ (voice-over): The former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Cartwright has the same concerns.
GEN. JAMES CARTWRIGHT, FORMER VICE CHAIR, JCS: This is very worrisome. I can't equate this to anything else that's occurred over the last 10 or 15 years. This is serious. It is an infraction and an incursion.
RADDATZ (voice-over): But this is not the old Cold War. The nuclear threat has faded. This is chapter two, the fallout from the shrinking Soviet Union, the expanse of NATO and the East's tilt toward Europe.
CARTWRIGHT: This is about his vision for Russia. This is about his reconstructing the history of the Cold War. It's a little bit of trying to reconstruct that, rebuild that, rebuild Russia's place in the world.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Putin himself before the invasion, giving George Stephanopoulos what is now a haunting hint of what was to come.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the society had a negative and pessimistic attitude. We have to pull ourselves together.
RADDATZ (voice-over): That resolve to reassert the ways of old, says Roger Cohen, is why the U.S. and the international community must keep up the pressure.
COHEN: We have not taken him sufficiently seriously. The language that President Putin understands is a language of force. We are rediscovering that the NATO alliance remains very important.
RADDATZ (voice-over): And President Obama has made clear, if the most recent sanctions don't work, there will be more.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.
RADDATZ: And we're joined now by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia.
Mr. Foreign Minister, thanks for joining us. I want to get right to some news this morning from NATO's top military commander who says Moscow has mobilized a very, very sizable and very, very ready military contingent on the eastern border that could easily go into Eastern Ukraine or Southern Ukraine.
Your reaction and do you think the Russians will move in?
ANDRII DESHCHYTSIA, UKRAINIAN ACTING FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: We are very much concerned about this development and deployment of Russian troops on our eastern borders. We are ready to respond. And as you know, the Ukrainian government is trying to use all their peaceful means and diplomatic means to stop Russians. But the people are also ready to defend their homeland.
RADDATZ: And what does that mean? And I know we can hear demonstrators behind you where you're standing.
What does that mean you're ready to defend the homeland? Militarily?
DESHCHYTSIA: You know what was the spirit -- what is the spirit of the Ukrainian army and navy. At this moment when Russian troops would be invading Ukraine from the east regions, from the eastern side from Russia, then would be for us difficult to ask people who live in them there -- the Ukrainians who live in there not to respond on this military invasion.
We, as I said, we are trying to use all the diplomatic measures and all the economic, financial and other sanctions, visa sanctions, to stop Russians not to do this.
RADDATZ: Mr. Foreign Minister, one week ago you told us on this broadcast that you thought the chances of going to war were quite high.
What are the chances this morning?
DESHCHYTSIA: They are growing. We don't know what Putin has in his mind and what would be his decision. That's why this situation is becoming even more explosive than it used to be a week ago.
RADDATZ: Thank you so much. Mr. Foreign Minister, we appreciate your time today.
DESHCHYTSIA: Very good. Thank you.
RADDATZ: Our thanks again to the foreign minister.
Coming up in just two minutes, the great college sports debate.
Should the players get paid? The new legal case that could permanently change March Madness. Full coverage is next.
Plus stats guru Nate Silver nailed the 2012 presidential election. Now we're the first place to see his first projections for the mid-terms.
Will Republicans take back the Senate? Back in just two minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For a lot of the average kids who are not going to be able to get -- get a pro career, are those schools making sure that they're actually getting a good education, that they're actually getting a degree, that if they get injured, their scholarships stick with them?
Those are the kinds of things that I -- I'd like to see the NCAA address.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: President Obama speaking to ESPN Tuesday.
Colleges are raking in the cash this week from March Madness TV contracts and ticket sales. But players see none of it. That's why some are now calling for athletes to receive paychecks.
But would that ruin the foundation of college sports?
Our experts take on the simmering debate after ESPN's Tom Farrey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM FARREY, ESPN (voice-over): Behind the bracketology and excitement of March Madness is a multi-billion dollar industry all made possible by young athletes playing for their favorite schools.
KYLE HARDRICK, FORMER BASKETBALL PLAYER: (INAUDIBLE) and Oklahoma is (INAUDIBLE) that committed early.
FARREY: Kyle Hardrick was so good that Oklahoma offered him a basketball scholarship in ninth grade. But after a knee injury during practice his freshman year, he lost his scholarship and with medical bills piling up, he couldn't afford to stay in school.
VALERIE HARDRICK, KYLE HARDRICK'S MOTHER: If it was workmen's comp, my son would have been taken care of for the rest of his life. He would have been able to finish his college.
FARREY: Ramogi Huma, head the National College Players Association, is fighting for the right of college athletes to unionize.
RAMOGI HUMA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COLLEGE PLAYERS ASSOCIATION: I think it's very clear that the players who are 18 years old right now that are being taken advantage of in so many ways by this multi-billion dollar industry, will be in a much better situation if they have a union.
FARREY: Huma joined former Northwestern quarterback, Kain Colter, and took their case to the National Labor Relations Board, arguing the services athletes provide their schools should grant them protections as employees. HUMA: The NCAA has not voluntarily moved on critical issues. We see unions that have been very effective.
FARREY (on camera): But NFL and NBA players are professionals. People perceive college athletes to be something else, students, and perhaps students first.
HUMA: Well, NCAA sports is professional. The players are paid to play. You know, they received -- at Northwestern -- a scholarship that's worth over $60,000 per year, in return, and on the condition that they play football. That's an employee-employer relationship.
FARREY (voice-over): A new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll showed an even split on allowing college athletes to create a union. But on paying athletes on top of their scholarships, Americans oppose that by a two to one margin.
The NCAA argues, "The overwhelming majority of student athletes across all sports participate in college athletics to enhance their overall college experience and for love of the sport, as opposed to a desire to be paid to play college sports."
But does that college experience focus more on sports than education?
HUMA: When players are spending 40, 50, 60 hours per week in a sport, they are not studying for psychology. It doesn't help you to play football in order to get your degree.
HORACE MITCHELL, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, BAKERSFIELD: Certainly, there's a challenge, with the amount of time that it takes for competition and travel and such. But the primary goal is for them to get a degree. And we can't lose sight of that.
FARREY: So will paying college athletes change the game entirely?
DONNA LOPIANO, PRESIDENT, SPORTS MANAGEMENT RESOURCES: Part of the attractiveness of intercollegiate athletics is knowing that these are amateurs. As long as the NCAA takes care of athletes, handles academic support systems and makes sure that athletes get the right medical attention, they make out better than employees would. And they come out with a college education.
FARREY (on camera): But is that happening right now?
LOPIANO: No, it isn't happening right now. You're absolutely right. That -- that doesn't mean that we should turn to paying athletes as opposed to reforming the NCAA.
FARREY (voice-over): The question is, will it take athletes to bring about those reforms?
For THIS WEEK, Tom Farrey, ESPN, Bristol (ph).
(END VIDEO TAPE)
RADDATZ: Thanks, Tom.
We have besides of the debate here now.
Christine Brennan, "USA Today" columnist and ABC News contributor, and Joe Nocera, columnist for "The New York Times."
And, Joe, I want to start with you, you think this is a great idea, to pay these athletes?
JOE NOCERA, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I do. I think that in college football and in men's basketball, the athletes are, in fact, employees in a multi-billion dollar business. So, in effect, you have a multi-billion dollar business with a free labor force.
Is that right?
Now, President Obama is right, all these other things need to be taken care of, too. And I'm not saying they should get a million dollars or $2 million, but I am basically saying that given the fact that they're not student athletes, they're athlete students, they deserve some compensation.
RADDATZ: Any argument there, Christine?
I think so.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, serious...
RADDATZ: Even with the student-athlete, athlete-student, right?
BRENNAN: You know, I, Joe, I -- this is a -- a multi-faceted argument and conversation that's important for the nation to have.
But when you think about paying athletes, you have to think, first and foremost, of Title IX. You know, Martha, this is one of the most well-loved laws of the last half century in this country, of course, enabling women and girls to play sports just like (INAUDIBLE)...
RADDATZ: So if they start paying the male athletes...
BRENNAN: If you pay the football players, according to my experts, you have to pay the field hockey players or you have lawsuits galore. And, in fact, just three years ago, the NCAA tried to do this by paying football $2,000, as you know, a stipend.
NOCERA: That's right.
BRENNAN: And that was just roundly defeated.
RADDATZ: Joe, how do you counter that?
NOCERA: Well, I...
RADDATZ: Would that (INAUDIBLE)?
NOCERA: -- I -- it seems to me, football...
RADDATZ: Does that make sense?
NOCERA: -- football and men's basketball are a different category of sports than anything else. The athletes are there, first and foremost, not to get an education. Many of them major in eligibility. They're there to generate billions of dollars in revenues for the university. That's their job.
So I do think it's a different case. And you're right, there would be litigation. That's OK.
BRENNAN: Yes, well, of course, as you know, only about 10 practice of the major college teams even -- football teams -- even make money. They pay -- they don't even pay for themself.
So the idea that they're generating the money to pay for field hockey or lacrosse or men's swimming isn't happening.
RADDATZ: Let's talk about injuries, though. And a kid comes in. He's injured. You heard in the piece there. Then they're out of the program.
BRENNAN: I think...
RADDATZ: Then they're out of the scholarship.
Then what happens?
Should -- should some things change?
If they don't go as far as paying athletes as employees, should things change?
BRENNAN: The answer, I think, is yes.
BRENNAN: I think intelligent people can come up with decisions on how -- if someone is injured, a -- a young man or a woman, while playing sports, how they're covered after they -- as they go on in life. And I also think the -- the pocket change, the money to go to your grandmother's funeral, I think that's important to discuss, as well.
NOCERA: The NCAA has been a monolith for a very long time and has really been very unfeeling about a lot of these issues. And the main thing that needs to happen before paying, before anything else, is there needs to be a real organization that can -- that can stand up for the players and push back on a lot of these rights issues.
Pay notwithstanding, there are so many things that need to be done to just give the player a chance for the same rights as other students and -- and the same deal as other students.
RADDATZ: -- just quickly to you both, I love college football. My son plays position three.
Doesn't it change the game, fundamentally, if you start paying those athletes?
How would the fans respond?
Americans don't seem to want this.
BRENNAN: No, I think people would despise it and I think it could ruin everything. And keep in mind, also, they're already getting college scholarships. The value of that can be up to a quarter of a million dollars plus all the exposure, the coaching, the fact that they don't come out of college with student debt. There's a lot that athletes are being paid (INAUDIBLE)...
HEATH: -- very quickly, Joe.
NOCERA: People said that free agency would destroy professional baseball. It did not. Putting money in the play -- in the pockets of players would not destroy college basketball and football.
RADDATZ: I think you're going to disagree forever.
Thanks very much for joining us.
And we're back in just two minutes with election oracle Nate Silver. Washington has been waiting months for his first mid-term election predictions. We have the exclusive first look, as Nate reveals all, next.
You don't want to miss this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And once again, Nate Silver completely nailed it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: President Obama calling out election oracle, ESPN's Nate Silver. He predicted every state in the last presidential election. And we've all been waiting to hear his mid-term projections.
Will Republicans pick off enough Democratic seats to take back the senate?
Jon Karl got the first look.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In the world of political prognostication...
JON STEWART, DAILY SHOW HOST: I am Nate Silver!
KARL: No one beats the buzz of Nate Silver. And at the brand new FiveThirtyEight.com headquarters...
KARL: This is where it all happens.
NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: It is. This is our new news room.
KARL: The stat guru and his team have been crunching the numbers. Who will win the senate? Nate unveiled for us the projections Washington has been waiting for. The most important number to remember, six, that's how many seats Republicans need to take back control of the senate.
We're hear at the Fivethirtyeight white board, there's 36 races overall, and most of these are not competitive.
We have a group of races we can kind of put aside. And even just with that, Republicans pick up three seats.
SILVER: West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana.
KARL: So a large group of states in the mid-term election to be basically up for grabs.
SILVER: Yeah, what we've done is kind of sort these in order of most likely to least likely pickups for the GOP. You know, Arkansas is one where they've been pretty consistently ahead in the polls. You know we give them probably a 70 percent chance of winning in Arkansas.
KARL: OK, and next up is Louisiana.
SILVER: Louisiana, about 55 percent.
North Carolina, it's more of a purple state so that's as close to 50-50 as it gets.
KARL: OK, so let's stop right there. You have these three seats where Republicans have a very good chance of winning.
SILVER: Sure. And that's the path of least resistance I would think.
KARL: But not the only one. Nate gives the GOP a good shot in Alaska, and even in blue states Michigan, Colorado and Iowa.
What about Scott Brown in New Hampshire?
SILVER: We think the Republican opportunity is a little overhyped. Scott Brown was extremely popular in a different state four years ago.
KARL: The GOP's chance of a win there, just 25 percent.
This is the drum roll. Republicans need six seats. What's the projection? How many are they going to pick up?
SILVER: I'd say exactly six, but it's probably six plus or minus five. That means it could be...
KARL: They could pick up 11 seats.
SILVER: They could, yeah.
KARL: What you're basically saying is a 60 percent chance that Republicans win the senate.
SILVER: Something like that. So you kind of imagine like a bell curve distribution, sort of where this is the most likely outcome. This is what Republicans would need to take over. This is 51 for them. So you see probably 60 percent of this pie is colored in here.
KARL: Translation for the math impaired, Nate's projection is a 40 percent chance Democrats hold on, but a 60 percent chance the GOP wins with a 30 percent shot they win big.
Still a lot of time, but a pretty decent chance of a really big win.
SILVER: That's right.
KARL: All right, Nate Silver, thank you very much. We'll be watching. We'll see what happens.
SILVER: Thank you.
RADDATZ: And our thanks to Jon.
And Nate's full list of projections just posted at fivethirtyeight.com.
RADDATZ: Let's get the roundtable's reaction. Oklahoma Republican congressman, Tom Cole. Minnesota Democratic congressman, Keith Ellison. Dan Senor, co-founder of the foreign policy initiative and our own Cokie Roberts.
Does anyone disagree with Nate Silver?
REP. KEITH ELLISON, (D) MINNESOTA: I disagree.
RADDATZ: Oh, oh.
COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: What a surprise.
RADDATZ: What a surprise.
ELLISON: Well, you know, first of all, this is a snapshot in time. And, you know, if Democrats are watching this broadcast, then they need to get out on the street and start knocking on doors. I think this is going to motivate our base to really get out there and make relationships and show this is the folks who shut down the government, these are the folks responsible for sequester. These are the people who don't want to extend unemployment insurance. 10,000 people in Oklahoma have seen...
REP. TOM COLE, (R) OKLAHOMA: I'm glad you're so concerned.
ELLISON: Well, 222,000 in Minnesota have not gotten unemployment their insurance. This is who's responsible for that.
And if you want to see more of that bad stuff, then stay at home. If not, you better get out...
RADDATZ: Is he dreaming?
COLE: Yeah, he is, actually. Which is often the case with my friend.
Quite frankly -- and that's a very big dream on your part.
But look, I think you look for some obvious signs. The playing field here has been getting bigger rather than smaller for Republicans for months now. Places that aren't normally in play are coming into play. Most of the places that Silver ticked off are red states that the president lost poorly -- lost badly in the last election.
And finally we've got a bellwether special election with Florida 13 which I think showed a lot about what the state of play is.
Well, this is the district the president carried.
RADDATZ: Seem like there's a formula too, right?
ROBERTS: But they are both right. I mean, what we're seeing in our latest ABC Poll is in the 34 states where there are senate elections up, the Republicans are up by 12 points in the 34 states. So what's the likelihood? The likelihood is the Republicans take the senate. There is one Republican seat in play, which is Georgia.
But the fact is that -- that there are a lot of things that have to happen, and one of them is Republican primaries have to come out the way Republicans want. And they -- now some states they can nominate yahoos, and the yahoos will win. But other states, if they nominate yahoos, the Democrat is likely to win. So they have to be careful about that.
RADDATZ: You got that? You got that formula? OK.
DAN SENIOR, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL ADVISER: This is a fundamental difference from 2010 to 2012.
COKIE: No, I know, because everybody understands that they don't want to nominate yahoos.
SENOR: Right, candidate recruitment has -- if you look at people like Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Dan Sullivan in Alaska. You just go across the spectrum...
ROBERTS: Right, Colorado.
SENOR: Right. In Colorado, we had a crazy right winger who would have lost the general election and he's gotten out, suddenly Cory Gardner, a guy who can actually win this thing has gotten into.
COKIE: NO, I'd say you've done a much better job.
SENOR: And the insurgent groups on the right are being far more strategic. The Club for Growth, the other groups, are not going after candidates -- they're not actually backing candidates so they can lose general elections.
ROBERTS: Where Keith was right was that if the Democrats, and it's an enormous if, if the Democrats get out their vote, which they don't do normally in off years, then they could win. But that's a big if.
SENOR: The president's approval rating in these states is in the low 40s. These Senate Democrat incumbents are going to have to outperform the president's numbers by double digits. These are states that Mitt Romney won by 10 or 20 points.
RADDATZ: Let me talk about what if the Republicans do take the Senate? What really happens? Will there be big changes?
What if Ruth Bader Ginsburg retires, can they overturn Obamacare?
COLE: Well, the president needs to decide then, does he want to spend the last two years in foreign travel or does he want to seriously negotiate with the congress of the United States.
I think that's when you have an opening for some really big things that Republican votes for the most part, but also take a Democratic signature, somewhat similar we had with Bill Clinton.
You know, Clinton we got welfare reform, balanced budget, most Democrats didn't vote for those things, but you had Republican that pushed them through and a willing negotiating partner on the other side.
If the president will do that, then I think we can actually come to grips with entitlement reform, find some common ground on some infrastructure, maybe get some tax reform. But I don't think that's going to happen with a Democratic Senate.
RADDATZ: You mentioned the president and foreign travel. Not really a great week for the president in terms of the faceoff with Vladimir Putin.
We loved this from The Onion, the satirical website, penning a humorous op-ed. With Putin saying it's certainly no easy task to forcefully annex an entire province against another country's will. So I just wanted to thank you, the government of the United States, the nations of western Europe and really the entire world population as a whole for being super cool about this.
Now The Onion is not alone, Congressman Ellison. Is Putin getting away with murder because the world really lacks the challenge? Really lacks the force?
ELLISON: Well, think about the options on the table. You know, I don't think it's appropriate to steam through the Black Sea and get into World War III, perhaps. So what is the president doing? He's sanctioning leaders in Russia, he is condemning this in the strongest terms. He's mobilizing western forces to make sure that this is condemned and stopped.
And of course no doubt about it, NATO is getting mobilized and understands this is a high-stakes thing.
I mean, a few years ago when we saw action in Georgia and the caucuses, I mean, what did George Bush do? The president is doing what it's responsible to do. And you know, sort of like...
RADDATZ: But meanwhile, we have got all these troops on the border.
ROBERTS: And exactly, and you had the foreign minister just say to you on this program that the likelihood of war was high last week and even higher this week, that withdrawal from the base in Crimea was Fort Sumpter. It was. it really was.
And so that was the beginning of civil war.
Now we go to civil war in Ukraine? Then what does the United States do?
SENOR: There are basic things we can do, provide small arms and ammunition to the Ukrainian military, the Ukrainian government, which they're asking for, which the president hasn't provided. Our administration -- this administration has just provided MREs to the Ukrainian. I actually don't think we've delivered them...
ROBERTS: That military is so compared to Russia, though.
SENOR: Missile defense capabilities in former Warsaw Pact countries that are part of NATO, provide resources to former -- military forces, ground force movement from former Warsaw Pact countries that are part of NATO.
Expand the sanctions to the Magnitsky Act has hundreds of Russians we can be sanctioning. The administration sanctioned a handful of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not saying that you're wrong, what I'm saying is that this Republican attacking the president, suggesting that he's weak, is absolutely counterproductive. And that if we wanted --
SENOR: Look, this is not a Republican-Democrat thing. There are Democrats who share my position.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I agree, but I think the president needs to get the support of the country and move forward together with all the --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) "The Onion," I mean, you know, look. This has been an administration from the reset to the cancellation of the agreements that we had with Poland and the Czech Republic on missile defense to Syria, that frankly has been outthought and outmaneuvered pretty consistently by Putin. And I think that's why we're here.
Now I agree that there are limits to what he can do. Nobody is talking about putting troops on the ground.
But I think you really want to catch their attention, I'd go back to something Dan said. You reopen negotiations with the Poles and the Czechs about anti-ballistic missile defense. That's the one card I think we have to play that really wakes them up in Moscow.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: And just quickly on the Republican Party. This has really sort of split the Republican Party.
SENOR: Yes, well. I think that the Republican Party, there has been this debate about whether or not the Republican Party is shifting to some sort of quasi-isolationism. Debate over NSA, debate over drones, debate over Syria. What's striking about Putin is it's been a -- there's been a correction. Whereas Rand Paul was initially quite critical of Republicans who were going back to Cold War rhetoric. And then you watch where the party went, you watch where Ted Cruz went. He's a bellwether for where the base is. He was extremely critical of the president on Russia and Ukraine, and suddenly Rand Paul has moved to a more muscular position. So I actually think that this whole notion that neoisolationist politics on the Right is paralyzing the Right's foreign policy is overstated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) taking over parts of countries, it changes the whole place.
RADDATZ: It certainly does.
Coming up, the political firestorm over ObamaCare and contraception heads to the Supreme Court.
And later we talk to Mr. Jason Bourne himself, Matt Damon.
But first our "Powerhouse Puzzler". We all saw those photos of Hillary Clinton from 1969 on life.com this week.
So here's the question, in 1994, the first lady reportedly told her close friend, Diane Blair (ph), she might pursue what non-political profession after leaving the White House?
Back in two minutes to see if the roundtable and you can guess the answer.
RADDATZ: OK. The question, long ago Hillary Clinton reportedly said she might pursue what profession after leaving the White House?
I'm going to start with the members of Congress, who I'm sure have it right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Community organizer. Work for President Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doctor?
RADDATZ: Doctor. Good guess.
SENOR: Motivational speaker for Goldman Sachs trading.
SENOR: Which is effectively what she's been doing now.
RADDATZ: Oh, oh.
Teaching. Ah-ha. Guess who wins? The answer is teaching.
Her close friend, Diane Blair (ph), wrote in her diary that Hillary considered becoming a kindergarten teacher after leaving the White House. And, by the way, she's still keeping her options open when asked just last night whether she will run in 2016, Hillary said, quote, "I'm obviously thinking about all kinds of decisions."
Up next, the Supreme Court takes on ObamaCare. Again.
RADDATZ: Emotions over ObamaCare still high as the signup deadline approaches. And now the law is heading to the Supreme Court again. This week, the roundtable weighs in after ABC's Jeff Zeleny.
JEFF ZELENY, ABC NEWS SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hobby Lobby sells arts and crafts at more than 500 locations across America, but not on Sundays, so employees can spend time for family and worship.
It's the Christian beliefs of David Green (ph) and his Oklahoma family who founded Hobby Lobby four decades ago. They're now at the center of a Supreme Court fight over the nation's health care law.
Should for-profit corporations be required to provide insurance coverage for morning-after pills and other kinds of contraception? The Greens (ph) say no, it violates their religious views.
DAVID GREEN, FOUNDER, HOBBY LOBBY: My convictions enter into how we run our business.
ZELENY: But supporters of the law say only people, not companies like Hobby Lobby can hold religious beliefs.
WYDRA: Corporations can't pray, they don't express devotion to a God.
ZELENY: It's the biggest challenge to the health care law since the court upheld a key provision in 2012, a critical moment for the law with an enrollment deadline on March 31. The White House hoping a legal victory brings political relief for a law still as controversial as ever.
For This Week, Jeff Zeleny, ABC news, Laurel, Maryland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Thanks to Jeff. And back with the roundtable. And I want to ask you, Dan, first, what's your instinct on this?
SENOR: I think the administration's case is very weak and I think it has enormous political implications. If Hobby Lobby has to avoid -- chooses to avoid providing these coverage for these four contraceptives out of the 20 that they are required to, they will get fines of half a billion dollars a year. This a company that employees 13,000 Americans. Plus at a time when there's been tens of millions of Americans who have been exempted.
So the -- all the selective implementation of Obamacare, combined with huge fines for business that are actually employing Americans I think is terrible for the overall debate over Obamacare. It continues to drive down popularity.
RADDATZ: Congressman Ellison.
ELLISON: You know, let's step back from the whole Obamacare Affordable Care Act debate and ask ourselves what this would mean. Do we really want a corporation to be able to have its own religious views and impose them on its employees? What would that mean for the separation of church and state, for individual liberty? What would it mean about corporate personhood?
This is scary territory and people need to win.
COLE: Look, I know the Green family, I know the company very well. They're absolutely outstanding people and they live their beliefs. This is about the free exercise of religious beliefs in your business. Now they follow these precepts in terms of opening their businesses, or not opening them, on Sunday and that sort of thing.
So, I also -- I go back -- I think Dan makes a very good point, at the end of the day, we have already exempted millions and millions of people. We exempt religious institutions.
This is a privately-held corporation, by the way. And in this case, I think they have got a very strong argument. They won at the district level. I think they'll win the Supreme Court.
RADDATZ: I want to make a turn here to Cokie. And I don't want you to answer the question about Obamacare here.
This week with the plane missing, we all thought of you and your family. 1972, your father, Congressman Hale Boggs, disappeared in a plane crash and was never found. I just have to ask you what it's been like for you watching this these last few weeks?
ROBERTS: Well, it's very hard, obviously. And my heart just goes out to those families. I think they should probably expect never to see their loved ones again. And that plane is probably at the bottom of the sea.
There was a 39-day search for my father's plane, and it was the biggest search in American history. It rewrote the map of Alaska. And so I think that this is just where it's likely to go.
RADDATZ: It did some good, mandated emergency locator transmitters on airplanes, though, Cokie, and that's a good thing.
Thanks to you all. We'll be back right away.
RADDATZ: Our "Sunday Spotlight" shining on a Hollywood A-lister who is putting his star power behind a humble cause. Matt Damon is throwing himself and glamorous friends into improving water and sanitation in the developing world.
ABC's Cecilia Vega with the inspiring story.
CECILIA VEGA, ABC CORRESPONDENT: From a janitor turned Harvard mathematical genius in Good Will Hunting.
MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Well, I got her number, how do you like them apples?
VEGA: A trained CIA assassin in the Bourne Trilogy -- to this?
DAMON: What invention has saved the most lives? A toilet. Let's cut the crap.
VEGA: Matt Damon, toilet advocate. The Oscar winner, A-lister, the sexiest man alive, is taking the plunge in his most unique role yet.
DAMON: In the process of learning about all of this, water just underpinned everything. It's just so huge. There's a real opportunity to save a lot of people.
VEGA: In this country, you don't think twice about the luxury of walking into a bathroom and using a toilet. What's at stake?
DAMON: People's lives. Every 20 seconds a child dies because they lack access to clean water and sanitation. Every 20 seconds, three kids every minute somewhere on planet Earth. Not here. Our kids aren't going to die from diarrhea, that's just an inconvenience to us in the west.
But it is a stark, terrifying reality to billions of people on the planet. That's why we have a sense of urgency. These deaths are unnecessary.
VEGA: He has staged a protest.
DAMON: Until everybody has access to clean water and sanitation, I will not go to the bathroom.
VEGA: And enlisted very famous friends in a little bathroom humor. An online spoof with a very serious message gone viral.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's easy for me, I have never gone to the bathroom in my entire life.
DAMON: And remember, if you don't use the toilet, you're a celebrity.
VEGA: Four years ago, Damon co-founded the nonprofit Water.org, along with environmental engineer Gary White. Together they have traveled the world from Haiti to Africa to India bringing access to safe drinking water and sanitation by building wells and toilets, and even offering micro loans to some of the poorest populations.
GARY WHITE, ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER: Instead of just drilling a well and giving it for free, what we're looking at is how do we help them get access to a small loan so they can get a water connection from the local utility and become a customer.
VEGA: You're almost empowering.
DAMON: Yes, exactly. So if you actually give a loan and essentially buy their time back, right, they can connect to the water source. They can have a tap in their house and they can get those hours back to work.
VEGA: Those who benefit most? Women and girls. And for this husband and father of four daughters, that is a big deal.
DAMON: They are the ones who do the water collections. The girls are the ones who are leaving school and not going to school because their job is to fetch water for the family. So if you can get them access to the water, the outlook for that girl completely changes. Suddenly she can get an education, suddenly she can have hope for a bright future rather than a future that basically around scavenging for water to survive to the next day.
So, here's the water connection here too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, wow. Wow.
VEGA: And Damon's hope for the future? That this role as a smart philanthropist will be the biggest impact yet.
For "This Week," I'm Cecilia Vega, ABC News, Los Angeles.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Cecilia. And some welcome news, no deaths of service members in Afghanistan this week.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News with David Muir tonight. Have a great day.