'This Week' Transcript: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough

September 14, 2014 — -- Below is the rush transcript of "This Week" on September 14th, 2014. It may contain errors.

Plus, President Obama making his case to destroy the jihadist army. What does it mean for our troops, our safety? Are we really at war? This morning, answers.

Plus, breaking developments from our global team: Footbal furor. That shocking video provoking a conversation about the hidden epidemic. Domestic violent across America.

And Hawkeye bound -- Hillary's first trip to Iowa in six years. Jon Karl and our powerhouse roundtable are on the road in Iowa.

From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos begins now.

MARTHA RADDATZ, HOST: Good morning, I'm Martha Raddatz.

We begin with breaking news, another horrifying execution video released by ISIS. The victim, a husband and father, British aid worker David Haines.

We're covering all angles of the story this morning. And let's start off in the region with ABC's Alex Marquardt.

Good morning, Alex.




JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Because the bigger it is the more effective it is, the faster we can eliminate the threat.

Turkey has been the biggest gateway for foreign fighters into Syria, but wants to stay behind the scenes.

And as ISIS faces an international assault, its ranks are growing. A new CIA estimate says ISIS now has between 20,000 and 32,000 fighters.


MARQUARDT: That number is only growing by the day. And so far despite those U.S. airstrikes, ISIS has managed to hold on to most of the territory it has taken in Iraq and Syria. Even once this international coalition is finalized, the Obama's administration admits it will take years to defeat ISIS, a war that will almost certainly be handed off to the next administration -- Martha.

RADDATZ: Thanks, Alex.

More now on this horrific new video and the fallout. ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is in New York. And ABC's Hamish McDonald is in London tracking all the reaction there.

And Hamish, does this make it more likely that the British will get involved in military strikes with the U.S.?

HAMISH MCDONALD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martha, they certainly haven't committed to that formally yet, but David Cameron, the British prime minister is saying that they are ready to take whatever steps necessary as this strategy against ISIS intensifies. He's also using, really, the strongest language possible, referring to this video and the beheading as callous and brutal. He says that ISIS are the embodiment of evil and that these people are not Muslims, they are in fact monsters.

RADDATZ: And Brian, why do they continue to put these videos out? It would seem to galvanize the world against them.

BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martha, they can't attack the U.S. or Great Britain as they're composed right now. But sadly the hostages, the Americans and now the British citizen, serve as sort of stand ins, brought to their knees as if they bring the U.S. and Britain to their knees and then execute them.

These videos also have the incredible potential to recruit more fighters to come and join them. And people we've talked to this morning, military analysts say the fact that they did this out in the daylight, in the open, at a time when they knew U.S. drones are flying overhead shows they believe they can continue to operate with impunity despite the pledges by the U.S. to go after them.

RADDATZ: Thank, Brian and thanks Hamish, all of that so disturbing.

The U.S. military response so far has included dozens of airstrikes against ISIS, but will it now expand even further? How can President Obama succeed in this fight against ISIS? Let's get over to the map and talk military tactics with General James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He's been right there, a key player involved in advising the president on these big decisions and helping to carry them out. He also trained as a fighter pilot. So he knows all the angles of an air campaign.

General Cartwright, we do believe this will expand the strategy. It includes not just Iraq and more airstrikes, but going into Syria. How will that work?

JAMES CARTWRIGHT, FRM. VICE CHAIRMAN JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Well, essentially, Martha, when we think about ISIS they're not small groups like you'd see in Yemen or Somalia or places like that -- shoe bombers, underwear bombers, things like that. They are not quite military either. So they're somewhere in between.

So what they have done is they have moved south out of SyriaÉ

RADDATZ: All those yellow dots.

CARTWRIGHT: Down the Tigris and Euphrates, which are the green rivers here, and captured places associated with these yellow dots.

And what they're doing is they're basically taking control of the water -- the dams, the ability to flow south, creating the opportunity for a stranglehold on Baghdad.

RADDATZ: So what does the U.S. strike and how do they go into Syria?

CARTWRIGHT: So, what we're probably going to do, and I don't know for sure, and I doubt anybody does, but in Syria we'll probably be looking for targets that are associated with logistics, their ability to resupply the forces -- ISIS's ability to resupply the forces down south in Iraq., flowing down along these river lines -- going after training areas, ammunition dumps, any place where there's a large aggregation of these forces.

When you move south, then the targets will change. In the south, what we'll be looking for is supporting the Iraqi forces, in particular, and giving them air cover so they can maneuver.

RADDATZ: And where do we come out of? I know one of the things in the last time the U.S. considered bombing Syria, they were standoff weapons, those missiles fired from submarines, or ships, they didn't have to go into Syrian airspace.

Let's look at the map on the basing around here. Does this look like the places thoseÉ

CARTWRIGHT: These are reasonable opportunities -- it'll depend on where we get permission. We can always fly from the sea from the carriers. The standoff missiles can fly in, but they've got to fly through somebody's airspace. So we have to have permission for them, too.

So it's going to be a question of who are our allies, who is going to allow us to operate, and where we'll operate from, including Iraq.

RADDATZ: And if we go over Syrian airspace -- risky?

CARTWRIGHT: Riskier, but not abnormally risky. In other words, they have the capability. It's been worn down. It's generally associated with poor maintenance and poor operations, but you also always have to treat it as if it's capable.

RADDATZ: Let's just go back to that other map for a moment and just quickly, General, is this something that will destroy ISIS? Is this a strategy to destroy ISIS?

CARTWRIGHT: The only way we can think about destroying ISIS in this particular strategy is that the forces on the ground will have to do the destroying. And we'll provide the air cover and the ability to allow them to maneuver, give them protection, but an air campaign alone probably will not destroy it.

RADDATZ: Thanks very much, General Cartwright, for joining us. The fight against ISIS is also setting up some critical political questions this morning. Does the president need congressional approval for his new military plan? And would he get it? ABC's Jeff Zeleny is tracking the latest from Capitol Hill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know there's a lot of people around here say they don't want to deal with it before the election. Are you kidding me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell the American people the truth, Mr. President.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a counter terrorism mission.

JEFF ZELENY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The uncertain politics of the ISIS debate coming to a boil on Capitol Hill. The sharpest skepticism from President Obama's closest Democratic allies like Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.

Why do you think it's a mistake for the president not to be asking for congressional authority here?

SEN. TIM KAINE, (D) VIRGINIA: It's congress that declares war, congress that initiates war. If we're going to ask people to risk their lives, then we've ought to be willing to do the work to reach a political consensus that the mission is worth it.

ZELENY: The president insists he can order airstrikes in Syria without congressional approval. But it's this request sparking the most debate.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Give us additional authorities, and resources, to train and equip these fighters.

ZELENY: Concerns about arming Syrian rebels go well beyond the $500 million price tag, with questions of just who these fighters are and who they're loyal to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to pick a side, or try to pick a side and same as we did when we went into Iraq, same as we've done in Afghanistan, and that hasn't worked well for us.

ZELENY: It's blurring partisan lines, with Republicans showing rare signs of backing the White House.

(on camera): Is this being rushed through too quickly?

Shouldn't there be more of a debate?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is a very serious issue and it ought to be handled that way. And, frankly, we ought to give the president what he's asking for.

ZELENY (voice-over): Democrats aren't so sure. Senator Mark Begich is facing a tough reelection bid in Alaska.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is at it again.


ZELENY: His constituents worry about the cost and fear the U.S. will slip into another long war.

SEN. MARK BEGICH (D), ALASKA: They're concerned that we would once again get engaged in a quagmire there and pick up the tab for who knows what over the long-term.

ZELENY: The challenge for the White House is getting enough jittery Democrats on board without scaring off Republicans.

For THIS WEEK, Jeff Zeleny, ABC News, Capitol Hill.


RADDATZ: Let's take on all of this now with White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough.

Mr. McDonough, let me start right away and ask you whether we have identified the executioner in those videos.

DENIS MCDONOUGH, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I don't have any particular news or analysis on that for you this morning, Martha.

But obviously we're doing everything we can to find that out and everything we can to con -- continue to keep the heat on ISIL.

RADDATZ: Do you think this will mean that the British will now join in airstrikes with the U.S.?

Does it strengthen the coalition?

MCDONOUGH: We obviously underscored to stand side -- shoulder to shoulder with our ally and our close friend, the UK. Exactly what form that takes, it is going to be something that will develop over the next (INAUDIBLE).

RADDATZ: Do you have anyone at this point, any countries who say, yes, we will join you in military action and not just support?

MCDONOUGH: Right. And you'll hear more about this from Secretary Kerry, who has obviously been in the region and been working this. He'll be testifying in Congress later this week and he'll have news on that.

RADDATZ: The administration seems to be a bit confused about what to call this action.

Let -- let's listen to this.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're engaged in a counter-terrorism operation.

And I think war is the wrong reference term.

JOSH EARNEST, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The United States is at war with ISIL in the same way that we are at war with al Qaeda and it's al Qaeda affiliates.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We know we are at war with ISIL in the same way we are at war and continue to be at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates.


RADDATZ: That sounds like some talking points there.

Are we at war?

Why is war the wrong reference...

MCDONOUGH: Well, the...

RADDATZ: -- term according to John Kerry?

MCDONOUGH: Well, this isn't talking points. This is obviously very serious business. And you heard what -- both what John Kirby and Josh Earnest and then Secretary Kerry. You'll hear more from him, I'm sure, as well.

We believe that just as we have been at war with al Qaeda since the day we got here, we are at war with ISIL.

And what does that mean?

That means that we are going to use our unique capabilities in support of others on the ground, other Sunni in Iraq. We're going to be obviously supporting the Iraqi security forces and in Syria, we'll be supporting, with air power, the Syrian opposition that's on the ground now.

RADDATZ: I want to point to an editorial cartoon that takes on your notion of no boots on the ground, soldiers saying they're changing into golf shoes because of what the president said. Yet you will have 1,600 troops there. You've made it very clear they will not engage in combat.

But what is not clear is how you plan on destroying 30,000 ISIS fighters without U.S. combat troops on the ground.

MCDONOUGH: Well, nobody knows this region better than you, Martha. And, obviously, you've been investing all of your own time in that effort over the course of this last many years.

And we've learned a lot of lessons from that.

And so what we want to make sure happens is that we have committed partners who can take the fight to ISIL on the ground. And they will have not only support from us from the air, but they'll also have training and equipment support from us.

RADDATZ: And yet, Mr. McDonough, what I've seen -- and I have been there a lot -- is those Iraqi forces ran the last time they were confronted by ISIS. They split apart and disappeared. We trained them for eight years and it didn't seem to works.

Why do you think that will work now?

MCDONOUGH: There's no question that one of the reasons that that happened was the intense sectarian nature of Iraqi politics over the course of the last many years. That's why the president was very discerning and very prudent in the use of our air power, notwithstanding pressure to do more than he did early in this summer, because he thought the first and most important thing we could do was to make sure that there was a new prime minister in Iraq.

There is a new prime minister, that there's a new multi-ethnic government in -- in Baghdad. There is now a new multi-ethnic government in Baghdad.


MCDONOUGH: They will support a unified capable multi-ethnic Iraqi force so that they can take this fight to ISIL.

RADDATZ: Just -- just very quickly...

MCDONOUGH: -- ultimately, they -- they need to do it for their success as well as ours.

RADDATZ: Just very quickly, Mr. McDonough, is there a limit to how many U.S. troops you will send to Iraq?

MCDONOUGH: I -- yes, I'm not in a position right now to tell you limits one way or the other.

Here's what we will do. We will be very candid with the American people, as the president has been. We will work very closely and consult with Congress on this effort. And we believe that we have the right strategy that the president laid out for the country on Wednesday night, to make sure that we degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.

RADDATZ: Thanks very much for joining us, Mr. McDonough.

MCDONOUGH: Thanks, Martha.

RADDATZ: Let's get instant analysis now from our experts.

Colonel Steve Ganyard is an ABC News contributor. He's a former Marine Corps fighter pilot and State Department official who's helped explain so much to us over the years.

And Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl was a top Army strategist, also a commander on the ground in Iraq. He co-authored the military's counterinsurgency manual with General David Petraeus.

And let me start with you, John Nagl.

You heard what Dennis McDonough said about the Iraqi forces. He said they will -- the Iraqi government will support a unified, capable, multi-ethnic Iraqi force so they can take this force to ISIS.

Are they capable of doing that, those Iraqi forces?

You helped train them.

LT. COL. JOHN NAGL (RET.), U.S. ARMY: I did help train them and they're not ready yet. And -- and I'm afraid they're not going to be for a while.

If we're going to move -- make this thing happen any time soon, we're going to need American Special Forces A-Teams on the ground in combat advising those guys, not just in training camps, but on the ground. That's the -- I believe, the key weakness of this strategy right now.

RADDATZ: And Steve Ganyard, the -- the president has said -- said in his speech, that this effort is more of a counterterrorism effort. He talked about Yemen. He talked about Somalia.

Is it different than that?

STEVE GANYARD, ABC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think we have a bit of a strategic mismatch here, because ISIS is not al Qaeda, ISIS is not a terrorist group. They present only a low level threat to the homeland. The Department of Homeland Security says they are not a threat at this point.

So they may be barbarians and they are very much barbarians, but they are not a terrorist group. They have 30,000 to 50,000 men under arms. They have tanks, they have artillery. They're much more a conventional threat.

You know, in war, the first principle of war is to understand the enemy you're facing and to make sure you understand the war you're about to undertake. I think there's a real strategic mismatch on both counts by calling this a counterterrorist strategy.

RADDATZ: There's been a lot of talk, Colonel Ganyard, about is this war, is this not war, is it counterterrorism.

Does it matter what you call it?

GANYARD: I think what we call things matter. It really does, because the strategy that you would concoct for a counterterrorism re--- strategy, which the White House did a very good job of outlining, is very different from what you would have with a more conventional force, which I think ISIS is. I think if this strategy addressed ISIS for what it really is, rather than the White House what it wants it to be, I think we'd have a much better chance of success in the near term.

RADDATZ: John Nagl, people are already talking about mission creep. And we have, indeed, seen the mission change in Iraq. Originally, it was to protect Americans and infrastructure. Now they're going after a much broader group of targets and possibly into Syria.

Do you see this as mission creep?

It seems like every conflict starts this way and then it gradually moves to something else.

NAGL: Well, the -- the last Iraq War, of course, didn't start this way. This is going in the other direction. I do think that the goals the president has outlined are correct. We are at war. But it's going to take a much bigger effort than he has described to date to win this war in any kind of reasonable time, to get the Middle East together and to keep Americans safe.

So I don't think it's mission creep, I think the president has understated what it's going to take to accomplish the objectives he correctly laid out -- destroying ISIL.

RADDATZ: And, quickly, Colonel Ganyard, how long do you think this will take?

GANYARD: I think we can do a lot of good work with air power, Martha, in the next couple of months. I think we've stabilized the situation in Iraq. But at the end of the day, this is a sectarian civil war within Islam and only Islam can solve it.

RADDATZ: Thanks to you both.

Up next, the ISIS threat to the homeland -- how real is it?

Plus, Hillary Clinton about to hit the trail in Iowa. Jonathan Karl and the powerhouse roundtable are there, too.

And later, the NFL in crisis -- the new pressure and investigation Commissioner Roger Goodell faces this morning.

Plus, Ray Rice makes his first public appearance since that disturbing video was released.

Back in just two minutes.


RADDATZ: Now our closer look. The beheading of the British aid worker and the two American journalists makes it clear that ISIS has become a threat to Westerners in the Middle East. But whether that threat extends to the homeland is the subject of debate.


RADDATZ: With U.S. airstrikes pounding targets and slowing the advance of ISIS in Iraq, it was easy to think ISIS could be contained overseas. But it was the secretary of defense himself who gave this alarming warning.

CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: So, yes, they are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it's in Iraq or anywhere else.

RADDATZ: Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey added to those concerns.

MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: If they were to achieve that vision, it would fundamentally alter the face of the Middle East and create a security environment that would certainly threaten us in many ways.

RADDATZ; But those frank statements created an urgency that the White House did not want. Top administration officials began walking the statements back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the homeland of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In our view, any threat to the U.S homeland from these types of extremists is likely to be limited in scope and scale.

RADDATZ: Instead of the imminent threat, which Hagel warned about, the White House now says it is a potential threat.

Whether it is potential or imminent, the threat from ISIS is resonating across the country. A poll this week showing 90 percent of Americans believe ISIS poses a serious threat to the United States.


RADDATZ: And more now on the threat there at home. Daniel Benjamin served as ambassador at-large and counterterrorism coordinator for the State Department in the Obama administration, and John Cowen was counterterrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland security until just two months ago. And you saw the ISIS threat emerge.

And as we are coming on the air, there is a flight from Geneva to Beirut, which has been escorted by fighter jets to land in Rome, because some of the baggage didn't match the passengers. It really does show you how tense things are right now.

So, John Cowen, you were most recently in Department of Homeland Security, how serious do you think the threat is to the homeland?

JOHN COWEN, FRM. HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR: It's a very serious threat. Obviously, as you've seen from earlier parts of the show, ISIS as an organization poses a significant threat to U.S. interests in the region. But what's different is that we have thousands of westerns from Europe from the United States from Canada traveling to the region, becoming more extreme in their ideology, becoming better trained, becoming linked with these extremist organizations, and that is why this situation is different than situations we've dealt with in the past.

RADDATZ: And Dan Benjamin, you have said this week that you think the threat is slightly exaggerated.

DAN BENJAMIN, FRM. STATE DEPARTMENT COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR: I do think the threat has been exaggerated a bit domestically. I think it's important to remember that we have spent billions and billions of dollars in proving our intelligence collection and our homeland security capability since 9/11. And I think that we can deal with the threat -- I think it's also important to remember that in 2003 and after, we had a fair number of foreign fighters, not as many as we have now, doing into Iraq, going into Afghanistan.

And while it's important to worry about them and to guard against them coming home and causing trouble, we did not have a serious foreign fighter problem at home after, you know, a major war in Iraq and a major war in Afghanistan.

RADDATZ: But John Cowen, I want to turn to you. And we talk about the person in the basement being radicalized. And you won't know anything will happen until they emerge and possibly carry out an attack.

How do you fight that?

COWEN: We fight it at the community level.

The difference with this situation is that we have serious intelligence gaps in Syria and in that region. We also do not have the same types of capabilities we have in other parts of the world to address threats that may be emanating from within Syria and that part of the world.

What we also have is a concerted effort, a very sophisticated effort by ISIS and other groups in Syria to inspire or recruits westerners. As you pointed out, in some cases it may mean traveling to the country to engage in the conflict. And we've already had several Americans who have conducted lethal attacks. In other cases, it may mean people leaving there and carrying out lethal attacks as well as we saw in Brussels.

RADDATZ: And Dan Benjamin, quickly if you will, why is this jihadi message resonating, do you think?

BENJAMIN: Well, it's resonating right now, because ISIS has done what it's predecessor groups had failed, and that is it's holding territory. It seems to be on a role, it seems to be succeeding. That's part of it.

I think part of it is also the attraction of a sectarian fight in the Middle East. And I think that, you know, we often view this as being about us. We have a bad history of thinking it's all about us as we did in Vietnam, as we did in thinking that Saddam Hussein was going to be a threat to us when he was trying to keep his own people cowed and subservient.

This is very much about what is going on in the region. I do think we have to worry about the long-term. I do think we have to worry about the self-radicalized at home, the Fort Hood shooter is the most likely outcome right now.

But this is really about a conflict in the region.

RADDATZ: And one that will be going on for a very long time, thank to you both.

Now, all eyes on Iowa. Hillary Clinton set to make her first visit in nearly seven years. And my colleague Jonathan Karl is there -- Jon.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Martha. This field will be the center of the political universe later today. We'll tell you why both Bill and Hillary Clinton will be here. But first, our powerhouse roundtable's big winners of the week.

Back in just two minutes.


KARL: We're back here in Indianola where later today Hillary Clinton will make what looks like her first unofficial foray into 2016 at the annual Harkin’s Steak Fry. This is her first appearance in Iowa in nearly seven years. So why did she choose this moment and this event to make her big return to Iowa? We talk to the man who started the steak fry 42 years go: retiring Senator Tom Harkin.


KARL (voice-over): It's an Iowa institution, the annual cookout and fundraiser that's been bringing out the biggest names in Democratic politics for years.

(on camera): I mean you've had just about every Democrat who's had a serious shot at president come by here over the last quarter century.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. We've had them all. Some made it and some didn't. Well, most didn't, obviously.

KARL: Yes, most didn't.



KARL (voice-over): And today's event marks Mrs. Clinton's biggest foray yet into 2014 politics, as Bill and Hillary get ready to hit the stump in key midterm races.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wants to focus on 2014.

KARL: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how we can keep the Senate and elect some key people around the country. So I -- she's -- she's going to be out there worker hard.

KARL: So I -- I mean we're going to see them out more than the president for the actual candidates, right?

I mean the president is doing a lot of fundraising, but he's not very much in demand for a lot of these races.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think that's -- that's, yes, that's -- that's the correct observation. That's right.

KARL (voice-over): The Clintons say their visit here is all about their friendship with Senator Harkin, who's retiring after 40 years in Congress, and not about 2016.

But don't tell that to the Ready For Hillary super PAC, with their already well traveled campaign bus. To them, Mrs. Clinton's 2016 run has already started.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The organization which is, of course, several million people, very much would like her to run, and if she chooses to, she's got an army ready to stand with her.

KARL: When Mrs. Clinton stood here at the 2007 steak fry, she seemed invincible. But when Iowa Caucusgoers gathered four months later, the one-time frontrunner finished a disappointing third. Liberals upset about her support for the Iraq War had found somebody else to rally around.

Now, Mrs. Clinton is once again looking unbeatable. But some Democrats still have their doubts.

(on camera): Are some progressives are a little uneasy with Hillary Clinton?

I mean is she going to be too hawkish on foreign policy?

Is she going to be too moderate on economic issues?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're always nervous about -- about people moving too far to the right. See we -- a lot of us believe the center ought to be moved back, that -- the that center has moved too far right.

KARL: So where is Hillary on that (INAUDIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't know. I mean I think this is something that will be developed and we'll find out when she -- if -- when and if she decides to run. You know, what's her vision for America?

KARL: So you still have real questions about where she stands on those central issues?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do everybody, you know. Again, I must be frank with you, I thought Barack Obama was a great progressive and a great populist and -- and quite frankly, I haven't -- some things that has happened that I haven't agreed with.

KARL (voice-over): And as the campaign bus revs up, she's not the only Democratic star coming here. Vice President Joe Biden heads to Iowa on Wednesday. And even ultra liberal Senator Bernie Sanders is making three stops of his own in The Hawkeye State this weekend.

(on camera): Is Iowa ready for Hillary?

Are Democrats ready for Hillary?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think the answer is that Iowa and America does not want to anoint anybody. I think what the American people clearly want to see is a major debate on the important issues facing the working families and the middle class of this country and not say, oh, here's your crown, take the nomination.

KARL: And we're joined now by two political pros who are no strangers to Iowa, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and ABC News political analyst, Matthew Dowd.

Thank you both for joining us here in Iowa, right outside Indianola.

So I have to ask you, Matthew, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign really came apart right here in Iowa.

Is there any chance that she could hit a road block here again?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you're right, this was -- she was the dominant candidate going into that race and Barack Obama won this, won Iowa. She finished third. And it basically began the end of her campaign, she was supposed to win it.

I don't think that's her problem. I don't -- I think she's going to be overly prepared if she decides to win and overly prepared here, because she won't let that happen.

She's got bigger issues, I think, that she's going to have to face with, one of which is the guy that beat her in Iowa the first time, which is Barack Obama. She has to run, if she runs, under the understanding that Barack Obama has been president for eight years and people want to may take a different turn.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, she came in close third. I mean she lost, but she rebounded in New Hampshire.

The problem here, of course, is that many people thought that she ran a national campaign when, in a state like this, you have to really run a retail campaign. You have to go where people live, where they work, where they eat and where they pray. You've got to talk to them, look them in the eye.

If she decides to run in 2016, she has to basically get here and stay here so that people can get to know her once again.

KARL: But does she have to find some way to distinguish herself from Barack Obama?

I mean the only thing she's done so far, really, is on foreign policy, suggesting she would have been a little more hawkish on -- on Syria.

But is that going to play?

I mean are we going to see a little bit of that anti-war tradition here in Iowa?

BRAZILE: I think it's important that she not come here as -- as a hawk, I mean a Washington nerd. People really want to know your values, what you stand for. And I think she can define her own values, her own vision of the country, the country's future, without stumbling into trying to figure out where she went wrong. This is not about her looking back, but the country looking forward.

DOWD: John, she does have to handle two -- it's going to be, at that point, one former president and one about to be former president, which is her husband, how does she handle that dynamic?

And then how does she handle Barack Obama, who is likely to be in the low 40s or maybe high 30s on job approval?

That's going to be the biggest thing. I think, actually, her foreign policy stand and the fact that she's a hawk is problematic both for a primary and then in a general election at a time when the country, the majority of the country doesn't want to have military action around the world.

KARL: Well, take a look at what Rand Paul said on this. It's very interesting. He says, "If you want to see a transformational election in our country, let the Democrats put forward a hawk like Hillary Clinton and you'll see a transformation like you've never seen."

I mean it could be striking. You could obviou -- actually have a presidential race where you'd actually have a more dovish isolationist -- he won't like that term, but -- but certainly less interventionist candidate on the Republican side and a more hawkish candidate on the Democratic side.

DOWD: There's going to be a fascinating part of this, because I still think foreign policy is going to be as much of a discussion than any presidential election we'd see. And if Rand Paul was the nominee and Hillary Clinton, it would be, for the first time, we would have a real conversation about the use of the military around the world and what really is our foreign policy vision. And we haven't had that in 25 years.


KARL: Donna, you haven't mentioned the name Joe Biden. Is going to be here in Iowa next week.


KARL: Just tell me, is he going to run?

BRAZILE: Well, look, Vice President Biden is an incredible force, not just in the Democratic Party, but in the country, there's no question.

KARL: Is he going to run for president?

BRAZILE: Well, I'm not here to say who will run and who will not run, but...

KARL: What do you think?

What's the Donna Brazile gut say?

BRAZILE: My gut says that Joe Biden is interested in seeking the presidency again.


DOWD: I think every one of those guys...

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

DOWD: -- like Joe Biden, they're all waiting for the big domino to fall, which is Hillary Clinton. And if she decides not to run, they know they have to be prepared. So the big domino has to fall first.

KARL: All right, we've got to take a quick break.

When we come back, we'll take apart the Senate race -- a key Senate race right here in Iowa.

But first, our Powerhouse Puzzler. "The Star-Spangled Banner" is celebrating its 200th anniversary. It was written, of course, 1814.

When did it become the national anthem?

The answer from our roundtablers, when we return.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like I was trying to say, I was a woman but...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- being a sports journalist, it's like...


KARL: Now for the answer to our Powerhouse Puzzler, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is celebrating its 200th anniversary, but what year did it become the national anthem?


BRAZILE: 1876.

DOWD: I'll say 1918.

KARL: 1931.

We'll be right back.



KARL (voice-over): Back now with our "Politics Buzz Board," kicking it off here in Iowa where the race for the Senate is a dead heat.



KARL: A new poll shows Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst neck and neck to replace retiring Democrat Tom Harkin. Iowa could decide control of the Senate and Democrats are calling in the big guns, Michelle Obama.

The first lady hits the trail next month bringing star power, but not her husband's low approval rating, just 38 percent in Iowa.

And time for our weekly check-in with the folks at FiveThirtyEight. They give Democrat Braley a 55 percent chance of winning the seat, putting Republican chances of taking over the Senate at 59 percent, down 3 points from last week.


KARL: All right. Back with our "Roundtable," Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd. We're here in Iowa. This Senate race, Bruce Braley, Joni Ernst, the motorcycle-driving Republican who likes to spend time in the firing range. This could actually be the race that determines control of the Senate.

DOWD: If you take a look at the 10 or 12 key races in this election, and you go down the list, this is the race to me that's the tipping point race. Tell me which race -- if you ask me what race on election night will determine who takes the Senate, whether the Democrats keep it or the Republicans take it, Iowa is it. And if the Republicans take Iowa, they're taking the Senate back.

BRAZILE: Well, I think Congressman Braley is a strong candidate with a very inspiring story. Look, he got off to a very slow start. But he has big shoes to fill in Tom Harkin's -- being Tom Harkin's replacement.

I think this race will come down to the women's vote. And if he's able to capture the women's vote and get a real good turnout, I think there's a narrow path to victory for him.

KARL: This race also had what may be the gaffe of the cycle, when Bruce Braley, the Democrat, was speaking about the other senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, and dismissed him as just a farmer without a law degree.

That piece of tape, hidden camera tape, just like the 47 percent tape, I mean, is that the most important piece of tape of this cycle potentially?

DOWD: It's obviously very problematic in Iowa to insult somebody for being a farmer. You combine that with what Donna was talking about, there is a big wave that Democrats (ph) have -- are trying to figure out how to blunt in some ways.

They know they're going to lose Senate seats. They know they're going to lose House seats. But how many can they prevent themselves from losing? And those kinds of gaffes do not help them.

BRAZILE: Well, she hasn't helped herself, I mean, by closely associating herself with Sarah Palin. That was good in the Republican primary, but in the general election in a state like this, that might not work to her advantage.

KARL: OK. Now Tom Harkin told me that he expects he will see a lot more of the Clintons on the campaign trail than the Obamas. Now you do have Michelle Obama coming here to Iowa. But what kind of a factor is Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, what kind of factor are they going to be out there?

BRAZILE: Think about the key states that the Democrats need in order to retain control of the Senate: Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, they not only speak the language, they understand the lingo.

I mean, people -- the candidates right now are requesting the Clintons because they are popular in those states. So it's very important that the Clintons campaign in those states.

But, look, President Obama will also be out there to mobilize the base voters as well as get out some of those young voters that turned out for him two years ago.

KARL: But we're not going to see President Obama in these key Senate races.

DOWD: No, I think you -- it's almost again like George W. Bush. You didn't see George W. Bush in any -- really any races...

KARL: In 2006.

DOWD: ... in 2006. And you didn't really see him show up in the 2008 presidential election. You saw George Herbert Walker Bush more than President Bush.

KARL: All right. Let's take a look at our "Facebook Find of the Week."


KARL (voice-over): And now to our "Facebook Find of the Week." Trending right now, what's burning up news feeds: from Tina Fey as Sarah Palin...

TINA FEY, "SARAH PALIN": And I can see Russia from my house.

KARL: To Jay Pharoah as President Obama.

JAY PHAROAH, "BARACK OBAMA": I'm aloof. I'm overcome.

KARL: I love watching "SNL" tear up the campaign trail, but could these political comedy skits become illegal? Senator Ted Cruz says yes if supporters of campaign finance reform get their way.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Lorne Michaels could be put in jail under this amendment.

KARL: In its Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court allowed unlimited corporate contributions to campaigns, calling it free speech. But this week Democrat Tom Udall pushed a constitutional amendment to change that.

It would allow Congress and states to restrict campaign spending. Cruz helped block the bill, claiming those rules could limit corporate-owned TV networks from political speech like comedy skits.

Democrats say Cruz is way off base. So would campaign finance changes really kill campaign comedy? And is the Citizens United decision here to stay? Let's take a look on our "Facebook Find of the Week."


KARL: All right. Well, I don't think anybody is going to be outlawing "Saturday Night Live" skits regardless of what happens, but how big a factor is outside money in this race compared to where we were in 2010?

BRAZILE: There will be several million dollars spent over the next five weeks as the candidates try to solidify the votes. This is going to be the most expensive midterm on record.

I mean, we saw a billion dollars in a presidential year. You're looking at close to a billion dollars in a midterm election. There's no reason why we should have this kind of money in elections.

DOWD: The problem with all of this campaign finance reform stuff that we see is every time they pass some campaign finance reform to fix the last problem, a new problem is created in the midst of this.

For two people that have been very involved in campaigns really before all this, I don't think this is good for people that run campaigns. You lose track of the message. You lose track of any kind of mechanics (ph) you can do.

And all this outside money complicates everything and confuses voters. I think it ought to go, but it looks like it's here to stay.

KARL: But you wouldn't favor a constitutional amendment on this, would you?

BRAZILE: I would.

DOWD: I would actually favor some system to get a lot of the ads that we see off the air. I don't think for free press you can sort of ban this. And, again, campaign finance reform is we've been change, change, change, and we keep coming up with new things.

BRAZILE: This is a grassroots movement and it will not end simply because the Senate Republicans voted to stop it.

KARL: All right. Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd here in Indianola, Iowa, thank you very much.

Martha, back to you.

RADDATZ: Thanks, Jon.

Coming up, the NFL in crisis, back in just 30 seconds.


RADDATZ: That is former NFL star Ray Rice in his first public appearance since the release of that graphic video of him punching his then-fiance. That video shining a new light on the hidden crisis of domestic violence.

Here's Pierre Thomas.


DONNA, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVOR: He came behind me and hit me upside my head. I fell out, blood was coming out of my head profusely. I had a black eye, which, if you look closely, I still have that ring up around my eye. I had my head busted open. I had 15 stitches in my head.

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's what Donna's husband did to her. She keeps this photo as a reminder of what she endured.

DONNA: The abuse never stopped. If it wasn't physical, it was verbal. If it wasn't verbal, it was emotional. It was horrific.

THOMAS: Domestic abuse, it's America's dark secret usually happening behind closed doors, hidden. But this week, the country saw what domestic violence looks like up close and personal with that shocking video of NFL player Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiance.

Domestic violence, put simply, is a chronic national epidemic. Peg Hacskaylo runs a shelter for battered women in our nation's capital.

PEG HACSKAYLO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DISTRICT ALLIANCE FOR SAFE HOUSING: We get a whole range of injuries from the survivors that are coming in. If they're coming to us from the hospital, they may have open wounds, they may have broken limbs.

THOMAS: According to the Justice Department in 2012, nearly 665,000 women were victims of domestic violence. That's 75 women every hour. For this problem, ground zero is every town, every city. In the D.C. area...

KARMA COTTMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, D.C. COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: The local domestic violence shelters here served over 30,000 domestic violence survivors last year.

THOMAS (on camera): Thirty thousand?

COTTMAN: Thirty thousand.

THOMAS (voice-over): But despite the stunning level of violence, 70 percent of domestic violence cases don't end in prosecutions, as victims choose not to press charges and stay in violent relationships.

DONNA: When the police came, I still protected him.

THOMAS (on camera): And that was because you loved him.

DONNA: I did love him, very much. In your heart you do believe that the person that is supposed to love and protect me, would not hurt me in this way.

THOMAS: Donna's abuse ended only after prosecutors moved on without her cooperation and her husband was convicted.

Another domestic abuse victim, Tiffany, said fear, layers of pain and self-doubt must be overcome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to want out. And you have to love yourself more, more than loving your abuser.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm getting so much better now because I've realized that it doesn't have anything to do with me.

THOMAS: In a shift, some cities prosecutors and police are aggressively pursuing cases, even when the victims don't cooperate.

High Point, North Carolina is one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the victim is continuing to be psychologically abused, if not physically abused, and that person just cannot be responsible for the prosecution, it has to be the state.

THOMAS: The FBI is encouraging police to do the basics, like take photographs of victim injuries, find more witnesses. Those tactics apparently do work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the five years before we began this, we had 17 domestically related homicides. In the five years since, we've only had one.

THOMAS: A glimmer of hope amidst the tragedy of domestic violence, which claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 women in 2012.

Were you willing to stay with him at that point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I probably would have stayed, being honest, yes.

THOMAS: And you might be dead.


THOMAS: For This Week, Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.


RADDATZ: Our thanks to Pierre.

Joining us now, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal who has worked on issues of domestic violence as the attorney general in Connecticut and in the Senate, and USA Today's Christine Brennan is an ABC News contributor. She interviewed Roger Goodell this week.

But senator, I want to start with you. That was such a moving piece. You heard those astonishing figures. How do you change the attitudes about this? How do you get more cases prosecuted?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: As a former prosecutor, Martha, I know how difficult these cases are. And this Ray Rice incident could really be a turning point, because this exception where we have a video mostly this crime it is a crime, occurs behind closed doors surrounded by stigma, shame secrecy, could be a real opportunity that we need to seize from congress and from the NFL to do more.

RADDATZ: Christine, I assume you agree with that.


I think this is a watershed moment, or could be, Martha, especially, if the NFL moves ahead on this.

And as we know sports takes us to these national conversations. Something horrible, so terrible as this, could end up having a very good result.

RADDATZ: You talk to Commission Goodell as we said. He told you in no uncertain terms they didn't have the second video until last Sunday. Do you believe him? Or should he resign?

BRENNAN: Well, I have to believe him right now as a journalist. That's what he told me. I think if it comes out, Martha, that he did not, that Roger Goodell did know and did see it before then, that would mean he lied and then he would have to resign. Otherwise, I do think he'll survive.

RADDATZ: And we've got Adrian Peterson this week -- the Adrian Peterson case -- where he was arrested for using a switch on his 4-year-old child.

BRENNAN: Another story -- I mean, this is the NFL's worst nightmare. I think this is the biggest scandal we have ever seen in U.S. sports.

RADDATZ: And do you believe Goodell should resign? Should they just clean the slate?

BLUMENTHAL: If Roger Goodell lied, as a lot of people believe he did, because the security apparatus of the NFL is so competent and well experienced that for them to not have known about this tape seems incredible, he should go. He should go if he lied.

But here's the more important point, Martha, regardless who runs the NFL, it ought to be making a serious commitment -- stronger penalties, six game suspension is way too lenient. And equally important resources, funding for domestic survivor groups: violence ought to be met with better services. And the congress has an obligation there, too, to do better and do more.

RADDATZ: And, Christine, very quickly women, 45 percent of the fans now are women, big money source. Will women forgive?

BRENNAN: You know, they really shouldn't. This is a time for the NFL to have to say it's sorry. But it will be interesting to see the reaction over the next few weeks as these stories continue to grow, whether women fans who, as you said, spend a lot of money on the league. If they start to show with their pocketbook how angry they are.

RADDATZ: Thank you so much to you both for your perspectives. We'll be right back after this from our ABC stations.


RADDATZ: Now our Sunday Spotlight. President Obama closed his speech this week with these words, "god bless our troops and the United States of America," echoing those of so many presidents before him.


RADDATZ: We have seen our towers fall, our warships attacked, our embassies crumble and our presidents trying to exact revenge.

BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon. Today, I ordered our armed forces to strike at terrorist related facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan. We must be prepared to do all that we can for as long as we must.

RADDATZ: From the war whose cause the country rallied aroundÉ

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon. On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

RADDATZ: To one which divided the country from the start.

BUSH: My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.

RADDATZ: A danger that turned out not to exist and a war that came to define mission creep.

BUSH: The new strategy I outlined tonight will change America's course in Iraq and help us succeed in the fight against terror.

RADDATZ: It was the war that Barack Obama inherited and one he was determined to put to an end.

OBAMA: Operation Iraqi Freedom is over. This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office.

RADDATZ: But what we have learned this week in the clearest possible way is that wanting a war to end and touting success does not mean our enemies are listening.

OBAMA: My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL. May god bless our troops and may god bless the United States of America.


RADDATZ: Indeed. But some welcome news, the Pentagon did not release any names of service members killed in Afghanistan this week.

That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out world news tonight later. Have a great day.