Iran nuke negotiations: Sen. Tillis on political fallout, Chevron CEO talks oil prices

Sen. Thom Tillis responds to testimony from Kerry, Carter and Dempsey


This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," March 15, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Gaps in the Iran talks. Good morning, everyone. I'm Maria Bartiromo. Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures."

With less than two weeks before the deadline for a preliminary framework, Secretary of State Kerry now saying there are, quote, "important gaps" getting in the way of a deal with Iran. Senator Thom Tillis is on deck.

Iraqi forces pushing back ISIS into Tikrit, but new Defense Secretary Ash Carter now says the war against the terror group could expand with the U.S. targeting of its affiliates in Africa. Former Pentagon official Steven Bucci will weigh in.

And the shale revolution cutting the price of oil in half, impacting what you pay at the pump.

Could anything change that? Soon Saudi Arabia, Iran, our own government?

The CEO of Chevron on that and a lot more, as we look ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures."


BARTIROMO: Secretary John Kerry in Egypt this weekend echoing what he said last week in Paris. The purpose of the negotiations with Iran is not just to get a deal, but to get the right deal. Now he's voicing skepticism about doing that. Thom Tillis is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He joins us right now.

Senator, good to have you on the program.

SEN. THOM TILLIS, R-N.C.: Good morning, Maria.

BARTIROMO: (INAUDIBLE) out of this deal with Iran?

TILLIS: Well, look, I think we need to go back and look at the foundation. We're talking about an administration that's gotten the strategy wrong in Syria, the strategy wrong in Iraq, dangerously going down the wrong path in Afghanistan.

I don't think they're negotiating from a position of strength.  Whether it's making sure the duration of the agreement with no sunset, whether or not we have proper inspections provisions in place, it seems like at every point where the fundamentals of the deal should be in place, the administration is missing it.

BARTIROMO: How confident are you that the Congress will get to see the makings of the deal before anything is signed?

TILLIS: I thought it was remarkable that Secretary Kerry said they would bring it before the U.N. Security Council, where countries like China and Russia can assess the content of the deal but not the U.S. Senate.

There are a number of Democrats who are concerned with the potential for a bad deal. And I think those Democrats are prepared to side with Republicans to pass legislation that would require that review. I think it makes a lot of sense. This is beyond an agreement; this is a treaty in almost every sense of the word. And I think it should be treated that way and that's why I think the Senate should weigh in.

BARTIROMO: And so many implications of that treaty. Senator, stay with us, a lot to talk about with you this morning, particularly as it relates to ISIS.

But with crunch time fast approaching in this nuclear talk with Iran, will an effective deal be reached in less than 10 days?

FOX News senior correspondent Eric Shawn joins us live with that angle.

Eric, good morning to you.


And good morning, everyone.

Will it happen? With nine days to go before the deadline for an interim agreement, the odds still this morning seem very uncertain.  Critics say I told you so.


AMBASSADOR JOHN BOLTON: For all that's been leaked out by the administration to show what they think is good about the deal, it's very clear that we have legitimized Iran's nuclear program, and that the most likely outcome in the Middle East now, far and away the most likely, is that Iran will get nuclear weapons in the very near future.


SHAWN: A last-minute push is on in Switzerland is now on to try and bridge the remaining differences, but it still remains unclear if Iran's Supreme Leader would agree with anything, even if an agreement is reached.

Obstacles that remain include Tehran's continued blocking of full U.N. inspections of all of its facilities, and the timing of the dropping of billions of dollars of Western sanctions against Tehran.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We need a verifiable set of commitments, and we need an agreed-upon plan that obviously provides the access and the opportunity to be able to know what is happening so that you can have confidence that the program is indeed peaceful.

SHAWN: For example, Iran has blocked weapons inspectors from its Parchin military complex, the suspected site of nuclear weapons research.  While some say an imperfect deal is better than no deal at all, Kerry insists the U.S. wants what he calls the right deal, but there's growing concern there never can really be one.


KERRY: It may be that Iran simply can't say yes to the type of deal that the international community is looking for, but we owe it to the future of everybody in the world to try to find out.

SHAWN: Previous nuclear agreements have achieved a lot more than this one. In 1989 South Africa completely dismantled its nuclear weapons program including a reported six bombs.

Libya's nuclear program was also taken apart, and much of it shipped to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where it remains today.  There is no similar guarantee when it comes to Iran, which continues to insist it has right to nuclear enrichment despite six United Nations Security Council resolutions against that -- Maria.

BARTIROMO: All right, Eric, thank you very much.

Eric Shawn with the latest there. We have got more now with Senator Thom Tillis.

Senator, let me ask you about last week's Senate committee hearing weighing the more formal authorization of U.S. military action against ISIS. Interestingly, the hearing focused on ISIS and yet the issue of Iran kept coming up.

Tell us what you would like to see in terms of authorizing that military force against ISIS?

TILLIS: I think it's one of these odd situations where the president wants fewer options for a shorter period of time. We want to provide more options for a longer period of time.

The reason why Iran comes up in the discussion is they now have boots on the ground in Iraq on the ground. They're fighting side by side with Shia militia. They're in Tikrit. They could go to Kirkuk, ultimately to Mosul and a number of other places.

I think that's why you bring Iran back into the discussion. What we want to do is to provide this president and the military leadership with every option available. They'll decide whether or not they should use it.  But this is another example where the president wants to publish what he won't do and over what period of time he will do it. It makes no sense as a military strategy.

BARTIROMO: This is a very important point you're bringing up. The Iraqis have pushed back in Tikrit against ISIS and they've actually been effective. We have been talking for a long time about the Iraqis needing to have boots on the ground from their Middle Eastern neighbors, boots on the ground from their Middle Eastern friends.

And it cannot be all about the U.S. and its boots on the ground, so here we have that happening and yet the partners in the fight against ISIS are the Iranians.

How does that complicate the situation, given the fact that the Iraqis and Iranians are working together against ISIS?

TILLIS: I think it's very important. The American people need to know it's not the Iraqis as a whole, it's the Shia militia that, prior to 2011, were killing American soldiers. If we want a long-term strategy in Iraq, it can't be just the strategy that's founded on some progress that Iranians can make by aiding and assisting and advising Shia militia.

The consequences of that could potentially be pushing the Sunnis closer to ISIS and causing more problems than it solves by taking back ground. It's just another example of where the strategies in the Middle East by this administration are failing. I think the American people and Congress are become increasingly concerned.

BARTIROMO: People have to realize and understand fully what happens after this fight against ISIS, because if you have Iran heavily in Iraq because they were just fighting with the Iraqis against ISIS, what does that mean later?

What does it mean after the fight on the ground in terms of Iran having such a presence in Iraq?

TILLIS: Well, that's exactly right, Maria. You go from Tikrit to other areas within Iraq. If you don't have a strategy to ultimately allow those territories to be managed by the Iraqi national forces, you may end up creating an equally more dangerous situation than the one you supposedly removed by taking ground.

In Tikrit the most recent example. It's another example where America needs to lead and have a long-term strategy. It's clear we don't have that today.

BARTIROMO: We'll leave it there. Senator, good to have you on the program. Thank you for your insights.

TILLIS: Thank you, have a great day.

BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon. Senator Thom Tillis there.

ISIS is metastasizing, the new Defense secretary comparing the terrorist group to a cancer, and says that the U.S. is prepared to target its affiliates in places like Libya. Former Pentagon official Steven Bucci on that next.

I hope you'll follow me on Twitter @MariaBartiromo, @SundayFutures, let us know what you would like to hear from Steven Bucci coming up. We're looking ahead this morning on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES.



BARTIROMO: Welcome back. Some 20,000 Iraqi soldiers stormed into Tikrit on Wednesday. They have taken northern and southern areas of the city and are reportedly poised for a final assault against the terror group ISIS, which still holds the central half of Tikrit.

Retired Army Special Forces Colonel Steven Bucci was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld. And he joins us now. He is now the director of the Alison (ph) Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Sir, good to have you on the program. Thanks so much for your time.


BARTIROMO: So let me ask you, Steven, in terms of this fight and the idea that we are expanding the assault against ISIS, because Boko Haram has pledged loyalty to ISIS and its acceptance by ISIS is a troubling development apparently, what can you tell us the implications are of Boko Haram and ISIS getting together like this?

BUCCI: Well, Boko Haram has already been one of the most horrendous terrorist groups out there. They're Islamist in the same sense as ISIS, they've been doing the same sort of horrendous atrocities that ISIS has been doing, but they had previously established their own caliphate.

Now they are saying we're now not going to do that, we're going to swear allegiance to ISIS, giving them credit as leading the caliphate.  That's a disturbing development.

BARTIROMO: So then should it be that the fight against ISIS should be expanding two places, like Libya, and in places within Africa?

BUCCI: Well, I think we need to fight Islamist terrorism wherever it is, particularly if the groups are significantly large like Boko Haram, like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, like Al-Shabaab in Somalia, where those groups have grown and are continuing to fight, we need to address them. We cannot ignore them just because they're officially not ISIS.

BARTIROMO: How much stronger does this group now look to you with Boko Haram as ISIS' partner?

BUCCI: The specific groups, because they're not like giving each other orders or doing consolidated campaigns, they're not necessarily stronger in that sense.

But the threat is bigger, it's wider, it's more diverse. We need to work with our allies and friends, in some cases some governments that are not perfect, and work with them to try and help them fight these threats in those regional areas.

BARTIROMO: How do we do that?

What's your sense of the Iraqis working now with the Iranians in Tikrit, for example?

BUCCI: That's very concerning to me. I heard one of your previous guests mention it, the Shia militias are advised and led essentially by Iranian Quds Force commandos, who are very much like the old Soviet Spetsnaz guys -- not nice people. That's very concerning.

We should have our special forces folks in with the other non-Shia militia groups to try and make them more effective because right now we're going to run into the same problem that we saw in Syria, where the most effective fighting forces are the ones most closely aligned with the worst groups. Here on the Iraqi side the anti-ISIS side is going to end up being those Shia militias that owned by Iran. That's just not the situation we want.

BARTIROMO: So given what we know in terms of this expanded ISIS, in terms of the terrorists showing up in different areas of the world, what should this mean for the military authorization that the president is looking for to fight ISIS?

BUCCI: It cannot be so narrowly defined that we can only respond in the one place. That's really unwise. It's really sort of flying in the face of the reality that's out there. It needs to give the military a lot of options. You can make those contingent on coming back and getting additional permissions from the president and the Pentagon. You don't want them running around helter-skelter with no supervision.

But you need to have the legal authorization defined broadly enough that we don't have to have a big congressional debate every time you want to do an operation in another place.

BARTIROMO: Right. Understood.

What do you think the actual military sort of plan should look like?  We've been talking and debating boots on the ground for a long time. Now it seems the Middle Easterners have put their own boots on the ground to fight ISIS and it's been effective.

BUCCI: I've said all along it's better to let the boots on the ground be the local forces. It's their fight in the immediate sense.

That said, putting our special operations forces together with them is a step between not doing anything but airstrikes and deploying big conventional formations of American soldiers and Marines. Our SOF guys frankly don't consider themselves boots on the ground, and we probably shouldn't look at it that way, either.

They are needed there, they're needed to help the friendly forces be more effective and to make our air operations more effective. I think we're starting to put our toe in the water there, but we need to do it, state that we're doing it, and turn those guys loose.

BARTIROMO: Steven, it's good to have you on the program today.  Thanks so much.

BUCCI: Thanks for having me back.

BARTIROMO: Steve Bucci there, former Pentagon official, now with The Heritage Foundation.

So could the Iran negotiations impact what you're paying for gasoline at the pump?

How bad government regulations here at home? I'll talk with the CEO of Chevron next about that and a lot more as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." Back in a moment.



BARTIROMO: Chevron, one of the largest oil companies in the world, holding an analyst meeting in New York this week, talking about a 50 percent sell-off in the price of oil over the last year. Joining me right now is the chairman and CEO of Chevron, John Watson, to talk more about it.

John, good to see you.

JOHN WATSON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, CHEVRON: Maria, thanks for having me.

BARTIROMO: Let me start in Iran, because we've been talking about these negotiations going on between the U.S. and other superpowers, talking about a nuclear deal with Iran. What is the impact of a deal with Iran, in terms of more oil on the market, from your standpoint?

WATSON: Well, over time, if relationships were normalized and investors such as Chevron were allowed to participation in Iran, you would see more investment and you would see more oil on world markets.

One of the aspects of the world oil markets is oil comes from many locations. No country produces more than about 10 percent, and so we have a 93 million barrel a day market. It's growing about a million barrels a day per year. We have a big decline in that base production every year. And we need new sources of oil over time.

So there's no shortage of resource around the world, but we need access if we're going to develop it. In Chevron's case, our activities are elsewhere, but others might choose to invest if there were more opportunity.

BARTIROMO: I'm glad you mention that. Because most people need to recognize that the oil market is a global market. You not -- you don't just have the U.S. oil producers. You have, first of all, a shale revelation going on, which I want to get your take on. You've got Iraq producing oil. You've got Libya, where there's a civil war, producing oil. And that's one of the reasons that oil prices have gone down.

What do you think is the reason behind this 50 percent sell-off in the price of oil? Is it a supply story, all this oil, or is it a demand story, where the global economy is not doing so great?

WATSON: It's been a little bit of both. If you look a year ago, we were seeing an oil market that was pretty well in balance. But we've seen some slowness in the world economy, so estimates of demand have come down, and then we've seen a little more supply, some that came back from Libya and Iraq, but also from the shale business in the United States, and so the market's in imbalance.

And when we get markets in imbalance, prices can fall or rise very rapidly until they come back into balance. And that can take some time to adjust.

BARTIROMO: The Dallas Federal Reserve has told me that all of the jobs created since 2007 have been around the energy business. That's where the vibrancy in the world has been. So now, with oil prices down, is that where the job cuts are going to be?

WATSON: We certainly have seen a boom that's taken place in the energy business, and it came at the right time to generate jobs around this country. So it has been wonderful. Now we're seeing lower prices. And certainly you'll see some reductions in activity in our industry, but we're also seeing lower prices, which, in and of itself, stimulates the economy. Consumers have more in their pocket with lower gasoline prices; businesses have lower energy costs for natural gas, and it represents an opportunity for us.

So our industry works whether we're mitigating rising prices by investing, or, when we have to slow down, it stimulates the economy from lower prices.

BARTIROMO: And yet businesses are hoarding cash; they're not increasing CAPEX. That's another issue that we're looking at, in terms of the oil sector, because that's where the capital expenditures have been. And now we're probably going to be seeing that slow down. Is it going to impact overall broad economic growth?

WATSON: I think some of the issues that are out there are things that business leaders in my industry and outside have talked about for a long time. Tax reform -- we need tax reform to keep American business competitive. We don't need tax increases. We need reform.

And there's been bipartisan support for that, but I've seen no action. We talked about entitlement reform so that we can be sure that we'll have a balanced fiscal situation going forward. There hasn't been much activity on that front.

Regulatory -- on the regulatory side, we're seeing an avalanche of new regulations in virtually every business, include mine, and now we have the EPA, where they can't get regulations passed, they are now implementing actions unilaterally, in some cases without cost-benefit analysis. So I think those are the things that are holding back business from investing more in this country. And I hope we can address them.

BARTIROMO: We don't talk about the EPA enough. That has been one of the most onerous rule-making organizations out there, in terms of rapping up the pressure on business, and as a result, business holds back.

WATSON: Well, we've seen, for example, the new ozone standards that have been put out. Everyone wants clean air and clean water in this country. But we need to do cost-benefit analysis. The way that new standard could play out, most areas of this country, including national parks, could be a nonattainment.

In other words, we're reducing the requirements down to background levels in the air. So I think we need to just take some time and be sober about these things and make sure that we're getting the benefits we think we're going to get and that we're not getting to diminishing returns.

BARTIROMO: Does Chevron have enough exposure to the shale revolution? Talk to us about that.

And the Saudis and their strategy of not wanting to give up any market share. A lot of people think they're waiting to see what the breaking point is for the shale companies. Will the Saudis put the shale companies out of business in America?

WATSON: Oh, I don't -- I don't think they will. I think that Chevron -- we have a great position. We have a diversified portfolio, but we have a position that we think is second to none.

BARTIROMO: You're in the Permian?

WATSON: We're in the Permian; we're in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania. But what we talked about with analysts this week was our position in the Permian, 2 million acres, and we have steadily increased our estimates of production going out a few years, have steadily increased our investment.

BARTIROMO: Does it concern you that the recount is down so substantially?

WATSON: Well, I think what we'll see is those recounts fall further. Because they're -- not all shales are profitable. One of the interesting characteristics about shale is that, if you look at month one production versus month 13, on a given well, it declines about 70 percent, in many cases.


WATSON: And so the decline is very rapid. And what that will mean is markets will tend to come back into balance without additional drilling.

BARTIROMO: The last time we saw a big decline in oil, we saw a string of deals, lots of mergers. In fact, Exxon and Mobil got together during that period.

WATSON: We don't think we need to be bigger to be better. We need to be better. And we do look at opportunities to pick up leases or discovered resource or even companies at times. But that's not our focus. Maria, we have got a 20 percent growth profile over the next three years. We're working to get our projects online and realize that growth.

BARTIROMO: And of course the big LNG project in Australia. Right now, you're in the investment phase, but very soon you're going to start seeing real revenue yielded from this project?

WATSON: We will. The first of three trains of production will start up later this year, the other two next year. And we'll realize dramatic increases -- 20 percent increase overall in our production. These are world-class-size projects that go on for 40 years. And we'll realize big increases in production starting later this year.

BARTIROMO: John, great to have you on the show today.

WATSON: Thanks for having me.

BARTIROMO: Thank you so much.

John Watson is chairman and CEO at Chevron.

Up next, Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Switzerland for the latest round of Iran nuclear talks. Can he bridge the divide with his Iranian counterpart and satisfy the administration's critics on Capitol Hill, all before a critical month-end deadline?

More on that as we look ahead. Our panel is coming up on "Sunday Morning Futures."


SHAWN: A Fox News Alert. A cold case turning red hot this morning, police in New Orleans announcing the arrest of Robert Durst. He, the famous real estate heir who's being held on first degree warrant from Los Angeles County.

Durst was found not guilty in a 2000 murder trial in Galveston, Texas, after he admitted to dismembering his neighbor's body and throwing it into a waterway, he is also the subject of a current HBO series, exploring two unsolved suspected killings of two women who were close to Durst, including his wife, Kathie, and his longtime friend, Susan Berman in Los Angeles, Durst part of a well-known New York real estate family.

I'll be back with Arthel Neville at noon Eastern with more news, and then the doctors as always will be in, Drs. Segal and Samadi join us for "Sunday Housecall" two hours from now at 12:30 Eastern.

For now, I'm Eric Shawn, back to "Sunday Morning Futures" and Maria.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Eric.

Back to one of our top stories. Today Secretary of State John Kerry is now headed to Switzerland for a new round of talks with his Iranian counterpart, aimed at reaching a deal over its nuclear program, ahead of a critical deadline at the end of the month.

Mr. Kerry noted yesterday that while the two sides have made some progress, quote, "important gaps" still remain. Meanwhile Republican critics say the Obama administration is giving up way too much for the sake of making a deal.

Let's bring in our panel on this. Ed Rollins is former principal White House adviser to President Reagan. He has been a longtime strategist to business and political leaders and he's a FOX News political analyst

Judith Miller is an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. She's a Pulitzer prizewinning author and journalist and a Fox News contributor.

Jon Hilsenrath is the chief economics correspondent for The Wall Street Journal with a big meeting at the Federal Reserve next week. Jon is all over.

Good to see everybody. Thanks so much for joining us.

Let's talk about first the negotiations with Iran.

Do you sense a different tone from John Kerry at this point, Ed?

ED ROLLINS, POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: He's basically now arguing that there's nothing technically involved anymore that would diminish it.  It's really about politics at this point in time. And I think to a certain extent he underestimates the anger both among Republicans in the country in trying to do a deal here, and the question I raise, is this is a country that basically is -- produces -- number six in the production line of oil, number four on the long-term reserves.

Why does it need nuclear energy? It basically has all the energy it could possibly need other than to make the bomb.

BARTIROMO: Right. And I don't know if we know if this deal is actually stopping the enriching of uranium?

ROLLINS: I don't think it does. I think at the end of the day they've cheated every agreement they've ever made. They're bad guys.  They're basically all over the Middle East and with their warriors. And I think to a certainly extent we shouldn't reward them.


JUDITH MILLER, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: I think you just have to go back to the basics and say what is the alternative to a deal if this administration certifies it's the best we can get, that our allies like it.

If they like this deal, it's going to be impossible to take an alternative view, which is to ratchet up sanctions, which is some -- what some of the Republicans want to do. We cannot do that alone and be effective, and we cannot do a war by ourselves.

I think this deal, we've got to wait and see what it is. We are already condemning something we haven't seen. It's like reviewing a book you haven't read.


BARTIROMO: You make the right point. Last weekend we spoke with Senator George Mitchell. Mitchell made the very important point, Jon, that we can't say that the U.S. wants this, the U.S. wants this.

This is five superpowers as well as the U.S. And we have to weigh in what China wants, Russia, European countries as well.

JON HILSENRATH, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: This is what I want to ask Judy about. Because the question is, why not continue with sanctions?

My question is, what changed?

We had a sanctions regime that the whole world had bought into. Now that's held up as not being viable anymore.

Why is that the case? What happened? Is it because the United States has created an environment where it appears that there's no alternative?

MILLER: I think the difference is we have an interim agreement in place, which has really limited what Iran can do, the amount of highly enriched uranium it can make. It has given our inspectors access to places we haven't had before.

Do we lose all that and just have to rely on the sanctions -- ?


HILSENRATH: Well, why not make the argument for more sanctions until we get more of what we want and --

ROLLINS: And the -- I take issue with my friend here, once the agreement is done and we get to look at it then, it's done. The President of the United States and the secretary of state have agreed to a deal with our allies.

How do you undo the deal after it's done?

We ought to be able to see what's in the deal long before it's signed.

BARTIROMO: What about the deal we have in terms of fighting ISIS, and now the president wants new authorizations for military attacks against ISIS.

John McCain in his comments about Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey -- your thoughts on that?

ROLLINS: He basically said Dempsey was the worst chief of staff he's seen in his lifetime, he basically was very critical as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, plays a very valuable role today. There's no plan. He said repeatedly there's no plan on how to fight ISIS.  Repeatedly he's asked for it privately and publicly and it hasn't come forth and I think that's the issue.

BARTIROMO: If this is the issue, Judy, why are we trusting that everybody will be perfect with Iran in talks there, when in fact look at what we are talking about when it comes to these brutal killers, ISIS?

MILLER: I don't think we are trusting Iran, and I don't think it is - - the fact that we have no strategy. You can take issue with the strategy, and I do, and I criticize it, as does Ed and Jon, but the problem is with ISIS, you have a metastasized phenomenon. We have to fight them all over in different ways and some people feel that the president is simply not asking for enough authority, the authority he will actually need.


MILLER: To fight this group.

BARTIROMO: Why isn't he?

MILLER: Because he doesn't want to involve the United States in terms of boots on the ground in an area where the ire, the anger, the fury of Muslims will be turned against the United States. Now I take issue with that, but I think you can't say --

BARTIROMO: I take issue with it also, because the reality is the reality. We are watching what these murderers are doing.

HILSENRATH: Are we moving towards outsourcing the war against ISIS to Iran?


MILLER: Yes, we have. That's the problem with the strategy as far as I see it, but to say they don't have one I think really underestimates what they're trying to.

ROLLINS: But how absurd is it that the country that's been the unsafest (sic) country in the world since 1979, is now our ally, that we're basically paying them?

There's several stories, "The Wall Street Journal" starting with it, the data that they found when they went after and got Bin Laden is now coming forth, even though the president said Al Qaeda is dead, "The Wall Street Journal: had a great piece last week that said there was evidence that there was Al Qaeda activity.

You now see a story yesterday that the CIA money is going to basically fund Al Qaeda, whether directly it wants to or not, it's there, and I think to a certainly extent these are bad guys and ought to treat them as bad guys.

BARTIROMO: That is an amazing story. I want to get back into it and talk about what all of this means for the race for 2016 and the next president. So stay with us, guys.

Let's get a look at what's coming up at "Media Buzz" the top of the hour, Howard Kurtz standing by.

Good morning to you, Howie.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "MEDIABUZZ": Good morning, Maria.

We're going to scrutiny the Hillary email controversy and why commentators -- the Left, the middle, the Right, independent, vegetarian, are all panning her performance.

This is really interesting, how Hillary Clinton and her allies are now launching this counterattack against the press, saying it's not much of a story, it's just a media fixation, obsession, fetish and whether that can possibly work.

BARTIROMO: That's unbelievable. We're going to talk about that as a preview to your show, next.

Thanks so much, Howie, we will be there.

Republicans descending on New Hampshire this weekend, Scott Walker grabbing the headlines, commenting on Jeb Bush, sending U.S. troops to fight ISIS and a lot more. Our panel on 2016 and the road ahead, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."



BARTIROMO: Welcome back. Our panel is back, talking about the presidential race -- Ed Rollins, Judy Miller, Jon Hilsenrath -- and the headlines so far for the presidential race certainly on the Democrats' side has been the Hillary emails.

Will she be able to get through this, Ed?

ROLLINS: She'll get through it. It just reminds everybody of all the drama around the Clintons and at the end of the day they'll keep digging and it's a terrible way to start a campaign. A, she doesn't have a staff to basically function as a campaign staff would. It'll force her to get in the race much quicker. Equally important it's not going to go away. It's going to continue. If you're a diehard Republican, it gives you one more thing to hate her for. If you're a diehard Democrat, you protect her and say so on.

BARTIROMO: Do they have a bench? What if they don't have a bench?

MILLER: No. Who else? Senator -- Vice President Biden?

BARTIROMO: What about O'Malley?


ROLLINS: Nobody knows him outside of Maryland.

MILLER: -- for the people in the center of the party say she can't get elected? Where is the bench? It's pretty pathetic.

HILSENRATH: Speaking of O'Malley, his party just got kicked out of the state house.

BARTIROMO: No fewer than three Senate committees are investigating this email scandal around Hillary. They want all of the correspondence around her dealings of Libya. They want to get to the Benghazi story.

Are they going to be able to get it, Jon?

HILSENRATH: They'll certainly be looking.

I don't think they're going to get to the --

BARTIROMO: The server is in her house, Jon.

HILSENRATH: Well, I don't understand -- you probably know these rules better than I do. But I don't know see why you can't be subpoenaed by a congressional body.

But what I find interesting about this, Hillary's story, also look at the movement into the Republican primaries, is the way centrists are getting beaten up already before we've gotten into this.

Jeb Bush has not been welcomed with open arms so far in his efforts to get nominated, so we have Hillary and Jeb, who are seen by many people as centrist front-runners. They're not off to a great start.

ROLLINS: Jeb has been welcomed by the money, though. You basically say I don't want anybody to give me more than $1 million, and $2,700 is the federal limit and he's talking about raising $500 million by June, he's going to be a player.

Whether he's the nominee or not, it's a long, hard way to go. And he's going to get beat up pretty good.

BARTIROMO: Let's go through what Walker said in New Hampshire this weekend because he made a lot of statements in terms of foreign policy, in terms of economic policy and was basically the talk of New Hampshire.

What are your thoughts? What struck you about Scott Walker, Judy?

MILLER: What strikes me about him is that he's not quite ready for primetime. When you're asked a question about climate change and you respond that when you were a Boy Scout you always thought that campsites ought to be clean, you have a problem here. He's prone to gaffes. I think it will hurt him.

BARTIROMO: Ed, do you agree with that?

ROLLINS: That was three, four weeks ago, and now he's brought all your friends in from the foreign policy committee who are basically briefing him on foreign policy. Governors normally don't know anything about foreign policy. He'll get up to speed. He now is putting a first- rate team together. He will be a very viable campaign in a very short period of time. At the end of the day he'll be one of the three or four serious candidates.


MILLER: Is climate change foreign policy?


HILSENRATH: I was reading stories about how George Bush was being tutored by all the luminaries on foreign policy.

Do we want another president who needs to learn from -- ?

ROLLINS: -- George W's foreign policy people are now going to Jeb Bush, so at the end of the day maybe we want to start from scratch.


Did Obama learn foreign policy on the job?

HILSENRATH: And look at the world today.

BARTIROMO: Thank you.

HILSENRATH: We need someone who is experienced at this.

ROLLINS: I would run -- whatever Obama has done, I'm going to do the opposite I think would be a pretty good premise for a Republican.


BARTIROMO: What about -- so you've got Hillary's obviously the candidate on the Dem side.

ROLLINS: I think so.

BARTIROMO: And so we don't know who the candidate is on the Republican side.

MILLER: I'm still not sure that this email thing doesn't raise so many questions about her and her judgment and her penchant for secrecy, that someone else emerges, whether it's a Jim Webb or someone we're not even looking at.

BARTIROMO: At this time, is there enough time for someone else to emerge?

MILLER: I'm going to leave that to my friend, Ed Rollins, the election expert, but I think that if her situation becomes desperate enough, it's possible.

ROLLINS: Here's the question Democrats are asking them, is she really ready for primetime. She stumbled in the book tour and she stumbled badly with this press conference. She no more looks like she's ready to run for president -- how -- holds her thing at the United Nations?

I mean, give me a break.

BARTIROMO: Yes. What was that all about?

ROLLINS: It's the only place she knew where to go to, I guess.

BARTIROMO: How funny.

ROLLINS: So she's not ready for primetime yet.

HILSENRATH: You know, I think a very large piece of the population is tuning out this whole story.


BARTIROMO: She's got the money still.


HILSENRATH: It's something for people in Washington to talk about.  They're not going to get tuned in until much later --

BARTIROMO: Right. Her core base is there with the money.

Stay with us, panel, the biggest event in business is happening this week. What Janet Yellen may say on Wednesday. That will likely move markets. Our panel tackles that, Jon Hilsenrath on the patience as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."



BARTIROMO: Welcome back. We're back with our panel, Ed Rollins, Judy Miller, Jon Hilsenrath.

Jon, a big, important week for the Federal Reserve...


BARTIROMO: ... two-day meeting on interest rates Tuesday and Wednesday. What will we hear from the Fed?

HILSENRATH: Well, so the Fed has been saying for a long time they're going to be patient before they start raising interest rates. They're telling people it's not going to happen for a while. They take the word "patient" out of that statement, and basically it's a signal that they start moving interest rates up. Their expectation today is in June or September, around the middle of the year.

You know, I think that's going to get a lot of attention. What's probably going to happen is your rates, the rates you experience on mortgages and car loans, aren't actually going to move that much. Because the Fed doesn't control long-term interest rates; they control short-term interest rates. For a lot of reasons, your mortgage rate is going to stay pretty low for a while.

BARTIROMO: OK, but if they remove the word "patient," is that what everyone is expecting? I mean, you've been talking about this for a long time.


BARTIROMO: But does that create a market sell-off?

Are we going to see stocks sell off on Wednesday?

HILSENRATH: Well, this is why it matters, not because your rates are actually going to go up but because the market has a tendency to freak out even when it's been told something 100 times. So there is a chance for some market volatility.

I think the other really big subtext of the story is that the dollar has been getting much stronger. And when the Fed shows it's willing to move towards raising interest rates, the dollar gets even stronger. It's a great time to plan a trip to Europe.

BARTIROMO: Yeah, definitely. That's what I said earlier.


If you were planning a trip to go to Italy, your dollar will buy you much more than it has in the last 12 years.

HILSENRATH: My response to the Fed is to go to Rome and eat some good Italian food.

BARTIROMO: I like it. I like the way you're thinking.


But, now, look, the dollar being strong was supposed to be a real positive. It shows that the U.S. is the biggest -- you know, the best game in town, most stable rule of law, blah, blah, blah. And yet the strong dollar is actually undercutting earnings and it's cutting into earnings for the multinational. So it's actually acting as a negative for the economy?

ROLLINS: I think that's true. And I think the other thing, we keep talking about creating new jobs each month. But they're low-wage jobs. Nobody feels very confident about them. And I think, at the end of the day, the American public doesn't feel very good about the economy, which they don't. Any figure shows you that. It's -- it's for naught. The consumer has to feel good about it, and they don't feel good about it yet.

BARTIROMO: Consumer spending -- retail sales, I should say -- have been down, December, January and February. They're not spending that extra money that they have by their saving money at the gas pump, Judy?

MILLER: It's because they don't feel confident, and when Janet Yellen speaks in Fed-speak, as Ben Bernanke called it, I think it just makes it even harder for the ordinary American to assess what's going on with the economy. I'd like a little more transparency. I'd like a little more English, plain English, from the Fed. If they're going to remove the word "patience," they ought to say exactly what it means and what they expect to happen. And I am with Ed; I'm worried -- and Jon -- I'm worried about overestimating the strength of the economy right now.

BARTIROMO: Well, it's interesting because...

HILSENRATH: And I wonder what...


HILSENRATH: ... that means for these elections coming up. Do people feel enough -- positively enough about the economy to stick with the Democratic Party in the White House?

BARTIROMO: Is this going to be an economy-led election, Ed, or is this going to be a foreign-policy-led election? What will people care about?

ROLLINS: Historically, economy is always the key factor, but I think, in this particular year, it's going to be about leadership and the foreign policy is going to be what drives that. The world is going to be a bigger mess in two years than it is today.

BARTIROMO: Look at this, Jon, a report from Strategas: "Federal Reserve increase in interest rates will triple budget interest costs." In other words, our interest that we have to pay on our debt because we continue to see -- spending more money than we're actually taking in -- that means that rates going up are going to triple the cost that we have to pay on our interest of the debt?

HILSENRATH: I'm not too worried about that right now. You know, I don't think the Fed, when it starts raising interest rates, is going to raise them very aggressively. And it's important to remember that they only raise rates in an environment where the economy is strong enough to bear it. So we ought to be producing more tax revenue in an environment where the Fed is raising rates and also handing out fewer food stamps.

BARTIROMO: That's if we actually get to sustained consistent growth numbers. So some people are expecting a 1 percent growth number for -- for this quarter, which obviously would not be very good.

Stay with us. We've got the one thing to watch for the week ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" with our panel.


BARTIROMO: And we're back with our panel. What is the one big thing to watch for the upcoming week? Jon Hilsenrath, what's your one thing?  

HILSENRATH: Maria, the dollar is strong and getting stronger. The Fed is going to change its signal on interest rates, and it keeps going up on that dollar.  

BARTIROMO: So the Fed meeting you're watching and its impact on the dollar?

HILSENRATH: Yep, plan your trip to Italy.

BARTIROMO: Yeah, exactly.


Judy, what's your one thing?

MILLER: Well, I of course am watching the Israeli elections and I'm waiting to see whether or not Isaac Herzog beats Bibi Netanyahu, but then whether or not Herzog can put together a coalition and, finally, whether or not the United List, which is the Arab-Israeli parties which have come together, become the third largest party in the Israel parliament.  

BARTIROMO: Very important. I'm glad you brought that up, the Israeli elections on Tuesday. Ed?

ROLLINS: I'm watching the White House. It was exposed this morning by the New York Post that they are behind the e-mail -- they're basically, Valerie Jarrett's leading a charge against Hillary. They don't want Hillary, the State Department investigating everything she did there. And it was reported this morning in the Post, and I want to see the follow-up.

BARTIROMO: Amazing. They sabotaged Hillary...

ROLLINS: Sabotaging...

BARTIROMO: ... by releasing the e-mails and the fact that she was not using a government...

ROLLINS: Not abiding -- abiding by -- by the rules.


Guys, thank you so much. Great panel today. That will do it for "Sunday Morning Futures." Thanks so much for being here. I'm Maria Bartiromo. See you tomorrow on the Fox Business Network, "Opening Bell," 9 a.m.

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