Sen. Roger Wicker on Iran negotiations, defense spending; why aren't Americans feeling effects of improving economy?

Insight from member of the Senate Armed Services and Budget committees


This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," March 22, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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

Just nine days until the Iran nuclear talks deadline, Secretary of State John Kerry saying substantial progress has been made, his boss President Obama making it clear Iran has not gone far enough yet. I'll speak to Senator Roger Wicker, coming up, about these crucial negotiations and the challenges ahead.

Turmoil in Yemen, where the last contingent of American soldiers has been now been pulled out, as Shiite rebels gain ground and grab control of another big city. I'll have the military perspective on the chaos in Yemen and what it means for the United States.

And interest rates and the financial world's mind: Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen signaling a potential rise in interest rates for the first time in ages, with the markets at all-time highs. What might a rate hike mean for your money? I'll talk with a leading market analyst, as we look ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures."

Secretary of State John Kerry saying, quote, "Substantial progress has been made" in nuclear talks with Iran. But there are still important gaps with the deadline to make a preliminary deal now nine days away. Kerry making the comments after meeting in London with the five other countries involved in these talks, this as Senate leaders agree to push back a vote on a bill that would force the Obama administration to get the approval of Congress on any deal with Iran.

Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He also serves on the Armed Services and Budget Committees. Sir, good to have you on the program.

SEN. ROGER WICKER, R-MISS.: Glad to be back. Thank you, Maria.

BARTIROMO: What are your thoughts right now on where we stand with these talks with Iran?

WICKER: I remain very, very skeptical about the talks and wary about having any confidence that the Iranian regime is -- is a group that would comply with an agreement that we might make. This is one of the most consequential agreements that we will have in my lifetime. And it does seems to me like the Congress of the United States, or the treaty-ratifying branch of the Congress of the United States Senate, should have a say in this.

So I'm skeptical. I don't think the Iranians have complied in the past with the minor agreements they they've made, and I don't have much confidence that they will going forward. But I remain hopeful and I'm listening.

BARTIROMO: Right. Well, in the meantime, the ayatollah is pushing back, calling America bullies and saying that's why the deal is not happening. And the president is actually speaking directly to the Iranian people.

What if a deal does not happen? What are your thoughts on the consequences on -- on that?

WICKER: Well, if a deal doesn't happen, the sanctions will stay in place and the Iranian people will pay the consequences. But you mentioned the ayatollah. Yesterday he appeared before a rally where the people were chanting "Death to America." I don't remember a country that we ever entered into a meaningful treaty with where the people were chanting "Death to America." And the ayatollah actually spoke words approving that type of rhetoric.

So, to me, it means that the very top leadership of this regime is -- is a group that's out to be our enemy, and we should approach any agreement with the utmost care and skepticism. I -- I do not trust a regime let by an ayatollah and a Supreme Leader that would tolerate that kind of rhetoric.

BARTIROMO: Right, and this just a few days after the president decided to make a video to speak directly to the people of Iran.

I want to talk more about this, Senator Wicker. Stay with us.

We also want to talk about this crunch-time fast approaching in the nuclear talks with Iran; what are the gaps that the U.S. and the world powers must successfully close in order to reach a deadline by the end of March?

Fox News senior correspondent Eric Shawn with that angle. Eric, good morning to you.

ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS: Good morning, Maria. And good morning, everyone.

Nine days to go, and Iran's Supreme Leader gave a glimpse into his thinking that, frankly, is not especially encouraging. As the senator just noted, he is said to have uttered those magic Iranian words yesterday, the offensive mantra we have heard so many times before, "Death to America."


SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: This has been a 2 1/2 year or more process, but we recognize that fundamental decisions have to be made now, and they don't get any easier as time goes by. It is time to make hard decisions.

SHAWN (voice over): Who will make those hard decisions, the U.S. and the world powers or Iran?

Well, among the remaining uncertainties, if the agreement will expire in 10 years, the number of Iranian centrifuges, whether sanctions will completely drop, and will Iran really open all of its nuclear facilities fully for U.N. inspections?

You know it has hidden nuclear work in the past. President Obama, in an interview with The Huffington Post seemed to zero in on that need for full inspections.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What is going to have an impact on whether we get a deal done is, number one, is Iran prepared to show, to prove to the world that it is not developing a nuclear weapon, and can we verify that in an intrusive, consistent way? And, frankly, they have not yet made, you know, the kind of concessions that are, I think, going to be needed for a final deal to get done. But they have moved, and so there's the possibility.

SHAWN: In his video message to the Iranian people this past week, the president wished them a happy Persian New Year, but Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had a different message for us, according to Reuters, during his New Year's greetings. When someone in that crowd yelled out, "Death to America," the Supreme Leader, who was the final arbiter of any agreement, responded in kind, repeating that phrase, "Death to America."

LISA DAFTARI, MIDEAST JOURNALIST: I promise you the Iranian regime will play out the clock and inevitably will have nuclear weapons. And if they don't get the nuclear weapons, whatever deal that we do push through, we're going to leave them at threshold capability.

SHAWN: Well, the Supreme Leader also accused the U.S. of bullying. So while the West insists on a verifiable agreement, the current proposal already gives Iran the right to enrich uranium, itself a violation of six United Nations Security Council resolutions. Maria?

BARTIROMO: Eric, thank you very much. Eric Shawn with the latest there.

More now with Mississippi senator Roger Wicker.

And, Senator, all very extraordinary events, particularly on the heels of what's gone on with Israel. Let me get your take on Bibi Netanyahu and his victory and how the president has discussed that victory and discussed what he has said about a two-state solution, just recently, after the prime minister won reelection.

WICKER: Well, I've been very disappointed with the heated rhetoric coming from the presidential spokesman. And it seems to me the Israeli people spoke, and it was a decisive election and surprising that the Western pundits were not predicting anything like that.

It seems to me that this would be a good time for the administration and the leadership of one of our closest allies in one of the most dangerous regions of the world to come together and start pulling in the same direction in unity. So I was very disappointed to actually hear the hostility coming from the White House spokesman the day after the election.

BARTIROMO: In fact there were some people out there who said that the administration actually sent people to Israel to try and sway the election so that Bibi Netanyahu would not win. What are your thoughts in terms of the relationship between Israel and America now, given the clear upset between the two leaders and the president's stance towards Netanyahu?

WICKER: Well, we need to have excellent relations, and we always have, with labor governments, with Likud governments, in and out. You know, Netanyahu has won elections before. He's been voted out of office before.
We've had various coalition governments. But we've always stood strong with Israel.

And I was particularly concerned this week when there were noises coming from the administration about how we might, in the United Nations Security Council, move away from a very strong support of Israel and we might let resolutions go forward that we have prevented in the past. That is -- it almost sounded like retribution for the Israeli people choosing the way they did. I think the Obama administration got way ahead of itself in its rhetoric, and it's time for us to pull together with one of our dear allies.

BARTIROMO: And in the face of all of this, we've got real budget issues on the table. Let me get your take on where the priorities are. You're on the Budget Committee. And of course we know that one of the big dangers to the military is the return of sequestration come this October.

WICKER: Well, absolutely true. But, yes, and there are a lot of priorities. One, of course, is a path towards a balanced budget. And the budgets that the House and Senate will vote on this coming week actually get us to a balanced budget within 10 years, as opposed to the president's, which never comes into balance in over two decades, three decades. The president doesn't even aspire to a balanced budget anymore. But, yes, we can avoid defense -- these meat-ax defense cuts that I believe harm our nation's security, and we can do that without adding to the deficit.

We have devised a way to return to a higher level of defense preparedness, and pay for those cuts -- and pay for those increases with cuts and savings elsewhere. We're going to offset the increased defense spending and not add it to the deficit.

BARTIROMO: Because we are talking about some of the lowest sort of troops and smallest, what, air force since World War I?

WICKER: Well, it's the smallest navy since World War I. The air force is of course is a newer branch of the service. But also it involves personnel, it involves morale. The people who have stepped forward to wear the uniform of the United States see that we are nickel and diming defense spending, they become discouraged and they wonder if the American people are behind them. We don't need to send that if signal at all.

We are going to avoid defense sequestration and pay for that money elsewhere.

BARTIROMO: Senator, good to have you on the program. Thanks so much for your insight.

WICKER: Glad to be with you.

BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon, Senator Wicker there.

In the wake of deadly mosque attacks and escalating violence across Yemen, the UN security council agreed to an emergency meeting today.
Lieutenant General Richard Newton will join me on that next.

I hope you'll follow me on Twitter @MariaBartiomo @SundayFuture. Let us know what you would like to hear from the general. And stay with us as we look ahead on Sunday Morning Futures.


BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

The State Department now confirming that the last of 100 U.S. special operations personnel are out of Yemen. The forces were evacuated from the strategic al Anad air base and amid spiraling violence across the country. ISIS now claiming it was behind Friday's bombings of two mosques in the capital city of Sanaa.

Those attacks during midday prayers killing at least 137 people, injuring hundreds more. In the wake of this violence today, the United Nations security council holds an emergency meeting on Yemen.

Joining me now, Lieutenant General Richard Newton, former assistant vice chief of staff of the U.S. air force. General, good to have you on the program.

GENERAL RICHARD NEWTON, U.S. ARMY: Thank you, Maria, good to be with you.

BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for joining us.

So, let me talk to you first about this emergency meeting as it relates to Yemen.

How concerned are you that the U.S. has been basically driven out of Yemen?

NEWTON: Well, I think it's a concern for not only the United States, but certainly our friends and allies' interests in the region as well.

The fact that, as you reported, the two bombings that occurred on Friday with the mass killings of 137 Arabs and Muslims is significant. I think the fact that now we're leaving Yemen, we have made great inroads there with our counterterrorism activities, particularly in countering al Qaeda on the Arab Peninsula, which is some may think, and I think I agree with this, it's one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world.

BARTIROMO: The president will meet with the president of Afghanistan in town this week, what do you expect out of this meeting? I mean, this is clearly one of the major hot spots in the world today.

NEWTON: It is.

I think we're at a critical juncture in Afghanistan. The commander of U.S. forces and NATO force, General John Campbell, has reported back to the president, back to the secretary of defense, that this critical juncture we're in is important that we continue to maintain our force levels at least for the foreseeable future.

But that said, with President Ghani coming here. It's his first visit to the United States. This is a different president, this is a different leader than we had with Karzai, someone who can bring coalitions together and so forth. And so based on that, I believe that he's going to make a plea to continue our force levels. We're at about 9,800 American forces are there, about 13,000 NATO forces are there, to continue that on through 2015, and into 2016, while the Taliban is on a high war footing right now.
We need to make sure that we continue the gains we have made in organizing, training and equipping the Afghan armed forces, so that they can take over the fight effectively.

And I think that's what he's going to ask for.

BARTIROMO: We've been looking at this somewhat of a piecemeal way. I mean, whether you're talking about the Taliban or ISIS or al Qaeda, but this is radical terrorists bottom line.

NEWTON: Yeah, this is the -- we need to recognize that we are in a war against radical Islamic terrorists and that is all the way from Afghan- Pakistan border all the way to Tunisia, as we saw last Wednesday, with an attack, you know, at the national museum. The fact that it's ISIS, the fact that it's al Qaeda and so forth.

At the same token, though, I think the American people should understand that we have to have confidence in our men and women in uniform, certainly, but we also need to make sure that our national leadership has the will and can muster the support of our friends and allies and certainly the support of the American people that this is going to a long fight. We have got to stay in the fight.

BARTIROMO: And of course there's Iran and the ongoing negotiations for their nuclear capabilities.

NEWTON: And that lays into it as well. It's a very complex -- in my 34 years on active duty, I have never seen the international environment so -- so much disruption going on right now. And that's why I think it's important that we strong American leadership. I think we have strong American presence. We need to assure our friends and allies, we need to dissuade those who want to join that fight, and then we need to make sure that we eradicate this terrorism.

BARTIROMO: But we haven't been doing that.

NEWTON: We need to be much more effective, much more effective. And we need the patience and the will to continue this fight.

BARTIROMO: General, good to have you on the show today.

NEWTON: Great to be here, Maria. Thank you.

BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for your insights. General Richard Newton there, United States Air Force

A major merger in the technology industry. The CEO of Cypress Semiconductor on that. The latest advancements in computer chips for cars as well as a look at the economy, as we look ahead on Sunday Morning Futures.

Back in a moment.


BARTIROMO: Mobility continues to dominate the technology industry.
In fact, we are seeing weakness in the PC business because people are using more devices over their PCs right now. And that is why you saw Intel recently cut their revenue expectations.

I'm joined right now to talk more about it by Cypress Semiconductor CEO and founder, T.J. Rogers.

T.J., good to have you on the program.



BARTIROMO: I know you recently did the closing of the big deal, the
$5 billion all stock merger of Spansion. And I want to get into that in a minute.

But let me begin broadly in terms of the economy, T.J., because we are seeing real weakness within the PC space.

Is that all about people using devices instead of their PCs?

What do you think is going on?

ROGERS: Yes, I think -- I think it's more about PCs than it is about the semiconductor market broadly. Basically, cell phones now have, you know, four, some of them even have eight processors in them. Each processor in a cell phone is as powerful as a PC was only a few years ago.

And they pretty much can do a lot of the stuff PCs you don't do and you can put them in your pocket, so there -- there's a shift.

You know, we're now -- we're now doing over two billion cell phones a year. And that -- and that has taken a little of the wind out of the PC market.

BARTIROMO: Talk to me about this deal with Spansion. You complete a
$5 billion all stock merger with this company.

Why was this deal so important to the growth at -- at Cypress Semiconductor?

ROGERS: Well, it's a top line, bottom line. You know, the old phrase is one plus one equals three. And it turns out with Spansion and Cypress, that's the way it works.

We're number one in the world in static RAMS. That's the RAM that feeds data into your -- into your -- any processor, your PC, cell phone or otherwise.

They're number one in the world in flash memory which hold the program of a computer in a semiconductor device.

So if you look at the processor in any computing device, there's static RAM on the side, data in and out, and there's program and flash memory in the bottom. They're number one and we're number one.

And we both make the processors for certain applications, in particular automotive, where the -- we're number three.

So when you put it together, there's a huge opportunity for the company on the top line. Investors are also interested in the bottom line, where we found 100 and promised them $135 million in costs coming out of the combined company.

And that equates to about 35 cents a share without anything else happening.

BARTIROMO: Because you've got two headquarters, you've got, you know, double of everything. So you could really eliminate one of those and save costs by -- by merging these companies.

ROGERS: Absolutely right. The Spansion people, at 1:00 California time this afternoon, will come to the headquarters of Cypress in our nice auditorium and have their first meeting over here.

BARTIROMO: Let me -- let me ask you about the automotive industry a little more, because I think folks are really interested in hearing how their lives are going to change.

What has happened within our cars that semiconductor chips have been so important and critical in terms of changing?

Because I feel like the auto today, your vehicle is more technology- based than ever before.

ROGERS: That's true. You know, an automobile -- a high end automobile today has 100 or more micro controllers in it. They do everything from the most important. For example, they control the timing in the automobile so that -- of the engine so that it always is firing at the right time, always the right amount of fuel injected. The micro controller senses temperature of the engine and the air and the fuel and adjusts the engine real time to make that work right.

It -- it guarantees that the -- the explosion will be as clean as is possible and use as little gas as possible. So that having clean cars -- very clean cars, which we have today, that still have good mileage, even for midsized cars, wouldn't be available with all the electronics.

And then it goes there all the way to the mundane. You know, I get in my car in the morning, I push a button and the mirrors go from my wife's setting to my setting. And in that rearview mirror is the 32 bit processor, a computer which is as powerful as PCs were in 1990. And it gives intelligence to that mirror so I can talk instructions and -- and hear go to T.J.'s setting and it will move.

So all -- all the way from that to touch buttons on your air conditioning, getting rid of knobs, your -- your dashboard, which is no longer a bunch of instruments and clusters in the high end cars. It's -- it's literally a big TV screen curved around you. And that -- that speedometer you look at isn't really a speedometer. Look carefully. Run your finger across it. There -- there's nothing there except a picture.

BARTIROMO: I love it. This is so fascinating and -- and really has become a better experience in your car.

Health care is another one. And I know you make some of the chips for certain watches that are monitoring our fluids, our heart rate, all sorts of stuff in the health care business, as well.

ROGERS: Yes, the next revolution after cell phones and the one we're really excited about and we've got a good footprint in is putting computers and electronics in something about that big. And, of course, the challenge there is as opposed to a cell phone battery, which is about that big and about four millimeters thick and has a lot of current in it, the watch battery is 100 times more or less. So all of a sudden you have to make a computer run on a watch battery. That's a big challenge.

But if you could do that, you can have the Dick Tracy watch. You can have a watch that runs sensors at -- that look at body -- at your body, various sensors that look at bodily function. You can send the data from your watch in a slightly processed form to -- to like a cell phone or another system where you can store the data and record it.

And we're just in the beginning of that. You know, the -- the fit bit and the other kind of products we have right now, they're just exploring the market. But the next thing will be -- and it will be bigger than cell phones in terms of unit volume -- is wrist -- is wearables, we call it.

BARTIROMO: I love it. I love it.

All right, let me -- let me ask you, I feel like, you know, companies today are trying to grow in an environment where the country, on an economic basis, is just not seeing all that much growth at all. We saw retail sales recently down for three months in a row.

How would you characterize the broad outlook right now for the economy and for people's lives where we're seeing headlines that things are getting better, but most people are not feeling it trickle down to their households?

ROGERS: Yes. Well, the headlines that things are getting better come from people who benefit from headlines that things get better. The fact is, the economy is a little bit better. The unemployment rate is down to
5.5 percent.

But -- but we've had two presidents in a row, one Republican and one Democrat -- this is not a political thing -- who have taken a lot of money into Washington and spent it the way Washington always does, on unproductively. And they'd have left the money with people or companies, that money would have created more jobs and more economic benefit being left alone.

That's what we're suffering from. We're recovering slowly. And that recovery is starting to show up. I -- I can see it here in Silicon Valley.

BARTIROMO: And we appreciate your time today.

Thanks so much for joining us.

ROGERS: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: Cypress Semiconductor CEO and founder, T.J. Rogers.

Meanwhile, all eyes on the Federal Reserve, as it sheds light on its plan to raise interest rates. A leading analyst here to break it down.

And then our panel on 2016 as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."


SHAWN: From "America's News Headquarters," I'm Eric Shawn. Here are some of the other stories that are making headlines at this hour.

Police say the suspect behind that Friday night attack at the New Orleans airport had a history of mental health issues. Sixty-three-year-old Richard White died at the hospital yesterday. A sheriff's lieutenant shot him three times, ending a chaotic incident where he allegedly attacked TSA agents and passengers using wasp spray and swinging a machete. Police also say White was carrying Molotov cocktails and had smoke bombs in his car. No one else was seriously hurt.

And seven people are injured after a chairlift accident on Maine's Sugarloaf Mountain. It happened yesterday morning when a ski lift carrying about 200 people abruptly stopped and rolled backwards. An investigation is now under way to try and figure out what exactly caused that mishap.
Thankfully, none of those injuries are believed to be life-threatening.

And I'll be back with Arthel Neville at noon Eastern with more news, and the doctors, as always are in. Doctors Siegel and Samadi join us two hours from now for "Sunday Housecall" at 12:30 Eastern Time." So, for now, I'm Eric Shawn. Back to "Sunday Morning Futures" and Maria.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Eric.

The Federal Reserve signaling that, for the first time in nearly a decade, it will raise interest rates at some point, but just not yet, the central bank ruling out a hike for next month, but leaving the door open for one in June or later in the year.

Wall Street, of course, welcoming the announcement. The NASDAQ ended the week at a 15-year high. We're in uncharted territory in the stock market.

We bring in Ralph Acampora. He's the director of technical analysis for Altaira, Ltd.

Good to see you, Ralph.


BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for joining us.

ACAMPORA: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: So what are your thoughts after you heard Janet Yellen speak last week, in terms of the impact on the stock market and our long-term investments?

ACAMPORA: Well, Maria, they did us a favor.


They took away the fear and the uncertainty. I'm in the camp that rates will go up later this year. But, between now and then, the market loves what's happening, and they're going to follow through. I think this is the beginning of another leg up.

With this movement, you notice the weaknesses in dollar. That's impacted commodity prices positively and of course the multinationals. So the large blue-chip stocks will benefit.

BARTIROMO: Yeah, the dollar has been, sort of, the story in markets for the last -- I don't know -- year, that the dollar keeps going up. Do you think the rally resumes in the dollar, that it keeps getting stronger?

ACAMPORA: Well, eventually, if -- if I'm right and rates eventually go up over time, yeah, that will be very positive for the dollar.

BARTIROMO: And you said that -- that the leg up is the stock market.
So if I wanted to put new money to work today in the stock market...

ACAMPORA: Monday morning.

BARTIROMO: Monday morning?



BARTIROMO: Well, how significant a leg up are you looking for?

ACAMPORA: Well, my target for the year on the Dow is 20,500. I don't think we go straight up from here to there. But, yeah, I think you've got another 5 percent to 10 percent.

BARTIROMO: What's behind this, Ralph?

ACAMPORA: Well, low interest rates and low inflation has been the core of everything that we have experienced in the last five years. And I think that's not going to change dramatically. So that's the force that I think fuels the secular bull market.

BARTIROMO: And in terms of allocating money towards the stock market versus the bond market, where are you on bonds?

I mean, what about fixed income?

ACAMPORA: Yeah. Well, if you're long term, and I'm long term, looking down the road -- let's say you're creating a retirement fund -- the last thing you want to be in, Maria, is bonds, over the next 10 or 15 years.
Because I believe rates are going to start moving up on a secular basis.

You know, for 30 years rates came down. Now, the next major cycle is
30 years up. And, you know, rising interest rates -- you know what happens to the bond prices? They go down.

BARTIROMO: They go down, sure.

ACAMPORA: So you don't want to be in bonds if you're investing for the next 10 or 15 years.

BARTIROMO: OK, so basically you're saying get into the stock market; put money in the stock market, particularly if you are looking long-term.


BARTIROMO: Where is the leadership in the market? How do I know where to put my money?

ACAMPORA: Well, again, assuming that I'm right, and I feel very strongly about...

BARTIROMO: And you've been right.

ACAMPORA: Yeah, but rising rates, over time, the sector and the groups that respond very favorably to that would be financials and specialty banks. So if you want an area that would respond to that, I would do those.

BARTIROMO: But, also, you're looking for 20,000-plus on the Down Jones industrial average, so you want to be broad-based as well? You could probably just go into an exchange trader fund or something, to just get exposure to the stock market?

ACAMPORA: Oh, I'd be indexed, yes.

BARTIROMO: Tell me about that.

ACAMPORA: And then the lifeline of a bull market is rotation. And that's where you need some professional advice and say, hey, gee, should I be in financials for X period of time? What about technology? Technology is on the -- actually is playing a game of catch-up here.

BARTIROMO: And yet the volatility that we saw this past week, where we actually saw some pretty good sell-offs and then actually ended the week strongly, you're happy about that?

ACAMPORA: Yes, yes.

BARTIROMO: You wanted to see some selling, as an opportunity to get back in?

ACAMPORA: Exactly right. And then the sell-off -- what was it -- 3 percent, 4 percent, in the indexes. But I mention the individual stocks, be careful. Some of them have done very poorly over the last couple of months.

BARTIROMO: And what does that mean?

ACAMPORA: You know, that means we are getting into correction. So you have to be attentive to not just the macro picture, the micro picture. Look at individual stocks.

BARTIROMO: I see. So you're saying it doesn't matter that we haven't seen a massive 5 percent, 10 percent sell-off, because you are seeing those kinds of sell-offs in individual companies?

ACAMPORA: Oh, sure, IBM, Caterpillar Tractor, American Express, yes.

BARTIROMO: So you're pretty -- you're still pretty bullish, right?

ACAMPORA: Oh, absolutely.

BARTIROMO: Yeah. And is that largely because of what you see in the charts, the -- I know you look at technical strategy -- or largely because of the backdrop of an economy getting better?

ACAMPORA: Yeah, well, that's it. It's the economy getting better. Why is the economy getting better? Low interest rates and low inflation. That's the core.

BARTIROMO: Ralph, we'll see you soon. Thank you so much for joining us.

ACAMPORA: Thank you. Thanks, Maria.

BARTIROMO: We appreciate it. Ralph Acampora from Altaira, Ltd.

And now let's get a look at what's coming up on "MediaBuzz" -- Howard Kurtz, standing by -- at the top of the hour.

Howie, good morning to you.

KURTZ: Good morning, Maria.

We're going to lead off with the coverage of Ted Cruz, which is good timing because sources say the Texas senator getting into the presidential race tomorrow. But I've also got an in-depth report from the University of Virginia, where there was an unfortunate incident where state liquor police arresting a black student outside a bar on St. Patrick's Day. He ends up with 10 stitches. National media have descended on Charlottesville, casting this almost as a mini-Ferguson, despite the fact that we don't really know what happened during that arrest and we don't have any evidence that it's racial. So I'll be reporting from the campus there.

BARTIROMO: Sounds familiar, Howie. Thanks very much. We will be there. We'll see you at the top of the hour, Howie.

More talks, but still no deal, as global diplomats work to hammer out a nuclear agreement with Iran. Our panel reacts to that and how Israel plays into all of this. That's where the panel begins, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." That's next.


BARTIROMO: Welcome back. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapping up another session of Iran nuclear talks yesterday, saying that progress is being made, but adding that there are still significant gaps.

Will a deal happen?

What concessions will be made?

And what does it mean for Israel, who reelected Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister this past week?

We bring in our panel: Ed Rollins is former principal White House adviser to President Reagan. He has been a longtime strategist to business and political leaders. He's a Fox News political analyst. Judith Miller is adjunct fellow at The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. She's a Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist and she's a Fox News contributor. Ian Bremmer is the president and founder and The Eurasia Group.

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

Your take on what's happening right now with Iran?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think the ayatollah's comments this week, that sanctions have to come off immediately, there could be no ability to put them back on again is a deal breaker, as far as we are concerned. And we agree to that, we are crazy.

BARTIROMO: And what about the people, death to America?

ROLLINS: Death to America. I mean, I think at the end of the day they're still sponsoring terrorism all over the world. I think it's a bad deal. I've always thought it was a bad deal. I think Kerry is so anxious to have a deal, particularly after the loss to Bibi this week, that they'll take a bad deal.

BARTIROMO: And these are the people of course that the president decided he wanted to speak directly to, Judy, this past week.

JUDITH MILLER, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: Yes, exactly. He spoke to the people of Iran before he actually picked up the phone to call Bibi Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory.


MILLER: It was. But I must say here, on arms control agreements, let's remember what they're for. We did arms control negotiations and agreements with the Soviet Union when they had thousands of missiles aimed at us. You do arms control to reduce threat. And let's keep that in mind.

But I was very impressed by the president's emphasis on verification, because I think for us that's a big sticking point.

Can we inspect everything we find suspicious under a deal?

BARTIROMO: Well, finally we're talking about verification.

MILLER: Finally.

BARTIROMO: First time I heard the president talk about verification.

MILLER: Now you know where the rubber is hitting the road. For the Iranians it's sanctions, for us it's verification and access.

ROLLINS: We've not been able to verify anything they do and at this point in time. They've blocked all the nuclear inspectors to date. And why do we think they're going to be basically be any different?

IAN BREMMER, EURASIA GROUP: Well, the question is not whether or not only you can verify but also what are the implications of not having a deal? And can the United States maintain tough international sanctions against Iran in the absence of a deal?

And I think as we look over that next few years, the answer to that is also no.

So the United States is not in the best position to negotiate that.
It's not just because Kerry's a little desperate and it's also because it's just hard to maintain international coordination.

So the deal's not very good. I accept that. But the absence of a deal is not very good. And what's interesting is we're getting close to what will be announced this week. I think it's going to be a framework agreement. I think it will happen irrespective of what the Iranian Supreme Leader said. And that's when everyone is going to come out and start piling on and criticizing.

BARTIROMO: So you think there are real implications if a deal doesn't happen, the consequences for the U.S.?

BREMMER: Sure. In the sense that one of the reasons why the Europeans have stuck with sanctions is precisely because they believe it helps with negotiations to press the Iranians. The negotiations are over, the Europeans don't want to stick with it.

Furthermore the Russians are looking for any excuse to break sanctions right now. The Chinese won't pile on immediately, because energy prices are low. But when energy prices pick up, they will, too.

So if you ask me in five and 10 years' time, is it likely that Iran will become a strategically functionally nuclear state? I think the answer is yes, in either condition.

ROLLINS: But if you're the Saudis today, and you think that's the premise that's going to happen, are you going to sit idly by or some of the other Middle East countries and not basically say this is a bad deal, let's go arm ourselves?


MILLER: And if you have no deal, aren't they also going to rush out and do the same thing?

Look, as George Mitchell told you on this show, you cannot keep the pressure on sanctions without our allies. If the allies think this is a good deal, we're going to lose them.

BARTIROMO: We've got to talk about Bibi Netanyahu and really the implications there. It's extraordinary, the relationship between -- or the way the president speaks about Benjamin Netanyahu, even after the victory.

What are the implications here?

ROLLINS: Well, there's no relationship anymore. It was cold before.
Now it's arctic. At the end of the day, accusing him of being dishonest or racist or any of the rest of it is absurd. Bibi did what he had to do to win election. That's what elections are about. His whole comment about the Arabs turning out in record numbers, obviously any campaign, which I've been doing campaigns for 50 years, if you know the other side is coming out against you, you go get your voters. And that's what he did.

MILLER: Well, words have consequences. And that's why Bibi Netanyahu had to back away from those words that he said that were very harmful to American efforts to --


MILLER: -- and the Arabs were getting their people out in droves to vote. That sounded racist to many people. So he had to retract that, he did; but the president would not let it drop, and he's turned what is a personal vitriol into a policy dispute.


BREMMER: It's no surprise that they don't like each other, but Obama and Stephen Harper (ph) in Canada don't like each other. It doesn't stop the two countries from working together.


BREMMER: No, it's not that different because Israel is still -- is a country that America cooperates with so deeply on cyber issues, on intelligence issues and the rest.

And the fact that America and Israel do have actual national interests that are aligned, but not they're completely overlapping is something Americans should be able to actually talk about.

You can criticize Obama today without being a racist, and you can criticize Netanyahu without being an anti-Semite.


BARTIROMO: I mean, come on, can you really


BREMMER: I think that Israel is one of the very few places that's stable in the Middle East. That makes it more interesting, but also Israel today is less isolated in the Middle East than it used to. It has the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Saudis precisely because of problems with Iran and ISIS. Let's not forget --

ROLLINS: But it's the one real democracy and basically we're criticizing an election that just took place and saying whatever, the people got to vote, and the vast majority of people there, if you poll them, or you can tell by the election results, are not for a two-state -- two states are not going to happen (INAUDIBLE).

BARTIROMO: all right. We have got to get to 2016 after (INAUDIBLE).
2016, (INAUDIBLE) years to be bypassing the traditional exploratory committee route and is ready to announce a run for the White House. The latest on the outlook for the field as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."


BARTIROMO: Some of the biggest Republican donors meeting with 2016 hopefuls in Florida this weekend. One potential nominee is not there but is prepared to make headlines. Sources are telling Fox News that Senator Ted Cruz is set to announce his candidacy in a speech tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

More now from our panel, Ed Rollins, Judy Miller, Ian Bremmer. What do you think about Ted Cruz announcing tomorrow?

ROLLINS: Well, he -- he needs to get started. An incumbent senator, you can't do the SuperPAC bid. He's got to basically create a candidate, and he already has one as a senator.

BARTIROMO: Does he have a shot at...

ROLLINS: He will be one of the four or five people who make a lot of noise at the end. I don't think he's going to be the nominee in any way, shape or form, but you -- but we're going to still talk about him a year from now. And the 20 that are thinking about it, that will be five or six, and he may very well be one of them.

MILLER: I think you see the Tea Party establishment split within the Republican Party clearly on display with this. I think, if I am Hillary Clinton, I'd be applauding, in between dodging subpoenas, for my personal servers.

BARTIROMO: That's what I was going to say. I think Hillary probably wants Ted Cruz to announce. What are you thinking?

BREMMER: Look, absolutely. I don't think America is quite ready for a Canadian president, but...


... nonetheless -- I'm just going there.


But, no, I think this is an election that's going to be much more about foreign policy than we've had in a while, in part because the economy's doing better and in part because Hillary was secretary of state and Ted Cruz certainly reflects a much more independent/isolationist wing of the Republican Party. And it's going to be interesting to have that and Rand Paul's voice in the debate. So I think that's -- that's going to be important.

ROLLINS: Ted Cruz -- most people don't know that Ted Cruz, who is probably the strongest candidate by far in Texas today -- he'll beat Perry, I think, in Texas. He basically is articulate; he's a very strong voice on a lot of issues. I think he'll surprise a lot of people.

Again, I don't think he's going to be the nominee, but I think he's going to be one of the...


BARTIROMO: When will Hillary announce, and do you think there is a backlash (ph)? Has this e-mail scandal hurt her?

MILLER: I'm just worried about the longer-term impact of the e-mail scandal. Yes, Ed is probably right. It's not going to deny her the nomination. But this will be a cudgel that the Republicans will use again and again, secrecy, lack of transparency, different rules for them and for us.

ROLLINS: It's the Clinton soap opera and it's going to be replayed again. (Inaudible) is off TV today, but this would be the new soap opera.


ROLLINS: They key thing is she needs to get a campaign up and functioning. She does not have the resources to basically be doing all this. And I think she had a bad, bad press conference, and I think she needs a professional team there to help her.

BREMMER: I think, for the last two years, so many people that had supported Obama said, "You know, oh, gosh, we wish Hillary had been president." And now...


I mean, they do. That was the conventional wisdom. And you now they're
-- they're remembering why it is they decided not to vote for her for the nomination, you know, sort of, when Obama was running. And it's the lack of authenticity. It's the sense that she's just too political in a field of everyone that's too political. And I do think that that hurts her. But I'm not sure it means she doesn't win the presidency.

BARTIROMO: All right.


ROLLINS: ... the nominee.

BARTIROMO: She'll be the nominee?

ROLLINS: She'll be the nominee, sure.

BREMMER: Right, yeah.

BARTIROMO: But you think she'll win the presidency?

BREMMER: I think she -- well, she's clearly got a good shot. I don't know if -- I don't want to make a call on 2016, certainly not with Mr.
Rollins over here.


But, nonetheless, I think she's got a good shot.


BARTIROMO: I want you to make the call when we come right back after the break. Ed Rollins on that call. The one thing to watch in the week ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" is next.


BARTIROMO: Back with our panel with the one thing to watch in the upcoming week. Ian Bremmer, what are you watching?

BREMMER: I'm watching oil prices as there's going to be more pressure going down, as we announce this Iranian interim deal, and that's going to make palpitations in lots of places, particularly in the Gulf.

BARTIROMO: Sure, more oil on the market, bottom line.

BREMMER: More oil upon the market, if they believe that's going to happen, yeah.


MILLER: I'm watching the Afghan visit of the president to see whether or not he's going to commit to fighting corruption, whether or not he has the serious will to do that and whether or not we're going to be willing to keep at least 10,000 troops there to help him stabilize the country.

BARTIROMO: Yeah, he's here now.



ROLLINS: I'm watching closely the Republican battle between the deficit hawks who want a balanced budget in 10 years and those who basically are very strong national defense and think it's imperative we break the sequester and get sufficient monies for defense.

BARTIROMO: Who's going to be our next president?

ROLLINS: A Republican.


BARTIROMO: You don't want to stick your neck out, Ed. We all want to hear your thoughts.

ROLLINS: You know, I think -- I think -- it would take too long. Give me another -- give me another week.

BARTIROMO: All right, Ed. We'll talk about it.

I would have to say my one big thing is the GDP, final assessment of the economy out on Friday.

Thanks so much to our panel for being here.

Thank you, everybody, for joining us on "Sunday Morning Futures." I'm Maria Bartiromo. See you tomorrow morning on the "Opening Bell," 9 a.m. ET on the Fox Business Network. Take a look at where to find the Fox Business Network in your area. Have a great Sunday, everybody.

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