This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," April 5, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Taking the long view on Iran. Good morning, everyone. Happy Easter. I'm Maria Bartiromo. This is "Sunday Morning Futures." The long and twisted road toward a nuclear agreement that could determine our Middle Eastern policy for generations to come. Can the sticking points be surmounted? Congressman Peter King and former ambassador Robert Jordan will weigh in.
Plus, Hillary in the hot seat? The select Benghazi committee wants to question her about her private e-mail account. How will she respond now? And then, how will voters respond?
Plus, the boys of summer ready to play the first game of the season is today. Major League Baseball's commissioner is with me with news of some exciting innovations for 2015, as we look ahead on this Easter Sunday "Sunday Morning Futures."
The six world powers, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and of course the United States, working this past week to hammer out a final deal on Iran's nuclear program by June 30th. But watchers say, after 12 years of talks, even that deadline could get pushed forward. For most, the question comes down to this: Will the ultimate agreement include the enrichment of uranium?
Congressman Peter King is a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, and he joins us now.
Good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us.
REP. PETER KING, R-N.Y.: Maria, great to be here.
BARTIROMO: You chair the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, so we want to get your insights here. Is that the last sticking point?
If that's the case, isn't it black and white? Will they continue to enrich uranium or not?
KING: Yeah, that may be the final point they're discussing, but I think this is a bad deal. If everything that we've heard about it is true, basically what we're doing is what the U.S. is agreeing to is to lock in the nuclear infrastructure in Iran, so that they can break loose; they can break out. We're allowing them to keep the uranium, the centrifuges. They're going to have the -- as I understand it, they're going to have the encased locations, which will make it very difficult for us to take them out in the future.
So this, to me, is -- you know, we went into this to take away Iran's nuclear power. We are now basically institutionalizing it. We're -- we're, you know, putting it into place. So we're allowing Iran to keep what we said we were going to take away.
BARTIROMO: Which is why I come back to isn't this, like, black and white?
I mean, at the end of the day, if they continue to enrich uranium, we know that that could possibly or probably lead to a nuclear bomb. Shouldn't that be out of the deal? Is that a deal-breaker?
KING: It should be a deal-breaker. I mean, a lot of other things should be a deal-breaker. That should -- that should certainly be a deal breaker. And yet -- I just think this administration and I think the president obviously wants a deal, and he's willing to take a not-so-good deal, because I believe that he wants to, in fact, institutionalize Iran, to make Iran a dominant player in the Middle East so you have the U.S. and Iran almost a balance of power and, I think, almost like maybe in the days of the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
Because more and more people I've spoken to both in the administration and in Washington believe the president wants to end the days of us feuding with Iran, and he believes, if Iran is given its leeway, that they will join the community of nations.
BARTIROMO: It really is quite extraordinary. In fact, even this past week, you know, most of the players left after it was clear that the deadline had been missed and that, of course, we -- you know, we came to a preliminary framework, but John Kerry stayed. They want a deal to happen.
So that's what you worry, that, in fact, the need to want this deal so much and the need for a deal will actually, you know, override some of the things that actually need to be in that deal?
KING: Yeah, and we're the one holding the cards. I'm not trying to be overly macho here, but we're the ones who hold the cards, and yet we're the ones who are basically giving the Iranians what they want. You're right; the other countries have left; Kerry is staying behind, almost desperate to get a deal, no matter what. And again, everything the president said in the beginning, for instance, that Iran can never have a nuclear weapon -- well, the fact is we're allowing them to lock in place what it takes to get the nuclear weapon.
And as far as breaking out, they will, I believe, have enough time to break out before we know about it.
BARTIROMO: Isn't it extraordinary that, also, we are negotiating with Iran right now, but at the same time fighting them on the Saudi side, because Saudi has -- the Saudis have led this strike in Yemen and Iran has said, if the Saudi-led strike continues in Yemen, there will be more bloodshed.
KING: But we're also fighting alongside the Iranians in Iraq.
KING: At least our people are fighting alongside them. Yeah, this is -- to me, the Middle East is out of control. The president's doing a lot of juggling here, but I don't think there's any grand strategy. I think he wants to disengage the U.S. and he's willing to live with a strong Iran, believing that, if we make certain concessions to them, that we can work with them.
BARTIROMO: How important will all of this be to voters for the 2016 election?
I mean, you know, I want to get your take, also, on the Hillary situation as well. But as voters, you know, think about their next president this year and going into next year, do you think foreign policy and the strategy that we have had, or lack of, is going to be an important factor for them?
KING: It should be, if we have a Republican that can raise the issue.
KING: I mean, if we're talking about people that want to disengage, who say the U.S. should be getting out, no, we will not be able to raise the issue. We have to show that we have our own position, that we disagree with the president and we are willing to take the strong actions necessary. And we cannot -- we cannot retreat from the world; we cannot be isolationist.
BARTIROMO: Well, look at what's happened. I mean, we have been leading from behind, and today the Middle East is actually a more dangerous place than ever before. Is that a fair statement?
KING: It's not even close -- absolutely. It's totally fair. And the situation today is not even close to the past. Libya right now -- we have ISIS is going to Libya; Libya is chaotic. We see what's happening in Iraq where ISIS has made tremendous inroads. The defeats against ISIS have been with the help of Iran, so we're now making Iran more powerful in that region. Yemen is pretty much gone, You have half the country going to Houthis, the other half going to Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
We can go through country by country, and that's why countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia, are so nervous and desperate over what's happening.
BARTIROMO: In fact, when you consider the fact that we pulled our troops out of Iraq, left so much high-tech equipment there, what happened? ISIS took that equipment and now ISIS is fighting the Americans with our equipment.
KING: And that's one of the worst decisions any president ever made. By us pulling out of Iraq, that's what created the chaos. Because there was no, in effect, adult supervision of the Iraqis and the Iraqi army, the splintered off between Shiites and Sunnis. So when ISIS came in, the army was no equipped to take them on. Plus, as you said, all that material was left behind.
BARTIROMO: All right. Real quick on Hillary: What's your take here? The committee, the select committee on Benghazi wants to see the e-mails. She wiped the server clean.
I don't know. On any other planet, if you wipe the server clean and you destroy government evidence, I would say you would disqualify yourself as being the leader of the free world. What do you think?
KING: I've (inaudible) to Trey Gowdy. He's going to follow this all the way. It's a long way from now to the election, but if anything at all - - if there's any smoking gun turns up, then Hillary Clinton is going to have a real issue.
And you're right: the whole question of why, but she may be able to stall that one out. I think you're going to need more of a smoking gun, someone who was there who can claim that this was done for the wrong motive. Other than that, it's her word against everybody else's, and it's a long way to Election Day.
BARTIROMO: I don't think her core has really been impacted. Do you think the voters will get impacted by what she's done?
KING: They may in the general election if we have a candidate who can raise it as an issue.
BARTIROMO: Congressman, good to have you on the show.
KING: Maria, thank you.
BARTIROMO: Thank you so much. Always nice to see you.
KING: Appreciate it.
BARTIROMO: Our long-term deadlines with Iran, even as our allies are battling Iranian-backed rebels in places like Yemen and Syria underscores just how complicated the Middle East can get. Ambassador Robert Jordan will join us, next, to shed some light.
Follow me on Twitter @mariabartiromo @sundayfutures. Let us know what you'd like to hear from Ambassador Jordan, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
Saudi Arabia taking matters into its own hands in Yemen, leading an air war against Iranian-backed Shiite rebels there.
But a different situation played out in Tikrit last week, where Iraqis were backed by Iranians against ISIS. The Iranians could not get the job done and U.S. air strikes finished the job.
All of this, of course, as the Obama White House aims for a long-term transformative deal with Tehran.
Robert Jordan was U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during George W. Bush's administration.
He is now Southern Methodist University's diplomat in residence.
And Ambassador, it is wonderful to have you on the program.
AMB. ROBERT JORDAN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA: Thanks, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for joining us.
Can you take us through the background of what's happening in terms of this Saudi-led air strike in Yemen right now?
JORDAN: Well, this goes back a long way. The Saudis have basically lost confidence in this administration for a number of reasons, starting with the failure to enforce a red line declaration that President Obama made about Syria's use of chemical weapons, a failure to rein in the Israeli settlements, and a number of other factors.
So the Saudis, I think, have finally decided they have to take charge of their own neighborhood and that has led to building the coalition, developing the air strikes that we've seen in Yemen, which probably won't be enough by themselves, but are certainly an important -- an important way of degrading the Houthis.
BARTIROMO: But the story gets more complicated as we know that Iran wants the air strikes to stop and has said if the Saudi-led effort continues, there will be more bloodshed.
Meanwhile, we are working alongside Iran when it comes to Iraq against ISIS.
JORDAN: Well, we're working in parallel with Iran, but I'm not sure that it's exactly alongside. The air strikes were necessary but they were at the invitation of the Iraqi government and that's an important distinction. And it's more than just a fig leaf.
So I think it's important that we recognize that we're not literally partnering up with Iran. We have a common enemy right now, but that doesn't make us friends.
BARTIROMO: We have had so many failures in the Middle East, really, these last few years, whether you're talking about what you just referred to, that red line which was crossed and then never done anything about in Syria, or Yemen or any other of the hot spots.
Can you characterize the US' foreign policy today and what you think should be done?
JORDAN: Well, this president has said many times that he wants to be on the right side of history. Frankly, I think he's being run over by history. He's taking a -- failing to take into account the necessity of maintaining security for the local populations that are in the midst of these upheavals.
So I think that's number one.
Number two, I think that we have to bear in mind that there is a long- term strategic interest in having a balance of power in the Middle East. This doesn't mean that we have to turn our backs on our friends, the Saudis, the Emiratis and the other Sunni monarchies and even Egypt.
So I think they're finally realizing that they have to have security. They have to have order. And they have to have a strong enough government to make the kind of reforms incrementally that apparently this administration initially had hoped could come overnight.
BARTIROMO: We recognize that the final deadline for a deal with Iran, obviously, is not until June. But what would be different in June to what we have been talking about today and last week and as we got that initially framework at the end of last week?
JORDAN: Well, I think the framework discussions are basically an exercise in kicking the can down the road. They are not specific. They are notional. They are directional, which is about all you could frankly expect at this time.
By June, they all expect to have a written agreement, something that is enforceable, something that has much more teeth to it. So the -- the March deadline was effectively a -- an effort to set something down but it was never intended to be a real deadline in terms of having a concrete agreement.
I think the real agreement is going to be coming in June.
What do you think that agreement looks like?
I was talking with Peter King a moment ago. And I -- and I wondered if, in fact, this is very straightforward and very black and white.
Is this just about stopping the enrichment of uranium or do you believe the U.S. will accept a deal that has the Iranians continuing to enrich uranium?
JORDAN: Well, there may be a limit on centrifuges, which would, of course, be important.
Secondly, the real key, I think, is enforcement and inspection, verification. If we don't have something that can be verified, that we don't have intrusive inspections, and if we don't have an enforcement mechanism to immediately deal with violations, then we've been wasting our time.
BARTIROMO: Well, why would we expect we would have, you know, checkups that actually materialize, when we actually haven't had the kinds of checks by the U.N. inspectors that we wanted?
JORDAN: Well, I think we're going to have to insist on it. If this government doesn't insist on verification and inspections and enforcement, then they're wasting their own time and they're wasting a lot of people's time.
BARTIROMO: Well, what does -- what is the president's motivation in terms of the way he approaches foreign policy?
Do you -- do you know?
JORDAN: Well, it's hard to guess. My suspicion right now is that he wants to leave some kind of legacy with respect to a nuclear agreement. I don't think he expects to bring Iran into the family of nations. I don't think he expects Iran to cease their terrorist activities and support for Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.
But I do think if he can at least claim to have some sort of a nuclear agreement in which they have ceased to weaponize their enrichment, then I think he will claim that he's got some sort of legacy that he can leave behind. There isn't much other meat on that bone.
BARTIROMO: Yes. Let me ask you this, what if a deal does not happen, Ambassador?
What -- what do you think the implications of no deal happens once these talks end in June?
JORDAN: Well, it's going to animate the Israelis and the Saudis, for one. I think the Saudis especially could be included to develop their own nuclear program, perhaps in concert with Pakistan. So that's something that I would be very worried about.
Second, I think it's going to be increasingly difficult to detect what Iran is doing and it's going to be hard to keep the Israelis from trying to take some sort of military action.
BARTIROMO: So it -- it sounds like a race to the bottom in terms of Middle Eastern countries getting their hands on -- on nukes?
JORDAN: There are no good solutions here, but hopefully, we can see some progress and some verification. If we don't, then it is a race to the bottom.
BARTIROMO: Ambassador, good to have you on the show today.
Thanks so much.
JORDAN: Thanks, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Ambassador Robert Jordan joining us.
Innovative technology at the ball park and streamlining the pace of play -- just two initiatives the commissioner of baseball says are underway with the new season.
He's on deck as we are now looking at opening day tonight and looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
Back in a moment.
BARTIROMO: It is opening day, or rather opening night, with the Cubs and the Cardinals taking to the diamond at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time tonight. Major League Baseball has enjoyed record revenues exceeding $9 billion last year. The business is doing well.
So will 2015 be the year it breaks 11 digits?
Robert Manfred is with me. He's the tenth and current commissioner of Major League Baseball. And it is great to have you on the show, Commissioner.
ROBERT MANFRED, MLB COMMISSIONER: Thank you.
BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for joining us.
So it's nice to see such success of MLB. You have already made some changes to the game. You're trying to pick up the pace, get the fans in their seats at the stadium. How's it going and what is on your agenda right now?
MANFRED: Well, we're really encouraged by the early returns on our pace-a-game effort. It's part of a broader effort. We're working hard on getting younger people attracted to the game. We're working hard on youth participation. And we're also encouraging the demographic where we're strong, parents and grandparents, to make sure they bring their kids to the ballpark.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, and absolutely, people want, sort of, a mentor. So with Derek Jeter retired, who would you say is the face of baseball today?
MANFRED: You know, we have got a great young group of players coming along. It's hard to answer that question, but I'd give you four names, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Fernandez.
BARTIROMO: All right. Well, these are some of the stars, and so, you know, that -- you never know who's going to stick with the fans.
MANFRED: That's right. And part of it depends on how their teams do. You know, Derek was obviously personally appealing, but he also had the advantage of being part of great Yankee teams.
BARTIROMO: What about the A-Rod ban? I mean, Alex Rodriguez now back from his season-long ban, but is there a distraction to baseball as a result of what went on?
MANFRED: I don't really see it as a distraction. As a matter of fact, I think it generates interest in the game. People are generally forgiving. Alex served a very severe penalty. And I think people are interested in seeing how he's going to do this year.
BARTIROMO: So what you do now in terms of making sure steroids are not in the game, keeping it out of the game, making sure that you've got drug testing going on?
Are there -- are there plans in place that you're going to ensure?
MANFRED: Yeah, the key on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs is constant vigilance. We have developed great relationships with organizations like WADA and USADA, the world anti-doping agencies, in order to make sure that we're on top of the developments in that area. And each and every year, even if we don't have a collective bargaining agreement, we sit down with the Players Association and update our program.
BARTIROMO: Let's talk about expansion and growth. You're expanding in Asia, Latin America. Why are those markets so important?
MANFRED: Well, Asia and Latin America are right for us because there are great baseball traditions in those areas. You know, Korea, Japan, Taiwan all have great baseball traditions. And they're good targets for us. But we also are interested in newer markets where baseball is not as popular. And I think, in the coming years, you'll see us make efforts in places like Europe.
BARTIROMO: What about Cuba? I mean, obviously, we have seen a number of talented players coming out of Cuba. President Obama announced his plan to restore diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. It's produced a number of talented players who either played or are currently in the league. Do you envision Cuba being a big part of baseball?
MANFRED: I do. I think the flow of talent out of Cuba is going to continue to be strong. I think you're going to see more and more players from Cuba in the major leagues. In addition, we hope that the environment continues to evolve in a way that allows us to do some real business in Cuba.
BARTIROMO: I want to talk about the technology end of it. I know you're doing a lot in terms of getting fans in the seats, trying to engage in social media. But it was also recently announced that the NFL will live- stream a game this fall, first time in history. Are there plans for baseball to try that out as well, live-streaming?
MANFRED: Well, remember, we had the first live-streaming product ever. MLB.tv debuted -- I think it was seven or eight years ago, and all of our games in the -- you know, except in the home television territory, are available over the top on MLB.tv.
BARTIROMO: All right. So you were the first. And, obviously, this is, sort of, the new normal in business in general?
MANFRED: Right. It's part of a really rapidly evolving television environment. Obviously, for our teams, the current cable model has been great for us. Our media revenue has really exploded. And we think we that can use streaming in a way that supports the current cable model.
BARTIROMO: And I know you've had incredible success with MLB advanced media, which is working on this as well. In terms of fans watching it at home, coming to the stadium, how do you get -- is it that critical to get your fans in the stadium, in terms of business? Because you can watch -- you could have a great experience at home these days.
MANFRED: Our game is still a gate-driven game. It's really important to our economics that we have good attendance. You know, over our 2,430 dates, we average about 30,000 people a night. And it's crucial to our business. And we do think we continue to have a really positive, affordable, family in-park experience.
BARTIROMO: Tell me about the growth, in terms of taking it to the next level, in terms of business? What are your most important issues that you're going to be dealing with?
MANFRED: I think that the most important issue for us is to make sure that we're prepared to deal with the changing media environment. As you alluded to earlier, there's a lot going on in that space. Media is a crucial part of our business and we feel that, with MLB Advanced Media, we're well-positioned to deal with those changes.
BARTIROMO: I read that you said your wife gave you the best advice when it came to being appointed commissioner. What was her advice?
MANFRED: Her advice was be your own man. And I'm trying hard.
BARTIROMO: I like it. And you're going to be throwing out the first pitch tonight? You ready for it?
MANFRED: Actually, I'm going to do the first pitch in Washington on Monday.
BARTIROMO: Oh, on Monday, OK.
MANFRED: On Monday, right.
BARTIROMO: Have you been practicing for that?
MANFRED: Oh, I have been practicing. If you don't practice for a first pitch, you're making a mistake.
BARTIROMO: Exactly, exactly.
It's great to have you on the program, Commissioner. Thank you so much.
MANFRED: It's great to be here with you.
BARTIROMO: Commissioner Robert Manfred, joining us, MLB.
Hillary Clinton asked to appear before the Benghazi select committee on May 1st. Our panel will begin right there, next, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Live from "America's News Headquarters," I'm Eric Shawn. Christians around the world are celebrating Easter, Pope Francis leading a solemn mass at the Vatican before tens of thousands of the faithful braving a downpour to pack St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father praising the nuclear framework deal with Iran, as he said, "a chance for peace," while condemning deadly violence in the Middle East and Africa and remembering those students killed in Kenya this week, targeted because they were Christians.
A shocker at the Final Four, Wisconsin ending Kentucky's perfect season in the semifinals, the Badgers beating the Wildcats 71-64 to advance to the final against Duke, who beat Michigan State. There was chaos, then, after the game, about 1,500 Kentucky fans rioting near the campus in Lexington, setting fires in the streets, police arresting 31 people.
I'm Eric Shawn. I'll see you back at 12 noon Eastern with Arthel Neville and more news. Now back to "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi sending a letter to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking her to take part in a, quote, "transcribed interview" regarding her use of private e-mail on a personal server for official State Department business.
We want to bring in our panel on this. Ed Rollins is former principal White House advisor to President Reagan. He has been a longtime strategist to business and political leaders. He is 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 a Fox News contributor. And Doug Heye was the deputy chief of staff for communication to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Good to see you all. Thanks so much for joining us.
Do you think this is going to stick? What -- what plays out in this select Benghazi committee?
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, she does not want to go private. She wants to do it in a public hearing, and my sense, that she wants to do that, that's what she'll end up getting, and I think, to a certain extent, it benefits Republicans because they won't be -- it won't be behind the scenes. They have to be very careful how they approach this. They need to get as much information as they can. Gowdy is a former prosecutor and I think it will be a very interesting day.
BARTIROMO: Why do you think she wants a -- a public hearing?
ROLLINS: Because then she controls the environment. She basically knows what she says and what she's going to say. And I think, to a certain extent, she's pitting herself against the republicans and I think it's -- from her perspective, she thinks it's a good move.
BARTIROMO: But what could she say, Judy? I mean, she wiped to the server clean, so what is there to say?
JUDITH MILLER, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE FOR POLICY RESEARCH: Well, she can undo the damage she did with the U.N. press conference, where she first explained what she had done and then kept adding on all the other number of devices she had -- look, this is not a legal issue; this is now a political issue. Because it's very clear that Hillary is a lawyer. She -- I'm sure she went right up to the line, and since this is now in the political arena, she's going to try and score political points and do that at a hearing.
BARTIROMO: How do you see it, Doug?
DOUG HEYE, GOP COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: Yeah. I think this is the least bad option for Hillary Clinton. We have to remember she doesn't do these particular events very well. And one of the things she needs to be careful of is she controls her message as tightly as she can. She can't afford to have a "what difference does it make" moment or anything like that.
I worked in the Capitol when Trey Gowdy was selected. He was selected for a reason, not just that he's a former prosecutor, but he's somebody who understands the difference between about being aggressive and also showing the necessary restraint you need to not to overplay your hand.
BARTIROMO: But how do you explain wiping the server clean?
MILLER: I mean, you know, it's -- it's her obsession with controlling message, controlling information, lack of transparency. It's everything we've seen for so long. Here on the Planet Hillary, it seems to play.
HEYE: These are not -- remember, these are not un-shrewd, smart politicians. We have known for 20 years that the Clintons are very calculating in what they do, very effective with what they do. So there's no accidents.
ROLLINS: No other government official has, in a Cabinet post, would basically have the same option that "I'm not going to do -- I'm not going to use the government machines; I'm going to basically do it privately in my house up in Chappaquiddick and I'll give you what I want to give you." And I think it's outrageous. And I think, to a certain extent, it's -- it's going to be a long-term battle for her.
BARTIROMO: And it's hard to explain other than "I don't want to be followed; I don't want to be spied on."
MILLER: "I don't want to be accountable."
BARTIROMO: "I don't want to be accountable."
ROLLINS: And that's exactly what it is.
HEYE: And, politically, this is coming at a bad time for Clinton. You know, we've seen for a while Democrats have said, "Well, this doesn't matter in the polls." It's actually starting to matter in polls, and it's mattering -- actually, she's hiring staff here in New York and also ramping up to do an announcement. This is not good timing for Hillary Clinton. ROLLINS: It's not the way you want to launch a presidential campaign. It reminds people of all of the drama that has gone on during -- for the eight years of the Clinton administration.
BARTIROMO: Yeah. I wonder, though, if it's actually impacting. I mean, you say it is impacting voters?
HEYE: We're starting to see polling show...
BARTIROMO: You're starting to see polling?
HEYE: And it goes to exactly what I had said. This reminds voters of why they're uneasy with Hillary Clinton to begin with.
ROLLINS: It's an integrity issue.
BARTIROMO: It is an integrity issue.
MILLER: Different rules for the Clintons than for the rest of us hoi polloi.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, so when do you think she announces her -- her candidacy?
I mean, it's hard to do it in the middle of all of this, hard to do it while she's testifying.
ROLLINS: She has to do it because she doesn't have any staff. She has to start raising the money and she has to basically get a staff. I think one of the weaknesses she has is she doesn't have professionals on her staff that can go out and deal with this. There's no press secretary out there every day fighting back, and she needs to get that campaign up and functioning.
HEYE: I can tell you from Democrats I was talking to, when she was having this press conference and initially dealing with this, they weren't getting the talking points they needed to go on shows like this and defend her. She's got to ramp this up really quickly. She's starting to hire some really good staff, but that framework is not in place yet.
BARTIROMO: And what if it doesn't work?
Is there a bench on the Democratic side, in terms of who their candidate might be?
HEYE: It's a very thin one, but they're -- they're eyeing this very nervously. You've got Martin O'Malley, who's at 1 percent in the polls with Democrats. But he's somebody who's really waiting at the wings.
You have Kerry and Biden, who will go at it if, for some reason, she doesn't run, either health purposes or she gets disqualified here. And Kerry and Biden is not going to be a very pretty race, at the end of the day. They're two losers who have lost in presidential races before, Kerry obviously running for the president, Biden twice running for the nomination. So my sense is it's a very thin bench.
MILLER: But Governor O'Malley also has a line now, which is, you know, "We're not into dynastic elections here."
BARTIROMO: He's getting ready?
MILLER: He's getting ready. That's, I think, a theme that's going to resonate with voters.
BARTIROMO: I'm glad you mentioned Kerry because he is the man of the moment, in terms of the Iran talks. And I want to get into that a little later, in our next segment. So stay with us, everybody. We want to get a look at what's coming up on "Media Buzz" and check in with Howard Kurtz, top of the hour.
Howie, what have you got coming up? Good morning.
KURTZ: Hi, Maria. Good morning. We're going to look at the media uproar around the Indiana religious freedom law and Governor Mike Pence blaming reckless reporting, as he calls it, for the controversy about whether it affects gay rights and gay marriage. Also, the -- the criticism of the new host of "The Daily Show," Trevor Noah, for some offensive and -- and insensitive jokes. Greg Gutfeld will guide us through the comedy minefield on that one.
BARTIROMO: A lot -- a lot to talk about at the top of the hour. Thank you so much, Howie. We will be there.
BARTIROMO: Howard Kurtz, in about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, several more politicians hinting they will announce soon about running for president, including possible competition on the Dem side for Hillary. The panel with that, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." We're back in a moment.
BARTIROMO: We are back with our panel looking at the 2016 presidential race, Ed Rollins, Judy Miller, Doug Heye with me this morning. And we already talked about what's being talked about on the Democratic side. Let me get your take on the GOP side. Marco Rubio going to run?
ROLLINS: I think he's going to run. And he's supposed to announce on the 13th. He's had a great couple of months here. People, particularly young people, are being very attracted to him.
The critical thing here is Bush is off raising a ton of money, but he's not doing particularly well in polls. There's a new poll out this week that basically gives him 25 percent in his home state. He's leading the pack, but 25 percent means that 75 percent in his home state are not -- not there for him.
BARTIROMO: And is that because it's the Bush name?
And are we seeing the same kind of exhaustion over the Clinton name?
ROLLINS: He's not -- no, Clinton is overwhelmingly supported by Democrats. The Florida primary, which is March 15, has 99 delegates. If Bush does not win Florida, he basically is not going to be a viable candidate.
BARTIROMO: Do you think Marco Rubio could win Florida?
MILLER: Well, you know, Rubio, he's -- he's young; he's tan; he's rested; he's hydrated. So...
... yeah, I mean, if Americans haven't learned anything from the penalty we pay for a lack of experience, perhaps Rubio can get the nomination.
BARTIROMO: Which is why people would like to see a governor, as opposed to a senator, Doug?
HEYE: But keep in mind Marco Rubio wasn't some back-benching state senator who voted "present" a lot of the time. He was the speaker of the Florida House. So he does have experience and a compelling story to tell. I think one of the things that's interesting with George (sic) Bush, though - - we all know the name Bush, but we don't really know the name Jeb as well as we know the name Bush.
I think Jeb...
HEYE: ... when he starts speaking Spanish -- well...
BARTIROMO: You're right.
HEYE: When he starts speaking Spanish at events; when we learn more about his conversion to Catholicism, things like that, he -- he has a chance to run both as an old, experienced hand and a unique, different, new candidate that the Republicans haven't had.
BARTIROMO: And he's certainly got the money.
ROLLINS: And to your point, he was -- he was a very effective governor. He won over 55 percent twice in the state. But my point is -- I come back to it -- if he doesn't win that primary in Florida, there's no rationale for him to be the nominee.
BARTIROMO: He certainly has the goods.
MILLER: I, kind of, feel sorry that Mike Pence has now, more or less, taken himself out of this competition because...
BARTIROMO: Because of the religious freedom law.
MILLER: Yes, it was a very unfortunate press conference for him. But this is a man, a conservative who stood up for reporters, by the way -- people forget that he was one of the leaders of the effort to pass a media shield law, when people like me went to jail for the first amendment. So he was one of the few conservatives who really stood up.
BARTIROMO: I do believe that it wasn't intended to be discrimination.
ROLLINS: No, I don't believe so...
ROLLINS: ... and, equally as important, Pence had the ability to reach out to all the various groups, business groups, evangelical groups. The whole thing of this issue is really the long-term battle of the evangelicals and what they want and the business community, what they want, which is -- they're far apart on that issue.
BARTIROMO: Assess the rest of the field for us. Doug?
HEYE: Yeah, I'd say, first off, we're in a much better position with our slate of candidates than we were four years ago. Four years ago, Mitt Romney had real trouble beating a clown car of candidates. Marco Rubio is going to be a great candidate. Jeb Bush is an experienced, good governor. We've got Scott Walker, who's really shown that he can beat back labor in Wisconsin, has a national following.
We've got a lot of strong candidates. We're in a much better position than we were four years ago.
ROLLINS: And one you left out, who announced...
ROLLINS: Well, Kasich isn't in yet. But one you announced who a lot of people don't like, but Ted Cruz raised $8 million this first week after his announcement, which was eight times what he thought he was. A lot of the Rand Paul people have started to jump ship. I think Cruz will be one of the four or five players in this race, whether the Washington establishment likes it or not.
BARTIROMO: Wow, when? When would you see the timing on this, in terms of when we actually have both sides quite clear?
ROLLINS: Oh, I think you've got a year to go. I mean, it's -- you've got to win some of those early states, and it gets hard. National polls mean nothing. It's really who can put the organizations together and win those early states. And then we have -- March 1st, you have a South primary. You've got Texas; you've got a bunch of the Southern states. So by the 15th of March, the Florida primary, we'll know pretty much where we're going.
BARTIROMO: What do you think the main trigger for voters will be?
Will it be foreign policy? Will it be the Iran talks? Will it be economic policy? What's your take in terms of what drives voters this election?
MILLER: Normally it's economics, but this year there's such concern about foreign policy and what is perceived as foreign policy missteps on the part of this administration that it could very well be national security/foreign policy/economic security.
ROLLINS: I think it's who can define themselves as a strong leader who can work with the other side, meaning Democrats, and basically move the ball forward. And part of where they're going get the strength of being a leader is some very clear definitions on -- on the foreign policy.
BARTIROMO: Well, you're right. Leadership is going to be so important, given what we've seen.
BARTIROMO: What do you think, Doug?
HEYE: Well, that's exactly it. Foreign policy is something where we haven't seen leadership from this administration. We have seen, you know, an absence of any leadership, our allies asking where's America?
If you go back to the last three or four weeks of -- of the 2014 elections, we saw a lot being talked about with foreign policy. And this will play forward in not just the presidential races. There's an interesting National Journal article by Alex Roarty about how Richard Burr, Senator Richard Burr from North Carolina -- in full disclosure my old boss, now the new Senate intel chair -- plans to campaign throughout that state, an important swing state, on foreign policy and on the missteps that this administration has done for six years now.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, particularly as we are, right now, looking at probably one of the most important decisions for the country and the world, as these Iran talks continue.
ROLLINS: And equally important, whether Hillary wants to walk away from it or not, she has to defend this administration. She was a very critical part of this administration as secretary of state and so she's got to defend, as much as possible, the disaster that's been the Obama...
BARTIROMO: It's amazing to see the Obama administration and how they treat Hillary. I mean, the word was that it was Valerie Jarrett, somebody in his administration, who basically leaked and told the New York Times that she's been using her personal e-mails. So they basically threw her under the bus.
ROLLINS: They would love to have another alternative, but they don't.
BARTIROMO: What about Elizabeth Warren?
ROLLINS: She's not an alternative. She's not a viable candidate for president. She is a viable candidate in Massachusetts, but Republicans do pretty well against Massachusetts liberals.
MILLER: I don't know. People keep saying that, but every time she talks about "I'm not against big banks; I'm against corrupt banks; I'm against double standards, you know, one standard for the wealthy and one for the poor," I think she has a message that really does resonate.
BARTIROMO: Well, who -- which bank is she talking about when she says "corrupt banks?"
MILLER: She's talking about any bank that makes money off of the loans they give your kids to go to college.
ROLLINS: She is -- she is popular among a certain element, but she's a fringe candidate when you see her measured across the country.
HEYE: With Hillary, you know, we thought she was inevitable last time. The reality is now the fix is in. They've just announced today that the new CEO of the Democratic convention is a Hillary loyalist. We're seeing this throughout the Democratic political world. The fix is in.
MILLER: But if, for some reason, she doesn't run, the Republican bench is so much stronger than the Democratic bench.
ROLLINS: No questions about it, no question about it.
HEYE: But Republicans have to be mindful that just because we don't like Hillary Clinton and she has problems does not mean that this is a slam-dunk for us.
HEYE: Republicans have existential problems that we bury our head in the sand a lot and ignore. And if we don't confront that and we don't find a way to be inclusive and engaging with...
ROLLINS: It's still the same nine states, the swing states, all over again. Bush won the majority of them when he won twice; we have lost the last two, and we basically lost them all last time. And we need to get back in that game and understand that's the game.
BARTIROMO: All right. We've got to talk about Iran next. Long-term talks with Iran, the fight against ISIS, global economics and how foreign policy is bound to shape the 2016 race. We're looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" with our panel right after this.
BARTIROMO: Our panel is back as we're looking ahead. Ed Rollins, Judy Miller, Doug Heye, we were waiting and waiting on some kind of an initial framework. At the end of last week, we heard the news and it was that basically progress has been reached to allow us to continue negotiations to June 30 on these Iran talks. What will we hear come June 30 that is different that we have been unable to agree on in March?
ROLLINS: Not a thing. This is sign the agreement, we'll fill in the details later. We're getting as the U.S. nothing out of this agreement. They're getting everything they set out to get.
BARTIROMO: Iran has not made any concessions.
ROLLINS: Iran has made no concessions. It's one of these deals where if you like your nuclear weapon, you want to expand it, you get to do that.
BARTIROMO: Like ObamaCare. Actually not funny at all.
ROLLINS: It's not funny. And this ten-year war or 20-year war, they will have a nuclear weapon and they will move more and more just from terrorist activity they're sponsoring to being a very serious threat to Middle East peace.
BARTIROMO: The other idea and issue is throughout all of these talks, what has happened is it has empowered Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and others to want their own nuclear bomb.
MILLER: I think that would have happened no matter what. If the agreement, if the talks had totally collapsed, they would have immediately run off and started their programs. But the same may happen whether or not you have an understanding, an agreement, whatever we're calling it. I think it was kind of pathetic that we had two people, Kerry and Zarif, his Iranian counterpart, pulling an all-nighter, doing the equivalent on Friday of an all-nighter.
BARTIROMO: And everyone else left. Most of the others -- not everybody -- but many players left. And John Kerry stayed.
MILLER: And this is what's happened. It has been downgraded from an agreement to an understanding and now an outline of a potential understanding. I mean, these talks are in deep trouble.
BARTIROMO: The U.S. wants a deal bad.
HEYE: And that's the problem. There are no goals here, nothing specific that we hope to get or extract from Iran. We just want a deal so we can hold up a sheet of paper and say we have a deal. And meanwhile we've been having over the past month a conversation about what our relationship with Israel is going to be. Speaker Boehner was just in Israel with some of the congressional leadership. Israel is obviously in a bad place with the United States right now, and any kind of a deal with Iran, and signaling that that's all we want from Iran, is any kind of deal, tells Israel we're not their No. 1 ally anymore.
BARTIROMO: You're absolutely right.
ROLLINS: Your prior guest here, former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Peter King, knows more about this deal than any, and he says it's a bad deal.
BARTIROMO: What about in terms of Israel? What does it mean that the Israeli-U.S. relations have been hurt?
ROLLINS: I think it's not just Israel, which is very important. The only democracy in the region. The Saudis have been our great friend and allies.
BARTIROMO: They don't like the way we've been approaching this at all.
ROLLINS: And nobody else can trust us at this point in time. We're willing to make a deal with someone that is the terrorist of the neighborhood and just make a deal.
BARTIROMO: Why, what is Obama's motivation that this is so important?
ROLLINS: He really wants to extract America from the Middle East. And the way you do that is to pull us away from our traditional alliances with the Saudis, with the Egyptians, whom he views as kind of very unpromising in terms of long time--
BARTIROMO: But look at what happened when we pulled the troops out of Iraq, Judy. We pulled the troops out of Iraq and ISIS has gotten empowered, and now they have our equipment, trying to kill our --
ROLLINS: Our money.
BARTIROMO: And our money.
MILLER: I totally agree with you. I think it's been a terrible mistake, just as it was a terrible mistake to take so long to finally support Egypt with arms. Finally this past week we had an agreement on that. But by this time, all of the credibility, all of the good will that these nations had for us, (inaudible).
BARTIROMO: All right. Stay right there, because we want to find out what you think is most important for the week ahead, weeks ahead. When we come back, the one thing to watch on "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: We're back with our panel. The one big thing to watch in the week ahead. Doug Heye, what is it?
HEYE: United Kingdom just started their elections this week. They are going to be over the next month. We saw David Cameron finally hitting the campaign trail. Boris Johnson -- the world's greatest mayor is standing for election to parliament. This could be very important not just for what happens with our No. 1 strategic partner and special relationship, but also the only prime minister, the only leader of a foreign country that we can identify that really likes Barack Obama.
BARTIROMO: We'll watch that. And Judy, I'm excited for your book coming out next week.
MILLER: Thank you very much. I'm looking forward to it as well, finally being out. My life and times and adventures at the New York Times. But it's broader than that. It's really about the state of journalism today and why it matters.
BARTIROMO: So we'll watch that. And that's a good title, in terms of why it matters, the state of journalism, you have a lot to say about that. Ed, what are you looking forward to?
ROLLINS: And I'm looking to see how fast she makes the New York Times best seller list.
ROLLINS: I'm looking to see how Governor Pence and Governor Hutchinson both get out of the debacle that they're in today, and it's a very serious debate among two wings of the party.
BARTIROMO: And perhaps Marco Rubio soon.
ROLLINS: Could be.
BARTIROMO: All right. And for me, it's a quiet week in economic data, but the PMI is usually a market mover. Thanks so much for being with us today. Have a wonderful Easter, everybody. Happy Easter. I'm Maria Bartiromo. I'll see you tomorrow morning on the "Opening Bell" on the Fox Business Network.
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