New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation" Sunday that President Barack Obama should be staging this so-called "charm offensive" more often. He said, "I find it fascinating, people criticize him for taking people to dinner - he should be doing that every night. They criticize him for going and playing golf with people that he's got to deal with. He should be doing that every weekend." Huffington Post rounds up some of the criticisms the President's faced for doing such things. National Review also explained the background of the President's recent outreach to Congressional Republicans, which included a dinner at The Jefferson hotel last week in Washington, D.C., and a lunch at the White House with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Ryan's Budget Committee colleague Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
Bloomberg's main focus Sunday, though, was gun control - a topic he's spent many a weekend talking about lately as founder of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Bloomberg reiterated his position on banning assault weapons, but honed in primarily on the idea of universal background checks. He said, "The truth of the matter is only about 400 people a year get killed with assault weapons or high-capacity magazines." And while he called all of those deaths "tragedies," he pointed to the thousands of people killed each year by handguns as a reason for Congress to pass background checks which, he said, "do work."
He implied Congressional action might be closer than some people think. He told Schieffer, "Well I really think that things in Washington are going better than anybody...understands, Judiciary Committee just took up gun legislation the other day. It starts the process. Federal government doesn't overnight do things, and probably shouldn't write laws that quickly."
One law Bloomberg and his administration wrote takes effect this week: a ban on the sale of large sugary drinks, intended as a measure to help curb obesity. The Mayor strongly defended the law, claiming more people will die this year from too much food than too little and that it is in the country's best interest. "We've got to do something about this. This is going to bankrupt the country; our medical system cannot handle it, being overweight -- [it's] the first time it's gone from being a rich person's disease to a poor person's disease."
The law which takes effect this week bars restaurants and stores in the city from selling high-calorie drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. Bloomberg told Schieffer. "All we're doing in New York is reminding you that it's not in your interest to have too many empty calories," he said. He elaborated, "You can have some, but if you want to have 32 ounces, just buy two 16 ounce cups, take [them] back to your seat. If you want 64 ounces, take four cups back. But what's likely to happen here is you'll take one and probably not come back for the second. But it's totally your choice." He called it "portion control," a phrase National Review chose as their headline. Read all about the law and Bloomberg's comments on it from CBS 2 - the New York City affiliate.
Republican Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, touched on the President's outreach to Republicans and suggested he should extend a hand, too, to Democrats. "What the president needs to do is to reach out not just to Republicans, but to Democrats, and to ensure that he gives them the political cover to do, frankly, what most of them know needs to be done," Portman said. Portman continued, "Meeting with Republicans is fine, but frankly I think it is more important to reach out to Democrats and make sure that they know that he is going to have their back and to reach out to the American people and let them know what the problem really is."
Democrat Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said the President "has been reaching out to Democrats" as well as Republicans, and praised the President for his "important move forward" in his outreach to the GOP.
Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, also said Republicans need to drop their resistance to closing tax loopholes to increase revenue. Van Hollen told Schieffer: "More talk is good, but ultimately, we need everybody to come together and compromise around a balanced approach."
Switching from guns and the budget to another hot button issue in Washington, Florida Senator Jeb Bush talked about immigration reform. Bush's book Immigration Wars came out last week at a time when it appears members of Congress are on a path to creating comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
Bush said it "is a very encouraging time." Not only for immigration reform, but also, Bush said, "because if we can get immigration right, imagine, there's possibilities of cats and dogs living with one another in other policy areas as well."
Bush received a lot of criticism last week for what many called a "flip-flop" on his immigration policy. Bush defended himself, reminding Schieffer the book was written a year ago, before the "Gang of Eight" started looking at the issue. Bush applauded the group, saying "they're making a major contribution," and he said there were positive efforts in the House of Representatives as well.
Bush also claimed the President won re-election by dividing the country. "I think the basic part of his campaign was that those that were successful weren't paying their fair share, even though we have incredibly high taxes for high income Americans," Bush said. "I think he ran a campaign of them and us. And it was quite effective, that somehow the Republicans don't care about the large number of people." Bush says Republicans need to offer an alternative in order to win future elections.
The other big news coming this week is the beginning of the Conclave to elect a new Pope. The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, Vanity Fair's Carl Bernstein, Washington Post's Carl Bernstein and author Grog Tobin shared their thoughts on what to expect from the Conclave and, ultimately, the next Pope.
(Read Peggy Noonan's opinion of the Pope on The Daily Caller)