Axelrod: Words And Handshakes "Not Enough"

White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod said the warm greeting between Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and President Obama was "nice," but insisted it is important to monitor the continued actions of the South American leader.

"I am not concerned about the message that it sent; I am concerned about what flows from it," Axelrod said on CBS News' Face The Nation Sunday. "Words and handshakes are nice, but they are not enough."

Axelrod said in order for Venezuela to restore U.S. ambassadors to the country, they would have to stop the "rampant and tasteless, anti-Americanism" and start cooperating with the United States.

The White House advisor praised his boss for engaging the people of the world who force their leaders to respond.

"Easy anti-Americanism is no longer a great political tactic," Axelrod said.

In response to Raul Castro's statement that Cuba would work with the United States after President Obama lifted some travel and trade restrictions, Axelrod said the Cuban government should stop taking thirty percent of the remittances sent to Cuba.

The Cuban government should also support cellular phone companies and work on their political prisoner policy, Axelrod said.

"The fifty years of policy we have had has not been very successful in changing the realities on the island of Cuba," he said, noting that the signs of cooperation are "encouraging."

Moving the subject to Mexico, host Harry Smith asked Axelrod if the president has any intention of reinstating the assault weapons ban which Mexican leaders argue has aided drug cartels along the border.

Axelrod insisted that the prospects of reinstating the ban are "not dead," considering the obstacles that exist in Congress, but noted that given the president's full plate at the moment, an renewed assault weapons ban is not a priority on the White House agenda.

He argued Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been cracking down on the flow of guns into Mexico.

Axelrod said that the White House is "not at all" fearful of the political power of the National Rifle Association, which is opposing the ban's reinstitution.

"We will monitor the issue and if there is a consensus, we will move on it," he said of the gun ban legislation.

More from Face The Nation (4.19.09):

  • W.H.: No Reason To Hide Torture Memos
  • Axelrod: Markets Can Handle The Truth
  • Heated Debate Over Assault Weapons
  • Read The Complete Transcript> (pdf)

    To watch David Axelrod's appearance on Face The Nation click on the video player below.