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Face the Nation transcripts April 14, 2013: Rubio, Manchin, Toomey, Kelly

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on April 14, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Pat Toomey, R-Penn., along with Americans for Responsible Solutions' Mark Kelly; plus, a panel featuring David Ignatius of the Washington Post, David Sanger of the New York Times, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, and CBS News political director John Dickerson.

SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, the families of the Newtown to victims came to Washington to make their case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.

SCHIEFFER: Conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin comes from gun-friendly West Virginia, but he was overcome after meeting with those parents.

MANCHIN: I'm a parent, a grandparent. I can't imagine. I just can't imagine. Let's all share, it's -- I can't imagine. I just -- I can do something. I can do something.

SCHIEFFER: Democrat Manchin and conservative Republican Senator Pat Toomey will be here to talk about the bipartisan plan they've worked out to strengthen background checks for gun buyers. We'll also hear from former astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of gun victim and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. It was a rare week of bipartisanship, and who knows where it all goes? But we'll also talk to Senator Marco Rubio about the bipartisan group he's working with on immigration reform. All that, plus analysis from David Ignatius of The Washington Post, David Sanger of The New York Times, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, and our own John Dickerson. It's all next on FACE THE NATION.

ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: Good morning, again. The topics are guns and immigration. We're going to start this morning with immigration. We're joined by the senator many consider the key person on this issue, Marco Rubio, who is part of a bipartisan "gang of eight," who have worked out a compromise proposal they are hoping will result in a reform of immigration laws that will appeal to both sides. The senator is in Miami this morning. Senator, good morning. Let me just make sure...

RUBIO: Good morning.

SCHIEFFER: ... first, do you -- have you agreed with the "gang of eight"? Are you all together on this proposal? And when will you unveil it?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, it's important to understand, we're not agreeing to a press release. We're agreeing to a bill, a piece of legislation. We have agreed to the principles of a piece of legislation. They're still being drafted. So I would say, obviously, if the draft looks what we've agreed to, I look forward to us being able to talk in more detail later this week about that. I'm very optimistic about it.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, I think the most important part of this, the key thing is, what happens to the 11 million immigrants who are in this country illegally? What happens to them?

RUBIO: Right, yes. Well, first of all, I think it's important to point out this is not a theory. They are actually here. We are not talking about bringing millions of people here illegally. They are here now and they are going to be here for rest of their lives. The proposals in the past that some have advocated is to make their lives miserable so that they'll leave on their own or to basically ignore the problem which is happening now and is de facto amnesty. And what we're proposing is to actually deal with them in the following way. And that is, they will have to come forward and pass a rigorous background check. If they are criminals, they won't qualify. Although if they pass that background check, they will be given the opportunity to pay an application fee and a fine. And in return for that, they will get a worker permit that will allow them to stay in the U.S., work, travel, and pay taxes. They will not qualify for any federal benefits of any kind, including Obamacare. And they will have to be in that system for over 10 years before they can apply to the existing legal immigration system for a green card, not a special path, the same path as everybody else. And, of course, that will be dependent upon certain security measures being met. That means securing the border, universal E- verify, and the universal entry/exit tracking system. If those three things are not in place, that green card process won't begin, even if the 10 years has elapsed.

SCHIEFFER: You know, some Republicans are going to say this is really just amnesty under another name or under another label. Is it?

RUBIO: Well, I think that that misses the point that under existing law, if you're illegally here, you can get a green card. It says you have to go back to your country of birth, you wait 10 years, and then you apply for the green card. All we're saying is, if you decide you wanted to stay here, you'll have to wait for more than 10 years. You'll have to wait until E-verify, border security, and entry/exit happen. You won't qualify for any federal benefits. You'll have to pay taxes. You'll have to prove that you're not a public charge. And you'll -- as I said, you'll have to wait longer than 10 years to qualify for all of that. So I would argue that the existing law is actually more lenient, that going back and waiting 10 years is going to be cheaper and faster than going through this process that we are outlining.

SCHIEFFER: You are also calling for some very significant measures to tighten security along the border. And -- including spending more than $3 billion, as I understand it.

RUBIO: Well, I just think it's important when we talk about border security -- although, the immigration issue gets all the attention with regards to it. The border is really about our sovereignty as a country, about our ability to protect our borders and who has access to our nation. And the fact of the matter is that while I am not in favor of a housekeeper or a landscaper crossing the border illegally, what keeps us up at night is the worry that a terrorist could come across that border one day, or the activities that are being undertaken there now by criminal gangs that are human traffickers. And so this addresses that as well. There was a very compelling article over the weekend in The Wall Street Journal that pointed out some of the problems that exist at the border. And I think these are the kinds of issues that we're trying to get to here as well.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think you can get this bill passed this year on immigration?

RUBIO: The -- I do. I'm optimistic about it. I think this bill answers all the questions that people raise. That's why it has taken so long. That's why we've spent so much time on it. That's why we continue to spend time on it. This bill does three things that are fundamentally important for our country. It modernizes our legal immigration system, something we need to do no matter what. It puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world. And it once and for all deals with the issue of those that are here illegally, but does so in a way that is fair and compassionate but does not encourage people to come illegally in the future and isn't unfair to the people that have done it the right way. And so that's why I am optimistic that we can get the votes to get this passed. But it will be a long process, hopefully a very open process. And I think it will take some time. But I believe we can get there.

SCHIEFFER: Let me now do shift this to guns. You met with the families -- some of the families of the Newtown tragedy. What do you think is going to happen? We're going to have Senator Manchin, Senator Toomey here with their new proposal on background checks. You actually voted to filibuster the debate on guns. Will you now continue to filibuster as these various bills come up, and why?

RUBIO: Well, we're on the bill now, and hopefully we can get into an open amendment process. For example, I hope we can pass an amendment to that bill that says that we're going to start prosecuting people who illegally are trying to buy guns and getting around the background check system. I hope we can have a debate about violence in America, about what's causing this. Everyone is focused on what people are using to commit the violence. I don't think there's nearly enough focus on the violence, which is the fundamental problem that we face. I also think it's important to protect the rights of Americans, of law-abiding Americans to possess firearms via the Second Amendment, which is a constitutional right. Now I didn't write the Constitution. That's in there. And any time you're going to do anything that touches upon that, you need to provide a very high standard. But my bigger hope is that this issue doesn't just become about guns, that we can broaden it to make it about violence and deal with things like mental health and prosecutions of those who are criminals but have been trying to buy guns.

SCHIEFFER: Well, did the meeting with these families, did that have any impact on your thinking? I mean, what do you say to them?

RUBIO: It sure did. Well, first of all, I was very impressed with these families, obviously very touched by them. And I can tell you I have never had a meeting like that in all my years of public service. And it's an indescribable experience. I congratulate them because they are taking a horrifying tragedy and are trying to turn it into a positive for the broad aspects of Americans. I don't think they would disagree with any of the things I'm saying in terms of the debate needs to be about guns. And what I expressed -- I'm sorry, the debate needs to be about violence. And what I expressed to them, and I think that they would agree with that, is that this issue cannot just be about guns. It has to be holistically about violence as it impacts the whole country. And I hope that we will take the opportunity here over the next few weeks as we debate this bill to look for ways to raise that issue. And I think they would be very supportive of that.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, it seems to me, back when you were in the Florida legislature, you were for background checks, you were for a waiting period before people could purchase a gun. Are you now against background checks? And if so, what has changed your mind?

RUBIO: No, we -- the Florida law requires background checks. And, by the way, the Florida law also provides for you to have a concealed weapons permit, which means as a concealed weapons permit- holder, which I am, you undergo a background check. And because of that there is no three-day waiting period for you when you go buy a gun. We should apply that nationally. You should be able to use -- if you have received a concealed weapons permit from any state in the country, other states should honor that when you go buy a permit, because that means you've undergone a rigorous background check. Maybe that can be part of this bill as well. My problem is this, in addition to the issue I've just raised, which is that this debate needs to be about violence, not just about guns, we have to ensure that the laws that people are putting out there do not infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens and that actually do keep guns out of the hands of criminals. And my skepticism about gun laws is that criminals don't follow the law. They don't care what the law is, that they don't -- you can pass any law you want, criminals ignore it, by definition they're criminals.

SCHIEFFER: You know, Senator -- are you still there, Senator?


SCHIEFFER: You know, criminals don't follow the laws on burglary and on murder and on auto theft. But those laws still, I think...

RUBIO: And we prosecute those.

SCHIEFFER: I think most people would say those laws are fairly effective. But let me just ask you this question. You say you have a concealed weapons permit, do you carry a weapon?

RUBIO: I do not, but I have a concealed weapon permit that basically says that -- and I don't quite frankly because I spend most of my time in airports and in the Capitol where you're not allowed to necessarily carry those around. But let me say this to you, all Americans have a right to that -- all Americans have a Second-Amendment right to buy a firearm, to possess one for both self-defense and for sport. And we should be very careful about anything that infringes on that. Now, if someone has an effective way to protect that right and to prevent criminals from getting access to weapons, certainly I think everyone is open to that.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you quickly before you go about North Korea, what-- what should we be doing there? Are we following the right policies?

RUBIO: I believe the administration has acted responsibly right now on that. I think they've done three things that are important. Number one, is they've made very can clear that there is not going to be any food or any conceptions in exchange for downsizing these provocations. Number two, they've repositioned assets, and those repositioned assets do two things-- they protect the United States and our territory, but they also let our allies understand clearly that we are going to live up to our security commitments. I'm also encouraged that Secretary Kerry went to China yesterday and met with the president of China. And hopefully we can get the Chinese to care more with this issue. And we're hoping the Chinese will recalibrate their relationship to North Korea and realize that what's there now on that peninsula is unsustainable. The ultimate solution to the Korean problem is to denuclearize the peninsula and to unify it. And that's ultimately the solution to that problem. And that's the goal we should be working towards, because what North Korea has is not a government, what North Korea is being run by is a criminal syndicate.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator, thank you so much for joining this morning.

RUBIO: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we want to welcome now another unlikely duo to Face the Nation, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey. And IU use the word "unlikely" not only because only is Republican, one is a Democrat, but because both are gun rights supporters and earn top ratings from the NRA. But last week, they announced a proposal to expand background checks on gun purchases that will be debated in the Senate this week. Your proposal, as I understand it, closes this loophole, which means that people who go to gun shows will have to be subjected to background checks and a record of the sale will be kept, just as it is when you go to a -- to a gun dealer and buy a gun. Have you gotten any Republican support yet, Senator Toomey?

TOOMEY: Yes, there is Republican support. Mark Kirk has been actively engaged in this process, fully supports this approach. Let me stress a couple things, Bob, first thing is, there is not a single word in this legislation that in any way infringes on the Second Amendment rights of a law-abiding citizen, but we think the laws that make it illegal now for a criminal or a potentially violent, dangerously mentally ill person to have a weapon -- that's the law of the land -- we think that makes sense. And we think a background check to help increase the likelihood that we'll be successful in keeping guns out of the hands of very dangerous people, it just makes sense. It's common sense. And so I think when people see the bill, they're going to support it.

SCHIEFFER: You know, Senator Rubio, you just heard Senator Rubio, I think you're going to have a problem with him. He does not seem to think any gun laws, really, as he put it, work.

MANCHIN: Marco is very articulate in saying the things he would like to see in a bill and he could support, and all I'm saying is I hope he has time-- I know he has a busy schedule -- that he has time to read the bill. It's only 49 pages. Everything he just pointed out is in this bill. If you're a law-abiding gun owner, you're going to like this bill. Veterans rights, you're going to like this bill. Now, if you are a criminal or if you have been mentally adjudicated and you go to a gun show or try to buy a gun online, you might not like this bill because you can't do it. And what we've done, we did it right, we shut down the gun show loopholes and online sales. We did not infringe, as Pat just said, we did not infringe on any individual's right, family, tradition of gun owners that we come from, gun culture states where a father can give a son or a relative or a cousin, did not infringe on any of that. And we strengthen the penalties for the states to do their jobs so we can get the NICS records, you know, our background check records, up to par.

SCHIEFFER: I know, Senator, you said after Newtown that it was time that something had to be done. But Senator Toomey what brought you to this place where you are now?

TOOMEY: Bob, I have been in this place since 1999, when it was my first term in the House I voted to expand background checks because I just think it's common sense to try to make it more difficult for criminals and dangerously mentally ill people to obtain weapons. And I acknowledge, there is no single bill that is a panacea for this, nothing guarantees that a committed criminal isn't going to find a way to get a gun, but we can make it more difficult. We can reduce the chances that they'll be successful and that would be some progress without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

MANCHIN: Let me just say-- and I think even Marco just said it and I know Pat met with the families. I met with the families of Newtown. These families -- I've never met people with the strength and convictions they have. First of all, they'll come in and say we don't want anybody's guns to be taken away. We don't want any infringements of the Second Amendment to be infringed upon. When they come to you and they're saying, honestly, we know the bill you're working on right now would not have prevented what happened to our babies. But if you can prevent one family from not going what we went through, by keeping the guns out of a mentally deranged person, out of a criminal that could do something, and I keep thinking if we just had half the courage these families had, if we as congress had half of their courage, and the common sense to do the right thing oh, my goodness what, a difference we could make.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Toomey why is this so hard? Why is this such a hard thing?

TOOMEY: You know, I think it's hard because people have misconceptions about what's in this bill, what it does. For instance, they think there's this whole new system that we're created that they have reason to worry about. In fact, we're just working with an existing system, the existing background system that some states have chosen not to provide much information. In the case of the Virginia Tech shooting, for instance, that individual was -- had been adjudicated as dangerously mentally ill. The court system in Virginia knew that, but the state never provided the system to the background check, so when he went to buy a gun he passed the test. Now, under our bill we create greater incentives for states to provide this kind information, so hopefully they will and someone like him might be denied in the future.

MANCHIN: This is not universal, let me be very clear, this is a criminal and mental background check bill only at gun shows and internet sales. There are going to be some people said you didn't go far enough, some are saying you went too far. But if they'll look at the bill, what we did, we did right. And we have cut down the loophole in the gun shows, and those on internet sales, Bob. And that's what we tried to do. And we made no exceptions on that. And you know we're not infringing on people's rights. We're just not infringing on their rights. And a law-abiding gun owner -- I come from a gun culture state of West Virginia.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, let me just...

MANCHIN: Sure...

SCHIEFFER: Stop right there. We're going to talk about this some more, but we've got to take a break here and then we'll be right back with more from these two senators.

SCHIEFFER: Back now with Senators Manchin and Toomey. Senator Toomey, there are going to be a lot of amendments. I mean, this is going to go on for a while. Some people say in the end there may be so many amendments you wind up with looser restrictions on gun sales. How do you counter that?

TOOMEY: I think it's very hard to say what amendments may succeed and which may fail. I'm not sure how many there are going to be. But one we know for sure is going to be ours, and ours I think just strikes the right balance, extending background checks at gun shows we think makes a lot of sense, strengthening the existing background check system makes a lot of sense. And the third piece that we haven't talked much about, Bob, there are a number of provisions in our legislation that allows an of a law-abiding citizen to enjoy their Second Amendment rights. One quick example, for instance, under current law, a veteran can very easily be denied Second Amendment rights, a social worker at the VA can decide that this person is having trouble handling their personal finances, and bingo, they're denied their Second Amendment rights. We create a mechanism by which they can simply challenge and adjudicate that. It's very reasonable.

SCHIEFFER: What will be the toughest thing here to get this past?

MANCHIN: I think to get an honest look at the bill. If they'll just look at the bill -- and that's all we said, it's only 49 pages, it's not that long. We've had breakdowns on our web sites we have for everyone to see, sent it to all of our colleagues. If they'll look at the bill, and everything that they've heard about -- they said registration. You can't register, it's illegal to register. You can do a background check and you can keep a record, but by law today we doubled down, Pat and I, and basically said if any agency tries to do a registration to have a national registry it's a felony, 15 years imprisonment. Those kind of...Those kind of restraints aren't there today.

SCHIEFFER: How many votes you think you have right now, would you say?

MANCHIN: Well, we're close. We need more.

SCHIEFFER: You need more?

TOOMEY: We're close. We're working it. We're discussing with colleagues on both sides. We've got bipartisan support, but there's bipartisan opposition, so...

SCHIEFFER: Well, you've mentioned one Republican. Do you have any other republicans at this point?

TOOMEY: We have others that we're confident about. I'm not sure they've announced it, so I don't want to announce it.

MANCHIN: Well, I was proud to see Susan Collins came out openly. She's on record...

SCHIEFFER: That was last night.

MANCHIN: Last night. And Susan, just -- what a beautiful lady, but she's just -- she's got courage.

SCHIEFFER: So where -- where do you see -- how do you see this debate unfolding now? I mean, how soon will your amendment be offered?

TOOMEY: Well, I think it's likely that we'll have the vote by Wednesday or Thursday.

SCHIEFFER: On -- on your bill?

MANCHIN: We're going to start tomorrow. Pat and I will start on the floor tomorrow around 2:00, 2:30, and we're going to talk about the bill and go through it line by line, section by section, every misnomer out there, every falsehood that we can talk about, to bring light to it. This will go on. And I think, the more that people will take time to learn more about this bill, we'll get more support. And if they give their support to their -- to their representatives, I think, maybe, they'll see the right (ph).

SCHIEFFER: Are you -- are the two of you going to be together on...


SCHIEFFER: ... on all of these votes that are going to be coming here, or...

TOOMEY: Well, we don't know what votes are coming, so...


... it's hard to say that for sure. I mean, I think -- Joe and I are both NRA members with A ratings with the NRA, so chances are, we probably see things roughly the same way, but -- but, until we actually see...


SCHIEFFER: What has the NRA said to you all?

MANCHIN: We've had open discussions. I think everyone should be at the table, and we've been very open and honest and had good discussions. There are some things that they brought up that we have looked at this bill -- when they said, "Listen, we supported this 10 years ago, and the government didn't do its job, DOJ," they were right. So we put penalties and we put incentives to make sure the next records are done and done right. At the end of the day, they won't be with us on this, and I just would hope that they would allow their members to see the facts and let them vote their conscience.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think you'll get any conservative Democrats?

MANCHIN: I do. I really do. And we're pleased with that. But I know some are in very difficult districts. You know, Bob, we came here to do something. We've got a chance to make a difference in people's lives. We have a chance to save lives and not infringe on law-abiding citizens of this country, gun owners like myself and Pat. We had that opportunity and God help us if we don't do it.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask Senator Toomey. Do you think the NRA will penalize you in some way?

TOOMEY: Oh, I -- I don't know. You know, we -- we've had a good relationship over the years. We disagree on this. Bob, you know, the chips will fall where they fall. I think my job is to do what I think is right.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, that's a good place to end this. Thanks to both of you.

MANCHIN: Thank you for having us.

SCHIEFFER: We'll just hope we'll see you later.

TOOMEY: Absolutely.

SCHIEFFER: Back in a minute.

SCHIEFFER: Monday marks the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut as a Major League ball player with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. This weekend, the movie "42," the story of Jackie's life, opens around the country. I haven't seen it yet, but it will have to be a great movie to match his life. He was, of course, the first to break the color barrier in what they called "America's game," a game until then open only to some Americans. The Dodger general manager Branch Rickey picked him, not because he was the best player in the old Negro League, as it was called, but because he thought Robinson had the character to withstand the hatred he was sure to face. And he was hated, taunted and threatened. But he responded in the most effective way, as a ballplayer. That first season he was the National League rookie of the year. Three years later, he was the Dodgers' highest paid player. And in 1955, the Dodgers won their first World Series. I hear good things about this movie, and I plan to see it. After all, a movie about a man of his greatness doesn't have to be that good to be worth seeing. Back in a minute.

SCHIEFFER: Well, some of our stations are leaving us now, but for most of you, we'll be back with former astronaut turned gun control advocate Mark Kelly, plus our panel. A lot has been happening on North Korea, so we'll be talking about that, plus the politics of what's going on in Washington now Congress is back in town. Stay with us.

SCHIEFFER: Welcome back to "Face the Nation." Mark Kelly is known for his career as an astronaut, commander of the Space Shuttle, as well as being former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' husband. She, of course, was seriously injured by a gunman. Since then, he has become an advocate for stricter gun laws. His group -- her group as well -- is called Americans for Responsible Solutions. He's in Tucson this morning. And, Mr. Kelly, we certainly welcome you and know you're coming back to Washington this week to try to work and lobby congress as it begins work on some sort of overhaul of our gun laws. I guess I'd ask you first, what do you think the impact of these families from Newtown coming to Washington -- it was an amazing thing to see them as they went around the Capitol this week. What did you think of their efforts here?

KELLY: You know, Bob, statistics are one thing, but real people meeting in a congressman or congresswoman's office you know has -- you know, it's a real connection to how violence, gun violence in particular, affects people in our country. I mean, I think it's incredibly impactful. I hope they get the opportunity to meet every member of congress before we come up on these votes in the Senate and in the House.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think -- what do you think is going to happen? It's going to be very difficult to this -- this issue is so heavily lobbied by people on both sides. You have the National Rifle Association here. You heard Senator Manchin, and Senator Toomey this morning who come up with a bill to try to reform this whole business on background checks. Where do you think this thing stands right now?

KELLY: Well you know, I think there will be a lot of amendments that are offered. Hopefully we see a bill that addresses expanded background checks, the Toomey-Manchin bill. I mean, both Senator Toomey and Manchin said one of the hardest things is going to get these other members to actually read the 49-page bill. So I implore them to do that. It's 49 pages that their constituents support. So once that gets passed, hopefully there will be a mental health piece to it, gun trafficking. And then we move over to the House. And Gabby and I are going to be working incredibly hard, and our organization is going to be working every day to get them to read the bill and pass this legislation and sign it into law.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think the most important things that the congress can do? You mentioned gun trafficking, background checks. It is looking like there may not be a ban on assault weapons or larger magazine. What do you think this bill to be really meaningful ought to include?

KELLY: Well, expanding the current background checks system is a huge success. If we get that passed, and I think we will, it is a big deal. Right now, 40 percent of guns are bought at gun shows or through -- over the internet without a background check. So it's very easy for the criminals, the dangerously mentally ill to get a gun. So closing those loopholes I think is the number one thing we can do to reduce gun violence in this country. So, you know, that will be a huge success. And then we have got to look at other things. You know, for such a long time, the government has been prevented from analyzing data. You know, in the space industry, in the space program, we make every decision based on good and reliable data. So, you know, we need to look at that data and see where else -- you know, where else can we be effective at, you know, saving people's lives and protecting them from this horrific gun violence that we see every year.

SCHIEFFER: You know, I was interested to hear Senator Rubio, who was on the broadcast earlier, suggesting that maybe legislation on guns really isn't very effective. And do you think that laws can be designed that can really make things safer for all of us?

KELLY: They absolutely can be designed. You know, you know, in the 1970s, you know, we had the Clean Air Act that addressed pollution. Sure we didn't -- you know, we didn't get rid of all pollution in our country, but it did make our water cleaner and our air cleaner. And gun violence legislation can do the same thing. We're not going to stop every murder from a gun. We're not going to stop every mass shooting, but we can reduce gun violence with commonsense legislation.

SCHIEFFER: How is your wife these days?

KELLY: Gabby's doing great. You know, she works really, really hard at her rehab. She does physical rehab, occupational, speech therapy. She's now reenergized by, you know, being involved in something that's going to improve people's lives. So she's doing great. She's got a great attitude. She's looking forward to being in Washington next week. We're going to be on Capitol Hill. We also going to be there to honor one of her former colleagues, Gabe Zimmerman, who has a room in the Capitol visitor center being named after him. So, she'll be meeting with her former colleagues. And we're going to be continuing to push for this expanded background check bill. And hopefully we'll get it through the senate and over to the House.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well, Mark, it was great to hear from you this morning. We all appreciate what you're doing here, and be sure and send her our very best. We'll be back with one minute, in one minute to talk with our panel -- in a minute.

SCHIEFFER: Now with our panel to find out what all this means. David Ignatius is the columnist for the Washington Post. David Sanger is the chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times. His bestseller "Confront and Conceal" is out in paperback this week. We're also joined by the national editor of the "Cook Report" David Walter -- no, really, Amy Walker. They're not all named David this morning.

AMY WALKER, COOK REPORT: That would be very odd.

SCHIEFFER: Our own John Dickerson who is not named David, either. Well, let's get right to what we haven't talked about this morning, and that is the threat that hangs over all the things we have been talking about here on the domestic front, and that is the situation with North Korea. I mean, where are we on this, David?

DAVID IGNATIUS, WASHINGTON POST: Well, we've had two months of real war fever in which North Korea has threatened to attack the United States, has cut off its armistice with South Korea, has cut the hot line and has made every sign through its rhetoric -- the rhetoric of its new leader Kim Jong un, that it really means to take action. The U.S. intelligence doesn't see evidence to match that on the ground. But we're now in a phase of trying to deescalate the crisis. We have Secretary of State John Kerry in the region. We have the Chinese proposing, it seems, some new diplomatic effort to draw in the North Koreans. Interestingly, Kerry said that some of the defenses the United States has moved into the area, missile defenses that would shoot down Korean missiles aimed at U.S. targets, we'd be prepared, perhaps, to negotiate their withdrawal if North Korea denuclearizes. So we're now in a phase where the diplomacy seems to be beginning and the bargaining chips are put on the table.

SCHIEFFER: Do we know what this young man wants? I mean, how old is he, David?

DAVID SANGER, AUTHOR: Well, we're not quite sure how old he is. He is somewhere between 28 and 30. We know very little about him. In fact, until we became -- it was clear that he was going to become heir to Kim Jong il, his father, the CIA didn't even have really a picture of him until they found one of the days he was at a Swiss boarding school in the late 90s. There are two big questions, Bob. One is, is he playing by the same play book that his father and his grandfather, who is the founder of the country, played by? And secondly, what kind of capability do they have? On the first question, the playbook looks similar at first, but there may be some subtle differences. It's interesting that Secretary Kerry was talking about denuclearizing the peninsula because it look likes will right now that Kim Jong un's main goal could well be to simply get the world to acknowledge that North Korea is a nuclear power and deal with North Korea the same way we deal with Pakistan, which is to say, take up other issues, but not question whether they're ever going to give up their nuclear armaments. And I think it's going to be difficult for Kim Jong un ever to give that up. It's the only thing holding him together. The second question is what his capability is. And here you saw this week the remarkable difference between the Defense Intelligence Agency, which said they thought he could already put a nuclear warhead on a missile, and the rest of the intelligence community which said, "not so fast."

SCHIEFFER: What -- somebody told me that this may have been an accidental release, that this was declassified information which John Dickerson, I guess it came out at a congressional hearing when a congressman said this is not classified, so I'm going to make this public, that he said that North Korea, apparently they thought, had the capability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon to the point that they could put it on top of a missile.

DICKERSON: Right, and this information came out, and then the Pentagon kind of tried to walk back and say -- which was kind of an oops in public. The question is now where we really -- where how serious things really are. And the answer on that seems to be kind of unclear from our leaders.

SCHIEFFER: Well, David Ignatius, China, Secretary Kerry, do we have any information on where he got on this issue with the Chinese? I mean, I would think most people would say that China is key.

IGNATIUS: The basic U.S. view now through two administrations, at least, has been that the resolution to this problem of North Korea lies in China's hands. China is North Korea's only real ally. China holds the lifeline in terms of energy supplies, food supplies, so China could turn Kim Jong-un off in a minute if it chose to. So Kerry is there and very specifically trying to draw the Chinese into some new joint diplomat effort. The administration had not done that up until now, so in a sense, Kim Jong-un has already changed the board somewhat. But I think people will question the moves we've made, putting missile defenses in the area for the defense of the United States, and U.S. bases. Are those really going to become bargaining chips where it's such a long shot to think that Kim Jong-un would actually take away his nuclear capability? And I think there will be some criticism of Secretary Kerry for having put that forward.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you heard Marco Rubio earlier on this broadcast saying the one thing that he can not get out of this is some kind of a reward. Because basically, and I tend to agree with him, he called it a criminal enterprise, not exactly a government. I mean, this is a government where instead of the mafia paying off the government, the mafia is the government in North Korea. They don't have to pay anybody off. They're there. They do the counterfeiting. But what -- what do you see happening? Is North Korea going to get anything out of this, David?

SANGER: Well, I think that the one difference you've seen between the Obama administration and the Bush administration before it and the Clinton administration before that, is an unwillingness to go and pay the North Koreans again for something that they'd already given up and paid for in the past. Bob Gates, when he was still the secretary of defense, had a great phrase for this. He said, I'm not going to buy that horse again. And so far, the administration has stuck with that. Now it's not just the administration that must stick with it, if the South Koreans in the end start a negotiation, they could end up doing what happened during the Bush administration, which is that they're filling in for what the U.S. wouldn't give them. And then, of course, there are the Chinese who may say anything to Secretary Kerry that they like, but they could end this, you know, fairly quickly if they suddenly called the North Koreans and said, you know that big pipeline we have full of oil going into your country? It really is in need of some repair. And, you know, that would change the dynamic. They have not been willing to do that because North Korea remains their buffer between those 28,000 American troops and 650,000 South Korean troops, and the Chinese border.

SCHIEFFER: Amy Walter, you keep up with the politics of all things. Is this having any kind of an impact on Congress and the Senate? How -- I mean, they're finally back in town. They're finally back to work, which is kind of a different thing here, and people are even talking about bipartisanship and all of that. And there may be. I don't see the Potomac River parting yet, as the Red Sea did back in the age of miracles. But does this figure in anything that the people are thinking about from -- is this good politics for me, or are people there just -- they just don't know what...

WALTER: They're always thinking about whether it's good politics for them. But I still think they are really overwhelmed.

SCHIEFFER: I meant or bad politics, I mean...

WALTER: Either way.


SCHIEFFER: ... good or bad. I mean...


WALTER: I think they're still overwhelmed with what's already on their plate, between the budget and immigration and guns, and, of course, the economy. And this is an electorate that still feels like the country is headed in the wrong direction, still feels like maybe we're seeing some green shoots through the economy but it's not back to where it needs to be. And the public sent a very clear message in this last election, the number one priority, getting us jobs. And I still think that's where most members are sitting right now. SCHIEFFER: Where do you think all this on immigration, and gun laws -- where do you put the chance of anything significant happening on those fronts?

WALTER: So, "a chance" and "significant" are two very different things, right? Is there a chance that something passes? Absolutely. I mean, I think it's very clear that you have a Congress and a president who want to get something done. And even the president, I think it's really interesting to see his moves in be -- on these issues, the fact that he has sort of taken a backseat. The bully pulpit does not look quite as strong as it once did. First, his approval rating isn't quite as strong as it was. It's only somewhere around 48 percent. But it's also clear that he recognizes that on these sorts of issues putting his stamp on it makes it toxic. So having Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey on your show, much more important than having an administration official to get folks to come along. Having the Newtown families, much more powerful than another campaign-related speech. And at the end of the day, it's really not the NRA or the president that worries members of Congress. It's primaries that worry them because that's what is much more important for them in the short term. And then for red state Democrats, it's the fear that they're going to be labeled as an Obama advocate.

DICKERSON: What we see here with both immigration and gun control is there's a natural suspicion of anything cooked up behind the scenes, and in both cases, you have that. And so you have the "gang of eight" on immigration, and Manchin-Toomey here. They build a raft as sturdy as it can be and then they launch it out onto the whitewater and see if it can hold together. And they're out there with the wire and the gum and anything they can do to hold it together. And why is it so hard to hold it together? Because nobody trusts anything a political in Washington says. And going to Amy's point, they don't trust what the president says on some of these issues. And so what Marco Rubio is trying to do is build trust with conservatives, act as a bridge between those Republicans who say we need Latino votes for the next election, and those conservative who say, darn it, we're not going to compromise our principles. So he's trying to build that bridge of trust. And Manchin and Toomey are trying to build a bridge of trust between the gun culture, as Senator Manchin calls it, and the rest of the people who are outraged and who are so moved by those Newtown families. So the dramas here are the same. Who are you going to trust? And can anybody build that trust with a country that doesn't trust anything that comes out of Washington?

SCHIEFFER: It's your sense that Marco Rubio is going to seek the Republican nomination for president next time?

DICKERSON: He is doing everything a human being trying -- and here's what's really interesting about that. He has -- Republicans like executive experience, it's why they elect governors. He lacks that. But what he is saying now is he said, I came to Washington not to talk but to get things done. So if he gets something done, both a piece of legislation, but also creates this bridge, that's the challenge for the Republican Party, is how to create a bridge between your conservatives and your more transactional-minded members. Rubio can say, as a senator, I did those things. And that's a pretty good platform, at least as a starting place for a presidential candidate. He sure looks like one.

WALTER: That's right.

SCHIEFFER: All right -- go ahead.

WALTER: Yes. And the rap against him for many -- even those Republicans who like him is, he's untested. Well, here's his chance to really test this. And the second thing is, he is the living embodiment of this sort of rebranding effort that Republicans are going for. He does not compromise on those tea party principles. In fact, if you look at his voting record, he has voted against everything that even has the stamp, the slightest touch of compromise. So he has been very pure on that. But here is one issue on immigration where he can get kind of a two-fer, go to Latinos and working class voters.

SCHIEFFER: All right. We're going to take a little break. We'll come back in a moment.

SCHIEFFER: Back now with more from our experts. David Ignatius, this is shaping up as quite a week here.

IGNATIUS: Well, we had a fascinating week in which three things were apparent to me. The first thing is that bipartisanship has become good politics again. You had the president launching a budget that makes some concessions on Social Security and Medicare and gets a real debate going again, I think, on -- on -- on budget reform. Then we had these big discussions about immigration and about -- and about gun control. The second thing you saw was that citizen power still exists. When these families come up on Capitol Hill and speak from the heart, it's like 1964, and the ministers and civil rights leaders coming up in '64. They changed the whole debate in Washington, and maybe that's happening. And then, finally, this was a week where you were reminded that there are big crises, and that American leadership, you know, direct involvement in these things, is absolutely essential. We may hang back. We may feel weary of this and that, but the world comes backs to us, whether we like it or not.

SCHIEFFER: David, you know, we -- we went through -- entered the deadline on sequestration and all of that. It hasn't been noticeable. I mean, it has in certain areas, but there are some cutbacks in defense that are going to start kicking in here. What's going to happen?

SANGER: Well, there are big cutbacks that will come from sequestration, but then I thought the other really fascinating thing about the Obama budget, in addition to the changes in Medicare and Social Security, which I think were -- will be viewed as a historical moment, when a Democratic president basically says these programs can turn back, is that, at the same time that we've got this conflict with North Korea, or potential conflict; at a time that the Iranian program is still chugging away; at a time that Syria is threatening to fall apart, you have a president who's come out and said we actually can afford to cut the defense budget. And that's going to be a truly fascinating argument because we all know that there are systems in the Defense Department that are still set up for a Cold War era that we aren't going to see again and that we're underfunding many new areas -- drones, cyber, even special forces -- that the president has tried to put more money in. And I think the really interesting question out of the next few months is going to be can he persuade Congress and the American people that you can completely restructure the defense budget and manage to cut it while moving to new systems. That, none of his predecessors has been able to do.

SCHIEFFER: What are you going to be watching this week, Amy?

WALTER: Well, I am very interested about the budget. I mean, we hear a lot about Democrats being upset about changes to Social Security, and that they pushed back quite hard on the president. But I thought it was also interesting that you saw the chairman of the Republican Campaign Committee also putting some reservations out there. And I think what this -- the recognition here in some part is that Republicans also know, as they're trying to rebrand themselves, they they need to be the party of the middle class. They're not seen as that party.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think they will truly try to do that?

WALTER: That they will try to be the party of the middle class?


WALTER: I think that's exactly what Marco Rubio is trying to do on immigration. You hear him talking about housekeepers. He talks about his own family background, the fact that his father was a bartender. And that is really where they -- that's the sweet spot for them. All this talk about social issues is important, but they need to get to the place where people see them as advocating for the middle class. I think the worry, if you are Greg Walden, who is the chair of this Republican Campaign Committee, is that, by going after Social Security, what you're doing is you're really saying Republicans, once again, seem to be attacking the middle class.

DICKERSON: The president has got to find -- he's trying to find this common-sense caucus. I talked to somebody who works with Congressman Greg Walden. Walden is attacking the president on Social Security, and this person said, "Yes, we're trying to get Republicans elected. The president has got to withhold -- fight against that and find enough Republicans who don't share Greg Walden's view, these senators he's been working with. The president had another dinner with Republican senators. And -- and, you know, in talking to people, members on both sides, they're straining for metaphors to talk about this grand bargain. Some people talked about embers. Another person said, "Well, even a shaft of light is better than total darkness." It's barely alive, this grand bargain, but it still proceeds forward. And the president just needs to find that group of senators to start it who can do what Senator Toomey did, which is come out and, sort of -- and a few have reacted positively to the president's budget. I talked to Senator Flake, Republican from Arizona. He said "The president crossed the Rubicon on entitlements." And the reason that's useful is the president can then say, "OK" -- in public, he can say, "OK, I've done what I was supposed to do. I've offered some cuts in entitlements. Now, Republicans, you do what you need to do as a part of this bargain. You be open to some revenue increases." And he's found enough senators so that there looks like there's a little movement on that. There's a very long way to go. But the key thing to watch is that small group of senators, and forget the Greg Waldens and the rest of the people because they'll just be noise if the president can get this small group together.

SCHIEFFER: Well, who knows? Maybe somehow people have gotten the idea here in Washington that the people out there want them to work together and to try to do something and not just entertain us with all this political rhetoric.


Well, thanks to all of you for being with us this morning. I enjoyed the discussion. I'll be back in a minute.

SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow morning for all the latest developments on the North Korean situation on "CBS This Morning." That will include State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan's interview with Secretary of State John Kerry. We'll be back right here next week on "Face the Nation."

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