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Face the Nation transcripts December 6, 2015: Trump, Christie, Sanders

This is the transcript for the December 6 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Pegues, Fran Townsend, Michael Morell, Gwen Ifill, Ben Domenech, Gerald Seib, and Ed O'Keefe.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: Presidential candidates talk tough on terror, while the president prepares to address the nation on the massacre in San Bernardino.

We will have the latest on what motivated Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik to go on a shooting rampage in Southern California last week.

Plus, we caught up with Republican front-runner Donald Trump at his event in North Carolina on Friday.

With less than 60 days to go before first votes are cast in Iowa, can anyone stop him from getting the nomination?


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Honestly, I'm so far ahead, you don't really have anybody.


DICKERSON: Trump wants to get far more aggressive in tracking terror suspects in the United States.

We will also hear from two other presidential candidates, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

And we will have plenty of analysis on all the news.

It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning. And welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

President Obama will address the nation tonight at 8:00 p.m. on the San Bernardino attack.

CBS News homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues is at the FBI with the latest on the investigation -- Jeff.

JEFF PEGUES, CBS HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John, there are hundreds of investigators around the world running down leads.

FBI Director James Comey met with the president on Saturday to brief him on this case.

One lead took investigators to this Riverside, California, home where a friend of one of the suspects lives, a man who investigators believe may have provided two of the assault rifles used in the attack.

Freddy Escamilla is a neighbor.


FREDDY ESCAMILLA, NEIGHBOR: When I found out that it was FBI, that's -- which I found pretty quickly, that's when I thought, oh, man, this is serious.


PEGUES: The investigators are tracking Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik's family, friends and associates overseas and in the U.S. to determine if the couple's shooting massacre was directed by ISIS.

So far, the FBI says there are indications of radicalization and potential inspiration. Sources say the attack on the Inland Regional Center appears to have been a blend. There were elements of a workplace grudge that appeared to trigger the attack, coupled with Malik's Facebook post of allegiance before the attack to the ISIS leader.

Federal officials acknowledge that the shooting has now moved the global terrorist threat in the U.S. to a new phase. A government official says, "We are going to see more attacks we can't stop."

The FBI has about 900 cases across the country focusing on homegrown ISIS sympathizers. Still, these two suspects were not on their radar -- John.

DICKERSON: Jeff Pegues, thanks.

The San Bernardino terror attack has already had a big impact on campaign 2016. Democrats are pushing for stronger gun regulations. Republicans are blaming the president and saying they would be tougher on terrorism, no one more so than Donald Trump, who we met up with in Raleigh on Friday.


DICKERSON: There are links between ISIS and this terror attack in San Bernardino, but there were no red flags. So, how do you stop this from happening again?

TRUMP: Well, I think there are red flags. And a lot of people knew what was going on in that house or that apartment. And people were not wanting to call because they thought it would be inappropriate to call. DICKERSON: Inappropriate why?

TRUMP: Well, they were saying that it was -- that they would have been profiling. And a person said, we sort of knew what was going on, but we don't want to profile.

Can you believe this?

DICKERSON: Should there be profiling?

TRUMP: Well, I think there can be profiling.

DICKERSON: How? How would that work?

TRUMP: If they thought there was something wrong with that group and they saw what was happening, and they didn't want to call the police because they didn't want to be profiling, I think that's pretty bad.

People are dead. A lot of people are dead right now. So, everybody wants to be politically correct. And that's part of the problem that we have with our country.

DICKERSON: Have people been too politically correct with Muslims in America?

TRUMP: I think so. I think so, and with maybe other things, too, but I think certainly so.

And, as you know, I came out with, I want vigilance, I want real vigilance, and whether it's mosques or whatever it has to be, but a lot of bad things are happening.

DICKERSON: Whatever it has to be, does that include -- I know you -- where are you on the question of tracking Muslims in America?

TRUMP: Well, look, we are having a problem with radical -- with radicals in the Muslim group. Let's not kid ourselves.

And you can say it or you don't have to say it. And maybe you won't even want to, but I have been saying it loud and strong. So, if you have people coming out of mosques with hatred and with death in their eyes and on their minds, we're going to have to do something, John.

We can't just say, we're not going to look at it. Now, I made that statement a number of weeks ago. It took a lot of -- a lot of whatever. A lot of people were not exactly thrilled with it. And now everybody seems to agree with me.

DICKERSON: But this idea of tracking Muslims in America, that's the thing. Where are you on that?


TRUMP: You have people that have to be tracked. If they're Muslims, they're Muslims. But you have people that have to be tracked.

And we better be -- I use the word vigilance. We have to show vigilance. We have to have it. And if we don't, we're foolish people.

You know, we're really -- we're being led by people that don't know what is happening. When you have President Obama talking about global warming is our biggest problem, we have a president that is just not with it at all.

DICKERSON: There are three million Muslims in America.

TRUMP: Right.

DICKERSON: What should they feel about their place in American life now?

TRUMP: Look, we are having a tremendous problem with radical Islamic terrorism. And you can say it, or you don't have to say it.

And we have a president that won't issue the term. He won't talk about it. So, we're having this tremendous radical Islamic terrorism. OK? A lot of people don't want to even say it. Not a lot of people. We have one person that I really know of, and it's called President Obama.

Until he admits that this is a problem, we're never going to solve the problem. But he's only going to be there, fortunately, a little bit more than a year, because the problem will get solved when he gets the hell out.

DICKERSON: You mentioned political correctness about Muslims. What the criticism of you is, that you are playing on fears that people have and that you're stoking...

TRUMP: No, I'm playing on common sense.

No, no, I'm not playing on fears. I don't want to play on fears. I understand the whole world. And I -- I understand. And I have Muslim friends who are great people. And, by the way, they tell me there's a big problem.

I'm not playing on fears. I'm playing on common sense. We have a problem. The World Trade Center came down. And, by the way, speaking of coming down, they put their families on airplanes a couple of days before, sent them back to Saudi Arabia, for the most part.

Those wives knew exactly what was going to happen. And those wives went home to watch their husbands knock down the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and wherever the third plane was going, except we had some very, very brave passengers, wherever that third plane was going.

Those wives knew exactly what was happening.

DICKERSON: You mentioned the families, going after the families. What does that -- what does that mean? How would it work?

TRUMP: Well, I would go after -- well, at least I would certainly go after the wives who absolutely knew what was happening.

And I guess your definition of what I would do, I'm going to leave that to your imagination. But I will tell you I would be very tough on families, because the families know what is happening.

Even in this last instance, I see everybody knew. So many people knew. They thought that this man and this woman, whether he was radicalized or how he became, they thought something was going on. Why don't these people report it to the police? Why wouldn't they report it to the police?

Now, they said it was profiling. They didn't want to profile. Can you believe this? They didn't want to profile, even though they thought something very bad was going on.

DICKERSON: But his sister said she didn't know what was going on. She was crestfallen for the victims here.

TRUMP: I probably don't believe the sister.

DICKERSON: You don't believe the sister.


DICKERSON: So, you would go after her?

TRUMP: I would go after a lot of people, and I would find out whether or not they knew. I would be able to find out, because I don't believe the sister.

DICKERSON: Do you worry about creating more terrorists?

TRUMP: No. We have to stop terrorists. And the only way you're going to stop them, in my opinion, is that way.

You know, they say they don't mind dying. I think they do mind dying. But I can tell you this. They want their families left alone. We have to stop terrorism.

DICKERSON: You don't think there's a worry, a tension, if you go too far, that you end up creating more terrorists?

TRUMP: What's too far? What's too far? They're killing people, whether it's what we just saw in California or in Paris. They're killing people, innocent people, people without guns.

You look at Paris, no guns, nothing. You look at California, no guns. I can tell you one thing. If I'm in there and if I had a gun, I'm -- we're going down shooting. We're going to knock them out, OK, one way or the other.

And if a couple of guns are in that room, you talk about Second Amendment, which I'm a big believer in the Second Amendment. In Paris, they had no guns. In California, they had no guns. Only the bad guys had the guns. So, they were like sitting ducks, every one of them.

DICKERSON: Should the good guys get guns?

TRUMP: The good -- well, I mean, the good guys...

DICKERSON: Should people carry?

TRUMP: If they want to, they should be able to, because it's going to be lot safer.

Look at what's going on. We're going into these gun-free areas. How about the school few months ago? Gun-free school, gun-free area, and you look at what happened. It was a disgrace. If people had guns, how about the -- how about the soldiers that were killed, six soldiers killed, champion marksmen on a military base? They're not allowed to carry their guns.

And a whack job walks in and kills them. Not right. So, I am a believer in the Second Amendment. And, you know, the bottom line is, the bad guys are always going to have the guns. You better do something about it.

Paris is one of the toughest cities in the world for guns, right? You can't get them. And you had carnage.

DICKERSON: Why do you think people join ISIS in the United States?

TRUMP: Well, I think, for one reason, they're using the Internet a lot better than we do. And they are brainwashing these kids.

The word is brainwashing. They are brainwashing young, impressionable people, largely young. Probably, they're doing it with older people also.

DICKERSON: How do you fight that?

TRUMP: You fight it with intelligence.

You fight it by beating them at their own game. You fight it by not saying mastermind, like you did, like other people did. I see the word mastermind, the mastermind. I call them the guy with the dirty hat, the guy with the dirty, filthy hat.

They called him a mastermind. And these kids are watching the mastermind. They say, oh, I want to be a mastermind.

The press is really hurting it. I will say that. I was very strong on that last week and two weeks ago with the Paris knockout. And I think the press is making it -- they're making -- they're glamorizing these people.

These people are animals. These people are not masterminds. They're not even smart people. I will bet you they have very low I.Q.s. I mean, they're not smart people.

And the press is making them into something -- they're making them into Robin Hood. And young people and other people are following. We have to stop their Internet work. They're doing better at the -- we came up with the Internet, but they're using it better than we do.

DICKERSON: In terms of stopping them, at the moment, if you're on the no-fly list, you can buy a firearm. Does that need to be fixed?

TRUMP: Well, I would certainly take a very look at it. I would. I'm very strongly into the whole thing with Second Amendment. But if you can't fly, and if you have got some really bad -- I would certainly look at that very hard.

DICKERSON: Would you also look into -- the shooters in this case amassed a great amount of ammunition.

TRUMP: Right.

DICKERSON: They had multiple weapons. Should that in this new world bring people under suspicion, if they are developing that kind of a cache?

TRUMP: Well, certainly, people could look at it.

I'm -- they should. When the people next door and when other people are saying, there's something strange going on there, that's not people going hunting for deer, OK, what was happening in there, because they had bombs. They had all sorts of pipe bombs. They had a lot of things

And certainly you can take look what's going on, again, the word vigilance.


TRUMP: We have to be looking at a lot of different things. But we can't do anything to hurt the Second Amendment. People need their weapons to protect themselves. And you see that now more than ever before.


DICKERSON: We will have more of our interview with Donald Trump in the second half-hour and also on

We turn now to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who joins us from outside an ethanol plant in Jewell, Iowa.


DICKERSON: Governor, everyone is looking for a way to stop these kinds of attacks again, but, in this case, you had a woman who dropped off her six-month-old child before going on this rampage. How would you ever create system that could catch that kind of dedicated killer?


And this is what I said in the aftermath of this. And, by the way, on the first night of the coverage, I watched it for about hour- and-a-half, and I turned to my wife said, this is a terrorist attack. I knew that because of the experience I have had as a U.S. attorney for seven years investigating terrorists and bringing those cases.

I don't know why the president hesitates for so long to call it exactly what it is. But what it will tell you is, if a developmentally disabled center in San Bernardino, California, is a target, then every place in America is a target.

And that's why it was so wrong for Congress and the president to pull back on our surveillance capability with the NSA, so wrong to demoralize our intelligence community through the report they issued at the end of this last year.

The fact is that we need to strengthen our intelligence, strengthen our law enforcement community, and just work as hard as we can to try to intercept this, knowing that, in a free and open society, we're not going to be able to stop every attack.

DICKERSON: The surveillance capabilities that you talked about, though, were grandfathered in until the end of November, so they were in place here. There's not any evidence that they missed something through that.

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I don't know as to San Bernardino, but I think certainly vis-a-vis Paris, our pulling back and our lessening our resources on intelligence, which the president has done also, has created a big problem.

And I think we're going to see that Paris was an intelligence failure. And you're asking, what is the best way to do it? I have been doing this for seven years before I was governor. The only way to truly protect the homeland, John, is increased intelligence and increased law enforcement activity.

That doesn't mean there are guarantees. But if you give these people the tools, they will act constitutionally and they will prevent many, many more attacks than will get through.

DICKERSON: Donald Trump suggests people should stop worrying about profiling Muslims in investigations and that they should stop being so politically correct. Your reaction?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, all I would say is that this is the difference between having the experience and understanding how you do this, and not having any experience.

The fact is, we don't need to be profiling in order to be able to get the job done here. Increased surveillance, creating relationships with mosques in the Muslim American community across the country, we did that after 9/11 and prevented attacks in New Jersey and all across the country.

What you need is a president who has had the experience and the know-how to do this, and not someone who is just going to talk off the top of their head.

DICKERSON: After the attacks on 9/11, George W. Bush and other Republicans were quick to draw a real distinction between attackers and the Muslim community and Islamic faith. That doesn't happen so much anymore on the campaign trail. Why is that?

CHRISTIE: Well, I don't know.

But I certainly have said it, John, over and over again. I said, this is the problem with the president and with Secretary Clinton, who provide leadership by euphemism. They won't say radical Islamic jihadists.

Now, when you say radical Islamic jihadists, they understand, the rest of the Muslim community understands, the folks who are peaceful, and who attend mosques in a peaceful way, work in our country, raise their families, pay their taxes, they know they're not radical Islamic jihadists.

That's why we need to use the words, because it differentiates them from the peaceful, law-abiding American Muslims who play by the rules and raise their families and don't want to see this kind of conduct going on.

DICKERSON: In Saturday's "New York Times" on the front page, they have an editorial, in which the editorial writers say, it is a moral outrage that people can legally purchase weapons -- quote -- "that kill with brutal speed and efficiency."

What is your reaction to that?

CHRISTIE: It's typical liberal claptrap from "The New York Times."

And the fact is that what we need to be focused on here are two issues, taking criminals who commit crimes with handguns and putting them in jail. And we have to work on our mental health system in this country to give doctors and caregivers greater latitude to involuntarily commit folks who have mental health issues and who don't want to take their medication and help themselves.

And this kind of sensationalism -- remember, the president and the secretary, before they even knew what was going on here, ran out on the first moments after this attack and said this was a gun control issue. I don't know what gun controls -- laws, John, are going to stop terrorists from attacking us.

But this is the typical liberal approach to things. The president has said it. No crisis is -- no crisis is worth wasting. And they wanted to try to turn this awful tragedy into an excuse to have greater gun control, when what we really need is greater intelligence, which the president has taken away from this country, with the complicity of Senator Cruz and Senator Paul.

And we need to make sure that we back our law enforcement, so that they can take these criminals off the streets.

DICKERSON: On the question of the speed and efficiency of certain guns, you were once an opponent of -- opponents -- to these kind of weapons called assault rifles. You have changed your view on that. Why?

CHRISTIE: Well, first of all, that was 22 years ago, John.

And, yes, I have grown up a bit and changed my view and been educated on it. And, really, my views change once I became a prosecutor. When I became a prosecutor and saw that what the real problem here is, is that we need to give the tools to law enforcement to go on the streets and take criminals off the streets.

That is the real important thing that we need to do. We need to empower our law enforcement to do that. This administration hasn't done it. In fact, the FBI director has said that there's a chill wind blowing through law enforcement.

And a great deal of that is because they don't have the political support of this administration. When I'm president, they will have that support.

DICKERSON: All right, Governor Chris Christie, thanks so much for being with us.

CHRISTIE: John, thanks for having me today. Have a great weekend.


DICKERSON: We will be back in one minute with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.


DICKERSON: We're back now with Senator Bernie Sanders, who is in Burlington, Vermont, this morning.

Senator Sanders, the president is going to address the nation tonight. If you were president, what would you say?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I would say is that we have got to be as aggressive as we can in destroying ISIS, but we have to learn the lessons of the past.

And that means we cannot do it alone. It must be an international coalition, in which the Muslim nations are the troops on the ground. King Abdullah of Jordan, whose country has been playing a heroic role dealing with refugees and ISIS, made the point that it is the Muslim nations that are fighting for the soul of Islam who have got to lead the effort in crushing ISIS. The United States, the U.K., France, Russia, Iran, other countries around the world have got to be supportive, but the troops on the ground have got to be Muslim nations.

And I believe very strongly that we need to put that coalition together. We need to put it together as soon as possible. But I do believe we have got to learn the lessons from Iraq.

I hear a lot of tough talk coming from my Republican opponents out there. They are really tough guys. But I heard that back in 2002 from George W. Bush. He was wrong. The invasion of Iraq was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of this country and in many ways precipitated exactly where we are today.

So, yes, we have got to be tough, but we have got to be smart. And that means an international coalition with Muslim troops on the ground supported by Western democracies with airpower and other military efforts.

But the troops on the ground to crush ISIS have got to be led by the Muslim nations.

DICKERSON: That's the foreign policy piece.

What is your feeling -- what would you message be about America and the threat in the homeland security sphere of this conversation?

SANDERS: Well, obviously, we have got to do everything that we can to protect the American people. That's a no-brainer.

And that means much tougher screening policies than we have right now. I think Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson is right. We should have more agents placed in other countries around the world. And it's not just Muslim countries that we have to worry about. There are other countries as well that people can slip in to this country.

Second of all, I think we need to do much, much better work, not only in our intelligence efforts, but in coordinating international intelligence. I think, clearly, Paris was an intelligence failure. And we need to be tapping the intelligence information that is being ascertained from countries all over the world.

DICKERSON: Democrats are going to notice that you didn't list gun control in your responses. A lot of Democrats, including the president, who will address it tonight, think gun control is an answer to this.

SANDERS: No, I -- well, I was just at a press conference the other day talking about the need for gun -- increased gun control.

I don't think anybody believes it's a magic formula. Clearly, though, there is an obvious commonsense consensus, John, in this country that guns should not be falling into the hands of people who should not be having them.

And, obviously, that goes without saying. I don't think it's very hard to understand that terrorists or potential terrorists should not have guns. People who are being barred from flying on airplanes should not have guns. I believe we must improve and expand instant background checks.

I believe we have got to do away with this gun show loophole. About 40 percent of the guns in this country are sold outside of the purview of the instant background check process. I think we need -- I agree with "The New York Times." I think it does not make sense to me that we have guns designed for military purposes that can kill enormous numbers of people in a very short period of time being sold and distributed in the United States.

And I support a ban on assault weapons. I think we need to do away with the straw man provision so that people can legally buy guns, but then give them to criminals.

And I think we need a revolution in mental health. And that revolution is about making sure that the many thousands of people who are walking the streets of America today who are suicidal or homicidal get the help they need, and they get it now, not two months from now.


Senator Sanders, we need to take a break right now, but we're going to ask you to stay with us.

And we will be back with Senator Sanders in a moment.


DICKERSON: CBS News will carry President Obama's address to the nation tonight on the San Bernardino shooting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific. Scott Pelley will anchor our special report.

We will be right back.


DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including more with Senator Bernie Sanders and our political panel.

Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

We're back with Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.

Senator Sanders, I want to continue on with the conversation a little bit with -- of on gun control. So many Democratic voters I've talked to in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings are concerned about this. One of the questions they wanted to ask -- wanted me to ask you is whether you regret having voted to protect gun manufacturers, giving them that immunity. What's your feeling on that now?

SANDERS: Well, I come from a rural state that has no gun control at all. I think the votes that I have cast over the last 25 years have been strong votes for protecting the American people from gun violence. That one particular vote, there were thing in it that make sense to me. There are things in it that do not make sense to me and I've said many times, I'm willing to rethink that piece of legislation and make it more effective. If a gun manufacturer understands and knows that the product that he is selling to a community is really getting out to criminal elements, that gun manufacturer should be held liable for what the company is doing.

DICKERSON: In retrospect, though, do you think it was a mistake, that vote?

SANDERS: There were elements in that vote back then that did make sense. In the sense that if a small gun shop owner in the state of Vermont sells a product, a gun, legally to somebody else who then goes out does something crazy, do I think that that small gun shop owner should be held liable for legally selling the product, no, I don't. But I think, bottom line is, that we should be rethinking that legislation and we should be doing everything that we can as a country to make sure that weapons do not get into the hands of people who should not have them.

DICKERSON: Because of your experience from a rural state and your understanding of that, you've talked about being a bridge builder between the Democrats, who would like to see gun control and Second Amendment, those who care about the Second Amendment. So tell me how you would build that bridge in this instance, because when I talked to some conservatives they say, look, this is a situation in which a man went and killed his co-workers and a mother dropped of her six month old baby. You're not going to stop those kind of premeditated killers with any gun control.

SANDERS: Well, let me answer it in two ways. For a start, there is a split, a political split on this country on guns, and everybody knows that. Every poll indicates that. But I think, John, there is a broad consensus of focusing on the reality that the vast majority of the American people, not everybody, by the way, but the vast majority understand that we have got to do everything that we can to prevent guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them.

And who are those people? Obviously, criminal people. People who are in to domestic violence. People who will use guns to kill other people. People who are mentally ill and should not have those guns. The vast majority of the American people believe that. And I believe that what we should be doing is improving and expanding instant background checks.

Second of all, if you believe that, which most Americans believe, but most Americans also believe is you don't want an obvious loophole that allows guns to be sold to people who are criminals or mentally ill. That means shut -- ending the gun show loophole.

DICKERSON: Senator --

SANDERS: That means ending the strong man situation.

DICKERSON: I don't want to leave without --

SANDERS: And I think there is a consensus, John. Yes.

DICKERSON: Let's talk about climate change. I know that was an important issue for Democrats this week. You got a new plan coming out. It has a carbon tax as a part of it. Might that not scare people who think they're --

SANDERS: Absolutely.

DICKERSON: Tell me about that.

SANDERS: All right. Well, John, I mean this is not a plan for Democrats. Pope Francis recently said something, which I think is profound, and he's right, as he often is. And what he said is, this planet is on a suicidal direction in terms of climate change. And it is beyond my comprehension that we can have a Republican Party and Republican candidates who are more concerned about getting huge campaign contributions from the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil and the coal industry than they are about accepting what the overwhelming majority of scientists are saying. And that is, climate change is real, caused by human activity and already causing major and devastating problems in our country and around the world.

And what the scientists are telling us -- we are -- telling us is, if we do not act boldly and aggressively now, which is what my legislation does, massive cuts in carbon pollution, if we don't do it now, the planet that we are going to be leaving to our children and grandchildren may very well be uninhabitable and in much worse shape than the planet is today. We have a moral obligation to move aggressively to transform our energies --


SANDERS: Away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and that is what my legislation does.

DICKERSON: All right.

SANDERS: So if you want to talk about being frightened, I am frightened about the planet we're going to leave our kids if we don't act.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much for being with us.

We'll be right back with some analysis on the terror attack.


DICKERSON: We're back with the former number two at the CIA, turned CBS News senior security contributor, Michael Morell, and former Homeland Security advisor to George W. Bush, Fran Townsend. Fran, I want to start with you. What are the homeland security implications of these attacks?

FRAN TOWNSEND, FMR. HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR TO GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, look, we understand that finding someone a home-grown, self- radicalized individual in this country is very, very difficult. Especially, you know, Director Comey, on Friday, said that this individual had minimal contacts. He didn't say what that meant. Minimal contacts with known counter terrorism investigations, but that will be very important to understand for the FBI. Were those direct contacts, such as phone calls, or was that sort of indirect, like social media following or they were followed by other individuals who were extremists. And so this is going to become very important. We know it's hard to identify these people, so anything we can learn about these individuals and what contacts they had will be very important to understanding in the future how to identify these people.

DICKERSON: Does minimal contacts mean perhaps though just that they followed them on Facebook? And if that's the case, then that seems like the -- the pool is huge of people that could be -- could have those minimal kinds of contacts.

TOWNSEND: That's right. And so typically for the FBI, that -- those sort of minimal contacts didn't sort of cross a threshold for preliminary investigations. The question is now, if that's all you've got, if that's all you've got to go on, do they need to re-evaluate your domestic investigation operational guidelines to permit them to make a judgment that in some cases that may be enough.

DICKERSON: Mike, what do you think about these attacks? What do they tell you?

MICHAEL MORELL, CBS NEWS SENIOR SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: So just stepping back a little bit, right? A couple of thing. One is, ISIS is on a roll here. In the last five weeks, you know, to put it in baseball terms, they've hit for the cycle. They have a major attack that they conceived and directed from Raqqa, that's Paris. They've had an attack that one of their affiliates has done, that's the Russian airliner in the Sinai. And they've had an inspired attack here in the homeland, that's San Bernardino, right?

Second is, while those three attacks have our attention, it's the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they're doing across Africa and in the Middle East. So 25 attacks in the last five weeks killing 250 people.

And then the last point I'd make, John, is that in order to deal with this, you have to have a home game, playing defense, which Fran is -- that's what Fran was talking about. And you have to have an away game, right? Taking the fight to them on offense, in Iraq and Syria.

DICKERSON: That momentum that you describe, talk about the relationship between that and inspiring these kinds of attacks, because there is a link, right?

MORELL: Absolutely there's a link. The perception that ISIS is winning, the perception that ISIS is doing well creates more followers.

DICKERSON: Fran, let me talk to you about possible ways to stop this. The president will talk to the nation tonight and he will talk about gun control again. The argument is that terrorists will use what the president sees as lacks gun control in America to gain weaponry. What do you think about that from a purely homeland security standpoint?

TOWNSEND: Well, to be fair, John, in western Europe, they have the most strictest gun laws, we saw what happened in the Paris attacks with the use of lots of weaponry. So here in the United States, we know that in 2011 Adam Gadahn, who was very close to bin Laden, issued a videotape calling for followers, those who might be inspired, to take advantage of the west gun laws, specifically here in the United States, to obtain weapons. I think over time we're going to look at this. Do people, do civilians, really need to have assault weapons? And all this sort of related issues we've heard a lot about, should we tie it to the terror watch list? There was legislation that didn't pass the Senate this week. There is an argument to be made that people on the terror watch list should obviously not be able to get guns. The problem with that is, the terror watch lists are hugely expansive. Hundreds of thousands of Americans mistakenly put on it. And so I think if you want to rely on that, you're going to have to clean up the terror watch list.

DICKERSON: Mike, that's the home game. Let's talk about the away game. The administration has picked up their efforts. What do you make of the new efforts to fight ISIS overseas?

MORELL: I think the most significant thing we've seen so far is the creation of a task force, a special operations task force, that will be stationed in Iraq to go after the leadership of ISIS. I think that's very important. It can be -- become self-sustaining, a little bit of intelligence to start, but then once you start capturing these guys, it will generate additional intelligence that allows you to go back and get more of them. I think that's a very important intensification, amplification. I think we need to see more, however.

DICKERSON: What do you make, quickly, of the London attack, this knife attack in London?

MORELL: Same thing. You know it's undoubtedly inspired by ISIS. One of the attacks that I referenced earlier in this -- in this broader array of attacks that ISIS is either directing or inspiring.

DICKERSON: Fran, finally to you. Donald Trump mentioned this question of profiling. What -- what do you think of that?

TOWNSEND: You know, there -- there is always some role for -- we -- we build profiles based on what your experience, what you know about past -- past bad guys, right? But that's -- it's self-limiting. So it's a tool. It's one of the tools you use, but you have to have ongoing and current intelligence to direct your efforts. And by the way, the minute the bad guys get a sense that you have a profile, they work around it.

DICKERSON: All right, Fran, Mike, thanks very much.

We'll be right back with our political panel. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: How all this is impacting the campaign in 2016. Gwen Ifill does double duty at PBS as moderator of "Washington Week" and co-anchor of the "NewsHour," Jerry Seib is the Washington bureau chief for "The Wall Street Journal," Ben Domenech is the publisher of "The Federalist," and Ed O'Keefe covers politics for "The Washington Post."

Before we get back to the bad news of this week, there was a little good news that is breaking right now from "The Atlanta Journal and Constitution," good news for Jimmy Carter. He announced to his Sunday school class that his last scan means he's cancer free. The Sunday school classy erupted in applause.

Gwen, I want to start with you about the news this week. How do you think it's change the race?

GWEN IFILL, PBS "WASHINGTON WEEK": Well, when the argument is about safety and about personal security and domestic security, it changes the race. Right now that leaves -- the Democrats we saw come out and talk instantly about gun control and the president's even started to in his interview with Norah O'Donnell and then he pulled back a little bit afterward when he began to get obviously more information about what happened in San Bernardino.

For Republicans it's going to be a variation of what we've seen so far, which is, how can we be more alarmist than the last guy. So we saw Chris Christie this morning talking about it, and -- and at the same time taking little jab at other candidates. We saw, of course, Donald Trump talking about political correctness at the root of all evil. And -- and once you begin to move the discussion that way instead of, what can you really do about it and when you asked Donald Trump that, his answer was -- basically, you wait and see.

DICKERSON: Yes, wait and see, Ben, what do you think?

BEN DOMENECH, "THE FEDERALIST": You know, I think it was interesting to see the reaction this week from "The New York Times" running that front page editorial as they did going after the gun issue. I think that there's a real gap between what the president is saying and what people understand is the reality of this situation. You are not going to defeat these elements of radicalized Islam in this country with gun control measures. That was not going to be something that would have prevented what happened in San Bernardino any more than you are going to defeat ISIS with a conference about the weather. This is not something that you are going to be able to achieve.

And I think that the president, in his addressed tonight, is probably going to speak to these issues further. But Republicans actually I think have -- have the wind at their backs when they are running this criticism that basically the president is out of touch with reality and that this gun control measure, any gun control measure, is not the real solution.

DICKERSON: Jerry, where do you see the debate going from here?

GERALD SEIB, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, I agree with Ben. I think, by and large, if security is the top issue, that probably tilts the -- the dialogue a little bit toward the Republicans. We'll see how Hillary handles it. She's been trying all along to sound a little tougher than the president on all these issues, Syria, ISIS, and she'll continue to do that I think.

A couple of the facts I think you saw right away. The Ben Carson fade continued because you don't want to look as if you're either too soft spoken or inexperienced right now, and he's both. That doesn't work to his benefit. Chris Christie I think has found a voice and a moment here. I mean he's talked about seven years' experience as a prosecutor handling terrorism cases. Well, this is a tailor made moment for that. We'll see how far he can take that. And Bernie Sanders had a little bit of a hard time getting people to focus on income inequality in the last couple of weeks.

DICKERSON: Right, the race has kind of gone away to a set of issues that aren't greats for Bernie Sanders.

Ed, what do you think about the -- the safety issue that Gwen's talking about? I mean Donald Trump basically said, when this kind of thing happens, my poll numbers go up.

ED O'KEEFE, "WASHINGTON POST": And he's right. They do. They continue to. Every time we think their -- one of these things happens, the general consensus immediately is, is that he's going to drop, and instead he just climbs or sustains his popularity. It's -- it's terribly frustrating to everyone else and it's a growing concern to Democrats. There was chatter in the last few days among congressional Democrats that the president had to come out and say something to sort of set the mood, you know, acknowledge that this was everyone's worst fears realized and try to move things forward. The problem is, absent anything specific, either on information from this investigation or his plans to do something, it's only going to amplify Republican attacks against him that he continues to have no strategy, that Democrats are going to lead the country into more attacks and absent any more aggressive military response.

DOMENECH: And Trump succeeds because he sounds a note of toughness and strength, which is a completely vague -- it's sort of -- it's -- it's complete -- it has no real seriousness behind it.

IFILL: I've kept -- I've kept track of how many times John asked him about whether will you be tracking Muslims, whether this is anti- Muslim.


IFILL: Four times at least.


IFILL: And each time he didn't answer the question.


IFILL: So -- he is also -- at the same time he's projecting strength, he's also stirring up a lot of -- continuing to stir up a lot of unhappiness about a subset. Three million people in this country (ph).

SEIB: See -- I mean Trump is selling attitude, not agenda, right? So a tough guy on immigrants, tough guy on the press, tough guy on ISIS, whatever it takes, you know, whoever it -- the problem is at some point, Gwen, I think you're right, does it become an issue that there's no substance or there are no details behind the toughness. Right now, not yet, but eventually probably so.

O'KEEFE: And I will say this. I was in Iowa this week with Jeb Bush and spent more time than usual asking the people who (ph) show up, why bother. And increasingly it was because, I'm getting sick and tired of what I'm hearing from Donald Trump. It's not specific. It's inflammatory. It's irresponsible. The party will lose because of him. So maybe there is something brewing that will cause Republicans to start looking elsewhere.


IFILL: It's show -- it's not showing in the polls yet (ph).

O'KEEFE: It is not showing yet at all. It is not showing in the polls -- lagging indicators, but there was evidence this week to suggest that perhaps in the coming weeks there may be a little bit of a shift.

DICKERSON: Well, Ben, you know, you did interviews at the beginning of the Trump campaign and people would say, well, by Labor Day he'll fade, you know? And then it was by -- then it was by, you know, the beginning of December. Now it's, well, after the holidays.

DOMENECH: I -- I will believe that Trump has peaked, when he has peaked, and not before. I think you actually have to see it happen before -- before anything else occurs. That may be the point where people actually have to show up in -- in Iowa and -- and vote for him.

But I think right now he speaks to lot of people who are concerned that they don't trust the -- the elites in Washington at all. They don't trust them to be able to tell good Muslims from bad. They don't trust them to be able to manage any of the crises that we've seen overseas or any of the domestic crisis that we see at home. And so Trump speaks to that over and over again. And as -- and as things break down, as things -- as people become concerned, they look for outsider voices. That's the role (INAUDIBLE).

IFILL: Well, and when he -- when -- who they do trust, however, is the person when asked directly, what would you do about this says, I'll leave that to your imagination. That's the typical (ph) answer.

DICKERSON: Jerry, were you going to --

SEIB: I was just going to say, we -- we had an interesting piece in "The Journal" yesterday, in the Saturday paper, that took a look at all the polling and tried to define, who are the Trump voters. And he's created his own lane. It's not -- he's singular. The -- there -- there are more downscale economically, they're lesser educated. They're a new kind of Republican voters and they're not concerned about values, social conservative values. They're not even concerned about issues. They are concerned about leadership. So he's got a -- a group of -- how big that group turns out to be ultimately is hard to say, but it's not like they're going to go away to somebody else because they're there because of him.

DICKERSON: I want to ask about the where else they might go and all those other candidates. But before we move off Trump, we've got a policy question. I -- Gwen, you talked to Ash Carter, the secretary of defense.

Let's listen to what Donald Trump said about women in the military.


DICKERSON: Women in the military.

TRUMP: Right.

DICKERSON: You said in 2013 you said, 26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military. Only 238 convictions. What do these geniuses expect when they put men and women together? Now the Pentagon has opened up all combat to women. Who what do you think?

TRUMP: Well, it's a very tricky subject. You know, I mean, you're in there and you're fighting and you're sitting next to a woman. I mean, now, they want to be politically correct, they want to do it, but there are major problems. And as you know, there are many people that think this shouldn't be done, at a high level, and a level of general.

I think that it's a very tricky situation. But on Fox today they had a woman who was a pilot, top level, very good. Really indicating that this is really something that is not going to work out. Will it work out? I hope so. I can say this, the numbers of rapes in the military are through the roof. Through the roof.


DICKERSON: Gwen, Trump said major problems. There are other major -- the Marine commandant is not a support vote. So now --

IFILL: No, (INAUDIBLE). He happens to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff now, Joe Dunford, who was not in favor of this. But I -- but using that reasoning, I'm sitting her as the only woman at this table. I should feel very insecure, right? But you put the man next to --

DICKERSON: I've never seen you be insecure, Gwen Ifill. Don't -- sorry, nobody's going to believe that.

IFILL: OK. OK. But that's my point. You put a man next to a woman and, what, rapes occur? I mean that's the reasoning here. The -- the point that Ashton Carter made, the secretary of defense, is that this means that women can compete for these roles. They can compete to be rangers. They can compete to be Navy SEALs. But there's no guarantee they will be that. Just like you can't guarantee that man would be able to do these things. So what they're doing is opening up -- I mean women are -- have been already been in combat roles, ground forces, since Leon Panetta did this. This is expanding it. There is some disagreement, as you would expect, at the Pentagon.

O'KEEFE: There are problems, military wide, with reporting sexual assault. That has been the case no matter what. And there are plenty of women serving in uniform who, for whatever reason, are not comfortable reporting it. The last time there was a big social change, you remember, was the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." The Marines were the same ones that expressed concerns. We've seen no real documented proof that it's caused unit cohesion issues. And so that, I think, is why Carter and others at the military feel comfortable moving on.

DICKERSON: Ben, let me ask you a question, back on the question of politics. Ted Cruz is -- had basically assumed Donald Trump would fall, as many other people did. He hasn't. Is there a coming Cruz- Trump Donny Brook (ph)?

DOMENECH: You know, I'm not sure. I think that right now Ted Cruz certainly sounded a note of real challenge to Marco Rubio this week, went after him, compared his policies on Libya to Hillary Clinton's in a very unfavorable way. I think we're at the beginning of what might be an interesting period of debate about the foreign policy of the nation and it actually helps Ted Cruz to have Donald Trump sounding sort of similar notes on the outskirts to be the more reasonable looking, you know, presidential candidate in the lane. It's sort of a situation where you have to -- you have to pick your poison for -- for the establishment Republican and Ted Cruz's resume looks a little bit more like a presidential candidate's than Donald Trump's.

SEIB: I'll tell you what Ted Cruz has done very cleverly, which is, first of all, he has a base in the evangelical community that Donald Trump doesn't have. That's not going to go away. He's also -- he's also realized that there's a big set of primaries on March 1st in the south where the evangelical vote is very important and where he's going to do well. So he does well in Iowa and then he can carry that into the south, early in the calendar, not late in the calendar this year. He's not in a bad position. But I -- I agree with Ben that the real fight right now is between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, interestingly enough, because they've decided they're in the same space.

O'KEEFE: And there's another element to that fight. Marco Rubio has focused on the fact that Ted Cruz was supportive of the legislation that took away the NSA's ability to get telephone records. What did we learn yesterday? That right now investigators can't get to the telephone records of the two people who committed this atrocity in California. You better believe --

DICKERSON: Can't get to two years of them, not all five.

O'KEEFE: Right. Correct. Correct.

DICKERSON: So they can still get to some of them.

O'KEEFE: Correct. But it doesn't matter. That's the argument that Rubio's been trying to make and now he has great proof.

Jeb Bush is beginning to make that argument as well. It will be a vulnerability for Cruz to explain why he was for that now if he wants to be so tough against ISIS (ph).

DOMENECH: I don't -- I don't agree with that. I think that -- I think that Cruz is actually well positioned on that front. It allows -- it's one of the reasons he's been able to steal some of Rand Paul's voters away on -- by being a little bit libertarian on some of these things. And I think that also these phone records are -- they're after action things. They're not as -- it's more figuring out what happened in the lead up to this as opposed to preventing these actual deaths.

DICKERSON: OK, Ben Domenech, thanks so much. Gwen, the shrinking violet, thank you. Jerry, thank you. And, Ed, I want to thank all of our panelists. We'll be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: that's it for us today here on FACE THE NATION. But before we go, we want to remember the 14 victims of Wednesday's massacre.

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