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Face the Nation Transcripts February 16, 2014: McCrory, Shepherd, DeMint

(CBS News) --  Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" from February 16, 2014. Guests included Pat McCrory, Jim DeMint, J. Marshall Shepherd, Bob Woodward, Jennifer Rubin, Neera Tanden, John Harris, David Sanger, Michael Bragman, Cyd Zeigler, Donte Stallworth, and Jarrett Bell.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Well, the snow is still falling in the Northeast. Some parts of Massachusetts and Maine received a foot or more overnight, and that could go higher. And that is on top of what fell as part of the Nor'easter that paralyzed most of the East Coast last week. That storms is now blamed for at least 25 deaths. More than a million people lost power at some point during the storm, and tens of thousands remain without power this morning. One of the hardest-hit states was North Carolina, where Governor Pat McCrory joins us now from Charlotte. And, Governor, I've got to say it looks pretty good down there this morning.

MCCRORY: Well, the snow is melting now. We still have a good bit about it, but the Carolina sunshine's finally coming back. But it's been a rough two weeks. We've had two major storms hit six major metropolitan areas in the tenth most populated state in the nation, all the way from Asheville to Nags Head. And it's been quite a challenge for our emergency operation workers. But we've had tales of heroism from citizens helping citizens, and our snow removal workers have done an outstanding job. And I'm very proud of our team. And I'm also glad to report not one person that we know of was stranded overnight in any of the major metropolitan areas.

SCHIEFFER: That is really good news. How about the power situation? I know you had a lot of people that lost power.

MCCRORY: We had over about 100,000 people lost power, but we were very fortunate with that regards, and now almost all of them are back at this point in time. There's still several thousand out, but we've had good news. And it just -- we've never seen storms go in such a massive, widespread area of the state, two times in two weeks. And it's about depleted our budget. And it's also going to have an impact on our economy here in North Carolina because people were stuck inside and not spending money. And also, sadly, we had at least six fatalities, including two good Samaritans who were trying to help another driver and sadly a drunk driver or someone under the influence hit them and killed them. So we're very saddened about the loss of life in our state, also.

SCHIEFFER: Governor, it seems to me that a lot of people in North Carolina -- I know you all got the warnings out pretty early, but, frankly, a lot of people didn't seem to pay any attention. Did you -- did you learn anything from this?

MCCRORY: Yeah, we know some people don't pay attention. (LAUGHTER) But we gave -- we gave plenty of early warning. We -- we signed emergency orders both times, during both storms. The problem is some people just don't believe it because Carolinas don't get that quick a snowfall. But the weather people were right on this storm. And they were extremely accurate. So we can't blame the weather forecasters, and I'm not going to do that. But people responded very quickly. But we did have too many people get on the street too late in response to the storm.

SCHIEFFER: Governor, a couple of years ago, you made a remark that caught a lot of people's attention. You said that global warming is in God's hands. After going through this thing, do you still feel that way? And is there something we ought to be doing about it in the meantime?

MCCRORY: I think someone took a -- chopped off the total sentence there, But I will say this, that, you know, I feel there has always been climate change. The debate is really how much of it is manmade and how much will it cost to have any impact on climate change. My main argument is let's clean up the environment. And as a mayor and now as a governor, I'm spending my time cleaning our air, cleaning our water and cleaning the ground. And I think that's where the argument should be on both the left and the right. And if that has an impact on climate change, good. But I think that's where the real argument should be, is doing what we can to clean up our environment. But we also have to look for cost-effective ways to do it because, as a governor, we're walking that fine line of keeping our environment clean but also continuing the economic recovery and making sure things like power are affordable for the consumer.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Governor, we want to wish you and the folks down there in North Carolina the very best. Glad you're coming out of this thing, and thanks for joining us this morning.

MCCRORY: Thank you very much, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: And with spring officially just 32 days away now -- that is official -- one question being asked everywhere is when is this going to end? Well, the former head of the American Meteorological Society, Marshall Shepherd, joins us from Atlanta this morning. Dr. Shepherd, last time we had you on, we asked you how long is this heat wave going to last? That's a couple years ago. But can you answer that question for us, how much more of this are we going to see?

SHEPHERD: Well, Bob, I think even people in the West and in Alaska may still be asking about that heat wave because the drought we're seeing in the West and the heat we're seeing up in Alaska -- they're related to these snowstorms. We've been in a pattern that's stuck. If you think about a see-saw, one part of that see-saw is up and one part is down. In the United States, we've been under extreme high pressure and we've seen record drought. I'm really concerned about that. The snow pack is low out there. But here in the East, that has allowed cold air to ooze down into the country, and we see this succession of winter storms. And so we've really got to break this persistent pattern we see in our high and low pressure systems and the pattern of our jet stream.

SCHIEFFER: Well, is this something that has happened naturally? Is this something that's a result of things that are happening here on earth? What is this all about?

SHEPHERD: Yeah, yeah, a couple of things, let me say about that. When we get winter weather, cold conditions, you know, you've got some that will say, "Well, what are you guys worried about climate change or global warming? I mean, it's -- it's cold and snowing." And I'll say, "You know, it's winter. It's January or February. We get snowstorms." That's important. That's like saying, because it's night time, the sun doesn't exist anymore. On the other hand, though, there is evidence -- there's some scientific literature that suggests that jet stream patterns can be affected by the amplified warming that we're seeing up in the Arctic because of climate change or global warming. Now, that's real. We know that climate change is happening and humans are contributing. I'm not quite ready to say that this snowstorm we saw this week or last week is caused by global warming or climate change, but one thing I will emphasize, I think we're forgotten how to be cold or deal with snowstorms because we're seeing so few of these big storms like we've seen, and that probably is because of climate warming.

SCHIEFFER: Well, is there anything that can be done here or have we just got to ride them out?

SHEPHERD: We've got to ride it out. I mean, I think there -- you know, the politicians and those that make policy will decide on how to deal with these issues. As a scientist, you know, we try to report the peer-reviewed literature. I tell my students at the University of Georgia, you know, as scientists, we have to report the science based on what the peer- reviewed literature says, not what Twitter Tech says what or the Blog State Universities say. We've got to go with what the facts are. And we clearly know our climate is changing and there are aspects to that change that are related to human activities. But we do have to be careful not to try to blame every single event -- I think there's a bigger picture context. So we've got to ride it out. I think people have to listen to warnings. In the weather field, we -- our science is pretty good now, but are people consuming the information and making the right decisions, and even as the meteorology community, are we giving them that information in a manner that they can use effectively?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I almost hate to ask this question. But we've got spring coming on, tornado season, and then there will be hurricane season. What should we expect for the rest of the year?

SHEPHERD: Yeah, well, I'm still keeping my eye on the West right now, Bob. This drought -- the snow pack is critical out there. If you've seen satellite images from NASA, there's not nearly as much snow pack. And that's the water supply for many of these people later in the warm season. So hopefully, we can get a break in this pattern so that the water supply situation can ease some. Of course we move into the severe weather season, as we saw with El Reno and Moore last year, the tornadoes our in Oklahoma. Again, well-forecasted events, but people made decisions, communication challenges that jeopardized lives. And so I think we have to continue to be prepared. The National Weather Service's Weather-Ready Nation Initiative is a good way to people -- for people to learn how to become more prepared and make the right decisions. And let's see what the hurricane season brings. We predicted, as a community, a fairly active Atlantic hurricane season and it was quiet last year. But if we looked around the world, in the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific, we saw things like Typhoon Haiyan. So we can't get too tunnel vision on what's going on in -- here in the United States. As I always say, weather is your mood, climate is your personality, so you have to look beyond what's happening right outside your window.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well, Dr. Shepherd, it's always fun to talk to you, even when you don't have good news. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

SHEPHERD: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Well, we're going to turn now to the indoor news. While most of the news this past week did focus on the weather, one big story that didn't get much play, Congress raised the debt limit and they did it without a big fight. House Speaker John Boehner cleared the way for passage in the House. Republican leader Mitch McConnell maneuvered around a potential filibuster led by Ted Cruz and got it through the Senate. Well, we're joined now by former Republican senator, Jim DeMint, who heads up the Heritage Foundation. He's also the author of an upcoming book, "Falling in Love with America Again." Well, Senator, the good thing for us about this storm is you were going back to South Carolina...


SCHIEFFER: You couldn't get there. So you're... DEMINT: I'm glad to be here in person.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you're here with us. Well, let's talk about this. Now, you know, what are you and the Tea Party folks going to do now? John Boehner cleared the way...


SCHIEFFER: -- for getting this done. This was not something Tea Party folks were looking to do. And are you going to try to topple John Boehner now, the speaker of the House?

DEMINT: I'm amused when folks talk about the Tea Party. This is just millions of Americans who are concerned about spending and debt and thousands of little groups. So they're -- they're not a political party and they don't speak with one voice. But I think a lot of folks who believe in limited government, less spending and debt, are concerned that under this president, we've had more debt than any president in history. It's very possible that by the end of his term, that he would have allowed more debt than all the presidents before him combined. So a lot of us are wondering how long can this go on? It was a defining vote this week. I think it showed that all the Democrats in the Congress were completely willing to give the president a blank check to borrow whatever he wanted. Most of the Republicans weren't. But the Republican leadership, Bob, has figured out either they give the president all the money and debt he wants or he's going to close the government down and blame it on them. So I think they did what they thought was the only thing they could do. And, frankly, the way it's been reported about the vote in the Senate, actually, the normal rule is it takes 60 votes to move to a final vote, what they call cloture. And I think several members, including Ted Cruz, were -- were simply asking let's keep the normal rules here. And that didn't suit some folks.

SCHIEFFER: Well, it didn't suit Mitch McConnell...

DEMINT: Right.

SCHIEFFER: -- who was the leader, because what -- by forcing that to a 60 vote vote, it meant that a lot of Republicans, who maybe didn't want to vote for this, had to vote for it, to get the filibuster broken...


SCHIEFFER: -- including Mitch McConnell. So Ted Cruz put his Republican colleagues in a tough spot there...

DEMINT: Well, he...

SCHIEFFER: Now, over in the House, John Boehner, some people said, really did his members a favor...


SCHIEFFER: -- because he let the Democrats pass this and a lot of Republicans that knew it was going to happen didn't have to vote for it.

DEMINT: He still had to get 20 some odd Republicans...



 DEMINT: -- to vote for it. But the reason there's a 60 vote rule in the Senate and the reason Republican leaders fought so hard to keep it for nominations is it requires some bipartisan working together to pass something. And the debt limit and just giving the president a blank check is an important vote. And to say we're going to waive the rules to make it easier if it -- if Ted Cruz hadn't have required a standard procedure, there were several others who would have.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you this, to get back to the question I asked you in the beginning. Were you and the folks that you represent and that you raise money from, what about John Boehner?

DEMINT: Um-hmm?

SCHIEFFER: Is -- has he served his purpose? Should somebody else head up the Republicans in the House?

DEMINT: Well, I got out of the Senate so I didn't have to make those kind of decisions. And, really, at the Heritage Foundation, we're not involved with candidates and elections and what goes on internally. So I'm not going to pretend to suggest who should (INAUDIBLE)...

SCHIEFFER: But I mean didn't you form the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has raised money that has used -- been used against some Republicans?

DEMINT: Well, I'm proud of what the Senate Conservatives Fund has done. But I haven't been involved with that in over two years. And so I'm -- I'm really not familiar with what they're doing in this election cycle and I've made it...

SCHIEFFER: But it's your people that are running it, aren't they?


SCHIEFFER: Didn't they all used to work for you?

DEMINT: They're not my people. They are -- they're their own people. And they're supported by folks all over the country. But at the Heritage Foundation, our job is to unite the country around a set of ideas. So we're less involved with, really, trying to cram anything down the throats of congressmen and senators, but we're on a campaign now, Bob, to unite the country around some core ideas that will make our country stronger and life better. And that's our whole emphasis. And so I'm not involved with any political group now.

SCHIEFFER: Well, are you satisfied with the Republican leadership in Washington right now?

DEMINT: Well, I will say that a lot of us, as conservatives, don't feel like we're well represented in Washington right now. And I think a lot of Americans, regardless of political labels, feel the same way. I hear it all over the country. And I think that's why you see a stirring around the country. Frankly, people are less interested in a label of Republican and Democrat and they're tired of that. But they will unite around some principles that will give us a stronger economy, a strong society, a strong America. And those are the things we want to talk about. America is not nearly as divided as it looks like they are in Washington.

SCHIEFFER: Well, it looks like, to me, that the Republican Party, there has been a split, though -- establishment Republicans on one side, Tea Party folks and a lot of rather conservative people on the other side, including you.

DEMINT: It's -- it's always been that way. Reagan was an insurgent. He was shaking up the party. And there's always that pull in Washington, the move toward the establishment, all of the K Street lobbyists and all the interests who want something and to respond to people outside who are saying, hey, we want a limited government, we want more decision-making ourselves. And that's really the key right now, is for Washington to let things go. You see many states, like you see in North Carolina, where you heard from the governor this morning, doing great things with their taxes and school choice. And that's the kind of thing we -- we're working on all around the country.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well, Senator, we thank you for coming by and sharing that.

DEMINT: Bob, it's good to see you again.

SCHIEFFER: And we'll look forward to see how this goes. I hope you get home.

DEMINT: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: All right. We'll be back in one minute to talk to Bob Woodward, who's been doing some reporting this weekend, in a minute.

SCHIEFFER: Well, we're back now with the legendary Bob Woodward. And the reason he is Bob Woodward is that when we asked him to be on the broadcast this morning, lo and behold, he started picking up the phone and calling people to see what's happening and what all this raising the debt ceiling meant. Bob, what did -- what's your reaction to what you heard Senator DeMint say?

BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: Well, one thing is just not factually correct. He said that was a vote to give President Obama a blank check. Raising the debt ceiling does not...


WOODWARD: -- give the president a blank check, it just says we're going to pay the bills for the...

SCHIEFFER: For things we've already bought.

WOODWARD: It -- that we already -- that's already in the legislation. I mean I think in calling around this weekend, what's very interesting is this is kind of a trifecta for Boehner. I talked to somebody, a key administration figure, who said what Boehner did was very gutsy. Now, you don't hear them talking like that in the Obama White House very often.

SCHIEFFER: This was somebody in the Obama White House said this?

WOODWARD: Yes, this is a key player saying John Boehner did the very gutsy thing. Now, it's what the president wanted. The second thing is the conservative press is praising Boehner, like "The National Review" had a long article saying well done, John Boehner. I haven't seen that for a long time. The third most interesting thing is the people who voted against Boehner, the Republicans who said I don't want to vote to raise the debt ceiling, people like Paul Ryan, are privately saying, and making it very clear, Boehner did the right thing. Now this is -- if you look at it a big victory for Obama, because he drew the line. He said, I'm not going to let you hold a gun to my head and blackmail me on this. And so he has -- he -- it's a rare and very important victory.

SCHIEFFER: You know, I thought it was also interesting that again we had Ted Cruz over in the senate, because what really happened here -- and I mean, I think you can make the case that John Boehner was really looking out for his members. They knew this was going to happen. Boehner let democrats pass this in the house, his members could vote against it and say, we voted against it. So he really kind of did them a favor. The exact opposite happened over in the Senate where Mitch McConnell had it worked out that they could pass this on a simple majority and Republicans faced a tough primary election or tough election could vote against it the thing would still pass. But when Cruz came out and forced them to -- said he was going to filibuster, they had to get 60 votes, and a lot of Republicans were not the least bit happy about that.

WOODWARD: Well, that's right. But remember in the House Boehner had to get 20-some Republicans to vote for this. And they did it and you're right, it's almost all Democrats. But if you look at the details, the chess moves all of this, it was rather skillfully done according to Democrats and Republicans. But you're right in the House, Cruz said, we've got to go to 60 votes -- in the Senate, I'm sorry, and made people really unhappy including Mitch McConnell who thinks that Cruz is literally the most selfish senator he's ever seen in his years there.

SCHIEFFER: How popular is he among his colleagues?

WOODWARD: Well, we're going to see what happens if he runs for president and goes out in the country. Among his colleagues they have that senate policy lunch every week and witnesses have told me he goes in there and he sits alone. People will only sit next to him when there is no other available seats. And you know when you sit alone for lunch that's not a sign of a lot of support. So he's isolated.

SCHIEFFER: And you're talking about just a Republican gathering, this is when the Republicans in the Senate have their weekly lunch.

WOODWARD: And the Democrats look on this they see a civil war, but the Republicans are arguing, no, it's just Ted Cruz all by himself. He really doesn't have anybody supporting him. So we'll see where this goes. But the real question here is what does Obama do? Does -- this is not a peace offering or really early Valentine to the president. But sometimes when something happens that you think should happen even not for those reasons you should embrace it and maybe they can actually get something done.

SCHIEFFER: So, it would be kind of next move, President Obama. We'll see what happens.


SCHIEFFER: All right. We will be back with our panel on part two. And we'll be back in a minute with some personal thoughts.

SCHIEFFER: We have been talking about weather and politics this morning. And if you are among the 100 million of us who found yourself in the middle of this storm, you had to love Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri's letter to winter in yesterday's paper. In what seemed to started out as love note she wrote, "it's been real, it's been lovely," but then she added, "I don't care what the groundhog said, you need to leave." Well, she got that right. Even here in Washington where people usually put politics before food and shelter, it was the weather that had our attention. And here is a news flash, winter so far is not a crowd pleaser. Still to be fair, it is not all bad. Every time there's a bad flood or a hurricane, someone remarks it just shows that no matter how our abilities, humans can never match the power generated by mother nature. Well, I never doubted that, but we got a new appreciation for mother nature's power last week. I'm not saying it's the only reason but I am convinced that one reason the House and Senate acted so quickly to raise the debt ceiling was they wanted to get out of town before the big storm hit. Think what you want of the debt ceiling, but anyone or anything with the power to get congress off its rump gets my deep respect and admiration. Back in a minute.

SCHIEFFER: Some stations are leaving us now, for most of us we'll be right back with our politics panel and discussion about NFL hopeful Michael Sam's admission that he is gay. Stay with us.


 SCHIEFFER: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. And what a great day to sit by the fire and talk some politics. Bob Woodward is here and is joined now by Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress, David Sanger of "The New York Times," Jennifer Rubin of "The Washington Post." Good to have her, your first visit here with us. And the editor-in-chief of Politico, John Harris. Neera, let me just ask you, you saw Senator DeMint. What do you think the state of the Republican Party is right now?

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I was actually -- I was actually optimistic by what he was saying. He could have taken on John Boehner. Heritage Action itself has been extremely critical of Boehner's leadership and his decision on the debt limit. There has been a civil war in the Republican Party. And I'm hoping, actually, of the fact that Jim DeMint was not willing to call for the speaker's ouster last week is a sign that perhaps there's a tamping down of that civil war, which would be good for governing for this country. We could actually get some things done. Hopefully, next week, in the next two weeks, we'll see immigration reform, other things happen, because the civil war itself is tamping down.

SCHIEFFER: Jennifer Rubin, you always write from the right. What did you think of Senator DeMint this morning?

JENNIFER RUBIN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I was a little bit surprised, because as Neera said, of course he is very much involved in the civil war. And, in fact, Heritage Action, which resides in his building and which he has great influence in -- he goes out on the stump and does campaign-type events for them -- is very much involved in this fight. And they have an attitude toward governance which is, frankly, unlike the Reagan administration, which he -- or the Reagan movement which he alluded to, and that is that they really seek to paralyze government in a very real sense. They did that with the shutdown last year. They had designs on doing it again. And I think what you've seen is a reaction, a backlash in the Republican Party since the shutdown. And I think there are many more mainstream Republicans, people who consider themselves good conservatives -- Tom Coburn, for one of them -- who was really attacked by these folks. And they're no longer willing to take that. And they are running mainstream candidates. They want to advance an agenda with actual ideas and actual creative solutions to governing. And I think that's a direct result of the...

SCHIEFFER: I'm seeing you're nodding yes.


SCHIEFFER: I mean I didn't think we were going to see that this morning.

TANDEN: Well, you know, look, maybe governance will actually happen. Maybe the government will be able to do some things here and there, you know? And I think -- I think Bob is right, the debt limit decision has been an important one in building on the budget agreement. You know, I'm hopeful that there's, you know, this government actually needs to solve some problems. It would be great if that happened.

JOHN HARRIS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, POLITICO: Just to give a little blast of ice water here...


SCHIEFFER: I was just going to say, John Harris...

HARRIS: -- these are -- these definitely represent a kind of a return to conventional politics in one way. But on process questions. The debt limit was fundamentally a process issue. We never used to have big debt limit arguments in the past. The heat of the matter is ideological. And I don't really see either of the two parties or the two factions within the Republican Party resolving the fundamental ideological issues that have led to...


HARRIS: -- the somewhat paralysis. So let's not over interpret, basically, a...


HARRIS: -- a process calculation.

SCHIEFFER: You know, I think there are some people here in Washington that think maybe Congress is already doing everything it's going to do, that not much is going to happen from here on in, because we have already seen Boehner say no, the immigration is not going to happen. And what -- what's your take here, Bob?

WOODWARD: I mean, I -- I don't think it's just a process question, John. I mean it's -- it's a vote to say we will pay our bills and it's about $1 trillion of spending. And you -- you can't just say that that's process. I think you're quite right. You talk to people about this and they say everything is dead, it's an election year. I think it's possible, because of this moment, particularly the president could say let's work something out. Now, remember what the president's agenda is, which is he's been talking a lot about inequality. I think he feels that very deeply. About the unemployment problem. And he can actually work some deals with the Republicans in Congress to help those two things in a measurable way. And as we say, I think the ball is in his court.

SCHIEFFER: You know, David, you went to Harvard, so you understand phrases like "income inequality" and things like that. I would kind of like to hear people talk about jobs...


SCHIEFFER: -- and things like that, though.


SCHIEFFER: I think that's a better way to go at it, myself, but...

SANGER: But there's been an interesting -- I missed this course at school, but there's been interesting differences in language between income inequality, which is what President Obama is talking about, and income mobility, which is what you're hearing more and more from conservatives, the question of whether or not you can move up in the ladder. And they do require somewhat different kinds of policies. And I think the interesting question is whether that's a debate that takes off this year. I doubt it's going to. And I have to say, I'm sort of more in John's cold water camp here, because the debt limit, as Bob was discussing in the first half, is really about money you've already spent. And so to some degree, to get into that argument wasn't going to be terribly productive for them. The budget, going forward, and you'll see a new budget now in early March, that's about future spending. And I suspect that that's going to be where we see the resumption to the norm here, which may be (INAUDIBLE)...

SCHIEFFER: Let me just go -- I want to get back just to politics here for a minute. And we talked about John Boehner and all that. But what about Mitch McConnell, Jennifer, and what about Ted Cruz and, you know, I assume that Ted Cruz is trying to figure out how to run for president, but he's not making very many friends among his colleagues.

RUBIN: Well, I think both things are true. He is trying to position himself for president. And he has made a lot of unhappy Republicans amongst his colleagues in the Senate. I think what bothers Republicans -- and I had a very prominent economic type think tanker the other day say this to me, is what they resent is that he uses these events at the detriment of his party to advance himself personally. He didn't have an alternative in this latest struggle. He didn't have an alternative, as it turned out, in the shutdown last year. But he can grandstand. People like Mitch McConnell have to do the adult thing. They have to keep the country operating. And then he can crow that he's been the purist of the pure. I think there is a lot of resentment in the Republican Party. And whether that sort of destructive quality is enough to carry him with the Republican base, which is just mad as the dickens about everything, I guess will remain to be seen. But getting back to what David said, I think one of the problems, while we're not going to see a lot of motion forward this year, is because of ObamaCare. The Democrats are struggling with this. The Republicans think they've hit a gold mine. They think that this can be the totality of their agenda going into the mid-term election. I think that's wrong. I think they're going to need other issues, as well. They're going to need a positive agenda. But that, to a large degree, actually put the kibosh on immigration reform. People in favor of immigration said, we don't need to do this now, we want to talk about ObamaCare.

TANDEN: So I think it's true that Republicans are kind of putting everything in the bank on the ACA and ObamaCare, The Affordable Care Act. And I think the thing that they should be worried about is that that narrative is changing. The -- there were absolutely big problems with the Web site several months ago, but now you're seeing the law succeed in ways that people didn't expect. There's 3.3 million people covered through The Affordable Care Act just in the exchanges. Over six million covered, seven million covered, through The Affordable Care Act overall. So I think that this is something -- I actually agree with Jennifer. I think we actually have to ensure that -- I think Republicans are going to face some real anxieties if The Affordable Care Act starts moving to be not such an important issue. They're going to need something else to talk about.

SCHIEFFER: John Harris, on the Democratic side, is Hillary Clinton now going to be the nominee?

I mean everybody said, well, I don't know who else would even run?

HARRIS: I mean if you look at just at the surface level, I can't think of anybody historically who's been in such a formidable position in terms of stature within the party, in terms of recognition nationally. Well, you know, they take these polls, and obviously they don't mean a lot this far out, but she dominates the field in a way that I just don't think we've ever seen. What -- that's the surface reality. Beneath that, I think life is complicated. Look, we don't actually know her intentions. I think it's a very difficult position for her to be in as the sort of presumptive nominee in waiting, because we've seen, over time, people tend to like Hillary Clinton in non-political settings, as a person. As secretary of State, she became very popular. If you put her in a political setting, which by definition, it is if you're sort of the presumptive nominee, people don't like her as much. And so to sit there in that status, a kind of pregnant status, for two years, that's a really big challenge for her.

SCHIEFFER: I think so. David Sanger, Syria, round two of the talks seem to have failed. We've talked mostly about domestic policy here, which is generally what we talk about. But there are some really important things going on out there and not altogether good right now. 


 SANGER: That's right, Bob. And, you know, I'm beginning to detect a change not only in the administration's view -- and they've been very reluctant to get in. But you heard a little bit of a change in the president's view. He gave a very long answer at a press conference with President Hollande, who was visiting for a state dinner, about Syria, in which he expressed huge frustration with the Russians, who have kept this discussion from even turning into a way to have a hmm corridor in. There are now estimates that there are up to 140,000 Syrian dead. And I think that there are many people in the Obama administration -- and they've been very split about what to do -- who now fear that they're going to have this great human tragedy on their record and on their hands. And so...

SCHIEFFER: Do you think we'll do anything more than what we're doing? * There are many people in the Obama administration, and they have been very split about what to do, who now fear that they're going to have this great human tragedy on their record and on their hands. And so...

SCHIEFFER: Do you think we'll do anything more than what we're doing right now? Or what can we do?

SANGER: I think you're beginning to see more. But it's basically small turns of the dial. I think you're going to see more arms go to some of the rebels. I think they understand the rebel groups better now, because at the Geneva II Conference they got to know a few more of these. I think that they are going to be putting more money in to helping fund the fighters. But there's a big conflict with Congress right here on that issue, because Congress has been very reluctant to provide more funds for fear that this would slip the U.S. into another conflict in the Middle East. What the president won't do, I think, is put any American forces at risk.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we could talk about this all afternoon, but we have to leave it there. We'll be back in one minute to talk about Michael Sam, and what does that really mean that he came out?

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we're back now to talk about this big story that broke this week, and that was that University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced that he is gay. He will go through the next NFL draft. He'll become the first openly gay player in the NFL. Yesterday the all-American received a standing ovation at a Missouri basketball game where he and the rest of the football team were honored for their Cotton Bowl victory. Well, we're joined now by Howard Bragman, who represents Michael Sam. He is in Los Angeles. Cyd Zeigler of is in New York, I believe he broke this story. NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth is free agent, most recently played with the New England Patriots, and he works with Principle 6, an athlete ally organization focused on ending homophobia in sports. He is in Miami. Here in the studio, Jarrett Bell, the NFL columnist for USA Today.

Cyd Zeigler, you broke this story, why is this a big story?

CYD ZEIGLER, OUTSPORTS.COM: Well, it's a big story because it's history. You know, we've never had an openly gay player try to enter the NFL or play in the NFL. And there had been so much talk about how this would be impossible. Last year I had media members betting me that what we are seeing unfold right now was literally impossible, that the front offices and locker rooms in the NFL weren't ready for it. And we are seeing this unfold before our eyes. The NFL is ready for it. The fans are ready for it. America is ready for it. And, you know, the kids who are struggling right now with their sexual orientation, they are really read to see this.

SCHIEFFER: You know, I agree with what you have said, but I also read Sports Illustrated this week, and while they say this is something that goes far beyond sports, their story indicated there are still people in the NFL that are not quite ready for it. They talked about players, they didn't quote anybody by name. They talked about some coaches who talked about how this -- that some teams will be reluctant to draft him. Howard, you worked with Michael Sam on making this announcement and all that. Is he ready for what's ahead? HOWARD BRAGMAN, SPOKESMAN FOR MICHAEL SAM He really is. You know, we broke the story a week ago. We broke it last Sunday evening. Michael did two interviews, ESPN and The New York Times. Michael got on a plane the next morning, went back to his training facility. And a lot of people have used the word "distraction," Bob. Michael is the least distracted in this. He understands his only job right now is to get ready to play the best football of his life. And he's going to the Combine in Indianapolis this week to show his stuff for the NFL scouts. He is so ready for this. And if you saw Michael's back-story, he had a very hardscrabble upbringing. He was one of eight kids, two siblings, one was murdered, one disappeared, one drowned, two in jail. This is a courageous young man with a lot of character who is going through a lot in his life. And this is just one dimension of what defines him as an ambitious and talented young man.

SCHIEFFER: Donte, you say you were once homophobic. You've been in a lot of locker rooms in the NFL, what do you think the atmosphere is going to be? Do you think, number one, that he will be drafted? Will he be an early draft pick? Will teams be reluctant to try to get him?

DONTE STALLWORTH, NFL WIDE RECEIVER: I think the initial consensus was that he would be a mid-round draft pick, anywhere from the third round to the fifth round of the NFL draft. You hear the guys on the panel speaking about how focused he is. I think the biggest thing is that he has changed the conversation about homophobia in all of sports. And for this it's no longer a question for the NFL if the NFL is ready for a gay player. The NFL has to be ready. And the onus is on everyone to make sure that he is in a safe workplace. The NFL has all of these policies in action now. And I think that is important that we understand that Michael Sam will -- he will be accepted into an NFL locker room regardless of what you've heard from other anonymous general managers. I think that eventually over time everyone will accept him. But it will take some time. But I think he'll be fine at the end of the day.

SCHIEFFER: Jarrett, I've left it for you to be the clean-up man here, because you kind of stand back from this. You're a reporter. Everybody else on the panel has kind of have an interest in this. You do, as a reporter, but you can give us a little overview, how do you think that -- what do you think is going to happen here?

JARRETT BELL, USA TODAY: Well, obviously I think he will get his opportunity. And I think the NFL, as it has expressed with Roger Goodell on down, that it will welcome him with open arms, so we'll see how that plays out. But I think, Bob, that this entire story is forcing people, particularly those within the NFL, to confront whatever stereotypes they have. We're going to find out how tolerant the NFL really is. And another thing that's interesting is that we're kind of in this age of enlightenment in the NFL. We've had so many different issues from a social standpoint that have come before us just within the past few months. We had three incidents during the past football season where the use of racial slurs was, you know, germane to the story. We've had the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation in Miami that has made headlines. The football team right here in the nation's capital with a racial slur as the nickname, much debate about that, and that is going to continue. And so the NFL is in, you know, an extremely unique position to really show some social leadership right now. And I think Roger Goodell and the league office have put the right messages out there. But we're going to find out exactly if the money is where the mouth is on this issue.

SCHIEFFER: Cyd, this is a story really that goes beyond sports, which is why we're doing it on FACE THE NATION today where we normally concentrate on politics and things of that nature. How big a story do you think this is, I mean, for the culture? Is this a sign that things are changing? Are we going to find out if they're changing or not? Where do you put this?

ZEIGLER: Yes, I think this is arguably the most important coming out in our culture's history. I look at when Ellen DeGeneres came out, that was hugely impactful and helped change the conversation. This is right there because of the power that the NFL and football has, half of America calls football their favorite sport. And I think that going forward, what is amazing about this is Michael Sam himself. You know, we're so focused on talking about a gay football player. But we need to shift the conversation about Michael Sam. I've spent with this guy. He is gregarious. He has a sense of humor. He's warm. He's engaging. He's going to be so successful in the locker room. And America is going to fall in love with his personality instead of just looking at him as a gay football player. So I think that going forward it's super important, and part of the reason is because of who the man is.

SCHIEFFER: Why, Howard, did he decide to do this, I mean, when you come right down to it? I mean, he told his teammates at Missouri last year. They said, we already know. Why did he find this was important to do it now?

BRAGMAN: Actually, Bob, we were going to do it -- instead of Sunday we were going to do it Monday. But it became very clear to us on Saturday that media outlets were prepared to break this. So he was about to be outed. And what was always important to Michael is he come out in his terms, in his words, on his timetable. So we moved it up. He wanted to tell his story and tell his truth. And that's what's so important here, that he own his story and the courage that goes with it, and that we found the kind of journalist that would allow him to tell his own story in the best way possible.

SCHIEFFER: Donte, we all know the wonderful story of Jackie Robinson and how the reason Branch Rickey picked him is because -- not because he was the very best African-American ball player at that time -- it turned out he probably was -- but because he knew he had the personality and the character to go through what Branch Rickey knew he was going to go through. Here, Michael has decided -- he picked himself to do this. What advice would you have for him when he walks into that locker room, wherever he winds up playing?

STALLWORTH: I think it's just be yourself. I've talked to plenty of people in the University of Missouri, the football family over there. I've talked to former players. I've talked to the coach that was there and that still is there. And the guys -- everyone had nothing but glowing remarks about the kid. They said he's a hard worker; he's a leader, and he jokes around with his teammates just like everyone else does. So I think the biggest thing that we all should understand is that he's going to be fine. There may be a guy or two in the locker room that won't agree with his lifestyle and what his sexual preferences are, but I don't -- I've talked to many guys in the NFL, and I don't think anyone is going to confront him. But my biggest advice for him is just to be yourself. And he'll get a chance to do that going into the NFL draft and combine -- I think it's this weekend and the following week. So he'll be OK. He'll be fine.

SCHIEFFER: Jarrett, I guess, in the end, what will settle this is if he's a good football player?

BELL: Yeah, no question about that. And I think it's so important that Michael Sam end up with a team that can support him and to really be able to deal with the attention and the support that's going to be necessary for this to really be successful and for us to get beyond this. One thing to point out, Bob, there have been gay players that have played in the NFL for decades. We just didn't know them when they were outed. But this will be an interesting development just to follow, obviously.

SCHIEFFER: And we'll be back in a minute.

Thank you. 

SCHIEFFER: The Olympics are always a learning experience for me. But all these new X Game contests I've never heard of, the slopestyle and the halfpipe -- they made me almost nostalgic for the not-so-long- ago when I was still trying to figure out curling. That's our "Face the Nation" flashback. And here's me back in 2002.


SCHIEFFER: I know everyone else is worried about skating, but here is my Olympic question: What is all this about curling? And what is curling, anyway?

My wife wandered by the television the other night and said, "Are they bowling on ice?" No, and they are not waxing the floor with those long-handled squeegees, nor are they skating without skates. They are sliding around on the ice in their shoes, the way we used to do it as kids when we'd slide down the hall in our socks. Whatever it is, it is beyond me. The teams strategize and then they slide those little smudge pots or tea kettles or whatever they are down the ice, and then the announcer says, "It's 4-0." But I have no idea why.



SCHIEFFER (voice over): Even so, that's pretty simple when you try to understand what today's Olympians are even talking about.

SAGE KOTSENBURG, U.S. OLYMPIAN GOLD MEDALIST SNOWBOARDER: There's so much rodeos, double corks, triple corks, 1620s, Japan grabs, crails.


It keeps going on and on. It's just -- it's unreal.

SCHIEFFER: What is real is that the Russians knew they faced new competition for attention and released this picture of their star curler this year. This curling may be a better game than I thought it was.

Our "Face the Nation" flashback.


SCHIEFFER (on camera): Well, that's it for today. We'll see you right here, same place, "Face the Nation," next week.

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