Face the Nation Transcripts: January 18, 2015: Cameron, Rubio, Pfeiffer

(CBS News) -- A transcript from the January 18, 2015 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included British Prime Minister David Cameron, White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Michael Morell, Stephanie Cutter, Michael Gerson, Mark Halperin and Nancy Cordes.

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST: I'm Bob Schieffer.

Today on FACE THE NATION: World leaders brace for another terrorist attack, and, here at home, campaign 2016 is under way.

Around the world, the fallout from the Paris attacks continued. Violent protests broke out in the Mideast over the new "Charlie Hebdo" depiction of the Prophet Mohammed, and European countries remain on edge.

After his meeting with President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron minced no words about the threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We believe an attack is highly likely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIEFFER: We will also hear from Florida Senator Marco Rubio on that and his new book, "American Dreams."

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer previews the president's plan to raise taxes on the rich.

And we will have the surprising results on the CBS News poll on who Americans want to run for president, plus analysis on all of the above, because this is FACE THE NATION.

Good morning.

We begin this morning with the continuing fallout from the murderous attack on the French satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo."

Violent protests have broken out in Pakistan, Algeria, Yemen, and Niger, where at least 10 people are dead.

Security in Western Europe remains high. In Washington, just after his White House meeting with President Obama, to talk about all of this, British Prime Minister David Cameron sat down with us at Blair House, and we asked if the terrorist threat now is greater than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAMERON: In Britain's history, we have had some very intense times of terrorist threats, so I wouldn't want to try and scale it in that way.

But, certainly, we face a very severe threat. That is what we are calling it, severe, because we believe an attack is highly likely. But, frankly, we have been in this struggle against extremist Islamist terrorism now for well over a decade-and-a-half. So we know what it takes to win. And it is going to take a lot of perseverance.

SCHIEFFER: Well, have we entered a new phase here? Is that what this attack in Paris has signaled?

CAMERON: This threat keeps morphing, because it is the same fundamental problem, extremist Islamist terror, and the threat has changed and altered, but it's still based on the fundamental problem of a poisonous death cult narrative, which is the perversion of one of the world's major religions. And that is the thing we are still up against.

SCHIEFFER: The French president says we are at war. Do you call this a war?

CAMERON: It has many of the similar aspects, but my way of expressing this is that this is just a huge challenge our society faces.

What I don't want to do is try and posit that there is some class of -- clash of civilizations going on, because that is what the terrorists want. They want this to be seen as a war between what they see as the true Islam and the rest. And that is not the case.

What these terrorists represent is the perversion of a major religion and not its true adherents. They are fanatics who have attached themselves to a death cult. And so we don't want to help them in their narrative by saying it is a war of us against them. What it is, is a bunch of people who have got completely the wrong ideas who are challenging our society and way of life, and we have to take them on with everything we have got.

SCHIEFFER: Do you leave Washington feeling that we have a coordinated, a coherent strategy to fight these people?

CAMERON: I believe that we do.

I think the reason some people are concerned about the strategy is that perhaps we haven't said enough about how long it is going to take to work. If we take the issue of Islamist extremist terrorism coming out of Iraq and Syria, it is going to take a very long time to deal with this, where we will have to show real perseverance.

We can't do this on our own, as Western countries. We need a functioning government in Iraq, functioning government in Syria to be the legitimate authorities that with us help to stamp out this perversion of the Islamic religion.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think that the fact that the -- a lot of the West sort of stood back for a while in the early stages of the Syrian war may have set the stage for what we are seeing now?

CAMERON: Well, I would put it a slightly different way, which is, I do think that two of the greatest recruiting sergeants for ISIL in Iraq and Syria, one was the fact that there was a very sectarian government in Iraq that was only looking after some of the people.

And, obviously in Syria, you had a brutal -- you still have a brutal regime that has murdered, maimed and bombed so many of its own citizens. I mean, what I say is the what the West now has to do is make sure we are doing what we can to support the legitimate Syrian opposition, an opposition that should be able to represent all of the Syrian people.

And in that way, we can undermine both Assad and the narrative on which ISIL depends.

SCHIEFFER: Prime Minister, how is it these people are able to motivate these young people, young people in Britain, young people in France, in the United States? What is the appeal here?

CAMERON: Well, I think they are trying to appeal on the basis of a perversion of the religion of Islam, saying that there is a struggle against one, they would say, Islamic path. I don't believe it is Islamic, but that's what they are saying -- one Islamic path against the rest of Islam and against the rest of the world.

And they are attracting people, saying they are providing the true path and it is a clash of civilizations and an epic struggle that people should take part in.

Now, we have to demonstrate that this is wrong, that it is a perversion, that it leads to terrorism, death and division. But we have also got to demonstrate that our values, that the things we stand for and care about in our societies of democracy and free speech and rights and ability to have peaceful and progressive societies, that those things are stronger.

I think we will be successful because we have history, we have morality, we have the right answers on our side.

SCHIEFFER: The pope said that freedom of speech has limits, especially in regard to religion, that we shouldn't make fun of other people's religions. How do we find the right balance here?

CAMERON: I think, in a free society, there is a right to cause offense about someone's religion. I am a Christian. If someone says something offensive about Jesus, I might find that offensive, but in a free society, I don't have a right to sort of wreak my vengeance on them.

We have to accept that newspapers, magazines can publish things that are offensive to some, as long as it is within the law. That's what we should defend. The politicians, my job is not to tell a newspaper what to publish or what not to publish. My job is to uphold the law, that they can publish things that are within the law.

SCHIEFFER: How do you feel about relations with the United States? Do you go home feeling better about it or how do you...

CAMERON: Well, I go home feeling that there is an incredibly strong and lasting and special partnership between our two countries.

And it is based on the fact that we see the world's challenges in the same way, and we want to work together to solve them. I believe it is helped by the fact that I have a very strong relationship with President Obama, and I admire his leadership and his reasonable approach in dealing with all these issues.

But, frankly, whether it was Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan or whether it was Churchill and Roosevelt, different relationships have been forged, but the underlying strength of this partnership is there for reasons of not just history, but reasons of values.

And that matters as much for the future as the past.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you do seem to get along quite well. How did this relationship develop, do you think?

CAMERON: Well, I got to know him a little bit when he was running for the presidency. And I think we sparked up a good relationship then.

We have had a lot of time, whether it's visits to each other's countries or summits or challenges that we have been addressing. And, frankly, quite a lot has happened on our watch, whether it is the need to get Afghanistan right and draw down our troops, the huge fight we have had to try and clear up our banking systems and get our economies growing, while dealing with our deficits.

We have got this huge challenge of Islamic extremism. We have been thrown together in a lot of different situations. And, look, we don't always agree. But what I find is, he has a very calm and reasonable, rational, sensible, levelheaded way of trying to address these great challenges. And it has been a pleasure to work with him.

SCHIEFFER: You say he calls you bro. What do you call him?

CAMERON: Well, it's normally Barack and David, but every now and again, there's been some other things thrown around. And I suppose bro was one of them. But I took that in good heart.

SCHIEFFER: But, I mean, you don't have a special nickname for him?

CAMERON: I don't, no. And if I did, I probably wouldn't tell you.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIEFFER: All right.

Thank you very much, Prime Minister.

CAMERON: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIEFFER: And we turn now to Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee. He's also one of many Republicans thinking of running for president.

Senator, thank you for joining us. Prime Minister Cameron is obviously worried about more terrorist attacks. Do you believe the danger is increasing, there will be another attack on this country?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I do.

And I think, in addition to the traditional risk of terrorism, which is what we experienced in 9/11, people from the Middle East coming to the U.S., hijacking an airplane, crashing it into a building, in addition to that sort of threat, which remains real, there is also the threat of homegrown violent extremism, which we have been warning about now for a couple of years.

And what has made it more interesting, of course, and more dangerous is that in fact some of these individuals that are plotting these attacks may not even have traveled to the Middle East. They have been radicalized in a local mosque or online. And they have received instructions and/or inspiration about how to carry out these attacks in the West from online platforms.

So I think that is a very real risk for Europe, which is closer to the Middle East and has large immigrant populations from that region. But it is a real risk here in the United States, a country where every single year millions of people visit, travel to, immigrate to.

SCHIEFFER: Well, are you satisfied the government is doing everything that should be done right now?

RUBIO: Well, we need to do more.

And part of that is this debate we're going to have about our intelligence-gathering capability. You know, there are people in Washington who believe that our programs go too far. And I am certainly sensitive to privacy expectations and, of course, privacy rights.

But the flip side of it -- and I have always warned about this -- is that there are people today, including in our own country, who are actively plotting to carry out attacks. Just this week, one of them was arrested.

And they don't need a wide web of conspirators. One or two people, sometimes someone on their own can do this. And we need to have the capability to identify them. Even with all that, I believe the chances are that eventually someone will get through the cracks and be able to carry out an attack.

But -- as you saw in Boston a year ago. But we -- it is a real threat and we need to do more because this new threat is growing.

SCHIEFFER: On a related issue, the president made it very clear on Friday that he will veto any bill that Congress might send him that puts new sanctions on Iran.

He says that would derail our efforts to get an agreement with them on limiting their nuclear capability. We know that some Republicans are very actively pushing that. Where do you come down on that?

RUBIO: Well, I believe we need additional sanctions.

I believe any deal with Iran requires congressional approval. And I hope we will move quickly in the new Congress to pass both of those. Look, the only reason Iran is even at the table is because of existing sanctions. And these negotiations as they are going on now are really not going to bear fruit.

And I always hope that I wake up one morning and read that the supreme leader in Iran has become a normal person. But he is a radical cleric that shares a radical view of his theology. And he is the one that is calling the shots here in Iran. And he wants a nuclear weapon, or a nuclear weapons capability. And these negotiations for them are nothing but an effort to buy time to gain some sanctions relief, but not give up any irreversible concessions on the part of the Iranian government.

So, I am not optimistic these talks are even going to lead anywhere anyways. And we need to have in place sanctions that kick in when those talks fail.

SCHIEFFER: We are also learning that in his State of the Union address, the president is going to propose, I am told, $320 billion in new taxes on the wealthy, also $235 billion in new spending. Some of that will go to his proposal to offer free community college educations to everyone. Your take on that?

RUBIO: Well, I actually came out with a book this weak called "American Dreams."

And in that book, I talk about this. This is a 20th century outdated model the president is following. The notion, first of all, that in order for some people to do better, someone has to do worse, is just not true. Raising taxes on people that are successful is not going to make people that are struggling more successful.

The good news about free enterprise is that everyone can succeed without punishing anyone. It also would also be counterproductive. But here is my bigger point. I am all for reforming our higher education system. In the 21st century, to have the skills you need for a middle-class job, you need higher education of some form or fashion.

It may not be a four-year degree. The problem is, he just wants to pour that additional money into the broken existing system, which a lot of people will graduate with A.A. degrees that don't lead to anything but another four-year degree that may not lead to a job.

What we need to do is create competition with alternate methods where people can acquire certification programs that take less than two years, and get you to work right away as a welder, an electrician, an airplane mechanic. I wish he would spend more time on that and less time trying to raise taxes and pour money into an outdated model that no longer works in the 21st century.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you're out this week talking about your new book, which is what prospective candidates often do when they are getting ready to run for president.

What do you think is going to be the overriding issue in the next presidential election if you decide to run?

RUBIO: I think there are two major issues.

The first, of course, deals with the number one priority of the United States federal government, and that is our national security, at a time when we are facing threats from rising powers like China that want to rewrite the global order, like Russia that wants to ignore the global order, like rogue states like Iran and North Korea that want nuclear weapons, to be immune from the global order, and radical Islamists that want to have a brand new global order in which everyone lives under the flag of radical Islam.

That's the first threat we face. And we need a commander in chief that understands the nature of the threat and has real ideas about how to address it. And the second thing is, we have had a radical transformation of our economy. This 21st century economy looks dramatically different like the 20th century -- dramatically different than the 20th century.

We need new modern policies to give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed. And I believe the next president of the United States needs to be someone that understands the 21st century and has ideas about how to take advantage of the opportunities of this new century, so everyone can make it to the middle class and beyond.

SCHIEFFER: CBS News has a new poll out this week. We ask respondents, Republicans and Democrats, we asked those in each party who they would like to see run for president.

Mitt Romney tops the list; 59 percent of Republicans say he should run. He is followed closely by Jeb Bush and then along come others. We are going to just roll down the list here. You are kind of in the middle of the pack. One of the things the polls says, that more than half the people say they just need to know more about you.

RUBIO: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: How do you fix that? And let me ask you first, are you surprised that Romney is at the top of this list?

RUBIO: No.

Look, first of all, polls like this at this stage in an election are really just nothing but a reflection of name recognition. So, it doesn't surprise me as you look at that poll that people that have run for president or have family members as president are doing well in a poll like that.

But the bigger point is the one you raise. Look, preseason polls in college football don't mean anything anymore. Who cares if you're ranked number one in the preseason polls? What matters is who wins that final championship game, now that they have a playoff system.

And that's going to be the same here when it comes to running for president. If I decide to run for president -- and I'm very seriously thinking about it because of where our country is today -- I am going to go out and run a campaign where I'm going to explain to people, not only do I understand the national security threats that we face, but that I believe that we need to turn the page and fully embrace all the opportunities and confront the challenges of a new century.

And I believe that, once we do that, a growing number of people will become convinced, if I run, that we should be the person that they nominate. But I haven't made that decision yet. But no matter what, that's who our nominee needs to be, someone who understands the 21st century and has ideas relevant to this new era in our history.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Rubio, thank you for joining us.

RUBIO: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: And we will be back in one minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: And we are back now from the White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, who has been with Barack Obama -- you were among the very first even back in the campaign. And you have been with him ever since.

Let's just start with what the president and the White House said overnight. The president is going to announce a plan in the State of the Union to raise $320 billion in new taxes on the wealthy. And that is over 10 years. Capital gains taxes are going up. With this new revenue, he is going to do such things as provide free community college and so forth for people, new tax breaks for working families, increase child care credit.

I would just ask you this, Mr. Pfeiffer. Do you in any way, shape or form believe that a new Republican Congress is going to do what a Congress that had Democrats and Republicans in control would not do? I mean, is this for real? Do you really think there is a chance that something like this could pass?

DAN PFEIFFER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think this plan the president is going to talk about on Tuesday night goes to what is the core theme of the State of the Union, which is middle- class economics.

And it is the simple proposition that, now that the economy is in a stronger place than it has been in a very long time, we need to double down on our efforts to deal with wage stagnation and declining economic mobility, and so the simple proposition that we should ask the wealthy to pay a little more and invest more in the middle class, give the middle class a raise. Now, there are elements of our plan that Republicans have supported in the past. Our higher education tax breaks are something very similar to something the Republican House passed last year. The fee on large financial institutions is something very similar to what was included in the Republican corporate tax reform plan last year by Republican Dave Camp.

So are they going to agree on everything? Absolutely not. But I think we should have a debate in this country about -- between middle- class economics and trickle-down economics and see if we can come to an agreement on the things we do agree on.

SCHIEFFER: Well, regardless of the merits of the plan, do you think this Congress would really consider this?

I mean, Marco Rubio, you heard his reaction. Paul Ryan, the Republican, he is going to be the new chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, his spokesman said it is not even serious.

I guess what I would ask you, are you laying this out because you think you have a chance to get it passed, or you just want to draw the contrast between Republicans and Democrats and paint Republicans as being the party of the rich?

PFEIFFER: I think, in divided government, each side should lay out their agenda, what they think is in the best interest of the country. And then we can figure out if there are things in the middle we agree on.

We look forward to the Republicans laying out their agenda. They have a very different philosophy about how the economy works. But, as I said, there are some ideas in the middle we may be able to agree on and we should make the case. And a few years ago, people would have said we had no chance to get the Republicans to agree to raise taxes on the very wealthy back to the level they were under Bill Clinton, and we succeeded in doing that.

So we're going to push very hard. There are legislative proposals in this State of the Union, also a lot of executive actions where we can help middle-class families right now.

SCHIEFFER: Raising taxes always get the headline in any story, but what else can we expect from the president?

PFEIFFER: Well, I think you can expect the president to tell a story about where we have come from the last six years, the tremendous progress we have made, the fact that the economy is growing, jobs are growing.

The deficit has been cut in two-thirds. And he's going to lay out a plan in three parts about how we help the middle class. And we have given you a lot of the details in advance to make it easy for everyone out there, but how we make paychecks go farther right now, how we create more good-paying jobs right now and how do we give people the skills they need to get those high-paying jobs, things like free community college, additional child care. SCHIEFFER: The president said on Friday that technologies not allowing law enforcement to track known terrorists is -- quote -- "a problem."

And what is he going to do to fix that?

PFEIFFER: Well, I think we have a number of steps we have to take. One is we have been working a long time, as was referred to by Senator Rubio earlier, to reform our surveillance laws.

We had a successful effort passing it in the House. It stalled in the Senate. We're going to double down on that. But this has been a debate that we have had in this country since 9/11, which is, how do we find the right balance between privacy and security? You can't have 100 percent of each. And so we are going to work with industry, we are going to work with law enforcement, Congress to make sure we can do that in the right way.

SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about something else. The White House has conceded that you should have sent a high-level representative to Paris for that rally last weekend that saw leaders from everywhere.

But I want to ask you why. I mean, did the staff just miss this?

PFEIFFER: Well, it was...

SCHIEFFER: The significance of it?

PFEIFFER: As you know, Bob, it would not have been logistically feasible to move the United States all the way across the world on 36 hours' notice.

SCHIEFFER: Yes. I understand that.

PFEIFFER: And so, as Josh Earnest said, we should have done -- we should have sent someone of a higher profile, because that was the right thing to do.

And once we realized that we had made that mistake, we took responsibility for it, which is probably a rare thing in Washington.

SCHIEFFER: But is this sort of -- I mean, it seems to me that the White House is always a little late in recognizing the significance of such things. I mean, we saw that happen sometimes over the summer. What -- does the staff let the president down?

PFEIFFER: Well, in this case, I think that we should have done a better job in ensuring that we had someone with a higher profile, and we took responsibility for that.

I think, look, it is always important to get out there and play the appropriate role for the president. We try to do that every time. And if we ever fall short, we want to learn from that and do better the next time.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Dan Pfeiffer, we wish you the best.

PFEIFFER: Thank you, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: And we will be back in a moment with some personal thoughts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: I am not a Catholic, and only God knows if I even qualify as a religious person, but I like the new pope.

He reminds us that religion is about kindness, not imposing our will on others. So, in the wake of the Paris tragedy, when he told us that free speech has limits and that we should not make fun of the religions of others, I listened.

There is no stronger defender of the First Amendment than me. As a reporter, I stand second to no one in defending the French magazine's right to print their satirical cartoons. Certainly, though, they did not deserve to die.

But defending the magazine's right to print the cartoons is different than approving the cartoons. Long ago, our Supreme Court ruled free speech is not a license to put public safety at risk by shouting fire in a crowded theater. And good taste and sensitivity to the feelings of others dictates self-imposed limits on what we say every day. That too is a principle of civilized society.

I think what the pope was saying was, there is a difference in having the right to do something and doing the right thing. I am glad he reminded us. That too should be a part of this conversation -- back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including more of the CBS News 2016 poll, and we will have our political panel.

So, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: And welcome back to FACE THE NATION.

We are going to talk some more about these terror attacks.

And we are joined by CBS News senior national security contributor Michael Morell, formerly number two out at the CIA.

Mike, you said something the other day on the evening news that really took me aback. You said that on the time of 9/11, al Qaeda was in one place, Afghanistan. And you say today they are in 30 to 40 places. Does that mean they are more powerful now than they were then? MICHAEL MORELL, CBS NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Bob, you know, just to kind of scope this for people, in this fight we have had against al Qaeda since 9/11, we have had very significant victory in that fight and so have they. Our significant victory has been degradation, near defeat of al Qaeda in Pakistan. Those people that brought us 9/11, the capture and killing of bin Laden.

Their great victory has been the spread of their ideology across this huge geographic area in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South Asia. That is where you get that 30 to 35 to 40 countries. And these are groups that are actually associated with al Qaeda and these are individuals who buy into the ideology.

SCHIEFFER: Well, this whole deal, you know, now these homegrown terrorists -- I mean, obviously we have entered in a different phase, but here in Washington, last week, where we saw a kid out in Ohio, apparently had no connection to any of these groups, but was kind of trying to impress them. And so he is coming to Washington with a whole bunch of ammunition and automatic weapons and was going to build pipe bombs to blow up the Capitol. How do we deal with that?

MORELL: You know, we have had this problem for a long time, just to reiterate something that Prime Minister Cameron said, we have the Fort Hood shootings, we had the Boston bombings. So we have had radicalized Americans conduct these attacks.

I expect more. I think we are going to see a Paris-style attack here. We need to be prepared for that.

It is a very difficult to deal with right? We usually catch terrorists because they are communicating with each other. And when you are self-radicalized, right, particularly a lone individual you probably are not communicating with somebody, very difficult to find you.

SCHIEFFER: What do we think, there are about 150 Americans that we know of in this country, we think, who have been to Syria?

MORELL: So sizing the problem here, right, there has been a couple of hundred Americans who have gone to Syria or Iraq to fight for one of the extremist groups there, either ISIS or al-Nusra. I don't know how many have come back.

In western Europe the number is between 2,500 and 5,000 people. So western Europe has a bigger problem, but we also have, share that problem with western Europe because those individuals can get on an aircraft and come to the United States without a visa. So we have our own problem and then we have to worry about West Europeans coming here.

SCHIEFFER: Do we think the danger now is greater than it was?

MORRELL: I think you have to think about the danger from al Qaeda as an organization, right? And the danger from them is less than it was on 9/11. al Qaeda can't conduct a 9/11-style attack today, multiple simultaneous attacks that kill thousands. They don't have that capability.

They do have the capability to conduct small attacks. But the lone individuals, right, the lone individuals who might go out and do something that number is much larger than it ever has been before.

SCHIEFFER: What do we need to be doing that we are not doing? Prime Minister Cameron wants to give intelligence agencies greater leeway to hack into social media and encrypted media. We know the media companies in the United States are very much are against that. Do we have to look at that?

MORELL: I think we have to look at a couple of things. One is we have to make sure that law enforcement and intelligence has the resources that it needs, the dollars, the people, and the technology. And I think we have to look at some of the questions that get at, that bear on secrecy versus security, right? We have to look at that.

But the other thing we have to look at, Bob, which I think is the bigger issue, is how do we stop the production of terrorists? How do we deal with this message from the jihadists that is so attractive to young people in Europe and some people in the United States? We have never really got at that.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what is it about this message that is attractive? It is not attractive to me.

MORELL: It is attractive to alienated youth, right? And there are more alienated youth in Europe than there are in the United States. There are immigrants in Europe that have never really fully integrated into European society. That is what -- it is individuals who feel that alienation who are open to this message that the west is trying to destroy Islam, come and fight for us to protect it.

SCHIEFFER: All right, Mike Morell, always good to have you.

We will be back to talk some politics in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: We are back now with our all-star panel. We always have an all-star panel, but these are our stars. Stephanie Cutter was top adviser to the president, both on his campaign and in the White House; before that she was on the Kerry campaign. She is now a democratic strategist, a CNN contributor.

Mark Halperin is the managing editor of Bloomberg politics.

And we are joined by CBS News congressional correspondent, Nancy Cordes; and Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist, former member of the George W. Bush administration. Well, so let's start with Mitt Romney. He was telling everybody that he was not going to run again. I said way back there, the one thing I have gotten right lately and is still right he is now thinking about running. Now he is looking to jump back sin.

Mark, what do you think, what changed his mind?

MARK HALPERIN, BLOOMBERG: It is a wide open field. He has a chance to get elected president and he doesn't want to give up the opportunity, not because he lusts for power but because he thinks he would be the best president. He thinks increasingly as he did four years ago that he has the best chance to beat the democratic nominee.

I think a lot of reason he thinks he lost last time was it is hard to beat an incumbent president who doesn't have a challenge. And on Friday night, Nancy and I were both there, he gave a message that was different than last time. He talked about his Mormon faith and he talked about an empowerment agenda that sounds like Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan and I think he would like to give it another try.

He is not deferred by -- they know they had a bad week of press, but he's not deterred by the pundits or a few editorials. What he sees is the polls like the new CBS poll that shows more Republicans and conservative would like him to run than anybody else. I think he will do it.

SCHIEFFER: All right, and let's just take a look at that poll again. We talked about it a while ago when we were talking to Marco Rubio. It shows that 59 percent of the Republicans we surveyed want Mitt Romney to run again, right behind him is Jeb Bush at about 50 percent.

But Nancy, you were in San Diego at this big Republican gathering, what kind of reception did he get out there?

NANCY CORDES, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think it really ran the gamut from folks who say, hey, the more the merrier. He should jump in.

People really admire and respect Mitt Romney in this party, especially after how hard he worked to get folks elected in the midterms. And so, there is a lot of affection for him.

On the other hand, there are many who feel that he has such a huge advantage in fundraising, but at the end of the day might not be the best messenger if the argument that the party wants to make going against Hillary Clinton is that it is time for a new generation of leaders.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Mark was just saying he talked in speech out there about his Mormon faith. Mike Gerson, that was something he didn't like to talk about very much the last go round. Do you think he is going to run -- if he does run a different kind of campaign here?

MICHAEL GERSON, WASHINGTON POST: Well, he certainly is signaling he wants to. My concern, I think the concern of a lot of Republicans, is the things - the problems he has are not problems he can solve. He is not a particularly good candidate, as far as political skills. That is hard to solve. He also is a symbol or representative of stereotypes of the Republican Party. And I think a lot of Republicans are saying, we have got a serious problem with minorities, with women, without outreach to younger voters, with working class voters in particular in key states, if those are the questions then Mitt Romney is not the answer.

SCHIEFFER: The president was kind of funny on -- on television Friday when, Stephanie, when somebody asked him what he thought of Mitt Romney deciding -- thinking about running again. He said, well, I just have no comment.

CUTTER: No comment. Yes.

SCHIEFFER: What's your comment?

CUTTER: Well, you know, let's remember, after the 2012 campaign, the Republican National Committee started what they called an autopsy to try to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

That autopsy was as a result of the campaign that Mitt Romney ran.

And now you're talking about that person potentially becoming the nominee?

I'm clearly not going to discourage Mitt Romney from running. But I think he has a real identity problem.

You know, I -- I remember him as governor. I'm from Massachusetts. He was my governor. He was a moderate. When he started running for president, he -- in his own definition, became severely conservative.

And now he's going to be the champion of the 47 percent that he disparaged the last time he ran for president.

It's just not believable to voters.

And I think that's the problem, at this point, that's just not fixable for him.

SCHIEFFER: What does Jeb Bush think about this, Michael?

GERSON: Well, I think there is a primary for establishment support. And Jeb Bush, right now, is setting the pace for that primary. He's forcing other people, Romney, Christie, in particular, to act and to react to this.

He's running the best pre-campaign of all the candidates. He's been transparent, letting out his e-mails and tax material. He's been nimble. He's used social media. He's showing I'm in this for real and forcing the rest of the field to react. And, you know, so I think that obviously concerned Romney enough that he made his hint that he was going to run at a meeting of major donors in New York in a Park Avenue apartment, OK?

Which is not where you'd necessarily pick to...

SCHIEFFER: I'm -- I'm beginning to think that Michael...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: -- may not be the -- among the first to sign onto a Romney campaign.

GERSON: He's a good man, but not a serious challenger (INAUDIBLE).

SCHIEFFER: Let me...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: -- you mentioned Chris Christie.

Let me just call up something else from this poll. Twenty-four or 29 percent of Republicans told us that they want Chris Christie to run. But 44 percent said they didn't want him to run for president. Among the Independents, it's 22 percent who say he should run and 40 percent who say he should not run. I thought this was one of the most interesting things in the poll.

GERSON: As I've been calling Republicans to react to the Romney news, how it affects Jeb Bush, how it affects Christie, I've been struck by the number of serious experienced Republican officeholders and strategists who say Christie cannot be the nominee. I think they're understating his -- his potential.

But there is a real skepticism. His camp knows that. But they see a possibility if you've got an old name in Romney, an old name in Bush, Christie can say I'm an establishment person who can raise big money, beat Hillary Clinton, who's a new name, who's a relatively fresh face.

I do think Jeb Bush is underrated. I think Michael is exactly right, he's running the best campaign. And he's doing it not being very visible. He's not on your program. He's not out.

But I think right now, whether Romney runs or not, whether Christie is stronger than those numbers suggest, I think Jeb Bush is -- is a bigger favorite for this nomination than most people say.

SCHIEFFER: What did you find out in San Diego?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think people feel that what Chris Christie is doing right now, saying there's no rush to get in the race, is really his best strategy, because when you're running up against Jeb Bush and now maybe Mitt Romney, who have been out of office for seven, eight, nine years, the best thing to do is remind people, I'm a governor right now. I am a leader right now. I am taking care of business. I have recent accomplishments.

And so for Chris Christie, for Scott Walker, folks who don't have as much name recognition right now as maybe a Mitt Romney, in fact, in that poll that you talked about, guess who else is up at the top of the list?

Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin. These are people that voters have seen before...

SCHIEFFER: You've got Huckabee at 40 percent and Palin at 30 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. And -- and that's going to change. But for right now, at this early stage, when voters think about who they want to run, they think about who's run in the past and who they know.

SCHIEFFER: So a lot of this poll may simply be name recognition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

SCHIEFFER: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think that's a big part of what we're seeing. And for a Jeb Bush, lots of name recognition because his name is Bush.

But there isn't a lot of knowing about who -- what Jeb Bush stands for, what he believes in, what he wants to do as president. And I think that's a real opportunity for him. And the way he's starting to put himself out there is very disciplined.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing I look for in Christie that's interesting, he's going out to the Iowa Freedom Summit on the 24th, very conservative in a very conservative states. And I will be interesting -- interested to see how Jersey plays in the corn fields of Iowa. And that will be an interesting test for him.

I do think Huckabee got some good news in this poll. He could solidify the position as the candidate of the Evangelical right. That's not enough to get the nomination, but that's enough to be a serious player in Iowa and other places. He got some good news.

SCHIEFFER: You know what I -- what I find interesting about the Huckabee campaign, candidates always write a book, or generally, these days, they always write a book before they run. The last time Huckabee ran for president, his book was about dieting and eating well.

Now, what is the name of the book he has written this time, God, gravy, grits and something else?

I mean... HALPERIN: If you're going to try to appeal to Americans and say you need to be thinner versus you can eat grits and gravy, I'd go with the latter.

SCHIEFFER: So he thinks there...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: -- there are more fat people than...

(CROSSTALK)

HALPERIN: Well, or at least people who aspire to eat grits and gravy.

SCHIEFFER: Let's -- let's talk a little bit about the Democrats, while we're on the subject.

Here's what we found in our poll. Hillary Clinton obviously, no surprise here, leads the pack, 85 percent of Democrats want her to run. Vice President Biden, 40 percent want him to run. But about the same number say don't run.

So what happens, Stephanie, if -- if Hillary Clinton, for some reason or the other, doesn't wind up being a candidate?

CUTTER: Well, I think that's very unlikely to happen based on what we're seeing and hearing out there. But, you know, I think it means that you probably see some other people jumping in...

SCHIEFFER: But who are they?

CUTTER: -- that we're seeing right now.

Well, there's Governor Hickenlooper.

SCHIEFFER: The vice president.

CUTTER: The vice president, who, despite those poll ratings, I think would be a very good candidate.

But I think, you know, we don't know who those names are, because Hillary has been locking up the field be -- since 2012, you know, almost immediately talk of her run in 2016 started. And I think that's for good reason, given, you know, the one -- the number in your poll that shows the breadth of support for her in the Democratic Party I think is real.

HALPERIN: The Clintons have been around for so long, it's very easy to say Clinton insiders, because you could be referring to almost a -- thousands of Americans. I've been talking to some people who are Clinton insiders, long-time supporters. They are worried about Jeb Bush. They are worried about her laying low while Jeb Bush is out there being aggressive. And they're worried that if she stays without a message, you say today what Jeb Bush is going to run on and what states Jeb Bush could win that Barack Obama won last time. She needs to start defining herself, in the view of a lot of people around her, and not let Jeb Bush get up a head of steam.

CORDES: But, you know, the Democrats have to hope that some serious people do jump into this race and run against Hillary Clinton, because right now, there is so much energy on the Republican side. People feel great about the field, as the RNC chairman, Reince Priebus told me. You know, there's some drama, there's some intrigue. That's good. That gets people to pay attention to us.

When John McCain sealed up the nomination early in 2008, that was bad for him. He sort of sat around. He wasn't the story for months, while Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama duked it out. And that really hurt him.

GERSON: I do think it's interesting that Elizabeth Warren, who would probably the most -- be the most serious challenge, keeps saying no. But a lot of the party keeps wanting to hear maybe, OK?

So you've got MoveOn.org that is, you know, running an online petition, 250,000 names trying to get her to run.

There is an anti-Wall Street element of the Democratic Party, a populist element, that's not particularly happy with -- with Hillary Clinton. That could be a space for someone to fill in that -- in that primary.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean this announcement we got last night that the president is going to call in his State of the Union for $320 billion in new taxes, that's right out of the Elizabeth Warren playbook. I'm not saying...

CUTTER: Well...

SCHIEFFER: -- he might not have announced it if she hadn't been out there saying it, but that's what she's been talking about.

CUTTER: But, Bob, he's been talking about that for many years, since at the tail end of the financial crisis about how we need to make the tax code work better for working Americans. And it's consistent with the deficit reduction deal he was working for -- working with on Republicans.

Every budget that he has put forth, a rebalancing of the tax code, so money is going into the pockets of middle class families.

That's not new to this president. And while, you know, I watched your interview with Dan Pfeiffer about whether something like this is going to get passed, there are elements of this that Republicans are going to find appealable, because they know where the country is in terms of wanting that balance and solving the problem of economic unequal -- inequality and getting more mobility into our economy.

So it will be interesting to see how Republicans react to this. They have to be very careful, as they look to 2016, that they're not out there protecting those at the -- at the top 1 percent. Otherwise, they're going to have the Romney problem.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you heard what I asked Dan Pfeiffer, did they announce this because they thought it might pass or because they want to paint the Republicans as the party of the rich?

CORDES: They announced this because they know that tax reform is most likely going to come up, that it's at the top of Paul Ryan's agenda. And they want to sort of lay down a marker. They want to be in on that negotiation. They know that Republicans want to lower taxes for everyone, so they're sort of staking out their territory now.

They do not expect that a -- Congress that's controlled entirely by Republicans now is going to say great idea, let's raise taxes.

HALPERIN: Look, this proposal is very well poll-tested, right?

There are things in here basically saying tax -- banks and tax the wealthiest people more to pay for more college opportunity and to pay for more -- to help working families and couples with kids. That's going to be very popular.

And as Dan pointed out -- and it is true, some of the proposals are taken from Republican proposals. The former chairman of the Ways and Means Committee proposed a kind of thing of taxing wealthy financial institutions.

The president has a choice, though, I think. Does he simply put that out there and have that political fight to tee up 2016? Or does he and his staff work with Republicans to say, let's do tax reform.

Republicans are not going to raise the capital gains tax, but they might go for the tax on financial institutions and they might go for an expanded income tax credit.

SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about the Supreme Court, they say they will finally rule on gay marriage.

What happens here? Does this, if they rule that it is OK, does this take this issue totally off the table in the next election?

GERSON: I think a lot, most Republicans in the field are looking, actively looking for ways not to talk about this issue. The Supreme Court decision in June of this year would probably, for those Republicans, at least, the non-Huckabee wing of the party, would probably be a good thing.

It would, essentially, we are going to respect the law of the land and it is a settled issue, but we are going to be concerned about religious liberty and the free expression for religious institutions. And we will complain about the overreach of courts, but there won't be a big debate on this issue.

It is not abortion in the Republican Party. There are a lot of people who don't want to talk about this issue. CORDES: But I think it is going to be an issue no matter how the Supreme Court rules. You know, it doesn't take the issue off the table any more than Roe versus Wade took abortion off the table. We are still talking about it decades later and I think you're right, that there are some Republicans who don't want to have to talk about this on the campaign trail butt are going to be forced to because it's going to be --

(CROSSTALK)

HALPERIN: I think the exact opposite; it won't be an issue either way.

SCHIEFFER: You don't think it will be an issue?

HALPERIN: No. Because public opinion has moved so far, whatever the court rules, wherever the court rule -- with the exception of Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and a few others, Republicans just don't want to talk about it. They will alienate younger voters for a generation if they keep talking about an issue where public opinion has changed, as strong as they might feel about it personally and morally, whatever the court --

SCHIEFFER: The most dangerous thing in the world is to try to predict what any court is going to do.

Does anybody want to predict what's going to happen here?

(LAUGHTER)

HALPERIN: Six votes, even Justice Roberts, I think, will join the majority and they'll legalize gay marriage.

SCHIEFFER: They'll legalize gay marriage.

All right. Well, it is great to have all of you here and we certainly have plenty to talk about and there will be more. And we will be right back.

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SCHIEFFER: And this just in, we are hearing from the Secret Service that shots were fired last night outside the vice president's home in Delaware. He was not at home at the time. There were no injuries.

The Secret Service tells CBS News they are looking into the incident but a spokesman confirms that a car drove by and shots were fired. No word if this was random or targeted. We will continue to monitor the story here at CBS News. And we will be right back.

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SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. We hope you will join Scott Pelley, Norah O'Donnell and me Tuesday night at 9:00 pm Eastern for our CBS News State of the Union coverage.

We will also have full coverage on cbsnews.com and on CBSN, our live 24/7 streaming video news channel.

Thanks for watching. We will see you right here on FACE THE NATION next week.

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