Face the Nation Transcripts January 4, 2015: Schumer, Coons, Cummings

(CBS News) -- Below is a transcript from the January 4, 2015 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included Elijah Cummings, Chuck Schumer, Chris Coons, Newt Gingrich, Mark Updegrove, Gwen Ifill, David Ignatius, Susan Page and Dan Balz.

SCIHIEFFER: Today ON FACE THE NATION: the uneasy conversation about race as the new Congress prepares to convene.

Wenjian Liu, one of the New York police officers assassinated two weeks ago, is being laid to rest today. But a showdown is looming between New York cops and Mayor Bill de Blasio over handling of the case. What happens next? We will talk to New York's Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.

Will the anger against police in the black community spread? We will talk to Maryland Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings. We will get a Republican take from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. We will explore the controversy over the civil rights film "Selma" with the head of the LBJ Presidential Library, Mark Updegrove. And we will check in with Delaware Senator Chris Coons just back from Liberia with a report on what is right and what's wrong in the efforts to combat Ebola.

Plus, as always, an all-star panelist of analysts,because this is FACE THE NATION.

Good morning. Thousands of police officers from all over the country are gathering in Brooklyn for the funeral of Wenjian Liu, one of the police officers assassinated two weeks ago in the wake of the furor over the death of Eric Garner at the hands of the New York Police Department.

One of those attending the funeral is New York's Democratic Senator Charles Schumer. We spoke to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIEFFER: Senator, as you and literally thousands of people from across the nation gather to honor officer Liu, hanging over all of it is this nasty situation that's developed between the mayor and New York Police Department.

We now understand that arrests are down 66 percent, traffic citations down 90 percent. Every category of arrest, the statistics show a dramatic drop. What is going on here and is this reaching a crisis state?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: No, I don't think it is, Bob.

Let me first say, today is day to honor officer Liu and his family and the men and women of the police department. Liu signified the greatness of New York in a me, a poor immigrant, came from China, worked really hard in very difficult jobs, volunteered. He was a volunteer police officer for three years before he became a police officer.

And he, like the other police officers, do a great job making New York the safest city of the large cities in the country. Now, as for the divide, I think New Yorkers agree. We need a very strong police department that continues to keep crime down and we need good community-police relations.

They have started to talk to one another, both sides. That is going to continue. And I don't think the chasm is unbridgeable. If they continue talking to one another, I believe we can solve this problem.

SCHIEFFER: Well, former Mayor Giuliani said on this broadcast last week that all this -- the best step to resolve this would be -- the first thing is that Mayor de Blasio should apologize to the police. Do you believe that's the way to do it?

SCHUMER: Look, we're a few hours from officer Liu's funeral. I'm not going to get in to anything that takes away from honoring him today.

SCHIEFFER: Well, but -- I take your point, Senator Schumer. But this is a very serious situation, and people around the country are watching for some action. You're the senator from New York. Are you saying you're not going to take a position on this at all?

SCHUMER: No, I think that, again, having talked to people on both sides, I think that the chasm is not unbridgeable at all.

Commissioner Bratton has done a good job in Los Angeles in dealing with this issue well. He's dealing with the issue well here. And I think it can be solved.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, I will let it go at that.

Let's talk about the new Congress that is going to convene. We understand the first thing that Republicans are going to do is pass the Keystone pipeline legislation. The president hasn't said flatly that he's going to veto it, but it looks like it's headed that way. What do you see happening there?

SCHUMER: Well, look, our Republican colleagues say that this is a jobs bill. But that's really not true at all. By most estimates, it would create several thousand temporary construction jobs and only 35, 35 permanent jobs. Compare that to the number of jobs created in the economy last month, 300,000.

And so Democrats are dubious of this. But we're going to introduce amendments to make it more of a jobs bill. We're going to introduce an amendment to say that the steel used in the pipeline should be made in America, creating American jobs. We're going to introduce an amendment that says that the oil that is used in the pipeline should be used in America. Imagine building pipeline that ships Canadian oil across America to be exported to other countries from Texas?

That makes no sense at all in terms of American working people's interests. We're going to say that the oil should stay here. And finally we're going to introduce an amendment to add clean energy jobs. If you do things for wind and solar energy, you create tens of thousands of more jobs using clean energy.

Why create a very few jobs with the dirtiest of energy from tar sands, when you can create tens of thousands more clean jobs using wind and solar? And, you know, our Republican colleagues are doing what they always do. They're appeasing the few special interests, in this case oil companies and pipeline companies, not really doing what's good for the average American middle-class family in terms of creating jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHUMER: So, I think, Bob, in conclusion, we will have enough votes to sustain a presidential veto.

SCHIEFFER: So, even if these amendments pass, you would still urge the president to veto this legislation?

SCHUMER: Well, yes.

I don't think -- these amendments will make it better, but certainly not good enough at this point in time. And I think there will be enough Democratic votes to sustain the president's veto.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Senator, thank you for joining us this morning.

SCHUMER: We need a much different energy policy.

Yes. Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Thank you, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIEFFER: And we turn now to Maryland's Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings.

Congressman, thank you for coming.

I must say, Senator Schumer seemed reluctant to talk about this whole question of this divide that seems to have developed between the police and people in the black community. But this is a very, very serious thing, which I know that senator would agree with that part.

But I'm going to ask you, do you see what's happening in New York, is that indicative of what the situation is around the country? Do you see that spreading from New York? Where do you see this going? Because it is an extremely complicated and a very difficult issue.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Let me first express my condolences to the Liu family. And I'm grateful for all that policemen do for us all over the country.

It is a national problem, no doubt about it. Keep in mind that these protests, Bob, took place all over, in every state, and even in London. People are feeling as if they -- justice is not meted out the same way everywhere. They look at these police tactics and they look at situations where deadly force has been used.

And they see African-American men in particular dying. One survey said that the 400 or so deaths from police officers with guns, that 96 percent of them were white officers killing African-Americans. That's a problem.

And so I think what we have to do is, we have to tone it down a little bit and try to create an atmosphere where police, community are working together to solve problems and bring some solutions to these problems. Keep in mind, Cincinnati had major problems a few years ago. And they sat down, they worked with the community, worked with police, and they were able to come up with some good solutions.

SCHIEFFER: I understand exactly what you're saying, but the fact is, police put their lives on the line every single day.

CUMMINGS: That's right. Bob, Bob...

SCHIEFFER: How do you combine an appreciation of that with getting to the root of what you see and what I see as some very real problems?

CUMMINGS: Bob, no doubt about it. They have a dangerous job. I have policemen in my family.

And there's little room for error. But I think what we have to make folks realize is that we -- police realize -- it's not an us against them. And the community must realize it's not an us against them. It's us working together. And so trust has to be established. And there are three things that we have really got to do.

We have got to look at tracking, first of all, to see how pervasive these problems are, training to make sure that police are properly trained to address issues. And there may be issues where excessive force should not be used. And then we have got to have accountability. All three of those things are so important.

But the police have to understand that they need the community and the community needs them. I practiced law for years, criminal law for years. I can tell you, Bob, you're not going to solve crime without the cooperation of the community.

And so we have got to show that it's a win-win situation. I say police and community, it's not about moving to common ground. We're beyond that. We have got to move to higher ground, because this has got to be a win-win for everybody.

SCHIEFFER: You have asked for congressional hearings. Will that really make a difference here? Everybody is always investigating something, and do we need congressional hearings?

CUMMINGS: Bob, I believe that we need to do it.

We investigated the Affordable Care Act a dozen hearings -- three dozen hearings. We need to look at this, because this is something that affects a very significant part of our population. We need to deal with this and we can deal with it, but we have got to sit down and say, OK, we have got to go in another direction, we have got to work together.

And so, no, I -- it will help. We need to -- right after Ferguson, I sent a letter, along with 130 leaders, asking the president to establish a task force, which he has now done, asking them to look at the idea of body cameras. He has endorsed that.

And so we're seeing movement already. I along, with Chairman, Ranking Member Thompson and other ranking members, have asked the speaker to pull together hearings, because the speaker has already said that he thinks it's not a bad idea. So, we -- I think it will be helpful.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I wish you the best on that.

CUMMINGS: I do too.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much, Congressman.

CUMMINGS: All right, thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Next up, former speaker of the House and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. He is also a CNN contributor.

I just want to get the Republican take on what we have been hearing and what we have been talking about this morning.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, look, first of all, I think we do need criminal justice reform. We have seen people like Rick Perry in Texas and Nathan Deal, the governor of Georgia, do it.

The system doesn't work right. We have people locked up who shouldn't be. We tear apart communities that need young men to be able to go back home. So, I think we need serious hearings at the federal level. Second, there has to be some recognition -- and this will probably get me in trouble -- young people should be told, when a policeman tells you to stop, stop.

There's a dual requirement here. You have to first African- American president. You have an African-American attorney general. And six years into their effort, we're in some ways further apart, not closer together. That's a tragic failure of leadership at the very top.

You have -- the community has to respect the police. And the police have to respect the community. And both have failed.

SCHIEFFER: Well, are you somehow saying that this is the fault of Barack Obama?

GINGRICH: I'm saying that the president spends a lot of his time using language which is divisive, automatically jumps to conclusions about things he doesn't know. I'm saying the attorney general clearly has given speeches that are divisive. And I'm just suggesting to you this is a tragic lost opportunity. You would think that six years into the first African- American president, there would be a sense in the community of us coming closer together. That hasn't happened.

And let me just remind you, the two people who have done the most to save African-American lives in New York City were Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg. Their policing techniques, led by Chief Bratton, who invented them, actually have saved thousands of lives by focusing on crime in a very intelligent way.

And, candidly, if Chicago were being as aggressive about it as New York, you would be saving hundreds of African-American lives a year in Chicago.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about something going on here in Washington. And this is this situation that's grown up around Congressman Steve Scalise. He's part of the Republican leadership in the House.

It turns out that, what is it, 12 years ago, he made a speech to a white supremacy group. Some Democrats saying he ought to leave. Speaker Boehner says he's standing with him. I don't think that this helps the Republican case in any way, but what about Congressman Scalise? What -- is this a serious thing?

GINGRICH: Let me say, first of all, I admire your professionalism. You got through that whole thing without breaking up.

The fact is, you have a president who for years went to a church whose pastor said stunningly hateful things about Americans. The president explains, he didn't hear any of them. OK? And we all gave him a pass. He gave a great speech in Philadelphia as a candidate. We said, OK, we got it.

Now, he went to that church a long time and listened to Reverend Wright a long time. You have other cases. You had Bob Byrd, who was the majority leader, who was a Klan leader. You had Hugo Black, who was a justice who was a Klan leader, but they were Democrats. So being in the Klan was OK.

The fact is, the only African-American member of the Louisiana delegation, a Democrat, says that Steve Scalise does not have a racist bone in his body. Mia Love, the brand-new first Republican African- American woman in Congress, said he has been extraordinarily helpful to her.

Scalise is a deeply committed Catholic who condemns hate organizations and, to the best of our knowledge, gave a speech on taxes 12 years ago. Now, for a 12-year-old speech to be blown up into a national story I think is frankly one more example of a one-sided view of reality.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what does this do just -- let's just talk about the politics side of it.

Here you have -- you're coming up on the 2016 race. Aren't Republicans going to have to find some way to appeal to Hispanics and to African-Americans? And what is that way? Because I think you would agree, right now, if you just look at it, it doesn't look like they're doing very much.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Steve Scalise is the whip.

Helps pass criminal justice reform, if he helps organize the kind of hearings that Congressman Cummings has called for, if we see action on real things that affect real lives, nobody is going to say, but didn't you 12 years ago stupidly schedule a group?

Second, Kasich in Ohio got 26 percent of the African-American vote and was endorsed by the biggest black newspaper. Deal in Georgia, Governor Deal, doubled his share of the African-American vote, driven in part by criminal justice reform.

Senator Cornyn carried the Latino vote in Texas, and the gubernatorial candidate got I think 44 percent. And in Colorado, the Republican candidate tied the Democratic incumbent 48-48 with Latinos. I believe we can have very different election in '16. I don't think demography is destiny. I think leadership is.

And the Republican Party, which is solving problems, is going to do very well.

SCHIEFFER: Newt Gingrich, always good to have you.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

SCHIEFFER: And we will be back in one minute to talk with the director of the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library, Mark Updegrove, in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: And now, in yet another complication in this story of racial conversation that is going on, we turn to the controversy over "Selma," the new movie that follows the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s efforts in the 1960s civil rights movement.

Historians, former staffers and friends of President Lyndon Johnson say the movie is historically inaccurate, dead wrong in how it portrays Johnson and his approach to the Voting Rights Act.

Mark Updegrove is the director of the LBJ Presidential Library. He's the author of "Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency." And he joins us from Austin.

Mr. Updegrove, just tell me, first of all, what is it that this movie gets wrong in your eyes? MARK UPDEGROVE, DIRECTOR, LBJ PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: Well, let me first start, Bob, by saying that I commend the filmmakers for taking on this subject, which is so worthy. I think for the most part they do it quite responsibly.

And I hope it serves as a catalyst for others to learn more about the civil rights movement, which I believe to be the most consequential domestic movement of the 20th century. And I think, as they do, they will learn about the very productive, harmonious and ultimately very consequential partnership between Dr. Martin Luther King and President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

That did not show up in the film. You don't quite see how productive that partnership was and how it came to bear on our getting voting rights in this country.

SCHIEFFER: Well, beyond saying it doesn't quite come across, the film suggests that Johnson was trying to slow down this whole thing, that he was one of the impediments that Martin Luther King Jr. had to move aside.

I have listened to the tapes of that era. I know some of what Johnson said to King and what King said back to him. Tell us a little bit about what your research shows.

UPDEGROVE: Certainly.

There's a conversation that anyone can listen to. It's a taped telephone conversation between Martin Luther King and Lyndon. It took place on January 15, 1965. It largely vindicates Johnson and really shows his passion around voting rights.

The two of them spur each other one, more or less. And Johnson says to Martin Luther King, you know, if you show the very worst of voting rights oppression in the South and get it on TV, get it on the radio, get it in newspapers, there isn't a fellow who drives a tractor who won't say, that isn't right. That isn't fair.

That's a direct quote from Johnson. He said, and if you do that, we can shove legislation through Congress. And it will be more significant even than the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, of course, ended legal segregation in America.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Updegrove, let me just play just a short portion of that tape, because I think it underlines hearing you say it, but now let's listen to Johnson and what he said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Take that one illustration and get it on radio, and get it on television, get it on in the pulpits, get it in the meetings, get it everyplace you can. Pretty soon, the fellow didn't do anything but follow -- drive a tractor will say, well, that's not right, that's not fair.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCHIEFFER: So, when you listen to that tape, it's pretty hard to come away believing what this film suggests, that Johnson was trying to slow down this process. As I understand it, is he was saying to King, look, find some of the worst things you can and focus attention on it, and that will help me bring pressure on the Congress to pass this.

UPDEGROVE: And that's exactly what happened, Bob.

Lyndon Johnson realized that he couldn't introduce the Voting Rights Act so soon after passing the Civil Rights Act. He just -- he had the legislative wherewithal to know that that would not go through Congress. He didn't have the power.

And he told Martin Luther King that, very frankly, I don't have the power to get this through. You need to help me to find that power. And indeed that gave -- the campaign in Selma gave Lyndon Johnson the moral impetus to introduce it, because that fellow on the tractor, as he said, did conclude that it was not right, there were basic injustices in America that should not stand.

And a reluctant Congress ultimately passed the Voting Rights Act after Selma. Selma was a catalyst in making that happen.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think happened here, Mr. Updegrove? I know that Andy Young, who was a top aide to Martin Luther King Jr. and was part of all of this, he says the movie got that part dead wrong.

Yesterday, Clifford Alexander, who was one of Johnson's top aide, an African-American, later secretary of the Army, he says they got it wrong. What happened here?

UPDEGROVE: Well, unfortunately, there's no litmus test for movies that -- based on history. There's no standard that says that you got this wrong, you have got to correct that.

On your very air on CBS two mornings ago, Julian Bond, the great civil rights leader, concluded that the movie needed a villain. And what better villain than president of the United States? Unfortunately, it just doesn't ring true historically.

SCHIEFFER: Mark Updegrove, I want to thank you very much for joining us this morning.

And I will be right back with some personal thoughts about some good news in Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: I'm not sure I believe this, but I wanted to start the new year with some good news. And I think I found some.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports that White House officials are telling "Journal" reporters they are planning a strategy to work with Congress to pass some significant trade, corporate tax overhaul and infrastructure legislation. And "The Journal" says Republicans seem to be interested.

After a steady diet of bad news and partisan blather, this spoonful of hope all but upset my digestion, but, sure enough, that's what the article said.

So what about all those unilateral actions the president's been taking that have put Republicans in such a snit? Here is a direct quote from White House spokesman Eric Schultz: "Those disagreements should not interfere with the many areas of bipartisan interest where we can work together."

As if to herald a new age of miracles, "The Journal" quotes some Republicans who seem ready to talk, especially on trade. Well, if that is so, can filling potholes and propping up old bridges be far behind? I'm still not sure I believe any of it. But it is nice to think about. And if it does prove true, remember, you heard it here second. "The Wall Street Journal" got the scoop.

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. So, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Delaware senator Chris Coons is the top Democrat on a key congressional subcommittee on African affairs, he is just back from Liberia where he went to assess U.S. efforts to control the Ebola epidemic.

Senator, I think everyone appreciates that you're doing what a subcommittee chairman ought to do and that is go where the most important thing -- you're on Foreign Relations; you could have gone to Paris or Rome or someplace like that on a junket. You went to Liberia because that's where we have all our, what, a couple of thousand --

(CROSSTALK)

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DEL.: -- 2,400 troops and --

SCHIEFFER: -- trying to work with this Ebola epidemic. Just give me a debrief here, what are we doing right on this, how is this thing going and is there anything we're doing wrong?

COONS: First of all, we've got some great news. Something about which all Americans can be, should be proud. I went to visit our 2,400 troops from the 101st Airborne Division and to see the work that they have done. They have done remarkable work, they and the doctors and nurses of the CDC and the Uniform Public Health Service have really turned the corner on the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.

But I'm calling for a change in strategy by the Pentagon. We can't declare mission accomplished and withdraw too early here. We can bring home a thousand or more of these troops now. They are currently bored because they have accomplished a lot of their mission of building infrastructure, building new Ebola treatment units all over the country, deploying new military testing labs all over the country and setting up a vital infrastructure.

The raging epidemic that threatened the whole country in September is now down to a few embers scattered across this country. But we need a new strategy to adapt to conditions on the ground.

Our troops should remain, some of them for the rest of the year, to help make sure that Liberians can transition our emergency Ebola treatment units into community level health clinics and transition our high-tech military mobile testing labs into Liberian-run local labs. So going forward this epidemic really is brought to an end in Liberia.

SCHIEFFER: I notice Congress, I guess in the last appropriation, did authorize $5 billion more to fight Ebola.

COONS: That's right.

SCHIEFFER: Are you saying we can spend less there and more in other places or how do you see this overall fight now?

COONS: First, that money was half for making sure that we are safe here at home, for investing in vaccine development, for investing in making sure we have got the equipment and the materials and the training at our hospitals and at our borders and in our country to make sure we're safe against any future flare-up of Ebola.

But second, the money we are spending in Liberia I'm saying we could spend more wisely. We could change our strategy and direction and I'll be sending a letter to the Secretary of Defense and sending a briefing memo to the president both tomorrow to call for this change in strategy. We can spend this money more wisely and make sure we get the job done.

SCHIEFFER: You went at some risk, did you go through the quarantine process?

Or how did all that work?

COONS: Yes, I was -- I am being tested twice a day, I'm self monitoring, I'm checking my own temperature; as long as you have no symptoms and no temperature, you can't infect others and I'm comfortable that I'm fully complying with the CDC protocols.

I also had a very safe itinerary I didn't go in to any hospitals where there were Ebola patients. I wasn't directly in touch with any Ebola patients. The real heroes here are the men and women, the missionaries, the volunteers, our troops who have gone in and who have spent a lot of time caring for and supporting those who care for Ebola victims.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, thank you very much. I think Americans appreciate what you have done here and we want to wish you the best on this.

COONS: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: We'll keep an eye on it. All right. And we'll be right back with our panel.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: We're back now with our all-star panel: Gwen Ifill, the anchor of "Washington Week" and the PBS "Newshour;" David Ignatius, columnist for "The Washington Post."

We're also joined by Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief of "USA Today" and Dan Balz, the chief correspondent of "The Washington Post" and, I must say, the unofficial dean of the political press corps here in Washington, which means he is the oldest member.

(LAUGHTER)

DAN BALZ, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You got that right.

SCHIEFFER: The oldest, except for me.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIEFFER: I'm glad to see all of you.

I want to talk to you about this thing that was in "The Wall Street Journal" on Friday, that the White House is suddenly -- and they actually announced this, that they're going to -- they have a new, quote, "strategy" to work with Congress on some things of mutual interest.

And "The Journal" finds Republicans who say, yes, they think they are ready to talk.

Is this the new age of miracles here or is this just some first- of-the-year talk?

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Here are two things. One, it's front- page news that people would think about working together.

Two, most people don't believe it's actually going to happen. I think even when I heard on your program about the Keystone Pipeline indicates that Republicans are determined to pass it. And the president is likely to veto it and Senator Schumer told you they had the votes to sustain a veto. That doesn't much sound like cooperating on issues of common ground.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think they have the votes to sustain a presidential veto, Dan?

BALZ: I don't know. I think we'll have to see this debate play out. I think what -- "The Journal" piece looks at one aspect of what I think a lot of people are anticipating, which is that there are some areas where there is some mutual agreement between the White House and congressional Republicans. But there are also big areas of disagreement and I think that the real question is, how do Republicans try to balance those two needs? They want to be productive, they want to look like they're able to do some things, they want to show they can govern.

At the same time they have a constituency that wants certain things done that are anathema to the president. And so the new leadership in the Senate will have to balance that and we'll see how Speaker Boehner handles it.

SCHIEFFER: I would just say they may find votes to sustain a presidential veto, but at this point I don't see that they have the votes to do that.

GWEN IFILL, PBS HOST: Well, they're all reading the polls. They certainly know that at least going into the session they have got to sound like they're going to get along. They have to talk about bipartisanship and agreement on trade and energy policy and issues where there are small slivers of agreement and then it can all fall apart later. But for now this is what they have to offset.

PAGE: I'll tell you about one thing I hear is that there is a deal in the works well along to do two big confirmations quickly in the Senate for the new attorney general, Loretta Lynch, and for the new Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter. And that will be a display.

If that happens that would be a display of bipartisan cooperation; we can get something done. We'll give the president two key members of his Cabinet that he wants.

SCHIEFFER: David, one of the things that I would guess is going to come up early on is this authorization to fight ISIS. And the president wants that, he wants Congress to give him the authorization.

What exactly does that mean? We're supposedly fighting ISIS already.

DAVID IGNATIUS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The president is operating under existing authorities and insists that that's legal. There's been a lot of division and disagreement within the White House and within that e administration about whether it's wise to open this up to congressional debate.

We saw what happened with the question of using military force in Syria a year and a half ago, how difficult that was. I think they will seek some broad enabling legislation and try to limit debate sharply.

And I think they probably have Republican support for that approach. Certainly John McCain, Bob Corker, the new key figures on the Republican side, do not want to limit the president's hand in dealing with ISIS.

SCHIEFFER: Is there any good news on Iraq and Syria and that part of the world? IGNATIUS: I'd say the only good news is that the advance of ISIS, this explosion out of Mosul and Iraq that seemed to be threatening Baghdad, has ended. ISIS now being pushed back, it's controlling the areas where it has a lot of people.

But even in Anbar province, which is controlled by ISIS, the U.S. is moving in Apache helicopter gunships, several thousand eventually U.S. military personnel to aid the Sunnis in that area in gradually pushing back. So I'd say the good news is the bad news has ended and we're now in period of beginning to prepare for a longer fight.

SCHIEFFER: Where do we see this whole situation evolving in Cuba, Gwen?

IFILL: That's one of the things that there are going to be hearings about, which they are going to discuss, which Congress has happened while they were out of town and they want to have a word in edgewise; also Iran, where there's going to be a lot.

What is interesting with the Cuba issue domestically, politically, is watching what happens to Republicans in Florida who want to run for president and whether they can find some footing, some standing, especially with new, younger Cuban Americans, who don't feel as strongly about the Castro regime as their parents may have.

Therefore they are showing up to vote, and that is who Barack Obama is speaking to.

SCHIEFFER: I hear Republicans say that they're going to do everything they can, they will not confirm a new ambassador to Cuba. Obviously you'll have the Florida Republicans taking a very hard line against this.

But do you see this as an issue that is changing -- I kind of think it is, quite frankly, myself.

But what do you think, Susan?

PAGE: Yes, I think it is an issue that is changing. I think the Republicans can refuse to confirm an ambassador for sure, can refuse to lift the embargo. That would take congressional action.

But the steps that the president took, to the surprise of most of us last month, I think demonstrate the power he has on this issue, the power of a president, even if he's lame duck, even if his approval ratings is below 50 percent. He can do big things.

And I've been struck by the lack of furor over it when you get past the shores of Miami-Dade County. I think this is an issue that has changed and the step will be impossible to reverse.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think, Dan?

BALZ: I agree with that. I think this is another example of a president who recognizes the limits he has dealing with Congress and the ability he has at least to push issues forward. He's done it on climate change, he's done it on immigration, he's now done it on Cuba.

He is moving in a direction I think that they believe at the White House will be over time irreversible even if they can't get everything done that they want to try to do in the next two years.

SCHIEFFER: You can understand the feelings of some of the Florida Republicans, they are the children of parents who had their businesses confiscated and all of that. But there is a large market down there, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is one of the backbones of finance for the Republican Party, is saying, look, we need to get down there and start selling --

IGNATIUS: It's a big opportunity for Cuban-American business people, for U.S. business in general.

I just would say one final thing about this issue of whether bipartisanship is back. The president has decided that he wants to make trade and trade agreements part of his legacy, he can't do that without Republican votes.

In that sense the Republican gains in midterm elections are good news in terms of getting trade legislation passed. It will be easier. And that is part of what I think the White House is saying. This is crucial to us, it's important to you. Let's try to do this part together.

SCHIEFFER: I think hanging over all of this is this continuing uneasy conversation about race in America, which seems to kind of come down and sort of have an impact on every issue no matter what it is.

Gwen, where does this go?

IFILL: I was rereading -- this is not a plug, but I was rereading a chapter of my book that I wrote in 2009, the breakthrough of black politicians right when Barack Obama was being nominated and there was all of this hope.

And Ed Brooke, who died yesterday, the first black senator since Reconstruction, said at the that that he would not -- he would -- there were so many things he wanted to accomplish before he was laid to rest. And he had sent the president a copy of his book. And the president had sent him a copy of his book.

They basically said to each other, you know, you paved the way and, yes, I am proud of you for that, it was an amazing exchange between two firsts.

But all these years later, I don't know, I never thought that that would fix everything. So here we are still, every button we push gets people worked up, whether it's a button about a policeman being shot, a button about a young black man being shot, a button about a movie, which all of a sudden is being treated as a documentary rather than as a historical retelling -- a couple of months ago, maybe it was last year during anniversary of Brown versus Board I talked to Bob Moses, who was one of the organizers of the Southern -- the young protesters in the South. And he said, he'd seen the play, "All the Way," that Bryan Cranston played in about Johnson. And I asked him if he liked it, and he went, well, we were never all in the room at the same time. He took issue with the historical accuracy of that play, yet it went on to many plaudits.

This play -- this movie, which is called "Selma," not "King" and not "Johnson," somehow is being attacked because its lack of historical accuracy about the a portion of it. So I've seen the movie, I've talked to the director, I've talked to people involved in it. And it's set up to tell a different story. And that's just --

SCHIEFFER: Well, what -- and explain this to me since you have talked to the director, do they think it was not a good enough story that they had to change history? Because clearly they did.

IFILL: Did they think that of the play all of the way and so they changed history?

SCHIEFFER: But I'm talking about --

(CROSSTALK)

IFILL: Did they think that of "Mississippi Burning," which changed history?

This play, the part about it being Johnson's idea that Selma -- it wasn't Johnson's idea, even though he did say those words we heard on the tape, there had been years of planning to use Selma as the place for exactly that protest.

So yes, movies are selective. Yes, they're not documentaries. But it doesn't mean that the movie itself and that the larger story it tells is not valuable.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I wouldn't disagree with that.

But does it not hurt because so many young people, the only history they know is what they see in the movies sometimes or what they see on television?

And I worry about the danger of sort of misinforming people. This is a wonderful story. It's a great story. I didn't see that they needed to make it better in order to make it a good movie. Make the story a better story, and that's the part --

(CROSSTALK)

IFILL: Have you seen the movie? Because if you see the movie it's not really about that. It's not about making it better. There is a tremendously powerful story that is told which has very little to do with the plot points involving Johnson.

PAGE: The frustrating thing about race, and we hear it even this morning on your show, is it's such a sad day with Officer Liu being put to rest. But surely we can have a discussion about police tactics, the tactics by some police toward African Americans, especially African American boys and men, without attacking the police force, with -- while recognizing the danger that police officers have and the trust we put in them but also that clearly there is something wrong in some places with the way the police behave toward black people.

And we see that with the video of Eric Garner. So the frustrating thing is trying to have a discussion that recognizes both things, the contribution of police but also the need to have this discussion.

SCHIEFFER: But the irony -- we have first African American president and we're talking about our race relations better or worse than they were when he came to office. I don't know if they are or not. And I certainly don't blame him for the situation that we have here.

But it is interesting that that's the question we're talking about.

BALZ: Well, the president did the interview with Steve Inskeep on NPR just before Christmas said he thinks actually relations are better today than they were when he came in to office.

Now, other people would probably dispute that.

One of the interesting things to me about this, we know from everything we've seen over many years that blacks and whites see these issues differently. One of the interesting things is now, white Republicans and white Democrats see these issues differently.

When we went back and looked at our most recent poll on some of these questions, what was striking was, not just the gap between blacks and whites but how differently whites who call themselves Republicans or whites who call themselves Democrats take a dramatically different view of this.

So there is now a partisan overlay on what has been a long racial discussion in America, which I think makes it even more difficult to get to resolution.

IGNATIUS: I think one of the really poignant parts of Barack Obama's presidency is that our first African American president has also tried to be president for all of the country. That puts him in the middle on these incredibly difficult issues.

He got attacked this morning by former Speaker Gingrich, he gets criticized regularly from African Americans, who say he isn't doing enough.

The other thing I was struck listening to the conversation, you wouldn't know that community policing is one of the big success stories in America, listening to this discussion.

The LAPD, which had a terrible problem, doesn't have that problem now because it learned about community policing. Somehow that's got to be, I think, the practical lesson that people take out of this period. Let's make that work.

SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about -- we have only two years to talk about this.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIEFFER: Let's go to 2016. So Mike Huckabee now sees leaving FOX News, so I assume he's going to run for president, yet another Republican. Newt Gingrich was saying they're going to have lot of runners but no front runners yet.

How does this on the Republican side sort itself out, Susan?

PAGE: Well, we have a front runner. We have a front-runner whose name is Jeb Bush.

SCHIEFFER: You really think he's a front-runner?

PAGE: I don't think he's a prohibitive front runner. I don't think polls at this point matter a whit.

But certainly let's talk about him because that's really what we do. And I think there's a test for him, it's been 12 years since he ran for office, he needs to show that he's got his campaign legs back.

But we're going to have a slew of Republicans, we're going to have Tea Party's -- for the Tea Party nomination and for the establishment nomination, for the Christian conservative nomination, I say isn't that great.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think, Dan?

BALZ: Well, I think what is interesting to me right now is that some of what we might call the old-timers are being the most aggressive. Jeb Bush: Jeb Bush has done more in the last few weeks to try to shape this race in his direction than we would have thought. We assumed that he would wait until after the new year, probably some time into January, to give a signal. Instead, he did it much earlier than that as a way of saying pay attention to me, I am serious about this.

Governor Huckabee, in what he did yesterday, the same kind of thing.

Each of them has something they have to prove. As Susan says, Jeb Bush may be something of a frontrunner, but he has as much to prove as anybody in the race.

And so this is a -- this is not a shapeless race, but it's a very unpredictable race.

SCHIEFFER: You know, I thought it was interesting, Bush, among other things, resigned from all his boards that he -- that he is a member of and that... IFILL: Anticipating the criticism which could come his way.

SCHIEFFER: Yes. And...

IFILL: (INAUDIBLE) I waited all through 2014 not talking about this campaign and now it's 2015, we're starting...

(CROSSTALK)

IFILL: Let's go.

SCHIEFFER: But what I loved about it is "The New Yorker," in a parody, said that he had also announced he was resigning as George W. Bush's brother.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIEFFER: I'm guessing that Mitt Romney is not going to run. I was convinced myself that he was really thinking seriously about doing it and I know he was talking to his friends about it. But my guess is with Bush in the race, Romney will not be in the race.

Does anybody (INAUDIBLE)?

PAGE: I think he was interested in running.

SCHIEFFER: Yes?

PAGE: I think he was, to a surprise, almost to himself that he was interested in running.

But I think that door has kind of closed with Bush.

IFILL: Have you ever met a presidential candidate, anyone...

PAGE: No.

IFILL: -- who ever ran for president who ever gave up thinking about it again?

PAGE: That's right.

IFILL: But even if it's completely improbable, but it gets infected in their blood and they always -- somewhere, Al Gore is thinking about running.

SCHIEFFER: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIEFFER: You know, George McGovern told me that very thing...

IFILL: It's not...

SCHIEFFER: -- once. I asked him...

PAGE: It's true.

SCHIEFFER: -- years after he ran in 1972. And then, of course, he ran again. I said, did you ever not -- he said, no. He said you never get over it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.

SCHIEFFER: And I mean I think that's a -- I think that's exactly right.

Now, we haven't talked about it on the Democratic side. It's Hillary Clinton and who else?

PAGE: You talk about a prohibitive frontrunner. Her name is Hillary Clinton. You know, I'm -- I think at this point, even this far out, she could lose this or decide not to run. But it's going to be really hard to take it away from her.

SCHIEFFER: Who -- who would...

(CROSSTALK)

IGNATIUS: Well, that's part of...

SCHIEFFER: -- be there if it were not...

IGNATIUS: -- that's part of...

SCHIEFFER: -- Hillary Clinton?

IGNATIUS: -- that's part of, I think, part of the Democrats' problem. There's a lot of energy on the Republican side. We're talking about the Bush and Huckabee and Perry and, you know, there's a -- Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, a long list of attractive candidates. And on the Democratic side, you have Secretary Clinton not yet announcing, but taking up that space.

And then beyond her, who?

And I -- it's striking...

IFILL: It's called the lightning strikes caucus, the people waiting for lightning to strike.

IGNATIUS: Well, people may be waiting for lightning to strike, but it's -- it's a really interesting contrast. And I think it should worry Democrats that there are not -- there's not a generation coming up.

If Hillary Clinton announced tomorrow she wasn't running, who would step in?

Who would be...

SCHIEFFER: I would say Joe Biden, but I don't know who else I would add to that. I mean Martin O'Malley... IGNATIUS: He would say.

(CROSSTALK)

IGNATIUS: But I don't know how many others...

(CROSSTALK)

IGNATIUS: -- would.

IFILL: That's not the generational shift you're talking about, though.

SCHIEFFER: No.

BALZ: Yes, I would assume the vice president would run if she doesn't. And there will be some others who run. You mentioned Governor O'Malley. He's probably...

(CROSSTALK)

BALZ: -- going to run, although maybe not. And...

SCHIEFFER: And we'll have to...

BALZ: -- but at this point...

SCHIEFFER: -- find out who the others are later.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: Thank you guys.

Thanks, all of you.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: That's it for us today.

Thank you for watching FACE THE NATION.

And be sure to tune into "CBS THIS MORNING" tomorrow.

We'll see you next Sunday right here on FACE THE NATION.