Face the Nation transcripts March 10, 2013: Bloomberg, Bush, Van Hollen, Portman

CBS News

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on March 10, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Plus, a political roundtable with CBS News Political Director John Dickerson and the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, and a panel on the search for the next pope, featuring Noonan, The Washington Post's Sally Quinn, Vanity Fair's Carl Bernstein, and author Greg Tobin.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, the president launches a charm offensive toward Republicans and it was the talk of the town.

HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: This week, we've gone 180, now he's going to - after being in office now for four years, he's actually going to sit down and talk to members

SCHIEFFER: But will it work? Can the gridlock be broken? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it's exactly what the president should be doing. We'll talk with two key legislators the president has reached out to: Ohio's Republican Senator Rob Portman and Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Florida's former governor Jeb Bush will tell us his ideas for immigration and whether more revenue is needed to end the budget standoff.

BUSH: I wouldn't say, "No, heck no, and that's it."

SCHIEFFER: And as the cardinals gather in Rome to select a new pope, we'll get analysis on that story and the other news from our political director John Dickerson, the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, Carl Bernstein of Vanity Fair, Sally Quinn of the Washington Post, and Greg Tobin, author of several books on the papacy, including "The Good Pope." It's all the news about heaven and earth because this is FACE THE NATION.

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

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Well, you can agree with him or not, but you can always count on the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to answer the questions, which is what he did in our wide- ranging interview. He vowed to continue his fight for better gun laws and defended his ban on big, sugary drinks. But we start with his thoughts on the sequester and the president's charm offensive.

BLOOMBERG: Bob, you know, I think it was Winston Churchill that once said, "You can always depend on America to do the right thing after exhausting all other possibilities."


And my late mother used to tell me -- she said, "You know, the good old days were never the good old days." We've had a democracy for 235-odd years and it works in the end, and that's what's in important. In terms of a charm offensive, look, the president's job is to lead Congress. And I find it fascinating people criticize him for taking people to dinner. He should be doing that every night. They criticized him for going and playing golf with people who he's got to deal with. He should be doing that every weekend. You always can work better with somebody that you have a chance to build a social relationship with. Sequestering is here. It will go on for a while. It's not going to be the end of the world as we know it. And everybody was saying, "Oh, we're going to -- the worst-case scenario is exactly what we're going to implement." And now they're into the real world and they'll try to find ways to do more with less, and then hopefully Congress will come together and modify sequestering to cut things back where we can afford it and where we -- not where we can't. And keep in mind, no program to reduce the deficit is -- makes any sense whatsoever unless you address the issue of entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, interest payment on the debt, which you can't touch, and defense spending. Everything else is tiny compared to that.

SCHIEFFER: All right, let's talk a little bit about guns. You're in the forefront of this debate, that's for sure. It appears from what we're hearing from Capitol Hill right now, there's going to be -- it's not going to be possible to ban assault weapons, which was the purpose of a lot of people's projects when they started out on all this, but it does seem that they're make something headway on getting better background checks on the sale of these weapons and checks on people who are buying them. Where do you see this going and where does it need to go?

BLOOMBERG: The truth of the matter is only about 400 people a year get killed with assault weapons or high-capacity magazines. That is 400 too many, and they're all tragedies, but you compare that to handguns, pistols, this year, are going to kill 12,000 Americans. And 19,000 Americans are going to commit suicide with handguns. And there are 14 states that have background checks required for all sales. Federal law says background checks when a gun dealer sells you a gun but no background checks if the sale is done over the Internet or at a gun show. Fourteen states have closed that loophole, and in those 14 states the suicide rate is half the national average and the number of women that get killed in domestic violence is something like 40 percent less than in other states. So background checks do work. I think the FBI last year turned down something like 80,000 requests to buy a gun because people either were minors, had criminal records, substance abuse problems or mental problems. And that's what federal law prohibits gun dealers from selling to, those people, and that's exactly what we should expand. And I'm optimistic that Congress will do something. We've done a poll, something like 22 states, and, I don't know, 50 congressional districts, and overwhelming, people -- 80 percent to 90 percent of the people want substantive background checks before people who shouldn't have guns can buy a gun. And we even ran an ad showing the results of those polls and giving people the names of their senators and congressmen so they can call up and make their views known to their elected officials.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you the obvious question. If people are overwhelmingly for this, why is it so hard to get the Congress to do it?