Transcript: Sen. Michael Bennet on "Face the Nation," August 11, 2019

Bennet: Americans "sick and tired" of Trump's "reality TV show"

The following is a transcript of the interview with Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado that aired Sunday, August 11, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Colorado Senator Michael Bennet. He joins us from the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Good morning Senator, it looks like a lot of fun there right behind you.

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET: Good morning. It is unbelievably fun. We actually just finished singing the 'Star Spangled Banner.' Everybody stopped and put their hand on their heart and sang it together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Alright, well you tweeted this week that if you are elected you promise voters that they won't have to think about you for at least two weeks. Is it a hard strategy to try to get people to be passionate about being moderate?

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET: I think that people are so sick and tired of waking up in Donald Trump's reality TV show. I think they're sick of a president who's dividing us. I mean it's very clear what he's trying to do. He acquired power by dividing the American people against themselves. He's trying to hold onto the power by doing the same thing and every day he just tries to keep the reality TV show alive. I think Americans want to go on with their lives. They want to build their businesses, they want to raise their children, they don't want to wake up, you know, feeling like we're on the cusp of some crazy new thing with North Korea or Iran or- or that- you know, the president is tweeting out conspiracy theories about somebody who killed themselves in New York. They want a president who is actually doing their job so they can do their job confident that we leave the country in a better place for our kids and grandkids and- and- and confident that we've situated America's leadership in this world again. So that's what I meant by that. I think that people can check in every two weeks and see how I'm doing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Colorado, where you're from, is the state that has a lot of gun- gun owners, but it's also experienced horrific gun violence. And they've made some changes at the state level. Is that essentially what the country should be talking about, because it doesn't seem that anything gets through Congress, right now?

SEN. BENNET: I- I think that is what we should be talking about. You know my oldest daughter is 19. She was born the year after the Columbine massacre happened in- in my state. And my state- which is a western state, the Second Amendment state- we passed the background checks that are waiting for Mitch McConnell to put on the floor this summer. And over that course of that almost 20 years about every year about two or three percent of the people that try to buy a gun in Colorado can't buy a gun; and they're murderers and they're domestic abusers and they're convicted felons of violent crimes. There's nobody who could defend any of those people having a firearm. If we can do it in Colorado certainly we could do it nationally. We have- we have--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you don't expect that to happen--

SEN. BENNET: --put limitations--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --in September? You don't expect to vote on background--

SEN. BENNET: Well I hope that it will happen--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --checks?

SEN. BENNET: I- I hope it will happen. But I believe with what- I believe what Mike Bloomberg said earlier on your show, which is that the politics of this issue are changing in part because the tragedies are mounting up which is a terrible way for us to deal with it. But also because the public is being galvanized by organizations like the- the kids from Parkland and the 'Moms Against Guns,' and that's making a difference. And if it does not come to the floor we need to make sure that every week between now and November we're making this a voting issue. I'm not saying just the politicians. I mean all of us are making this a voting issue so that people that refused to let the American people have a vote on the floor are turned out and--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SEN. BENNET: --replaced with people who will take the vote.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You--

SEN. BENNET: I mean we're not even- like, McConnell can vote however he wants. But why doesn't he just put it on the floor so that every senator can be held accountable for their vote?

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've been talking about ending hyper-partisanship. Do you think it is helpful for Democrats and your fellow candidates to be linking the president to these mass murders?

SEN. BENNET: Well, I- I- I- here's what I think. I think Donald Trump is, as I said, has a strategy that is a- to- to divide the country so he can win. He believes there are enough people out there--he thinks it's 38 or 39 or 40 percent--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SEN. BENNET: --that can keep him in office if the rest of us are not paying attention and not--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SEN. BENNET: --as strategic. And I don't think we can play into that. We have to unify this country. That is what the people of Iowa want--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SEN. BENNET: --the people of Colorado want, in South Carolina and New Hampshire. We have to unify this country to close over a broken Washington and to close over a president who is a guy who is, you- you know, goes to our worst impulses rather than our best impulses every single day of the year. We have both in our country. We've got the best impulses with times we have our worst impulses. I think we should have a president who asks us to do our best. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

SEN. BENNET: And I think we have to have a president who asks us to come together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Alright Senator, thank you. And I think I hear a child behind you so nice focus. It's a fair. 

SEN. BENNET: It's not my child though, so. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Alright, well good luck to the parents. Alright, thank--

SEN. BENNET: Thank you for--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --you very much, Senator. 

SEN. BENNET: Thanks so much. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with another 2020 candidate.

SEN. BENNET: Thanks, Margaret.