Hardball | February 08, 2013
>>> almost now hitting two-month mark since the tragic shootings in newtown, connecticut. today we may be closer to a promise. an unlikely foursome of senators, chuck schumer of new york, joe manchin of west virginia , tom coburn of oklahoma and mark kirk of illinois are huddling together in hopes of finding a compromise on gun safety legislation. the associates press reports now, quote, the senators' talks have included discussions about ways to encourage states to make more mental health records available to the national system and the types of transactions that might be exempted from background checks , such as sales among relatives or to those who have permits to carry concealed weapons , said people who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to describe the negotiations publicly. for that and other campaign politics we have our "hardball" strategist here tonight, democrat steve mcmahon and republican john feehery. john, let's talk about your party and the way it wants to position itself on the whole issue of what happened in newtown. i don't mean necessarily gun laws particularly but the issues of background checks , the issues of mental health records. is there a role for the republican party in gun safety ? strategically speaking?
>> obviously, you see that with tom coburn . he certainly believes that there is. and i do think that tom coburn is -- this could be a nixon goes to china moment for tom coburn and the nra and gun safety .
>> where is john feehery? where were you? do you want something done on gun safety or not?
>> i would like something done on gun safety . i would like something done -- i would like more aggressive effort to get guns away from violent criminals. i'd like to get guns out -- make sure they don't get in the hands of crazy people . that's where i am. and i think that we do need to have a more aggressive background check and i have been pretty public on that.
>> how about the president? does he have to recognize reality here and go for what he can get? get a single, not a home run ? even though he knees he's giving protection to the people on the center right and right? still be able to say they did something. there's a lot of strategy here.
>> there's a lot of strategy. i used to work for senator kennedy and senator kennedy after he got past his 30s and 40s decided what you should do in legislating is take what you can get and come back for the rest later. i think you saw that with the president on the budget negotiations. he raised taxes on the wealthy and he's coming back now again saying we need balance to replace these $1.2 trillion fiscal cliff cuts or the sequestration cuts. so, you know, i think it's a victory but i don't think it's --
>> well, here is the question. if you're the president, is it okay -- you're quibbling here. should the president go for what he can get?
>> yes. and then he should come right back --
>> even if it means giving the other guys a break because they don't want to go for an assault ban. you don't think that would happen, john, from your party 's end. can you imagine the speaker scheduling a vote on an assault weapons ban ?
>> it would never get out of the senate. senator reid would never let it happen .
>> i don't think so either.
>> it's never going to happen.
>> some people --
>> hold on a second.
>> some people think reid is bringing it up for a vote giving to guys on the right, giving them a chance to say no to something because this goes too far and then they can say yes to something like a background check .
>> one of the things --
>> i'm asking strategy. is that alreal right?
>> a balanced approach is what everybody says they want. when you look at these things individually, people want an assault weapons ban . even republicans want --
>> how is that going to get passed?
>> the 30 -- you know what? it's going to have to be debated by the public. the president has gotten good at going to the outside and bringing pressure from the outside in. he's done it two or three times very successfully. if he wants it badly enough he can do it again.
>> does he want to endanger senators from those states.
>> steve, you're wrong. the fact of the mat ser reid is not going to let it happen because he have people in cycle in tough states. mark pryor , mark begich from alaska. i don't think he wants to even bring it up for a vote. he might because it might be better for those guys being on record voting against it but that's kind of risky so we'll see.
>> i think it's tricky for him.
>> it is.
>> how does he hold the 345 jort of senators when you see every time you have a gun issue the middle of the country, from california to new york, is against you.
>> everybody a looking back at what happened in 1994 saying it could happen again. the numbers this time are entirely different than they were in 1994 . they're overwhelming in favor --
>> you you know the intensity issue. who gets out and votes on this.
>> but the people who are going to vote against somebody for voting in favor of responsible gun control are already voting for republicans, so democrats you have nothing to fear but fear itself .
>> you want hide di heitkamp and jon tester to run on this issue?
>> everybody knows nobody hunts with an assault weapon . if there's anybody out there that hunts with an assault weapon , please come hunting with me.
>> i don't see how you win it. i don't know how you win on gun control in pennsylvania.
>> sometimes you just have to do the right thing, chris, and this is something that the american public wants and they expect congress --
>> pick your fights. if it's your fight, pick it. let's move to the second topic, the gop sill war that's happening right now between the establish am and the tea party conservatives. karl rove is out there fighting it. jim van dee high wrote m politico, it's not just karl rove wanting to get rid of the crazieses the party as a whole does. one high profile republican strategist who obviously refused to have his name in order to avoid inflaming --
>> it is feehery.
>> it wasn't me.
>> said there is a deliberate effort by party leaders to marginalize the cranks, haters, and bigots. there's a lot of underbrush that needs to be cleaned out. republican after republican told us the party dodged a bullet with mitt romney 's loss. if he had squeaked in, this vital reboot have been delayed.
>> wasn't that mike murphy .
>> it was feehery.
>> let's speak for your party , john. so many people in your party think you have to do a better jock of proctoring who gets the nominations and don't just leave it to the grassroots. your view?
>> well, this is obviously a pretty divisive issue --
>> where are you?
>> i don't like cranks and crazy people . i want winners. i want people who can win. now, that being said, you got to be careful with the grassroots because you can't just dictate to them. so i think this is an education process. we need to educate voters. we need to make sure that the smart guys in the primaries have the resources and this whole idea that club for growth and all these guys complaining that karl rove is getting involved in primaries, cry me a river . these guys have been getting involved in primaries for years --
>> how do you know how to pick winners? pat toomey one, he may be a senator for years. you have rubio probably be a senator for years if he doesn't get elected president. sometimes the right cooks up people that are good politicians. sometimes they pick up people like sharron angle who can lose the easy ones and we have seen that.
>> there's no question about that. if you look at pat toomey and marco rubio , those guys are stars. this is why you've got to be real careful and why you have to have a vetting process. that doesn't mean you pick the winners and losers. you let the process go forward but make sure everybody has a chance to get thoroughly vetted. that's the problem with sharron angle .
>> are you with the establishment or the crazies?
>> i'm with the establishment. the crazies hate me.
>> okay. you are a leadership type. thank you, steve mcmahon and john feehery who for some reason is not here today, he's lobbying on the hill or something. thank you. i'm sure for a good cause.
>>> up next the director of the great new movie, my favorite movie of the year, silver linings playbook, a film that puts mental illness among other topics in the spotlight. what a movie. david russell joins. this is "hardball," the