Morning Joe | January 31, 2013
>> it was. it was incredible to hear from her. it said it all. it really did, in very few words. this issue, though, we were talking about generals coming forward, colin powell , different people on our show, and politicians who are moving toward trying to get either bans on assault weapons or background checks for stricter regulations on assault weapons . they are paying a political price which shows what divisions there still are in this country over the issue. new york governor andrew kcuomo's hard-line stance may be having an effect on his approval numbers. according to a new poll, his approval rating currently sits at 59%, down 15% from his all-time high approval rating which he achieved just last month. cuomo's numbers have dropped even further among gun owners . just 40% of people in gun-owning households approve of the governor's job performance.
>> so dan , herein lies a problem for any politician that wants to come out certainly and be as aggressive as andrew cuomo . nobody in washington is going to be that aggressive. but you look at numbers, the background checks , banning high-capacity magazines, those are very popular. some polls show even banning assault weapons are 60/40 propositions now. but it's going to be tough -- let's put the republican house aside. let's just talk about harry reid 's democratic senate .
>> it's going to be tough passing a lot of these gun-control measures, and i predict by the end, immigration , even through harry reid 's democratic senate .
>> on gun control , it's interesting. when you look at how harry reid talks about immigration versus how he talks about gun control , yesterday in "the new york times," he says on gun control , he says the senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence . not he. he won't take the lead on it. the senate will consider. on immigration , he says that i will work tirelessly to make reform a reality in the senate . so there is a commitment, i believe, among democratic leaders on immigration reform . i'm not convinced there's a commitment at least with the senate majority leader on gun control . there's a number of democratic senators on red states who are up for re-election in 2014 . it will be interesting to see how far they are willing to go on some of these gun-control measures.
>> i don't think they're going to certainly -- i don't think they're going to be willing to go as far as the assault weapon ban. i just don't. certainly i think they're going to support the background checks . i think high-capacity magazines are somewhere in the middle. but you start moving towards assault weapons , i think it's going to take more campaigning, and i think it's going to take more time until that 60% goes to 70%. and it will. by the way, let me just say, this is a matter of time. history is on the side of people that want to take the most extreme weapons off the streets. we as a civilized society are moving in that direction.
>> but once the details of the legislation begin to get fleshed out beyond just principles, this stuff gets really complicated. we were just talking about immigration . that's exactly what happened. look at last week -- the debate last week on immigration reform versus this week. this week y beginning to come out.
>> from this bipartisan group in the senate . and suddenly you begin to see the right backlash against immigration .
>> you said it looks like we're going sideways on immigration . that certainly would be good for some conservatives in conservative districts, but you know, better than anybody else, what it means for republican presidential candidate if your candidate, mitt romney , had gotten the same percentage as george w. bush among hispanic voters, we would be talking about -- well, you wouldn't be here. i'm dead serious.
>> you'd be in the white house .
>> you'd be working in the white house with mitt romney . that's what losing this volt me vote means, and marco rubio is starting to take a lot of heat from his own party. let's first listen to -- actually, mika, you want to go ahead?
>> yeah. he's got the heat from his participation in the senate 's gang of eight immigration plan at question, rubio's push for new immigration enforcement mechanisms. and on the radio yesterday, republican senator david vitter from louisiana called rubio's approach "amazingly naive and ridiculous." vitter also said rubio is, quote, nuts if he doesn't think legal status offers a pathway to citizenship.
>> and "the national review " editorial board wrote in an op-ed called "the pointless amnesty," dan . and they say this. "if we are to take hispanics at their word, conservative attitudes toward illegal immigration are a minor reason for their voting preferences. take away the spanish surname and latino voters look a great deal like other democratic constituencies, low-income households headed by single mothers and dependent upon some form of welfare are not looking for an excuse to join forces with paul ryan and pat toomey , given the size of the hispanic vote, it would help democrats significantly to lose it by smaller margins than they have recently. but the idea that an amnesty is going to put latinos squarely in the gop tent is a fantasy." dan , that sounds an awful lot like 47% rhetoric.
>> it's worse. it's racist.
>> this is an incredibly corrosive way to start the debate. in the '90s, i was working for a senator who was the chairman of the subcommittee on immigration reform . we tried to have this debate in the mid-'90s. we were lone soldiers in the republican conference. we argued that for too long the debate on immigration had been centered around the burden that our country makes and takes and holds and carries because of immigrants. it was purely about the negative immigration . we said why don't we start the discussion about the positive contributions immigrants make to this society? immigrants are the ultimate entrepreneurs. their whole lives are entrepreneurial. they know how to face adversity. they have to start anew . they build things. they come here to create jobs. let's start with the contributions.
>> and harold, you look at that editorial. i don't know who wroelt it fte it for "the national review ," but you say it's racist.
>> i think there's some strong racial undertones there. look, if there is where a wing of the republican party is now, i say a wing, honestly, then not only does it look less and less likely that we'll find some agreement on this issue, it is mind boggling to me just as you analyze it from a narrow political sense how a party who lost so miserably with a group of people would lump an entire population of immigrants into and try to define them so narrowly and so cruelly as that editorial did. look, i think immigration reform would be hard even amongst some democrats. but if this is where we start, i actually think it's helpful to the issue if this is where "the national review " wants to be because i think you'll find some moderate republicans and even those moderate democrats wanting to come around on something that allows some path, whether it's citizenship or green card or however you choose to define it, this is good for democrats, and i think it ultimately may be good for the issue.
>> let's go to mike. put "the national review " editorial in. i've got a lot of friends over there. it sounds like short-term thinking to me, at best, if we want to win presidential electio election.
>> can i ask a question? off of what you said about gun control , that it's just a matter of time. if you lump these two issues together, immigration and gun control , it would seem to most people that both elements, immigration and gun control , is just a matter of time before something happens to improve the situation. but the question is, these two issues taken together with regard to the republican party , and democrats have their own issues in the senate , but with regard to the republican party , does individual ideology, does the threat of getting primaried from the right in various congressional districts and perhaps in senate contests that are going to be up, does the quest for success by being on the really right side of immigration and gun control , ideologically speaking, does it threaten terminally the prospects for national success for the republican party ?
>> i don't think there's any doubt.
>> i think it does. dan , i think it does. dan , does it?
>> i believe it does. whoever's our nominee for president in 2016 is not going to be successful if this -- the immigration issue -- is not addressed. now, i'm not saying it's sufficient. i'm not saying our nominee's guaranteed to be successful if the immigration issue is addressed, but it's necessary. it's a necessary but not sufficient thing that needs to happen.
>> dan , let me ask you a question here. your candidate, mitt romney , our party's nominee, mitt romney , went so far right on immigration in iowa, and for a reason, for a reason, because he knew that people with the most extreme views on immigration were going to get out and vote in primaries for him.
>> so what does that say about the republican party that you have to stake out a position on immigration in january that dooms you in november? and it did with mitt romney . it doomed him.
>> i actually think that the one body that can address this for republicans and improve -- head off the nightmare scenario that mike has spelled out are congressional republicans. if we're having this debate in january of 2016 in the context -- in the frame of a presidential primary , we're done. congress has to address it, and it has to be addressed in the next year or two. the problem is, the incentives for members of congress to address it are different than a presidential candidate because they are more worried, many of them, not all of them, some of them are more worried than a primary challenge than they are a general election fight.
>> wait for the phone calls , though. wait for the phone calls when some groups on the far right just ginning this up and start talking about what we're hearing right now, whether it's from rush limbaugh for "the national review ," and those calls are going to start coming in 10-1 against immigration reform , and house members are going to vote against immigration reform .
>> here's the one sliver of good news. and you've seen this, too. republicans and conservatives, there are more of them today open on this issue than they were two or four years ago. the republican fund-raising community is more engaged on this than they were in the past. conservative opponents of immigration reform are going to start hearing from their donors, not just the grass-roots activists. if you look at the crop of people thinking about running for president in 2016 , whether it's marco rubio or chris christie or bobby jindal or paul ryan , jeb bush , you look at all of them actually have what i call opportunity society conservative views on immigration . so they're not sort of the part of the, you know, the extreme right on these issues. they have a very sort of reaganesque outlook on the need for immigration reform . so i think you take the group that's sort on the bench in 2016 or the possible bench --
>> that's the bench?
>> i mean, these are the names that are being talked about. what's interesting is that all of them are all high profile right now and open-minded on this issue, if not actively for it. i think the fund-raising community is excited about it and people in the conservative movement are more open on it than they were in the past. now, this can go sideways very quickly. and you're seeing the beginnings of people trying to make it go sideways over the last couple days.
>> dan , stay with us, if you can. still ahead, cnbc's tyler mathisen will help us break down yesterday's surprising report on economic growth and what pushed down gdp for the first time in years. also, an exclusive first look at the new cover of "time" magazine which investigates america's go-to technology in modern warfare . you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks. [ man ] i've