Morning Joe | February 27, 2013
>> now, nbc news' tom brokaw . and from washington , nbc news chief white house correspondent and host of "the daily rundown," chuck todd .
>> break it down for us. what's the headline?
>> i think country thinks sequester is bad, country sour on washington . obama honeymoon starting to come to an end. but the republican brand is still in freefall. you throw is all together, and i think the big soup out of this really is the public's sort of lost patience with washington . and the fact that they believe the washington battles over the budget make them less confident about the economic recovery. translation, consumer confidence . and so this is how the manufactured crisis in washington actually now is going to take down the economy because you have people watching this mess, saying, you know what? i'm not sure i'm going to buy a house. do this. invest. you know. and this is -- this is the real -- this is the real issue that washington has created.
>> so chuck, if you dig into the numbers beyond sequestration, you have a republican who's actually sitting at 50%. honeymoon may be over. it's still a nice afterglow. 50% five years in.
>> that's right.
>> that's pretty damn good. republicans , in the 20s. their brand is still tattered. and you go item by item, issue by issue --
>> oh, they're getting killed.
>> -- on almost every important issue, except, of course, the issues that matter the most to me, that matter most to 2% of americans , the debt, democrats are winning. and they're winning by a long shot on who cares more about the middle class , on who can turn the economy around, who cares more about medicare, health care , gun violence , social security , taxes. they are sweeping the republicans right now.
>> so how could that mean the president's honeymoon is over?
>> and that -- sorry, go ahead.
>> how could that mean that obama's honeymoon looks like it's over when the democrats are taking over on key issues and potentially even losing the sequester debate?
>> what you see here, mika , though is that the president's numbers have fallen a little bit. his job approval on the economy is upside down again. it's back to where it was six months ago. his job approval rating , back to where it was six months ago. right direction, wrong track on the country, back to where it was six months ago. so when you look at a question like we asked, you know, is he trying to unify the country, or does he have a partisan approach? it's basically split, slightly more people see it as unifying. so all of his numbers, if you took them in isolation, mika , they're okay. they're not great anymore. they're okay. then you stand them up next to the republicans , and he looks like a tall guy at a short guy convention.
>> because republicans have completely -- they're going down. they're sinking even further. and i think that that was the question a lot of us had. was it possible to sink further? on these issue-by-issue things, what's interesting here is that it's the republicans sinking in the idea with voters, even where democrats have the lead on this, it's republicans going down. so that's why i believe the analysis i'm using there is correct.
>> tom brokaw , another analogy, seriously at this point, if those numbers are true about the democrat side of things and the president's -- people's view on the president's leadership in this latest sequester debate, it would be almost as if the republicans are shooting themselves in the foot with a high-capacity semiautomatic weapon. i mean, it's ridiculous.
>> with all due respect, that's a big duh.
>> this is what we've been witness to.
>> how could they still be doing this?
>> you've got to ask them. i'm not sure. i am hearing from washington that within the ranks of the republican party , there are efforts to change the tone and change the specifics of the debate so far. but that's from the bottom up. and the tea party still has a big hold on big elements of the party at the same time. across the board, domestically, internationally, national security issues. the republicans look as if they're in a constantly sour mood. it's all very negative whenever you hear from them. there's nothing positive that comes out of it. and then they talk about the american people sent us here. well, that's an indication of what the american people think across the board, by the way. it's not just democrats who feel that out there. main street republicans are saying we've given up on washington . they've seen this show before, by the way. and there is nothing else in america that operates quite this way when you have the consequences of the sequester going forward and the inability of the president of the united states and the congress of the united states to find some way out of this except at the 11th hour plus. i think bob woodward was right when he said that the president's got to show real leadership here. he plainly is more comfortable campaigning than he is governing, and that's why we're seeing him on the road so much.
>> chuck, we just showed numbers on the screen. let's talk about them quickly. on the issue of reasonable, rational gun regulation , 61% of americans want gun laws to be more strict. only 4% less strict, keep the same, 34%. for those that are thinking about blocking universal background checks , for those who are thinking -- democrats and republicans -- thinking about following wayne lapierre off the cliff on legislation, that's taking care of gun trafficking, these polls show that not only, as you take the snapshot right now, are things looking bad for the extreme faction of the nra , but things seem to be getting worse that the bully pulpit has made a difference. newtown has made a difference. chicago has made a difference. unrelenting stories about gun violence across america has made a difference. you're really starting to see it sink into the public consciousness.
>> the bully pulpit works. the most important number on that number that you just put up, the strict number is not the 61. it's what it went up from. it is now -- it went up five points from what we had it last month. if you look all throughout this poll, joe , one of the more fascinating things -- and by the way, it's a reminder that the president has a bully pulpit . and when he chooses to use it, he can move an issue, an issue frankly that there was a lot of skeptics out there that like myself, you wonder, could you move the populous on this issue? he has done it. he has spent a lot of political capital doing it. you see the numbers. for instance, we asked other things like we asked people to give us a raw answer. we call them an open-ended poll question. what are the one or two things you'd like to see republicans compromise with on the president? the number two issue was gun control and background checks . number one had to do with compromising on taxes in order to deal with the deficit. but the fact that the gun issue has moved up into top of mind on voters, that's the president, that's the bully pulpit .
>> tom, i want to pick up a point you were making as far as the persona of the party. if you look at the faces we see of the republican party , the lindsey grahams, the john mccains, the john boehners, they're angry old men. they're not appealing as human beings . forget issuewise. and clearly the democrats have barack obama . and i want to come back to a debate that we were having. you've covered president after president. it doesn't matter how they shift on the issues until they have the right delivery system, the right human beings who are not tone deaf to an attitude that this country wants. they're never going to get back. ronald reagan got that. to your point earlier, john connelley didn't get that, joe . we said this off the air. that's why he was not elected president. i think it's all moot until they change literally and figuratively the faces of the party.
>> well, it can't be just the cosmetics, however.
>> not cosmetics, but humanity.
>> a combination of the two, it's about the subject matter they're dealing with as well as the manner in which they present it. ronald reagan -- my favorite story about ronald reagan was when he was in a deep recession, they decided they had to do something. they sent him up to south boston , a very democratic district. they sent him into a pub. the press didn't get to go in. they were all waiting to see how he was going to get his head handed to him by all of these out-of-work southies. about 15 minutes later, reagan emerges from the pub with a stein of beer in his hand in his raincoat cheered by all of these guys because they liked him. because they felt comfortable around him.
>> like. like.
>> and they could talk to him. i want to bring something very quickly up about the gun thing that you've got to keep in mind. that's a macro read of the country where they are on gun control . you can't look at gun control without looking at it state by state. you've got to look at what's going on in the west, in oklahoma, in new mexico and arizona and montana and north and south dakota. the gun states. they feel very strongly, and they've got democratic senators who are going to be up for election, some of them next time around. they feel very strongly. they don't want any of these controls. so it's not the whole country sliding in one direction and therefore we're going to have a lot of gun control . i do think that they've got a shot at background checks . but after that, joe , it's going to get really tough.
>> well, that's the key, though, tom. universal background checks and tough gun trafficking laws. that's something that's going to take care of, i think, chicago more so than newtown. and if you look at people that, yes, i think there are a lot of people that support aggressive gun control that would love to have an assault weapon ban, but that's more like a trophy in the case. that's not going to happen. the high-capacity magazines, that's sort of middle ground , maybe that happens in a year or two, but that doesn't happen now. but whether you're from montana or mississippi, you're going to have some republicans that are going to say, why can't we have background checks to make sure felons don't get guns? i think those two issues, background checks and the tough new gun-trafficking laws, are the issues that would do the most to curb gun violence .
>> i'm not sure that i agree with you. the reason i say that is that we've already got 2 million assault weapons out there. we've got an untold number of illegal handguns that are already in circulation. you're talking about getting a new gun, buying a new purchase of a gun. there's an enormous inventory of gun as cross the country. the larger issue has to be not just about background checks and about magazines and about assault weapons . it's about making violence unacceptable in a civil society , having the discussion across the board. and i think that that will make a big difference. and that's the discussion that has to continue. we're looking at the individual elements of it. we've got to get beyond that.
>> but i can tell you this, though. if you're looking at chicago especially, and yeah, there are a lot of assault weapons out there. i made it very clear i don't see why there's a need for assault weapons or however you want to define it which, of course, the gun people get you coming and going. if you call them assault weapons , they've been banned since 1933 . yes, they have. then if you say semiautomatic weapons, oh, you're coming after my pistol. so whatever they want to call it, there are a lot of cops on the street. there are a lot of gun-control advocates who do believe universal background check combined with a chuck trafficking ltraffiough trafficking law that stops you from selling a gun out of your trunk.
>> daley has been saying for years in chicago if the atf came into chicago and went to the inner city and busted the drug lords on taxes, they could shut down a lot of what's going on.
>> that's what they need to do.
>> that's what they need to do as well. it's about more than just an element. it's about the whole composite. and it's about the dialogue continuing beyond that.
>> all right.
>> final question for chuck, mika ?
>> i was just going to say, it seems like it would be impossible to come up with any legislation that addresses what you're talking about and so people give up before you even start. it would be impossible. i mean, to deal with all the guns that are out there in a serious way. it's impossible.
>> you know, though, the thing is, though, chuck todd , you could ask a question about whether americans supported toughen forcement of l enforcement of laws that are already on the books and have nra members that say amen.
>> how about fully funding atf ? how about getting a permanent head of the atf and not politicizing it, forcing this idea of senate confirmation which, by the way, was a poison pill that the nra wrote in order to prevent there ever being a permanent director of atf .
>> chuck, can we explain -- and we've got to go. i know we've got to go.
>> i know.
>> this is so important for people to understand. i ran for the first time in 1994 . it was in the shadow of ruby ridge and waco, two events where the feds, the atf , went way overboard, especially at ruby ridge . it was frightening how they abused their power and actually killed a family.
>> we are still living in the shadow of ruby ridge . something that i would guess 98% of the people that are watching this show don't even know what ruby ridge is.
>> it is.
>> ruby ridge and waco has shaped not only how we view the atf . it has shaped the way the nra has looked at the gun battle. and we need to move past 1993 . we need to make sure that the feds are responsible. chuck, go ahead, i'm sorry.
>> no, very quickly. and so what happened in that response to that and the nra got the senate essentially got congress to weaken atf in this respect. they've made the director at atf a senate confirmation position. it used to be an appointed position. they made it senate confirmed. they've never confirmed one. and by never confirming one, what does that mean? you have an acting director. when you have an acting director, you don't really have anybody in charge. you know this. in any organization.
>> and in changing that would get a little bit at what tom's talking about. because half of this issue is enforcement.
>> all right, chuck todd , thank you so much. we'll see you at 9:00 on "the daily rundown." tom brokaw , stay with us if you can.
>>> coming up, a new book reveals how the food industry uses salt, sugar and fats to hook kids at a young age and why we're becoming a nation of food addicts. author michael moss joins us. " morning joe " will be right back. [ dad ]