The Cycle | January 25, 2013
>>> happy friday, my friends. i'm toure. everyone says gun control is a loser for democrats . nate cohn says stop what you're doing because i'm about to ruin the style of the image you're used to.
>>> they awarded the presidential election state by state this time. what would happen if they didn't?
>>> krystal is on electoral politics and i'm on weather. i think the cold snap finally gotten us to.
>>> i'm s.e. cupp and trying to talk krystal to go to the bar with me. she's 5 months pregnant but i'm very convincing.
>>> taylor hackford talks to krystal and taking the turn in "the cycle." grab the popcorn.
>>> vice president biden let a roundtable discussion on the administration's efforts to curb gun violence joined by janet napolitano , kathleen sebelius and jim cole. the vice president had these emotional words.
>> what happened up in newtown, beautiful little babies , 6 and 7 years old, riddled, riddled with bullet holes. 20 of them dead. i've met with most of their parents. it is a national tragedy, and a window in to the vulnerability people feel about their safety and the safety of their children. and the president said, even if our actions would only save the life of one of those children, it's worth it.
>> while the vice president remains optimistic about administration's plans, it is not just the gop has expressed doubt. some senate and congressional side stepping and questioning the president's push for new gun laws . our next guest saying not only can democrats push for gun control in the south and win, some have already done so! joining us now is our favorite nerd in the world, nate cohn, staff writer for "the new republic." how are you?
>> good to be back.
>> you say in the new article, pro- gun control dems can win in red states and succeeding in dixie with a "f" from the nra . what? how? who? how are they doing this?
>> best example is bill nelson who ran for the first time in 2000 when gun control supposedly cost al gore the presidency and won the state by five points and most importantly, he was winning in pensacola and -- not pence ka lo but the florida panhandle . he was carrying a place like liberty county which voted for romney by 40 points in november. and these are areas that are only separated from alabama by an artificial border and he didn't just have a "f" rating from the nra .
>> nate , "the washington post " polled republicans before the president announced his gun control package. and there were a lot of people who are very much in favor of the things the president would end up proposing. 89% of republicans in favor of background checks . 61% in favor of a federal database of gun sales. 59% in favor of a ban on high capacity magazines. eastbound 45% in favor of a ban on assault weapons, a large number given we're talking about republicans. so why is it that we have so much support, independent support and democratic support is way higher than that on most of those things, but yet people say it's a nonstarter in the congress.
>> i think it mainly comes from miss reading mystery. people looked at the 1994 midterm elections and saw that republicans wiped out in the south and i think in reality we can say that it was just the association with the liberal democratic president. i think the people look at the 2000 election and blame mr. gore's loss on gun control . i don't think that's fair in retrospect either especially since other candidates like bill nelson were winning in the south while supporting gun control .
>> you make the point there's those that you say should be more concerned about being seen as too pro gun control but overall the national democratic party has bent and emphasized and until the last few weeks and a broader lesson there that, hey, you tried far decade not being the gun control party and treated as the gun control party anyway so why not be the gun control party?
>> i don't think that the democrats , you know, got anything out of caving on gun control . you know, obama, kerry did worse than gore in tennessee and backing down on gun control supposed to help democrats in. i think there's real risks for red state democrats but how big? bigger than supporting health care reform or supporting the stimulus or supporting any other element of the democratic platform? i don't think. people say it's maybe disqualifying.
>> maybe there might be a difference between, you know, having some gun control measures sort of buried down in the platform and really championing them in the way that maybe bloomberg does. one other example for you is mary sue harry and used to be the attorney general, ran for governor, up in the polls and ran on a platform of gun control in virginia in the '90s and ended up getting absolutely destroyed and it occurred to me, you know, you mentioned clair mccaskill and doesn't have a good ratding from the nra as a woman but the election didn't hinge on gun control but much more to do with todd aiken and i'm wondering if you there might be a gender difference here. women are typically seen as not as strong or tough as men and judged to be more liberal on average than men. so, do you think there's an added problem for female candidates trying to overcome those caricatures embracing guns to look tough, to look conservative?
>> there might be but, you know, it is a pretty good mix of men and women that are winning in red states while, you know, taking on pro gun control issues. in your examples, things have changed. in virginia in the '90s, democrats only won that state by carrying rural, you know, gun owning republicans and in a lot of way this is's no longer true. they have developed alternative paths to victory. in missouri, you know, mccaskill probably would have lost but she did win in 2006 against a strong republican incumbent senator and i think democrats don't have to run on gun control in 2014 . they have to just not lose on it. they can run on whatever they want so i don't think they have to elevate it.
>> that's my point. there's a difference between having it in your platform and really featuring it as one of your primary legislative goals. that would be very difficult to pull off in a red state still.
>> i agree with that.
>> guys, it strikes me that -- and nate , this is not personal. i get what you do and what your project is but i think when we only talk about what's politically possible around guns or what's popular, we tend to ignore the question of what works. what will actually work to solve the problem at hand. david mammoth, the playwright, has an amazing column out today in "the daily beast " talking about this and says as rules by the government are one size fits all, any government determination of an individual's abilities must be based on a bureaucratic assessment of the lowest possible denominator. i think that's exactly what we have done in response to these mass shootings. solving this problem is something the government, bureaucratically knows it can't really do and offers up the bureaucratic solutions that don't really address any of the existential problems here and maybe not doesn't matter what politically possible or what's popular but what should actually be done.
>> well, i strongly agree. i think what's the point of what i'm writing. right now, you have a host of democrats who do not appear to be voting on their conscience. they're voting on electoral, you know, the fear of electoral politics .
>> in this sin stance, that's not supported. i don't know the right answer. i'm from the west. i, you know, know plenty of people with guns. i don't have visceral opposition to people owning firearms.
>> but i think that senators should make up their minds based on the substance of policy and that's true the vast majority of time and questioning votes for senators their seats the more often you will have senators voting on policy and not on electoral politics .
>> is it snowing there, nate ?
>> it is.
>> looks like a winter wonderland there.
>> this is a good shot, actually.
>> when we say that the government can't do anything, can't solve the problem at all, we ignore the fact that most of the countries in the world have worked this out. they have solved this. mostly by legislation.
>> the government is never going to be able to stop mass shootings from happening. i hate to break it to you and end the suspension.
>> i know you want us to do nothing.
>> that's what i said.
>> but before we -- before we -- we have nate on to talk about this, there are now for the first time in a long time proposals on the table here and the question is can you get a consensus? first of all within the democratic party . you know, nate , for instance, here's a simple one, i think, nate . strengthening the back check checks. that's resistance of red state democrats in the senate to that idea. joe manchin says he might be working with nra and mark kirk from indiana. do you think that's an area red state democrats in the senate actual consensus for that policy outcome?
>> if they support background checks for gun control and the her its of the policy, electoral politics should have nothing to do with their decision. you know, 90% of voters and nra owners and maybe 85% of members support background checks for gun control . i'm sorry, for gun owners . so yeah. go ahead and do it if you support it.
>> amen. the only nate that counts, thank you very much.