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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY

Interview with Senator Graham; Interview with Senator Blumenthal

Aired March 31, 2013 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: In Texas, the murders of a district attorney and his wife fuel concerns of a deadly vendetta. And here in Washington, the stage is set for grappling with two critical issues.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): Today, time may have sapped the fervor for major gun control.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is our best chance in more than a decade to take common sense steps that will save lives.

CROWLEY: But something like momentum is gathering behind immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're on track to meet our deadline.

CROWLEY: Guns and immigration with Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, and Connecticut Democrat, Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Plus, the legal odd couple who argued against California's ban on same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court.

And our Sunday panel on how the justices' decision this summer will or won't change the political landscape.

Then --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: let us pray.

CROWLEY: -- ministering to an unpopular flock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God remembered my bucket list (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pray about everything.

CROWLEY: An Easter conversation with the chaplains of the U.S. House and Senate.

I'm Candy Crowley, and this is STATE OF THE UNION.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CROWLEY (on-camera): We will get to Senator Lindsey Graham in a moment. But first, authorities in Texas are hunting for leads this morning in the murder of a county prosecutor and his wife. Mike and Cynthia McClelland were shot to death inside their home in Kaufman County near Dallas. That is the same place that assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was gunned down in January, outside the county courthouse.

I want to bring in CNN's Ed Lavandera who is in Kaufman. Ed, tell us the latest. ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, this is a situation that is sending shivers down the spines of many people who live here in Kaufman County, Texas. Almost exactly two months after an assistant prosecutor here in Kaufman County was gunned down as he was walking into the courthouse, a brazen attack, the district attorney, his boss and his wife, Mike McClelland and Cynthia McClelland were gunned down in their own home here in Kaufman County as well.

And there are many people asking questions of exactly how these cases might be related. The mayor here in Kaufman says it believes to me that -- it believes to him that both men were targeted and he believes that they are connected. Investigators here haven't said much beyond the fact that this attack had happened and that the couple was found murdered yesterday late last night in their homes.

So, we are waiting to hear from authorities. But it's interesting, Mike McClelland, after the murder of his co-worker and friend, was very outspoken about how badly he wanted to capture the culprits behind that first murder back in January. Listen to the way he talked about it two months ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE MCLELLAND, KAUFMAN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I hope that the people that did this are watching, because we're very confident that we're going to find you. We're going to pull you out of whatever hole you're in. We're going to bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. Anything that you people can do to accelerate getting our hands on this scum will be appreciated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: And Candy, you can tell by the way that law enforcement descended in the neighborhood where these murders took place yesterday. It's a real indication of just how serious this situation has become. FBI agents, Texas rangers, and as well as local law enforcement descended on that neighborhood where the McClellands were found murdered. All of those people involved in this investigation -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Ed, let me sort of broaden this a little bit to something that happened, you know, last week. And I spoke on the show, actually, a week ago, to the governor of Colorado, about the death of the chief of prisons in Colorado. The alleged perpetrator was killed in a shoot-out in Texas.

Now, at the time, we knew that the FBI was looking for possible links between that alleged shooter and that first murder in Kaufman County. Is that investigation still going on? Could there be an even broader conspiracy here that is not just confined to Kaufman County?

LAVANDERA: Well, Candy, that is what's kind of hovering over this entire situation. We knew after that shoot-out last week in Decatur, Texas, not too far from where we are, that there was a link at least being looked at between the Colorado prison chief and the assistant prosecutor here in Kaufman.

Now, if these other two are related, all of this is still hovering over this, however, law enforcement agencies have not said that they are directly connected or have proved that they're connected in any way, but all of that is kind of hovering over this situation now.

CROWLEY: Ed Lavandera in Kaufman County for us, thanks very much.

We will continue to follow this story throughout the morning. In fact, we will have an interview later this hour with the mayor of Kaufman to get the very latest.

But right now, we want to switch gears, and joining me is Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Senator, thanks for being here. Just off the top, let me ask you, when we see the death of the head of a prison official, two deaths of a D.A. and an assistant D.A., this is a dangerous business, I know, prosecuting bad guys, incarcerating bad guys. Do you think we need to look at the protection of these people?

GRAHAM: Well, anything that would make our law enforcement officers safer. Obviously, this is some criminal enterprise coming after the people who enforce the law. And yes, anything the local community can do to make, you know, life safer for those who carry out the law on our behalf, count me in. This is clearly some type of criminal vendetta here against these people who enforce the law.

CROWLEY: Certainly, it looks that way. Let me turn you to gun control, which we expect to be the first piece of major business when the Senate comes back in a week. Five of your colleagues have joined in saying, listen, we are going to filibuster any kind of gun control bill that might infringe on the Second Amendment.

Let me read you a little from the letter from Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee. It was sent to Senator Harry Reid, the democratic leader in the Senate. "We, the undersigned, intend to oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people's constitutional rights to bear arms or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance. We will oppose any motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions."

Senator Inhofe and Senator Rubio have now joined in that filibuster threat. What do you make of it? Would you join it?

GRAHAM: Well, I'd like to have an open process. The only way I would filibuster a bill is if Senator Reid did not allow alternative amendments. I have legislation with Senator Pryor and Begich, two Democrats, myself, and Jeff Flake, that would change the federal system. There was a lady who pled not guilty by reason of insanity in 2005, in South Carolina, of trying to kill President Bush.

February of this year, she went and bought a gun. And that adjudication was not in the system. She was able to purchase a gun, went to a school, and thank God that gun did not discharge. She's being held for attempted murder, but the four of us have a bill to redefine mental health adjudications to make sure a situation like hers gets into the system.

There's all kind of bipartisan legislation out there that I think would keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally ill, shouldn't have a gun, and there's some real efforts out there to beef up prosecutions of those who fail a background check.

CROWLEY: If I could, part of the Senator Reid's bill, as we understand it, will be expanding background checks to people who purchase guns at gun shows, which would include those sellers, keeping the paperwork on the buyers. Is that something that you would filibuster?

GRAHAM: Well, I would have an alternative to it. I think what the bill --

CROWLEY: But would you filibuster that? Would it be your intent, if that is part of the bill?

GRAHAM: No. If I get an alternative to it, no, I'd vote against it. This idea of private individuals transferring their weapons and having to go get through a background check makes no sense. Before you'd expand the background check, there are 76,000 people, last year, failed a background check. And less than one percent got prosecuted.

There are 9,000 people in 2010 that failed a background check who are felons on the run, and none of them were prosecuted. So, before you expand background checks to include private individuals, let's put some resources into the current system we have that's clearly broken.

CROWLEY: Does it give you pause --

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Does it give you pause, senator, I just wanted the show you a quick poll here. And the question was to folks, do you favor a federal law that requires background checks on all potential gun buyers. Ninety-six percent of Democrats, yes, 89 percent of independents and 86 percent of Republicans say there should be a background check for all potential buyers. Does that give you pause in opposing that expansion?

GRAHAM: Well, if you ask the question, should a father have to do a background check when they give their son a gun for Christmas --

CROWLEY: But this is a little different. This is about, just if you go to a gun show.

GRAHAM: But, no, that's what the bill does! The bill requires private individual transfers to go through the federal system. The current system is broken. I hope most Americans understand that 80,000 people last year failed a background check and only 66 got prosecuted. Why in the world would you expand that system if you're not enforcing the law that exists today to include private transfers? So, I think that legislation is going nowhere, but, I would like to have a robust debate about improving this system to make sure that people who are mentally ill do not get a gun to begin with. And there's a lot we could do in a bipartisan fashion.

CROWLEY: Right. I've got to get you to immigration reform here, but just to be clear, you think that anything that requires an expanded background check to everyone who sells a gun and keeping that paperwork will not pass the U.S. Senate. Is that correct?

GRAHAM: I don't think so. I don't think it makes any sense. The current system is broken. Fix the current system. Don't expand it to individual transfers. Nothing we're talking about would have prevented Newtown from happening. The guy did not fail a background check.

CROWLEY: Let me turn you to immigration, because we have word that big unions and big business have agreed on a visa plan for these low-skilled, as we call them, workers. The number that can come in, the industries they can come into, how much they can be paid. Is that it? Have you got a deal now?

GRAHAM: Well, I think we've got a deal. We've got to write the legislation, but 2013, I hope, will be the year that we pass bipartisan immigration reform, signed into law with three goals, to do the bill in such a fashion to prevent a third wave of illegal immigration from happening in this country, to make sure that the guest worker program is available to employers who can't find an American worker, once you offer the job at a competitive wage, and turn our chain migration family-based immigration system into a merit- based immigration system with a family component, because we're declining demographic.

We're going to need new workers come into this country in the out years as our population declines. So, stopping that third wave means securing your border and controlling who gets a job in America. I think we've accomplished that in this bill. And I believe it will pass.

CROWLEY: So, as far as you know, has the whole so-called Gang of Eight, four Republicans, four Democrats in the Senate, are they ready? You've all agreed to everything. You've just got to write it up. And do you believe that that bill could pass the House?

GRAHAM: Yes, ma'am. We have -- it's got to be written off. We haven't signed off. There are a few details yet. But conceptually, we have an agreement between business and labor, between ourselves that has to be drafted. It will be rolled out next week. Yes, I believe it will pass the House because it secures our borders, it controls who gets a job.

As to the 11 million, they'll have a pathway to citizenship, but it will be earned, it will be long, and it will be hard, and I think it is fair. And the main thing, the combination of events in this bill will prevent a third wave of illegal immigration and replace a broken immigration with a merit based economic based system to help grow our economy in the future.

I think it will pass both Houses. We're going to need the president's support. I'm proud of the work product and I look forward to rolling it out.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much, Sen. Lindsey Graham on Easter Sunday. Of course, we appreciate it.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Support for gun restriction falls back to pre-Newtown levels. What does that mean for reform? Connecticut senator, Richard Blumenthal, is standing by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now is the senior senator from Connecticut, Democrat Richard Blumenthal. Senator, thank you for being here. I want to start out with what's happening in Texas, where we have had the death of a county prosecutor and his wife. The assistant D.A. in the same county was gunned down and killed in January.

We've had the death of the head of prisons in Colorado also killed in his own home. I know you have been U.S. attorney in Connecticut. What sort of effect does this have on really the business of prosecution?

BLUMENTHAL: The brave and courageous prosecutors across the nation, as well as our police on the streets, face this kind of horror every day, and it's the reason that they are so strongly in favor of common sense measures to stop gun violence.

And they have supported, for example, a ban on illegal trafficking and straw purchases, which, unfortunately, may have been involved in the shooting of Tom Clements, the corrections chief out in Colorado, the straw purchase there of a gun led to his death, and there's been an arrest. So, every day, our law enforcement, as I know from my personal experience as U.S. attorney and then as attorney general of our state for 20 years, face this kind of threat.

And, the ban on illegal trafficking has bipartisan support. It will be part of the bill on the Senate, as well as the school safety measure and other common sense initiatives, like mental health. These kinds of measures are very, very important to protect, law enforcement, but also our children and other citizens. CROWLEY: Senator, let me talk to you about that bill for a minute. I don't know if you just heard Senator Lindsey Graham telling me that he didn't think that gun -- background checks at gun shows and keeping the records of those purchases, the sellers keeping those records, is going to pass the Senate. He said flat-out, no, I don't think it will pass. What do you think?

BLUMENTHAL: I think there's really a historic opportunity, a moment that we have to seize to break the stranglehold, for the first time in a decade, maybe a generation, that the special interests like the NRA have imposed on this process. I think there is a sensible compromise that we can reach on background checks that will extend them --

CROWLEY: What would it be?

BLUMENTHAL: It would include all purchases of firearms, but recordkeeping that is sensible, imposes no unfair burdens, and no unfair threats of prosecution to people who may legitimately lose those records or, otherwise, be excusable. So, I think there is room for compromise on that measure as well as on high-capacity magazines.

You know, the shock and horror of Newtown is still very much with our nation. It changed us, as a people, I think. And you were there, Candy, in the wake of that horror, that Sunday after the Friday, when the unspeakable tragedy of those 20 beautiful children and sixth grade educators being gunned down by someone who used a high-capacity magazine.

In fact, we know now, from the revelations of just this past week, that he left behind, the shooter, in that instance, left behind the smaller capacity magazines and took with him the 30-round clips, because he knew he could use them to gun them down and he did, 154 rounds in about five minutes.

CROWLEY: Senator, let me ask you, under the bill that we are expecting Senator Reid to put on the floor, there was not any kind of limitation on those magazines. There is not a ban on assault weapons, however, you might describe those. There may or may not be an expansion of registration -- or, I'm sorry, an expansion of background checks.

How would anything in the bill, as it currently stands, have stopped anything that went on in Newtown?

BLUMENTHAL: The majority leader has assured me and other proponents of these measures that we can offer amendments on both the assault weapons ban and the prohibition on high-capacity magazines. So, there will be votes and I intend to spearhead that amendment on the high-capacity magazines.

CROWLEY: Is it a failure if you don't get that? If you don't get a ban on high-capacity magazines, if there's not a ban on assault weapons, if the background check is watered down, is that a success or no? BLUMENTHAL: Any step that saves lives is a step in the right direction. And the question is not winning or losing here, but, really, saving lives, which the people of Newtown and the victims there and their families, I think, want to happen. Not just for the sake of those victims, but also more than 3,000 people who have perished since Newtown as a result of gun violence.

So, I think mental health initiatives, school safety, which are part of that bill, would have helped prevent the violence that occurred in Newtown as well as potentially other measures that we're going to be offering as amendments, and we are going to keep fighting, no question about it.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, then, because you've talked about, and certainly, anyone that was there, anyone that watched this on television, anyone with a heart can't forget that day. And yet, I want to show you our latest CNN/ORC poll, which shows that the number of people -- the percentage of people favoring major restrictions on guns or making all guns illegal, has gone from 52 percent in December, right after Newtown, and dropped almost 10 percent to 43 percent.

So, 43 percent -- only 43 percent of Americans favor major restrictions on guns or restricting them altogether. What do you make of that?

BLUMENTHAL: Candy, the overwhelming majority of Americans want common sense measures that will save the lives of their children, police and prosecutors, others who are now outgun by criminals, and keep those guns out of the hands of the convicted felons, the mentally deranged, like Adam Lanza.

CROWLEY: So, why would you think that -- why would you think it would drop almost ten points then?

BLUMENTHAL: I think that the majority is still overwhelmingly in favor and the challenge really is to mobilize and organize that majority, so that it is not a silent majority, as all too often, it has been and make sure that their voices are heard. And the shock and horror of Newtown, i think, is still very much with our nation.

And that unspeakable tragedy, I think, created an unstoppable momentum. History is on our side and the opponents, really, are defying, not only the majority, but also the progress of history to save lives and make our nation safer.

CROWLEY: Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, thanks for spending some of your Easter morning with us. We appreciate it.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

CROWLEY: When we return, with the case for same-sex marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID BOIES, ATTORNEY AGAINST PROPOSITION 8: There are certain rights that are so fundamental to everybody that we say no majority can take it away.

TED OLSON, ATTORNEY AGAINST PROPOSITION 8: It's not about the economy or deficits. It's not hard to understand what this is all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Two of the nation's most prominent attorneys, conservative, Ted Olson, and liberal, David Boies, argued different sides of the Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 election. But on the issue of same-sex marriage, they are of the same mind. They joined forces back in 2010 to fight Prop 8, the California law banning same-sex marriage.

CNN's Gloria Borger sat down with them for their only joint interview before Olson argued against the case before the Supreme Court.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a conservative court. I don't have to tell either of you that. So, what makes you believe that this court is going to rule in your favor? Lots of people would say, the odds are against you.

BOIES: I think these are conservative values, as much as they are liberal values. The belief in the constitution, the belief in an independent judiciary, the recognition of equality, the desire to prevent the government from regulating people's most intimate relationships, I think as much a conservative value as it is liberal value.

BORGER: When you first started this case, public opinion had shifted dramatically over the last four years.

OLSON: I don't know, in my life, where there's a single issue, which is a big, deeply held issue, and about one everybody understands what the issue is, where there's an issue that people can understand, where there's been that enormous shift of public opinion. And of course, several states have voted to legalize same-sex marriage in that period of time.

Now, many will be a long time behind that. But the amount of change in public opinion has been huge.

BORGER: Well, does that affect the Supreme Court?

BOIES: I'm not sure. I think that to some extent, the Supreme Court will decide this case based on a law and based on the constitution. You don't read public opinion polls and you don't rely on votes to decide constitutional questions. If you're going to rely on public opinion polls or what people vote at the polls, you wouldn't need written constitutions. On the other hand, I think it also is probably reassuring to the court to recognize that this is not an issue that is going to cause a cataclysmic social upheaval. This is something in which public opinion has already, probably in some senses, ahead of the courts.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: The Supreme Court will rule some time in late June. The affect of that ruling may have will be on the political landscape. We'll be up with our panel after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me around the table, CNN contributor and Democratic strategist, Donna Brazile, Republican strategist and former Romney campaign adviser, Kevin Madden, and CNN chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin. Thanks all for being here.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy Easter.

CROWLEY: Thank you, same to you all. Let's just fast forward to the June decision of the Supreme Court. And let's assume, first, that they say, this moves to the states. That the overall effect of the ruling, whatever it is, is that it's a state, they're going to toss it back to the states. What effect does that have on politics, on the Republican view, which has generally been opposed to same-sex marriage, and Democrats, which has generally been in favor, certainty with the president, saying that he had an evolution in his thinking?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, this is an issue where there has been a sea change in the Republican party. More and more, you are seeing Republicans find it easier to make the conservative argument for gay marriage than they are the conservative argument against gay marriage.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: -- equal rights.

MADDEN: Correct. And having said that, the you read the brief that Ted Olson and others have filed, there are a number of points in there that make the argument about why this is consistent with traditional values of stability inside of the sanctity of marriage.

But having said that, there is also still substantiate and some calcified support amongst Republicans that -- who believe that it's important for us to protect the traditional view of marriage. And we're only two years away from a political cycle where, in states like North Carolina, voters overwhelmingly supported the definition of traditional marriage. So if it's going to go back to a position where we're arguing this state by state, there are still great challenges on this issue.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Let me ask you, even in Minnesota and Maryland, the public has already shifted its opinion on this issue.

CROWLEY: It is Minnesota and Maryland, let's just say, which is not North Carolina.

BRAZILE: Of course, of course. But, still, we've come a long way over the past decade in terms of the public's perception of so- called marriage equality. And everyone has a right to equal protection under the law, including gays and lesbians. So I think it all depends on how the justices come up with their ruling in terms of the constitutional issue of fairness.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But this is a problem for the Republican party. If the courts throw this back to the states, it becomes a political issue, still. The best thing that could happen to the republic is if the courts decide -- because, Kevin, if the polling shows, you'll agree, the polling shows it's not so much a Democrat/Republican issue right now. The divide is young/old. Generational.

MADDEN: I believe that's absolutely right.

YELLIN: And even young Republicans support gay marriage, expanded rights for gays and lesbians, and so it becomes another one of these wedge issues. Your party just --

CROWLEY: What happens if the court goes the other way, and you know what, there is, within the constitution something that says that same-sex marriage is OK. It lifts a huge burden off the Republican party, does it not?

MADDEN: I think there's -- it's very hard to find out what the court is really going to do here. But I do think that Jessica's main point is right. That in ten years, and look, many Republicans and Democrats believe this. In ten years, this is going to look like an archaic debate. But having said that I don't believe that we're at a place right now where there's going to be an issue, particularly in 2014, where there's a great deal of emphasis by either party. Because there is still some parallel (ph) for red state Democrats to put an emphasis on issues like this. And there are other -- and many Republicans are still less interested in drawing a contrast on this, and much more interested in making a case around that economic --

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: But it is no longer a political weapon that the Republicans made it in 2004 presidential election --

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: It's a little bit like abortion and, you know, a women's right to choose and anti-abortionists, that the Democrats used it in the last election, sort of against Republicans, certainly when it came to the --

(CROSSTALK)

MADDEN: That's where the changing demographics are going to have an impact.

CROWLEY: Right. Let me push you on to something else. This was a poll, 15th to the 17th of this month, CNN/ORC, the opinion of the Republican party, favorable, 38 percent. Unfavorable, 54 percent. I saw you wince, Kevin.

(LAUGHTER)

They don't know Kevin.

But we saw this incident with Don Young this week, 79-year-old congressman from Alaska, where he used a slur to describe undocumented workers, when he was working on a farm, a childhood farm or whatever. And boy did Republicans jump all over that, in a way I've not seen them sort of. I mean, he was -- everybody abandoned that ship. But it points out the difficulty, doesn't it, that the Republicans are going to have, trying to change that imagery. Because it's one guy in the Republican party -

MADDEN: It is.

CROWLEY: -- but when it feeds into something, it's twice as damaging.

MADDEN: Well it doesn't feed into anything, if you jump on it the way that Boehner and other leaders within the party, across the party have. And I think the media always tries to make one statement into an event or something that's much more telling about the party. In this case, that's not true. Because if you look at the contrast, those that are within the party, that are trying to work on immigration reform, those that are trying to work on rebuilding the brand and becoming a party of ideas, again, a party of reform, so that way we have a -- we're in a better position to win those persuadable voters that we lost in this last election, that's what was most important. So I think the party does a disservice to itself when it doesn't criticize statements like that. That's why this time, they did.

CROWLEY: Which they did. And you know, Donna, there's a lot of good criticism -- by the way, this is Congressman Don Young from Alaska.

CROWLEY: Which they did. And you know, Donna, there's a lot of good criticism, by the way, this is congressman Don Young from Alaska. But when -- you know, a lot of Republicans say, you know, what, Democrats say all kinds -- you know, stuff happens on Twitter. I mean, people say stupid stuff. And when it's a Democrat, they aren't jumped on in the same way that Republicans are.

BRAZILE: I disagree. We're jumped on all the time. Even we make little stupid statements. But this goes to a broader issue that Republicans addressed in the so-called autopsy report. Where they said, there's nothing wrong with our principles, but how we communicate them. So pretty much, the warning is, watch your language. Well, it's not just watch your language, it's, watch your policies. And in North Carolina, just recently, the governor there, a Republican, eliminated the office of Latino affairs. So it goes beyond just simply watch your language. It goes to the broad issue of, will they reach out?

YELLIN: This is a big shift, though, for the Democrats versus the Republicans. There used to be a time when the Republicans controlled talk radio. And they could take anything Democrats said and blast it out. And Democrats were always back on their heels. Right now Democrats have a lot more sway on the Internet and on Twitter and on the blogs, and so they have a lot more control over damaging and taking what the Republicans say.

CROWLEY: I have 15 seconds, I need a yes or a no. Has too much time passed for major gun legislation described as limiting these magazines or a ban on certain types of weapons? Is it too late for those types of things to pass.

BRAZILE: No.

MADDEN: I believe that this is a very serious issue and it's going to take some time.

YELLIN: Assault weapons, magazine clips, not passing.

CROWLEY: Jessica Yellin, Kevin Madden, Donna Brazile, thank you.

When we come back, an update on the killing of a Texas district attorney and his wife.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: We are following a story out of Kaufman, Texas, where a district attorney and his wife were shot and killed in their home. I am joined by the mayor of Kaufman, Dr. William Fortner.

Mr. Mayor, we know that these two murders were preceded two months ago by the murder of the assistant D.A. You would have to go a long way to not think that this was more than coincidental. Have you found a link?

WILLIAM FORTNER, MAYOR OF KAUFMAN, TEXAS (on the phone): I don't know any new details and as far as I know, no link has been found. But thank you for calling me, Candy. But that's obviously the conclusion that I would come to. But I'm not a law enforcement person. But the man that was killed, Mr. Hasse, who was killed two months ago, that was in the city limits of Kaufman. The district attorney and his wife live out of town, a few miles from here between Kaufman and Forney. It was in the unincorporated area of the county. So the sheriff is looking into that case.

CROWLEY: So you have two different jurisdictions, but essentially, you have the D.A. and his assistant D.A, both of whom are killed, within two months of each other. So, obviously, that's a link they're looking at. And what -- can you bring us up to date on the information that you do have about the two murders themselves? FORTNER: I don't know very many details. It was Mr. Mike McLellan and his wife. He had been the district attorney and these are very important people to us here in Kaufman county. We hope the killers are found pretty soon before no one else is killed or hurt.

CROWLEY: Well, is that their suspicion, Mr. Mayor, that this is part of a broader conspiracy, if you will, to kill law enforcement officials?

FORTNER: I wish I could answer your question, but I can't. The Texas rangers are here, the FBI is here, the ATF is here, but the main -- the first killing two months ago, that's mainly been -- the investigation has been under the control of our local police department, and then this one will be under the control of the sheriff's department.

CROWLEY: Mayor William Fortner of Kaufman, Texas. Thank you so much for joining us on an Easter morning and such a tragic one for your area. We appreciate your time. We are expecting a news conference within the next couple of hours. We will bring that to you live when it happens.

But when we return, the man who pray for our nation's leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARRY BLACK, (RET.) U.S. SENATE CHAPLAIN: These are patriots. These are people who seriously desire the best for this nation.

FATHER PATRICK CONROY, U.S. HOUSE CHAPLAIN: Democrats and Republicans thank me for that prayer. (END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: It just seems to us that Easter Sunday is the right time to introduce you to two people who do an awful lot of heavy lifting on Capitol Hill. Meet the men who pray for the people you vote for.

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BLACK: Matthew chapter 7 verse 12 says essentially do unto others what you would have them do on to you because this is the law and the prophets (ph). And I often tell the lawmakers that that is the cliff notes version of the bible.

CROWLEY: Retired rear admiral Barry Black is the first African- American and the first Seventh Day Adventist to serve as senate chaplain.

CONROY: When I was it's only in high school, maybe back to fourth grade, my plan was to be a senator from the state of Washington.

CROWLEY: Apparently God had other plans Father Patrick Conroy but he is still pretty close to his childhood dream as the first Roman Catholic Jesuit to serve as House chaplain.

CONROY: You know without ever expecting that I would be in Congress by following, you know, the desires and the missioning of my Jesuit superiors, here I am. God remembered my bucket list.

CROWLEY: Now in his first year on the job, Conroy has seen bitter and bipartisan days but he treats them equally because he explains, every prayer counts.

CONROY: I get awful nervous if I thought that I was working harder on one prayer over another. As if, all right, now it's important. This prayer is important. This one better be good.

CROWLEY: Still, there are days when those session opening prayers get pointed, say in the midst of debt ceiling negotiations.

BLACK: Save us, oh, god. For the waters are coming in upon us. We are weary from the struggle, tempted to throw in the towel. But quitting isn't an option.

CROWLEY: Or as the nation peered over the fiscal cliff.

CONROY: May an imperfect compromise when viewed from the perspective of our differences not be undermined by a desire for political victory.

You know, that prayer, for some reason, got audible amens and it's like, oh, I said something. I did something right.

CROWLEY: That struck a bell.

And it turns out that even in an environment where compromise is rare and the atmosphere toxic, there are moments that look like divine intervention.

BLACK: I have been told that as a result of a prayer, chaplain, I'm going to change my vote. And may be a phrase or a statement that I had no intention to mean a particular thing, but I believe that I have supernatural help.

CROWLEY: Has a senator ever changed your view on something?

BLACK: No.

CROWLEY: Reverend Black, who has a doctorate in psychology, does not confine his council to the spiritual.

BLACK: I'm not expected to put my brain in neutral. So if someone says, as one senator did. Give me the bioethical slant on the Schiavo case, then I can shoot from the hips and basically tell him or her what I think.

CROWLEY: But it's different in Father Conroy's House. He has a law degree, but he thinks God put him in Congress to cure him of politics. CONROY: I have asked for serenity in the area of politics because, it controlled me, I didn't control it. I could get as angry as angry could be about politics. So, as I was praying that serenity prayer in the area of politics, well, how did God answer this prayer for me? He put me in the House of Representatives. Where my job is not to have an opinion and not to express my opinion.

CROWLEY: He is happy in his job, as is chaplain Black.

BLACK: I was in Alabama in the '60s in college. I actually listened to Martin Luther King speak and participated in the desegregation of lunch counters in Alabama. To have that experience as a very young man and then to have the honor of delivering the innovation when Rosa Parks statue is being placed in Statuary Hall.

We praise you, lord, for infusing her with the resolve. To sit down so that millions could stand up.

It is an opportunity to have a front row seat to history. It doesn't get much better than this.

CROWLEY: Still, they do tend to a troubled flock with a 79 percent disapproval rating and the problems of a country on their shoulders.

CONROY: If I were to say there are common thematics, then, there would be a concern that we, as a nation, are losing our bearings or that we have lost our direction and we need to be more faithful to God.

CROWLEY: Most people think this is the most reviled congregation you could have. Is that fair?

BLACK: First Samuel 16, 7 said humans looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. I get a chance to see the interior, not just the exterior that you can see on a television camera. These are the people who seriously desire the best for this nation and world and take their calling to political ministry, as I consider it, very, very seriously.

CONROY: I don't think there's a single member that doesn't want to be as faithful as he or she can be to their own political, but moral or religious lights.

CROWLEY: Does it worry you that sometimes they go too far against one another?

BLACK: Well --

CROWLEY: And the things they say.

BLACK: If the bible verse (INAUDIBLE) Philippians 4, 6 and 7 passage that says, have no anxiety about anything but pray about everything with thanksgiving. That's the strategy that I take. So I'm rarely worried about anything.

You pretty much pray about everything?

CROWLEY: You pray about pretty much everything.

BLACK: I pray about everything.

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CROWLEY: We pray that you have a peaceful holiday weekend. Thank you for watching STATE OF THE UNION. Head to CNN.com/sotu for analysis and extras.

If you missed any part of today's show, find us on iTunes. Just search STATE OF THE UNION.

Fareed Zakaria, GPS is next for our viewers here in the United States.