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State of the Union
Interview with John McCain; Interview with Senators Manchin, Toomey; Interview with Senator Marco Rubio
Aired April 14, 2013 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Ready, aim, but so far, no fire. Today, the U.S. warns of consequences if North Korea turns its talk into action.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: And Kim Jong-un needs to understand, as I think he probably does, what the outcome of the conflict would be.
CROWLEY: The threat from Pyongyang, a show of force or a sideshow farce? Arizona Senator John McCain gives us his take.
And a compromise on background checks for gun sales means nobody's happy.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Not necessarily as strong as many of us might have preferred.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The government should not punish or harass law-abiding citizens in the exercise of their Second Amendment rights.
CROWLEY: Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania on the deal nobody loves but enough people might embrace.
And then, one of the Republicans' promising new faces is all in, Florida's Marco Rubio on whether he can coax fellow conservatives into supporting immigration reform.
Plus, the politics of tragedy, a 2016 Republican reaching out beyond the party base; and the president's budget, does he want a grand compromise or a big midterm campaign issue, all with our political panel.
I'm Candy Crowley, and this is STATE OF THE UNION.
CROWLEY: Secretary John Kerry made a final stop in Asia today, meeting with Japanese leaders and urging North Korea to bring their nuclear rhetoric to a peaceful end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: Hopefully North Korea will hear our words and recognize that for the future of its people, and for the future stability in the region as well as on the peninsula itself, there is a clear course of action that they are invited to take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Joining me now Arizona Senator John McCain. Senator, when you put this in context of the history of North Korea with the grandfather of Kim Jong-un, with the father of Kim Jong-un, can you tell me whether this is more serious, less serious? I mean, how do we view this?
MCCAIN: I think it's probably more serious because of their increased capability. But you're right, this has been going on for decades: a cycle of confrontation, negotiation, aid, and the false hope that somehow the North Koreans would give up their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
Without that, North Korea is totally irrelevant. I mean, both Republican and Democrat administrations have fallen prey to this, well, if we give them food, if we give them oil, if we give them money, if we do the -- then they will come around.
And they take our money and run. It was the Bush administration that they lifted sanctions, freed up a bank account that they had. Always we have been of the belief that somehow we can entice them into giving up this capability. They are not. They are not.
But can I just say I don't think they're going to do anything more than their predecessors did, but they have greater capability. And they don't think like us. And they do have the ability to set Seoul on fire.
CROWLEY: So let -- yes, they do. And we've seen them actually attack Seoul in the last two, three years, and not only inflict damage but kill South Korean soldiers.
MCCAIN: But I mean, they've got artillery along the DMZ in caves that it would be capable -- before we could take them out, they would be capable of shelling a city of millions of people.
This is dangerous. Anybody who has read Barbara Tuchman's "Guns of August" know that many times in history conflicts have started by accident, by escalatory measures. And, again, do not believe that this young man thinks like we do. He doesn't.
CROWLEY: One of the things that you have said is if he launches a missile, I don't care whether if it's a test or aimed at someone, we should take it out. I wanted to play you something -- this comes from a man named David Kang who is at the University of Southern California in the Korean Studies Institute. Something he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID KANG, KOREAN STUDIES INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: One of the questions is, if we try and shoot it down and we miss, it looks a lot worse than if we don't try at all. Many of our missile systems haven't been tested in real world situations. And I'm not sure that we want to use this one as the first time. But that's a decision that has got to be made by the military.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So that is a danger, right? That they fire something and we miss it.
MCCAIN: Actually, I think the decision is made by the president. But look, if we showed Kim Jong-un that he really doesn't have the ability to launch a missile that would strike Guam or the United States of America, I think let's do something different from what we've been doing in the past, but also the most important and key element of all this is China.
China is the only country that can affect North Korean behavior. They can shut down in a short period of time their economy. And remember, this is a country that has 200,000 people in a gulag where people are being tortured and the worst regime in history, where is our advocacy for human rights?
CROWLEY: In North Korea?
MCCAIN: North Korea.
CROWLEY: But there is some indication, is there not, that China actually can't be that helpful. I mean, they said to North Korea last year, do not shoot up a missile. And what did North Korea do? It shot off a missile test.
MCCAIN: And what did China do in response? Nothing. So what China needs to do is start squeezing their economy. Without China, their economy would collapse in a relatively short period of time.
And China has got to start stepping up, whether it be on cyber security or we've identified a building in Beijing where these attacks come from, or whether it be in the South China Sea where they are confrontational, or whether it be in the United Nations where they, along with Russia, veto efforts to rein in Bashar al-Assad.
China is -- it's time now for China to step up.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you, there was quite the to-do this week when at least a portion of what we thought was the Defense Intelligence -- which we know was the Defense Intelligence assessment, Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado read it. He thought it was unclassified, it was, but apparently, you know, was not supposed to have been. And...
MCCAIN: (INAUDIBLE) confidence.
CROWLEY: That's right. Makes you a little worried. And part of this was -- part of the quote was, "the DIA assesses with moderate confidence, the north," meaning North Korea, "currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low."
And for the next two days everyone said, oh, no, we actually don't think that. Can you interpret this for me? Does North Korea have the wherewithal to put a small nuclear device on top of a missile?
MCCAIN: I don't think we know for sure. There have been other miscalculations by our intelligence agency, but have no doubt that they're on the path to achieving that capability. Look what they've achieved over the last 10-15 years, and also exported including to other countries, including Iran.
And so they are a danger. So I think it's a matter of time before they have that capability. Whether they do or not right now, I don't -- it's not clear.
CROWLEY: Doesn't sound like anybody actually knows for sure.
Let me move you to guns, the other big issue. Are you on board with Toomey-Manchin, which expands universal background checks to gun shows but allows, it seems, personal sales, private sales, you know, to a friend, to a relative, and also handing a gun to a relative. Are you on board with that? Can you go with that?
MCCAIN: I'm very favorably disposed. But first of all, I would like to thank Pat and Joe for their work together. We need to do a lot more of that. And I'm very favorably disposed towards that. Eighty percent of the American people want to see a better background check procedure.
The Internet aspect of it, which I need more explanations -- greater explanation of, but, look, I appreciate their work. And the American people want to do what we can to prevent these tragedies. And there's a lot more that needs to be done particularly in the area of mental health.
CROWLEY: And indeed it does look as though there will be some mental health amendment to this. So preliminary thumbs up for this, it's something that you could vote for, you think?
MCCAIN: Yes -- I've got to give them credit. And I want to look at it, but I'm very favorably disposed.
CROWLEY: OK. And finally, big immigration rollout. You've been working on this with the so-called -- other of your seven colleagues for the "gang of eight." Do you have any idea how the White House will respond to this? And have you talked to your conservative colleagues?
MCCAIN: A lot of my conservative colleagues have significant questions, and they're legitimate. This is a start of a process. This is a vehicle that requires hearings, requires input. And we welcome all of that. I think that my other seven colleagues have done a great job. I am guardedly optimistic that we will see finally the end of this long, long trek that a lot of us have been on for many years.
CROWLEY: Indeed, Senator John McCain, so many issues, never enough time. But thank you for your stay.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Candy.
CROWLEY: The emotional toll of the gun debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I can't imagine, I just -- I can do something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: When we return, senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, and their plan to broker a gun deal.
And later, he's the face of immigration legislation and a potential 2016 candidate, Marco Rubio joins me for a look at the immigration bill's future and his own.
CROWLEY: My interview with Marco Rubio is coming up. But joining me now is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
You all have put together this bill, which includes, among other things, a way to expand background checks to gun shows. When does it go on the floor? And do you have the votes?
TOOMEY: Well, we expect a vote this week. It's not certain as to exactly when. I think Wednesday's probably the most likely day for a vote for the Manchin-Toomey alternative to the existing language in the underlying bill.
I think it's an open question as to whether or not we have the votes. I think it's going to be close.
MANCHIN: What we're asking for, Candy, is just for our colleagues to read it. We've sent it to all of them. It broke down -- we give an outline of it. But it's a bill that basically looks at how do we treat our veterans and make sure they're treated the way they should be treated, with respect and dignity.
How we basically look at violence and a commission on mass violence, expertise in mental illness and why we don't do more. This bill, basically if you're a criminal and if you've been mentally adjudicated, you might not like it. And that's all we're saying.
At gun shows, and Internet sales, commercial transactions, is that you should not be able to buy a gun if you've been one of those two categories.
CROWLEY: As both of you know, as folks who have had strong backing by the National Rifle Association in the past, there is still huge resistance in the sense that people think, oh, that, you know, you expand background checks, the next thing you know they're going to come back and do this in a federal registry, which is explicitly banned under your bill.
But there's just this feeling that the federal government is -- this is just the tip of the iceberg. And I wanted to read you something that Senator Chris Murphy said, this was quoted in a New York Times column by Maureen Dowd, in which he said: "You are not going to disenfranchise the NRA overnight. I think ultimately we will get the assault weapons ban because I don't think this is the last time a man will walk into a crowded place with an AR-15."
That kind of -- go ahead.
TOOMEY: Well, first of all, let me be very clear, Senator Manchin and I are not interested and not willing to support infringing the legitimate rights of law-abiding citizens. This is about whether or not it's reasonable to try to make it more difficult for dangerous people for whom it's already illegal for them to have weapons to obtain them. And I think that's a very reasonable thing.
Now, there are some people that do want to infringe on Second Amendment rights. I won't be part of that. But I will be part of trying to make sure that criminals and dangerously mentally ill people have a harder time getting guns.
CROWLEY: But you understand the fear that's out there.
MANCHIN: Sure. It's the unknown. And the fact that there's lack of trust. And Pat and I both come from a gun culture. Both NRA. Both gun people ourselves who own guns and hunt and go out in the woods and enjoy it all.
If you're a law-abiding gun owner, you're going to like this bill. We've clarified a lot of things. You know, when people look at you, Candy, and they think, why do you own a gun? Like something's wrong with you? This basically puts it in the proper context people have been trying to do for years. And all we're asking for is for them to read it.
CROWLEY: Have the events over the past three or four months while Congress and the president and everyone have sort of wrestled with what to do, has it changed your mind about the National Rifle Association?
We had Governor Malloy on last week and he called Wayne LaPierre a clown -- a circus clown. Do you all feel differently about the NRA and its tactics now than you did prior to all of this?
MANCHIN: What we're seeing is, is same as we're seeing in the political arena, whether you're Democrat or Republican, whether you're elected or you're running for an office, they're getting caught by different other extreme groups, really extreme groups who are putting out falsehoods and just outright lies that are not even addressed in this bill.
We have put so much protection in this bill. And we're asking people to read it. It's a shame that a nationally -- organization such as NRA -- and we've talked to them, they're my friends. I've worked with them. My door is still open. We want to -- you know, if they're not going to be for the bill, we just agree to disagree.
But there's things in this piece of legislation that they have been working for many, many years to get, and it's here. CROWLEY: And have you changed your mind about the NRA and its tactics?
TOOMEY: No, I don't -- you know, I think this debate in some ways is underscoring just the extent to which there is a polarization in our society, a political polarization, the acrimony that has gotten into politics is manifesting itself in this debate. And I think that's unfortunate.
But I really believe strongly, as Senator Manchin said, if people will actually read the bill, which has been posted online since Thursday evening, we will probably have a vote on Wednesday, it has been available -- it will have been available for a week, I think they'll see it's a very reasonable, common-sense measure to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them.
CROWLEY: Let me also talk to you a little bit about the specifics of one thing. And it does allow the transfer of a gun within a family.
CROWLEY: It does allow gun sales within a family. But there's also something that says private sales. So if I own a shotgun and my neighbor -- and I want to sell it, my neighbor comes to me and says, oh, I know a guy that's looking for a shotgun. Can I sell that shotgun to the neighbor's friend without a background check under your bill?
MANCHIN: The private transactions are exempted.
CROWLEY: Is that a private transaction?
MANCHIN: That's a private transaction. If it's a commercial transaction or commercial establishment, such as a gun show, if you're going to a gun show...
CROWLEY: Or a licensed dealer.
MANCHIN: ... then there should be a background check.
Here's the -- current law, current law is this, if you go to a gun store, you have to have a background check and the gun store keeps it. If you go to a gun show today and you're a licensed dealer, you still do the same thing. We're treating everybody the same. If you buy online, if you buy online, I buy from -- a gun in Pennsylvania and I'm in West Virginia.
CROWLEY: But you can sell -- under this bill, I could sell my shotgun to anyone I wanted and that is outside...
MANCHIN: Private transactions, private transactions, law-abiding citizens, you know, absolutely. CROWLEY: OK. The other thing is you all have -- do you still, even though you have this bill out there, understand when folks look at this and say, no, we've got to control those private sales as well.
CROWLEY: Because if you don't know the background of the guy you're selling to--
TOOMEY: Well, I understand, but I just disagree. I think we need to strike a balance here, strike a reasonable balance that is not too onerous. The vast majority of sales are commercial in nature and they're happening either with dealers or at gun shows. Those would be captured subject to a background check, which 94 percent of which are completed in three minutes. It's really very reasonable. And it would capture a vast majority of transactions.
CROWLEY: I want to move to the politics of this, some of which actually were touched upon last night in a "Saturday Night Live" skit. I don't know if you all have been able to see it, but I wanted to play a bit of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These men wish everything for this bill. I mean, Senator Manchin represents West Virginia and he's proposing gun reform? He's going to lose his job. And Senator Toomey, this man is a Republican who is willing to make just the slightest compromise on gun control, he's going to lose his job too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Either one of you worried about any kind of challenge primary or general?
MANCHIN: Let me just say, and I know Pat and I have talked, we came here to do something, we came here to make a difference. If you would have met with the families, the strongest people I've ever met with, the families of the Newtown victims, they never asked for anybody to take their guns away, they never asked to repeal the Second Amendment, they said we're gun owners. We respect and honor all that.
We know, and they'll even say, we know that this bill that you're working on would not have saved our children. We know that, but it might save somebody else's child. I mean, you talk about -- if we just had half the courage they had, Candy, just half the courage.
So yes, I came to do something and I want to do something. TOOMEY: In 1999, I supported expanding background checks. I just think it makes common sense. And I'll just let the political chips fall the way they fall. CROWLEY: Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, thank you both for being here today.
TOOMEY: Thanks for having us.
CROWLEY: When we return, immigration advocates push for a bill. The gang of eight has one. Can they deliver it? Marco Rubio on the bill's chances and his own prospects for 2016. That's next.
CROWLEY: Joining me now from Miami, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Senator, thank you for joining us.
Let me ask you a broad question first.
RUBIO: Good morning.
CROWLEY: As you know, the 1986 immigration reform has been criticized in hindsight as something that only encouraged undocumented workers to come into the U.S. We went from some 3 million undocumented workers in the Reagan era, they had immigration reform, now we're dealing with 11 million.
What in this bill is going to ensure that that doesn't happen again?
RUBIO: Well, three things. First of all, a universal e-verify system which means you won't be able to find a job in the United States if you can't pass that check.
Secondly, an entry-exit system -- you know 40 percent of our immigration are people that enter legally and then they overstay their visas. And we don't really know who they are, because for the most part we only track when people come in, we don't track even when they leave.
And third is real border security including fencing.
And all these three things are going to happen because they are triggers, they are triggers for the green card process that we've described or laying out in our proposal. That's the incentive to ensure they happen.
In essence, for those who are undocumented in this country, not only they'll have to wait 10 years, more than 10 years, but they will have to wait until those three things are fully implemented. If they're not fully implemented, there will be no green cards awarded. And we think that will be incentive.
We're also going to have a legal immigration system that works. Part of our illegal immigration problem is we don't have a legal way for people to come here for example temporarily to work on a farm. We're going to have that now. And so people aren't going to have to come illegally, it's going to be cheaper and easier to come legally. And so I think all these things working together -- none of them by themselves will do the trick but all of them working together will ensure we never have this problem again.
CROWLEY: So, my first question on all of that is the president has said in the past that he didn't want the fate of an undocumented worker to be tied to something beyond their control which would be getting the e-verify system to work, checking on courts and et cetera to find out who's overstayed their visa and border security.
Do you know that the White House approves of the link that you have here?
RUBIO: Well, they don't. But the problem is we have a bipartisan disagreement because I think the bipartisan group of Senators agree that that should be a trigger and the president disagrees and hopefully we can pass a bill that's in there. And if we do, then he'll have a decision to make about whether to sign it or not. But that has to be a part of this otherwise it won't happen and that we've learned that from experience. You outline the '86 experience.
If we don't do enforcement, if enforcement is not a part of this, and if we don't modernize legal immigration, if we don't do all these things, then we're going to be right back here in ten years having this conversation all over again. And that would be the worst possible outcome.
CROWLEY: So once you get the e-verify system up and working for all businesses, once you have sort of quantifiable amounts that you can say, yes, the border is secure either because there's this much fence or the enforcement shows that it's up or down or whatever measures you set. How long is that going to take? And how much money is that going to cost?
RUBIO: Well, first of all it will be at least -- over ten years because obviously the process doesn't begin immediately. In fact, people can't even start applying for their temporary status until the border plans have been created and funded and they begin to implement them.
CROWLEY: Right. That's what I mean, how long does that take?
RUBIO: Well, they have six months to create...
CROWLEY: How long getting everything secure?
RUBIO: Well, obviously that whole ten-year period is something we're looking at.
But here's what happens, if the Department of Homeland Security does not secure the border, does not meet that metrics of 100 percent awareness and 90 percent apprehension within in the first five years, then they lose control of the issue, then it goes to a border commission made up of people that live and have to deal with the border and they will take care of that problem. And it'll be funded to ensure that that happens.
But here's the bigger point, if you are undocumented here now, if you are illegally in the U.S., you can't even apply for this until these plans are in place and they being to implement them. And then you're going to have to pay a fine, you're going to have to pay an application fee, you're going to have to pass a background check and then assuming all of that happens, the only thing you get is a work permit. You don't qualify for any federal benefits including ObamaCare and you're going to have to prove you can sustain and support yourself. You can't be a public charge. And you're going to have to be in the system at least 10 years plus. Plus all these enforcement things happen before we give you access to apply for the legal immigration system. In essence we're not awarding anybody anything. All we're doing is giving people the opportunity to eventually earn access to our new, improved and modernized legal immigration system.
CROWLEY: So what you're talking about is a 10 to 13-year minimum before you can even get a green card. So my question is let me take it from the other side, why bother? If you are in the United States undocumented but you have been able to somehow secure a Social Security number, you're somehow working, why would you step forward knowing that the next step is unknown when you can take it, when life is OK right now?
RUBIO: Well, life is not OK right now for them because they're living in the shadows. They have to hide. They have to lie. They're worried about getting pulled over and deported because they don't have a driver's license. The first - I mean, you're going to have a legal status to work in the U.S. to pay your taxes and to travel -
CROWLEY: But they can't get that provisional for a while, right? How long before you can get a provisional work visa?
RUBIO: Well, the process doesn't begin until the plans are in place and we give the department of homeland security a number of months to come up with that plan. At the end of the day people are going to get the legalization if they qualify for it. Some people will not qualify for it. But that's why e-verify is so important. You won't be able to find a job. Employers are going to now have available to them a legal workforce. There will be no incentive for them and in fact strong disincentive for them to ignore e-verify and hire someone who's undocumented. And you won't be able to find work in the U.S. if you are not legally here. And that's why that e-verify part of it is so important.
CROWLEY: Let me read you something that one of your colleagues Mike Lee said about immigration and about his discussions with you. "What I told Marco," he said, "was if we can proceed with this in segments, it would be a lot easier to get it passed, and it would be a lot easier for people like me, people in both Houses and both parties to vote for it. I see no reason why you have to lump everything in one 1,500-page bill and say it's all or nothing." That's from an interview that Senator Lee did with "Politico." Is it all or nothing? RUBIO: No. First of all, that's my preference too is to have done that in individual bills. I've argued that in the past. That's not the direction the Senate was headed. So I made a decision to try to influence the direction we were headed. But here's what I'm pleased about. Even though it's one bill, it is divided up into segments just like Senator Lee has advocated for and so have I. And the fact of the matter is that through our negotiations we've been able to keep these segments separate from each other.
In essence we haven't had to trade less border security in exchange for a modernized system. We haven't had to make these tradeoffs. Now hopefully that doesn't happen during the amendment process. This is going to be a lengthy process here. For example if things go according to plan, people are going to have three to four weeks to read this bill and analyze it before the first markup session, the first amendment process begins at the committee level. And we're looking forward to see what suggestions our colleague have to make the product better.
But so far what's been promising about the effort is though it's one bill, it is actually one bill that's divided up into pieces, the modernization piece, this enforcement and what to do with those who are undocumented. And we've been able to deal with each on their own merits not having to make trades in order to get something good in exchange for four things that are bad. As long as the product stays that way, it will be defensible. Unfortunately if it goes in the opposite direction, it would be very difficult then to support it.
CROWLEY: So a couple of questions out of that. The first is have you agreed with your seven colleagues that helped put this bill together that you will stick together when amendments come up that, I guess, the majority of you deem to upset the balance?
RUBIO: Well, first of all I have principles on immigration reform. And as long as the bill reflects those principles, I'm going to be supportive of it. If it abandons those principles, obviously I can't. I think there will be amendment -
CROWLEY: Have you agreed to stick with your colleagues on that? I mean do you all have...
CROWLEY: ... all for one, one for all thing?
RUBIO: No. I think we've all agreed to protect the principles of the bill, but we haven't agreed to ban together to keep anyone from amending it. There are 92 other senators who have their own ideas about immigration reform who quite frankly I think can help make this bill better. I mean 92 minds that have additional thoughts of how to improve this thing.
There will also be amendments. We know how politics are played. There will also be amendments designed as poison pills to doom the bill. I'll oppose those if I know that's what they're for. And I'll look forward to justifying in essence there are people that have ideas out there now that used to be my original position on some of these issues and I'm talking about very hypertechnical issues and I'll be able to tell them the thought process I went through that led them to the point that we're at right now. And I think I'll be able to justify, you know, virtually every single aspect of this bill.
CROWLEY: More with Marco Rubio when we return on immigration, guns and a potential run in 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: I'm working on something maybe we'll announce later today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: You have certainly been designated it seemed as the face of immigration reform in as far as Republicans are concerned, how comfortable are you with your conservative colleagues and you point out that very often you've held the positions they still now hold?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I'm not the self-appointed anything. I've worked on this bill and I can tell you that I think part of my job is to explain to people what it is we've worked on, try to justify it and hopefully gain their support. That's what I look forward to doing. I think we have addressed and I have taken into account the concerns that I have and others have about our situation.
Look, I am not happy. I am not pleased with, I am not in support of the reality that we have 10 or 11 million people in this country undocumented. I wish we didn't have that problem. Quite frankly the decisions led to that problem were made when I was in ninth grade. But we do have that problem. We're not talking about bringing in 11 million people undocumented, they are here now. We have four choices.
RUBIO: We can leave it the way it is, which is de facto amnesty, we can try to round everybody up and send them back, which I don't think is workable.
We can make life miserable for them which - and so they'll deport themselves, I don't think that works either. Or we can try to address it in a way that's responsible but humane. In a way that is not unfair to people doing it the right way and doesn't encourage people to do it the wrong way in the future. And that's what I think we've arrived at and I hope I can convince people that this is the right approach.
CROWLEY: And this very out front position that you have -- and I wasn't suggesting you self-appointed, you seem to be the go-to guy for this gang of eight.
RUBIO: Yes, I know.
CROWLEY: Do you think this would help or hurt Marco Rubio if he perhaps ran for president in 2016?
RUBIO: You know, I haven't even thought about it in that way. And I know it's hard to believe...
CROWLEY: Seriously, Senator?
RUBIO: ... most of us who live and breathe politics -- I haven't. I really haven't. I have a job. My belief has been if I do my job and I do my job well, I'll have options and opportunities in the future to do things whether it's run for re-election, run for something else or give someone else a chance at public service. And that's how I view this issue. This is a serious problem in Florida. We have I don't know how many millions of people in Florida that are undocumented. It's a serious problem in America.
CROWLEY: My time is running out. So I wanted to point out to you that the mayor's coalition that is trying to get stiff gun control out of the U.S. Congress has put out an ad that's running in Florida that says Rubio would "let criminals and the mentally ill get guns without a background check, 91 percent of Floridians support background checks but Rubio's presidential ambitions make Florida less safe." Will you support the new Toomey/Manchin compromise on expanding background checks to gun shows? RUBIO: To be fair, I haven't read it. So I don't like to comment on things I haven't read, but my position on guns is pretty clear. I believe law-abiding people in the United States have a fundamental constitutional right to bear arms. And I believe criminals and dangerous people should not have access to guns.
CROWLEY: But in general -
RUBIO: -- there is a law that protects those two things -- but in general the point is many of these gun laws are ineffective. They don't do those things. They either infringe on the rights of law- abiding people and do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And I'm troubled this debate is about guns. It should be about violence.
Violence is the problem, guns are what they're using. We had a kid build a bomb in a dorm room here recently. The point is that the fact of the matter is we that have a violence problem in the United States. And we are missing a golden opportunity to have an open, honest and serious conversation about why it is that we are having these horrific violent acts occurring in our society. Because everyone's focused on passing these laws that have proven ineffective and will prove ineffective in the future.
CROWLEY: And finally I just quickly have to ask you do you believe the honeymoon trip of Jay-z and Beyonce to Cuba violated existing rules on U.S. travel there?
RUBIO: Well, I don't know where they went. If they didn't violate, it exposes the ridiculousness of the laws we have in place. We are allowing people to travel to Cuba as tourist. They're delivering hard currency to a tyrannical regime who then turns around and uses that to oppress its people. Quite frankly I think hypocritical of the people who took that trip because they didn't meet with some of the people that are actually in trouble today. There's a rapper in Cuba, a hip hop artist in Cuba who is on a hunger strike and has been persecuted because he has political lyrics in his songs. And I wish they would have met with him. If they wanted to know what was going on in Cuba, they should have met with some of the people that are suffering there not simply smoke cigars and take a stroll down the street.
CROWLEY: Senator Marco Rubio, we thank you for your time. One correction from me that was actually not a honeymoon trip but an anniversary trip.
Thank you so much on guns, on immigration...
RUBIO: Thank you.
CROWLEY: ... and on Beyonce and Jay-z. We appreciate it.
RUBIO: Thank you.
CROWLEY: When we return, liberals and conservatives can agree on one thing, they both don't like parts of the president's new budget.
Before we get to the panel, we inadvertently showed the wrong photograph earlier in the show. It was not Connecticut senator Chris Murphy and we apologize for the error.
With me now for sure Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Gerald Seib, Washington bureau chief for "The Wall Street Journal," and Republican strategist Ana Navarro. Thank you all. The week that was so infused with emotion and politics and policy was capped off by Francine Wheeler who delivered the president's Saturday morning address. Here's a quick part of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCINE WHEELER, MOTHER OF BEN WHEELER: In the four months since we lost our loved ones, thousands of other Americans have died at the end of a gun. Thousands of other families across the United States are also drowning in our grief. Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So you hesitate even to use the word lobby when it comes to these families. Nonetheless they were up on Capitol Hill. The president made a show of bringing them back from Connecticut. How effective do you think they've been?
ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, I think they're very effective in sending the message that they want something done. Obviously it's symbolism. We all know that nothing in that bill, the Manchin/Toomey bill, would address what happened in Newtown. Now it could save other lives.
CROWLEY: It is true. They also say, Gerry, that in fact the families didn't come to ask for anything specific.
GERALD SEIB, WALL STREET JOURNAL: No. They just came to ask for action. I think in that sense they were very effective. In other words they got the debate galvanized. I think what's really striking from their point of view and the point of view of gun control advocates how far back the line has moved here. We're talking about background checks, we're not talking assault weapons bans. We're not talking about limits on magazines. In effect the agenda might move forward but it's more limited agenda than people really would have thought two months ago I believe.
CROWLEY: In fact, Donna, we're not talking about universal background checks.
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right.
CROWLEY: Private sales can go on without background checks, which certainly senators Toomey and Manchin hope will bring folks on board. Is it any less of a victory if it doesn't have kind of the things we started out talking about, assault weapons ban and limiting the rounds that can be in a magazine?
BRAZILE: Well, it's not 100 percent of what president Obama requested. It's not 100 percent of what the gun safety people out there would like to see, but it is progress. It's moving in the right direction. Look, since Newtown, 3,000 Americans, more than 3,000 Americans have lost their lives due to gun violence. It's important that the Senate this week open up this debate allow those amendments to go forward and hopefully they'll all come up with some common sense (INAUDIBLE). We cannot bring back those kids, those kids who were murdered, but maybe we can save lives in the future.
NAVARRO: Forcing all of us as Americans to think about this issue in a responsible and comprehensible way. You cannot avoid thinking about this issue right now and has brought up the issue of violence. It has brought up the issue of gun control and brought up the issue of -
CROWLEY: See this expand beyond guns, I think, over the course of this.
SEIB: I think the two senators you had on earlier, Manchin and Toomey, have really started a conversation between gun owners and gun control advocates leading some of the advocacy groups to the side (ph). And that's going to be a healthier thing in the long run.
CROWLEY: Let me move you to the new Republican party as it seeks to kind of reshape its image. One of them Senator Marco Rubio, who we heard from earlier and Republicans pushing quite hard to get immigration reform off the table by passing something. And the other I think came from Senator Rand Paul who went to Howard University (INAUDIBLE), university to talk to students there. Here's a little bit of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I came to Howard today not to preach or prescribe to you some special formula for you, but to say that I want a government that leaves you alone. My hope is that you will hear me out. You'll see me for who I am and not a caricature sometimes presented by political opponents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: While all this was going on, the reach out to Latinos and Senator Rand Paul and you have to give him credit for going to a place that was not going to be particularly welcoming to a Republican of any sort. You have the Republican party out in California saying, by the way, we just wanted to recommit to the fact that the Republican party often believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. What is this line they're walking? Can any of it work?
SEIB: Well look, I mean, if you look at what the RNC did on gay marriage it may not have been what the chairman when he said, let's do more outreach, let's have a softer message. But you got to admit it's in keeping with what the rank and file Republican (INAUDIBLE) the country thinks. We did a poll this week, "The Wall Street Journal NBC News Poll" the Republican -- the majority is not in favor of gay marriage right now. So in that sense, the party leadership is in line with what the party rank and file want on that particular issue, but I think that stands apart from immigration and even guns to some extent.
NAVARRO: I think the RNC committee is party leadership. You know, they're not representative of the Republican party. There is also a very large and important part of the Republican party that follows what Rand Paul is saying, which is, let's not even focus on these social issues, let's talk about some of the other issues. I think what Rand Paul did was incredibly courageous and smart. Getting out of his comfort zone and not only did he go to Howard University he took unscripted, unfiltered questions from the audience.
CROWLEY: (INAUDIBLE) he gets some credits from you because I got to move to another subject.
BRAZILE: No question going to Howard University (INAUDIBLE), going to Kentucky State University in his hometown. Go to the Muhammad Ali center and go to people in Kentucky and come to Howard University, is an important university, but talk to people back at home about his own civil rights views.
CROWLEY: Quickly I have to talk about the president's budget. What do we say about a budget from the Democratic president that gets more heat from the Democrats than it did from the Republicans? What does that mean?
SEIB: Price you have to pay if you're president. If you make progress in this town by making everybody a little angry at you, that's what the president did with that budget. Democrats are going to be under pressure from the left and the right if they go down this path of trimming entitlements a little bit and asking for revenues. But that's the path to a big deal, you don't have any choice.
NAVARRO: This was a game-changing week in Washington, I think. We had gun control, bipartisan gun control legislation announced and an immigration, bipartisan immigration deal reached which will be released shortly. We had the president release a budget that has changed CPI and is getting heat...
... and we had Republican senators invited to dinner at the White House. This was new winds blowing in Washington.
BRAZILE: But I don't know if this will produce the kind of bipartisan compromise the president would like to see on a budget because the Republicans are not moving on new taxes. And that's what is making so many Democrats upset. He's putting everything on the table for the Republicans to pick and choose. This is not an ala carte menu.
NAVARRO: Democrats have said it that he has put on the table change CPI.
CROWLEY: I have to move you along here. Donna Brazile, as always, thank you so much. Gerald Seib, thanks for being here. Ana Navarro, thank you.
When we return, North Korea readied celebrations for their biggest holiday as its neighbors brace for a possible military display. The headlines are next.
CROWLEY: Returning to our top story. North Korea has yet to launch a missile, but it is sticking to its hardline rhetoric. Earlier this hour on STATE OF THE UNION, Senator John McCain said the communist nation poses a serious military threat and that China is the key to easing tensions along the Korean peninsula. In Japan today, secretary of state John Kerry urged North Korea to pursue a peaceful end to the crisis.
China's reporting two new cases of humans with bird flu. The country now has 51 people infected with the virus, a new strain of bird flu was discovered last month. The world health organization says there's no evidence of human-to-human transmission. So far, 11 people have died.
L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant will be sidelined for the rest of this NBA season and into the next. Bryant tore his Achilles' tendon Friday. He underwent successful surgery Saturday, but his injury is expected to take six to nine months to heal.
Thank you so much for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Head to CNN.com/SOTU for analysis and extras including our getting to know interview with Senator Joe Manchin.
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.