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Public Statements

CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript

Interview

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SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-New York): She-- she's doing great. And, you know, when I was there visiting with her, I was telling her how proud I am of her because she is right now inspiring the nation. She epitomizes everything that President Obama said in his speech about a way of moving forward, of providing leadership that brings people together, not pushing
them apart and focuses on solutions. And that's who Gabby is. And right now through this struggle, which she will overcome, she's showing raw courage, raw strength something that we can all get behind and she really is our glimmer of hope in-- in a very dark time.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Now it's my understanding they have taken her off the ventilator but she of course is still in critical condition--

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --and she has not spoken at this point.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: No. But she can move both parts-- both sides of her body. She can breathe. She's showing people that she can communicate well by, you know, holding our hands and moving her arms and her legs and-- and looking at us. So she's making great progress.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Congresswoman Wasserman Shultz, you actually went out to the hospital yesterday.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ (D-Florida): I did.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What's the situation out there?

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: Well, you know, it was wonderful after Kirsten and I were able to be with her Wednesday when she first opened her eyes to-- to see her again yesterday without the breathing tube and with-- without a lot of the apparatus that had been, you know, on her a-- a few days before that. She continues to make, you know, very good
progress. And neurologically, she's a-- she-- she's in, you know, in good shape better-- a little bit better shape every day. Kirsten is absolutely right. This is a woman who has the grit and the will and determination, more than anyone that-- that we know. And, it-- it's just-- we were just really overjoyed to be able to be there for our friend and-- and help to urge her on to come back to us, to her family, to her constituents in the 8th District of Arizona.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. I'm going to ask both of you--

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ (overlapping): And I was able to see the staff too. So--

BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm going to ask--

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ (overlapping): --that was really wonderful and--

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GOVERNOR EDWARD RENDELL (D-Pennsylvania): Well, I think that's right. I-- I think the Congress should rededicate itself to not only civil discourse but to working together and getting things done. There are areas where we can really meet the country's challenges if we put aside electioneering and partisanship like deficit reduction, like education--No Child Left Behind, like
energy. We need an American energy initiative. Those are the things we can get going. And we ought to have a-- a logical discussion about the two points that the mayor raised. One, how to get an early detection system where we can get people help, but also get them classified as having mental problems so that they are no longer eligible under the Brady Bill to buy firearms. Had this man been classified, had he been committed civilly at any time prior to his purchasing the gun from a-- a Walmart, he would have in fact been denied access to that firearm. But then, Bob, I also think we need a rational discussion on guns where we put aside the pressure from
interest groups. And we take a look and say does any citizen protecting themselves or their home or using a handgun to hunt, do they need a clip that has thirty-three bullets in it? And, the answer is, of course, not. The Congress, it-- I think the nation's spirits would be lifted if the Congress acted quickly with the President and reinstated the assault weapons ban, which also had the ban on these large magazines, these clips that carried thirty-plus bullets.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you agree with Mister Giuliani in that the President's speech may have actually changed the debate and the discourse?

GOVERNOR ED RENDELL: We will see. I-- I hope so. I thought the president sounded all the right themes. I think it was a great speech. And I-- And I think he put a lot of care into it and didn't make it political. But we'll see. And really the first test is on health care. Can the debate on health care where the Republicans have promised to repeal the bill even though they know that
that's a false promise to the people because they said, it's not going to pass, and the President would veto it. Can the Republicans have discourse on that--allow amendments, allow discussion and maybe come up with three or four changes rather than a repeal which never can happen and bring those three or four changes to the President and say, "Mister President, will you work with us and try to modify this?" That, to me, is the important thing, not that-- and everybody sits together during the State of the Union. That would be a great symbol for the country, but that's not long lasting. We need to spend this year addressing the nation's problems, whether it's
health care, whether it's education, whether it's energy, whether it's deficit reduction, whether it's gun control. We need to discuss those problems in a rational atmosphere where we don't demonize each other and where we listen, where we listen.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Governor, this is sort of your valedictory as governor on Sunday television.

GOVERNOR ED RENDELL: Yeah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You leave office on Tuesday. How has the country changed since you came to office and are you-- how do you feel about the state of the nation right now?

GOVERNOR ED RENDELL: Well, I-- I think first of all, in my eight years I've seen the level of partisanship and ideological posturing just increase and increase and increase. And I think it's tearing the fabric of our government apart. And if these lives were lost for a reason, the reason is if we can take something good out of it, this is a wake-up call to all of us, that we can't go on the way we're doing. We just simply can't do that. And if that happens, this tragic day will have done some-- some real good. Secondly, I have found that the recession has really hardened people's attitudes. And what's important going forward, if I were to give a message to the American people is, you've got to be able to discern the difference between very important
government spending, investment in our physical infrastructure or intellectual structure, and wasteful government spending. The latter should be eliminated as quickly as possible. And that money should be saved to reduce the deficit. But we can't stop investing in our growth.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): All right.

GOVERNOR ED RENDELL: No business that's successful does that, neither should we.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Governor, thank you so much for being with us on this Sunday. We're going to be back in a minute and talk to her close associates and friends in the Congress, the friends and associates of Gabrielle Giffords, in a minute.

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REPRESENTATIVE JEFF FLAKE (R-Arizona): Well, I think it will. I think you'll see a more civil debate than you would have had otherwise. I'm-- I'm not sure the substance of the debate will change that much. And I think Republicans are committed to-- to repealing the law in the House. Obviously, but I-- I do think that the-- that the tone will change and that's a good thing. I-- I think
it was a good decision to put it off for a week.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know this is a small thing, but something I noticed in the accounts of what the new Speaker Boehner said yesterday. He talked about legislation. He called it job--we're going to try to stop this job-destroying legislation instead of calling it job killing legislation.
Do you think that is going to-- can that possibly continue on here or am I just being kind of a Pollyanna about this.

REPRESENTATIVE JEFF FLAKE: Well, I-- I think that we Republicans and I-- I think Democrats alike will realize that if we tone down the rhetoric sometimes our-- our debate is more effective from our own side. If you take a cue from the-- the movie industry, you look at the top grossing movies. They're-- they're almost always PG or PG-13. It's-- it's-- it's-- it's-- it's
better to have a more civil tone and a civil debate. And-- and, I-- I think it-- it behooves all of us to do so.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator Gillibrand, you're one of those who are-- have gotten behind this idea that when the President makes his State of the Union address, that instead of all the Republicans sitting on one side of the chamber and all the Democrats on the other, that people just sit together, that's obviously a very cosmetic thing.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Mm-Hm.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But number one, tell me how is that going? And number two, do you think it really is a significant thing or could be?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Well, I think it's a symbol, and a symbol is a very good place to start. And so, if we can actually come into that chamber and instead of me going to the left I go to the right and the Republicans do the opposite. What you're going to create is an image of the Congress deciding that we're going to work as a body, not as two separate sides.
And that's a very good place to start. And I think the conversation you're having about health care is very meaningful, because one thing the governor brought up that I thought was very significant is that if we can move that conversation to what about the bill do you want to change. That is a legitimate debate that we should frankly have. The bill is not perfect it never has been. For example, after the bill was written a lot of our small businesses came to me and said there's a lot of paperwork I now have to fill out. There's too many paperwork, every time I send "x" number dollars, I have to fill out a-- a form. We can change that. That's something we can absolutely agree on, but talking about repealing the whole piece of legislation, well, let's break it apart. Are the tax cuts for small businesses not something we can all agree on? I think it is. Are making medicines less expensive for seniors by closing the donut hole that's something we all agree on. Making sure we have more choices and more competition that's an American value, that's something we agree on. Making sure everyone covers preventive care, we can probably keep that. So having a debate about substance in recognition that the divisiveness of national politics has become so undermining of our ability to be successful is very important. And I think the President's call to action is extremely meaningful for that reason because all he's saying is that our democracy has to live up to the expect--expectation of our children. That we have to solve the problems of the day and a very significant issue that we have to get to is the economy. We have to focus on how we're creating jobs.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Let me go to Congresswoman Wasserman Shultz quickly. You know, I-- I say this, not so much to be critical but you are very outspoken. You come to a point when you are in a debate, congresswoman. Do you plan to dial back your rhetoric when the Congress convenes this time?

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I-- I don't plan to debate my values and the principles of my constituents any less vigorously. But I think it starts with us and we have to lead by example and so I think all of us need to be more careful about the words that we choose to use, including the things like the title of the-- of the re-- repeal of the health care
reform. I-- I'm glad that that Speaker Boehner chose to verbalize a-- a-- a different-- a different title for that bill but they so far have refused to actually change the title of job-killing health care repeal. So I-- I think we need to be leaders by example and when we do that, then hopefully we're going to be able to push the shock jocks and others outside our process to take a page
from our book. And if we have a more productive civil discourse then we can really live-- live up to President Obama's words and Christina Taylor Gr--Green's dreams of-- of her expectations for our democracy.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We've got to lead by example.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me go to Congressman Flake quickly because we're running out of time. Congressman, what is going to be the hardest part of all this?

REPRESENTATIVE JEFF FLAKE: Well, I-- I think keeping this tone that seems to be now set into the future. It-- it's easy to slip back into-- into old ways and like I've said I think we can have the debates we need to with a more civil tone. And frankly, I think we'll find that that's more effective from both sides but keeping that into the future is going to be a tough thing.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. I want to thank all of you for being with us this morning. I'll be back with some final thoughts of my own in a minute.

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