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NBC "Meet the Press" - Transcript

Interview

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Joining me now live, the Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper. Governor, welcome. I-- I speak for so many when I offer my condolences and our houghts and prayers are certainly with the victims' families and all Coloradoans going through such a difficult time. Tell me your thoughts this morning.

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-CO): Well, I think we're all a little fractured and certainly we appreciate the support. I mean the-- the state-- the state is-- is heartbroken which I think was Hemingway and it says, "The world breaks us all, but afterward, we're stronger in the broken places." And I think that's what we heard in the hospitals yesterday. We went to as many of the hospitals and visited families and the victims. And there was a buoyancy, there's already the resilience, you know, people were-- were not going to let this, you know, define their life. They're going to-- they're going to fight back.

GREGORY: There is in your experience as a mayor and now governor nothing that can prepare you to lead a state through something like this and I know this has been an emotional 48 hours. You spoke on Friday night in-- in such a moving way.

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: Well, you know, you just…

GREGORY: Here's-- Governor, I just wanted to show what you said on Friday night.

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: Oh, I'm sorry.

(Aurora, CO, Friday): De-- defies description. You can't connect emotions that we commonly think of. I mean everyone I've talked to all day is filled with an anger that can't find focus.

GREGORY: I apologize for the interruption, but it's obviously been a difficult couple of days.

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: Yeah, it's been tough. The-- the-- the key there is-- I mean that anger where you want to strangle this guy. At a certain point that you-- that's got to translate into-- into rising-- you know, helping our community rise back up which-- which they will and we're already-- you know, as I visited in-- in the hospitals, we had immigrants from all over the world who have come to Colorado that were in this movie theater. A lot of them fleeing violence. And to a person, everyone said we still love America. We're so glad we're here. And I think that's-- that spirit has got to triumph in the end.

GREGORY: There is this picture emerging of the victims from this massacre, and some of the stories as well of some of the incredible acts of heroism and just some of the raw pain that people are experiencing as well as they learn more about who's perished?

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: It's hard to describe the pain that-- that-- that folks are going through, especially the-- the families of those who-- who didn't make it through, but the-- the acts of heroism, right, the-- the guy who-- his-- his-- his son's girlfriend, who is I think twenty-two, gets shot in the hip and he falls on her and they're in the front row, right, so the shooter is right over them. And instead of running away he stays there and saves her life in the end, kept her from bleeding to death. I mean, story after story. Two girls, one-- they both injured, but one actually helping the other out of the theater while the shooting was still going on, making sure she got to safety. Outside, you know, the-- a woman taking her belt off, we still-- still don't know who she was and-- and taking a-- a-- a soldier's leg who had been shot with a high-powered bullet through the thigh and creating a tourniquet. I mean, one after another acts of heroism. Even heroism is not strong enough a word.

GREGORY: Governor, I know you were at the apartment, James Holmes' apartment in Aurora yesterday during that controlled detonation. What can you say this morning about what you're learning about him? Is he cooperating in custody?

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: Well, he is-- what they describe to us, he lawyered up. He is at-- at this point not cooperating. The robot watching it defuse-- or not defuse, but make the-- be able to deactivate the system of-- of the tripwires and potential threats. A, it gives you tremendous confidence, I mean,. the FBI is working with the BAT-- the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with the local police, the state patrol. Everybody was working together, as they did on Thursday night, right? The one-- one of the real bright lights of this is that before 9/11, I don't think we could have ever responded to this level of tragedy--70 people that had been injured or killed, and-- and get such efficiency and get everyone working together almost seamlessly. So even that-- that safety and then also how they-- they worked with this bomb thing. We're-- we're getting through this, but we still can't get into the-- to the mind of this-- of this twisted, really delusional individual.

GREGORY: And there's no sense of what caused him to-- to go off of the-- the path he was as a doctoral student in neuroscience, somebody who-- who may have been kind of isolated and private but had a lot going for him on the outside. Nothing that gives you some insight into motive?

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: Yeah. So far nothing that I've heard, not-- I mean, not an iota, nothing.

GREGORY: Mm. The picture of what he was carrying is of course striking. I mean, he was armed to the teeth. Here's a picture of the-- of the weapons that have been recovered from the scene. He had two Glocks, a 12-gauge shotgun, a Smith & Wesson shotgun, and it was Mayor Bloomberg, a former colleague as mayor in New York, who spoke out about taking this moment and refocusing some debate about guns in our country and any reasonable controls over their use and their purchase. This is what he said on Friday.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (New York): Instead of the-- the two people, President Obama and Governor Romney, talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how. And this is a real problem. No matter where you stand on the second amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them concretely, not just in generalities, specifically what are they going to do about guns.

GREGORY: You as a leader as you get past the grief of what's happened, would you like to see a re-evaluation of state laws or even a debate about how you can have a circumstance like this?

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: I think that debate is going to happen. It already has started. But-- but you look at-- at this person that's, again, almost a creature. I mean, if he couldn't have gotten access to the guns, what kind of bomb would he have manufactured. And we're in a time and information age where there's access to all kinds of information. And he was diabolical, demonic in this twisted sense that he just -- I mean I-- I think of him almost as a terrorist, right? He wanted to take away not just the people in that theater but from the country our ability to enjoy life, to-- to go to a movie theater, which is for most of us is a refuge where we can get away from the rest of some of the pressures of life. And you know, I'm not sure-- it's a-- it's a human issue in some way. What-- how are we not able to identify someone like this who is so deeply, deeply disturbed?

GREGORY: I'm sure you have a message and the President will as well to folks in your own state who feel that-- that sense of vulnerability, who are perhaps even afraid to go out and see a movie after something like this. And, of course, the memories so still hauntingly familiar of Columbine. What do you want to say to-- to people to reassure them after an event like this?

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: Well, you know, I think part of it you've got to-- you've got to recognize and mourn all the losses. You can't do anything without recognizing how deep that is. But-- but we've been in tough spots before. I mean the West is legendary for the resilience of the people out here who really have come from not just all over the country but all over the world. And that-- that we will-- we will rise above this, right? That we will not let-- the response to terrorism is not to-- to shrink away, it's to rise up and-- and face it. And, you know, my chief of staff, her daughter is in her early twenties and she took a group of about twenty kids to go see Batman last night, just as a-- as a political statement.

GREGORY: Mm-Hm.

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: And I think that's-- the sense I'm beginning to get in the hospital rooms with the families, among the community, is-- is we're not going to let this-- this son of a gun win, we're just not going to let it.

GREGORY: Governor, thank you very much for taking the time in the middle of everything you're doing. Again, our thoughts are with you and with all the folks in Colorado and-- and Aurora. I appreciate it very much.

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: No, thank you.

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