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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" Transcript: Foreign Policy and Gun Control


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SCHIEFFER: And we're going to get another side of all this now from West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. Senator thank you for being here. And I want to go back to the top to what John McCain was talking about. He doesn't seem too enthusiastic about reducing the size of our troop forces in Afghanistan. How do you come down.

MANCHIN: Well, I have the utmost respect for Senator McCain, John my friend, and -- a true war hero in the Senate we all look up to. With that, we respectfully have a difference of opinion on this, and I mean respectfully. In West Virginia, we basically are a hockey state and we felt that when our country was attacked on 9/11 we had every right and responsibility to go get the people that did damage that killed 3,000 Americans. We've virtually done that. We've killed Osama bin Laden. We've crippled al Qaeda. Now I guess are we going to be there forever? Is our mission now to occupy that country in some way, shape or form forever? I don't believe so. I believe that's wrong. I believe we need to come back home and rebuild America. I think we have to be ever vigilant. And basically with the war on terror, have our operational forces, our strategic forces who are able to go anywhere and be able to strike at any time before someone comes to America or does harm to Americans. I believe in that. But a war of occupation where we occupy these countries is not one that we signed up for. It was not the mission given to us.

SCHIEFFER: So you are favoring getting out of there.

MANCHIN: The quicker the better.

SCHIEFFER: The quicker the better.

MANCHIN: The quicker the better.

SCHIEFFER: Should we leave a residual force there of some kind?

MANCHIN: Bob I would think the basic -- I've been there twice now on different -- as a governor and as a U.S. senator, and I believe we have some strategic, especially the Bagram Air Force Base. That's a tremendous opportunity, strategic point for us to launch from and protect our troops for our special forces to operate out of. And I would defer to the -- to the experts and professionals on that. But I can see that we're going to have this war on terror, not just from our generation, but from our children's and grandchildren's. So we have to be able to strike at terror before it strikes us.

SCHIEFFER: I don't think there's any question that we have denied al Qaeda a save haven in Afghanistan, but they now have a safe haven in Pakistan. What do we do about Pakistan, senator?

MANCHIN: I approve of the drone strikes there. I'm one who said that basically we should use all the technology we have to protect America and Americans without putting them in harm's way. That's been very effective. We've been able to strike and take out al Qaeda leadership, Taliban leadership, those who wish to do us harm and do it with the least amount of harm to our citizens and our men and women in uniform. I believe we should be able to use the technology and our special forces in the most lethal way to protect our country.

SCHIEFFER: Do you have any concerns about Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense?

MANCHIN: I haven't had the privilege of serving with Chuck. I don't know Chuck Hagel. I know his reputation. And I've spoken to him once on the phone. He's coming in next week to speak with me. I look forward to that. I have some questions I want to ask and sit down and get his view points on Israel, our greatest ally. I want to see where his Iraq -- why he chose to oppose the Iraq war which I think was a wise choice now that we know all the conditions. Also Iran. I believe the sanctions in Iran are working and can even work further without going in and having a land war there. And Afghanistan. I believe that he believes as I do that there's not going to be any changes that we're going to significantly make there no matter how long we are. So, it's going to be a very interesting conversation I look forward to having. But I truly believe -- I was a former executive being a governor and I always appreciated when the senate gave me the, gave me the respect of basically putting my staff together. And I will give every consideration to our president to do the same. But there are still some serious questions we need to ask.

SCHIEFFER: What about gun control? You know, you had one of the most memorable ads during your campaign for the senate, because you actually fired a rifle at one point during that. You're a proud member of the NRA, but you're now saying after the shooting in Connecticut we need to do some stuff.

MANCHIN: First of my life did I ever think that I would ever see children, let's say babies in a kindergarten, get slaughtered. That has changed the dialogue and it should change it. How have we gotten to a culture of mass violence, whether if you're just going to say it's all about guns and we need gun changes and bans, then you're wrong. If you think it's all about ...

SCHIEFFER: What do you need.

MANCHIN: You need a comprehensive approach. John and I are basically going to be spearheading it and leading as far as cosponsoring a bill which is basically commission on mass violence, which I'm hoping the vice president would incorporate in his recommendations. You've got to have people with the expertise, people that understand mental illness. How do people get their hands on this weapon that has this disease.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you this, senator. Could you envision a ban on assault weapons and some of these largest magazines, if that's part of it.

MANCHIN: Bob, if they just put that up by...

SCHIEFFER: If that's part of it, it's something the conversation -- I will give you my answer this way. I want to talk to my friends and my members, NRA members. I don't have an assault weapon. I shot assault weapons. I have hunted with semiautomatics. I don't own -- I own my guns, my bolt action guns and my shotguns and do all the things I do with hunting with my family. I want to know and hear from them why do you have a magazine or need a larger clip magazine? You can't just push the NRA away and law abiding gun owners away. They have to be at the table and you need to find out what their preference of protecting that. The other thing is the registration. These are discussions we have to have. We've got an atmosphere in Washington, Bob, that basically is guilt through conversation anymore. That if I sit down and say I'm willing to talk about this. I want to know more about mental illness, about registration, about clips. I want to know people that are protecting those, are defending those positions. How about the first amendment? And what I would say to all of my friends in -- that are NRA and gun owners that there's no way that they're going to take your second amendment rights away. That won't happen. And the first amendment won't be infringed upon, but we have to look at how do we cure this violence, the culture of mass violence.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, it's a pleasure to have you. Hopefully we'll see you again.

MANCHIN: Good to be here, Bob. Thank you.

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