Bloomberg and LaPierre Trade Shots; Rand Paul Disapproves of Your Dope

We were denied the sure-to-be-explosive on-camera face-off between NRA chief Wayne LaPierre and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, but they still fired shots at each other during their solo segments on the Sunday talk shows. Elsewhere, Rand Paul talked about his feelings on marijuana. Hint: He's a bit more mellow than you'd expect. 

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While New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NRA chief Wayne LaPierre both appeared on NBC's Meet the Press as advertised, they were never on camera together as some hoped. Bloomberg expressed his measured confidence that the U.S. government would get around to passing meaningful gun-reform legislation in the near future during his segment. "I am cautiously optimistic," Bloomberg told host David Gregory. "I think when you have an issue where 90 percent of the public, 80 percent of NRA members even, say that they think we should have reasonable checks before people are allowed to buy guns. We all support the Second Amendment, as I do, but there are an awful lot of people that think that this is one of the great issues of our times. We have to stop the carnage." Bloomberg announced Saturday evening he would spend $12 million on TV advertising targeting Senators in 13 different states. But he was careful not to spike the football too soon, as it were. He knows there's a chance it could fall apart. "While I think we are going to win this, celebrating in advance isn't the right thing to do," he said. "We've got to go out, we've got a lot of work ahead of us. But I don't think we should give up on the assault weapons ban. But clearly, it is a more difficult issue for a lot of people." Last week, Harry Reid announced the Senate would not include Dianne Feinstein's assault weapons ban in their gun reform proposals, but Bloomberg shrugged off any insinuation that was a win for the NRA. "I don't know that that reflects the NRA's power," he said. "It may be just that people have different views about assault weapons than they do about background checks. Ninety percent of the people want background checks, period." But he's not totally giving up hope on the assault weapons ban. Reid had mentioned it could still be added as an amendment to the Senate bill. "We've been fighting since 2007 to get a vote. We are going to have a vote for sure on assault weapons and we're going to have a vote on background checks," Bloomberg said. "And if we were to get background checks only, it wouldn't be as good as if we got both, but -- we demanded a plan and then we demanded a vote. We've got the plan, we're going to get the vote."

Meanwhile, LaPierre was on the attack during his allotted speaking time. He called Bloomberg's gun control campaigning "reckless," "insane" and accused him of trying to "buy America." So, yeah, LaPierre came out swinging. "He's going to find out that this is a country of the people, by the people and for the people and he can't spend enough of his [money] to try to impose his will on the American public. They don't want him in their restaurants, they don't him in their homes, they don't want him telling them what food to eat - they sure don't want him telling them what self-defense firearms to own. And he can't buy America," LaPierre said. "He's so reckless in terms of his comments on this whole gun issue." The NRA CEO said people have been sending the group small donations and urging them to stand up to Bloomberg's bullying, an image most would argue is the opposite of reality. "We have people all over, millions of people, sending us 5, 10, 15, 20 dollar checks telling us to stand up to this guy that says that we can only have three bullets, which is what he said. Stand up to this guy that says ridiculous things like, 'The NRA wants firearms with nukes on them.' I mean it's insane the stuff he says," LaPierre said. He did go on to explain what he would like to see included in any gun-reform legislation brought forward: harsher penalties for gun trafficking and including the mentally ill in the national background checks system.

Republican moneyman Karl Rove dispensed some advice for Democrats and gun-reform supporters like Mr. Bloomberg on ABC's This Week: stop trying to scare people "Let's be clear about this. This is prompted by the Sandy Hook murders," Rove said. "Those guns were legally purchased with a background check. Let's be very careful before trampling on the rights of people. Look, if you want to get something done -- then stop scaring people." Rove thinks reformers are going too far with suggestions of a national gun registry and it's terrifying a lot of Second amendment supporters. "If there's one thing that scares a lot of people who believe in the Second Amendment, it's the federal government keeping a national registry of gun sales and gun purchases and gun owners." Rove said. The best strategy, he says, would be focus on closing those pesky gun show loopholes. "There could be a lot of mutual agreement found on closing some of these so-called gun show loopholes," he said later. " We could probably get agreement on a widespread basis of people saying, 'You go to a gun show, you pass a check, you get your stub that allows you to purchase a weapon, and that's it.' But this goes far beyond that." He also said he could see a 2016 Republican presidential nominee supporting gay marriage during a roundtable discussion with former Obama supporter Jim Messina:

Sen. Rand Paul does not approve of you kids and your proclivity for smoking the ganja. Paul sat down with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace for a wide-ranging interview this weekend. On the weed, Paul said he's not a fan. "Look, the last two presidents could have conceivably been put in jail for their drug use and I really think -- look what would've happened, it would've ruined their lives," Paul said. "They got lucky. But a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don't get lucky and they don't have good attorneys and they go to jail for some of these things and I think it's a big mistake." Wallace helpfully pointed out the last three Presidents have had run ins with marijuana during the course of their life. "But [Clinton] didn't inhale," Wallace joked. The point of all this wacky tabacky talk was that Paul doesn't support extended jail sentences for marijuana convictions. "There are people in jail for 37, 50, 45 years for nonviolent crimes and that's a huge mistake," Paul said. "Our prisons are full of non-violent criminals... I don't want to promote [smoking] but I also don't want to put people in jail who make a mistake," he added. "There are a lot of young people who do this and then later on in their twenties they grow up and get married and they quit doing things like this. I don't want to put them in jail and ruin their lives." He also told Wallace about discussing the future of the Republican party with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. "The Republican Party needs to figure out how to be bigger and I think I do bring some ideas to that," if they want to compete in traditionally blue states, Paul said. The Kentucky Republican thinks "a lot of young people are attracted to" the libertarian style of politics. The traditional political spectrum "doesn't always work for people," Paul said, bringing it back to marijuana convictions. "I think could appeal to young people, independents and moderates, because many of them do think it's a mistake to put people in jail for marijuana use and throw away the key," he said. Paul also believes a lot of people think the U.S. should adopt a less aggressive foreign policy strategy. "There are all kinds of issues that don't neatly left in the left-right paradigm that I think would help because we're not doing very well in a lot of these states, these purple and blue states. So we need a candidate that would appeal across the left-right paradigm." He still has no idea whether or not he's running for President in 2016, though.

Ana Navarro, a former adviser to prominent Republicans John McCain and Jon Huntsman who now serves as a CNN contributor, said her former party is shifting towards accepting gay marriage during a segment on CNN's State of the Union. "There's no putting this genie back in the bottle. This is now undeniable. The shift is here. We're not going back," Navarro said. "I do feel an evolution and a shift, a small change albeit in the Republican party. People who maybe a few years ago were saying hell no we won't go there are now saying it should be states rights." OK, so she wasn't exactly breaking any news here, but she's highlighting an important point. The conversation touched on marriage equality in anticipation of the Supreme court tackling gay marriage decisions this week. "[Republicans are] talking about it in a different way. The people who are taking about it in a very strident way are now a minority," she said. The debate over gay marriage isn't dividing the party nearly as much, Navarro explained. "We're no longer saying that people who are pro traditional marriage are bigots, and we're also not saying that people who are like me, a Republican that is for gay marriage, is less of a Republican," she said. "There's now much more room with in that tent. It may not look at it, but it is."

Super Bowl winner and Supreme court lobbyer Brendon Ayanbadejo compared the struggle for gay marriage rights to the civil rights battles of the 20th century on CBS' Face the Nation. "This is something I've been speaking about since 2009. In my opinion it's just the evolution of civil rights and equal rights. Athletes do a lot to change society and this is something we can make a big difference. It starts with bullying and kids in elementary school and goes all the way to the legislative, and treating everybody equally," the Baltimore Ravens linebacker said. "This is a fight that myself and a bunch of my colleagues want to take on and we feel like everybody should be treated equally. We're not going to stop until everyone is treated fairly."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers is pretty sure the Syrians re using chemical weapons on their rebelling citizens. "I think when you look at the whole body of information over the last two years there is mounting evidence that it is probable that the Assad regime has used at least a small quantity of chemical weapons during the course of conflict," Rogers said during an appearance on Face the Nation. Rogers seems to think the Syrian government has already gone over President Obama's "red line" of chemical weapons use and that the U.S. must do something about it. "Now is the time. If we're going to have any hope for any diplomatic solution and stop that wholesale slaughter, some up to 70,000 and more in Syria which is now spilling up to the doorstep of Israel, it's causing huge problems in Jordan and Turkey," Rogers said. "This is a growing destabilizing event in the Middle East. The fact that they have I think put chemical weapons in position to use and I believe have intent, and at some course during the last two years have used some quantity of chemical weapons, this needs to be a game changer." Rogers never says it outright but it sure sounds like he wants to put boots on the ground in Syria. "The president went to the Middle East and said 'This is a hard decision. If I go in it might be wrong, if I don't go in it might be wrong.' Indecision in this case is dangerous to the United States," Rogers said.

[Correction: the original version of this article confused our Huntsmans with our Portmans. We regret the error.]

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