Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

CBS Pummels Rubio on Gun Control, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Senator Marco Rubio, (R), Florida; Norah O'Donnell, CBS News Anchor; & Charlie Rose, CBS News Anchor; Screen Cap From 13 February 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | MRC.orgOn Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose lived up to their reputation for hammering Republican/conservative guests, as they interviewed Republican Senator Marco Rubio. Rose mouthed a line from President Obama's Tuesday State of the Union address, where the chief executive invoked the families of gun violence victims to push for stricter gun control: "Do you agree with the President that those people deserve a vote?"

Later in the segment, O'Donnell strongly hinted that the Florida politician, and Republicans in general, were extremists [audio available here; video below]:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Senator, you have been called 'the Republican savior'. (Rubio laughs) Yesterday, you voted against the Violence Against Women Act. You've opposed repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'. You opposed universal background checks for gun buyers. You've yet to introduce a bill on immigration reform. Is that the future of the Republican Party?

Rose led the Rubio interview with his rephrasing of the Obama quote as a question. Rubio answered, in part, that the "problem is that laws are only followed by law-abiding people. The people who commit these gun crimes...don't care what the law is....And that's my concern with the proposals that I see coming out, and I also think they undermine...the right of law-abiding citizens to possess arms via the Second Amendment. So, I'm not sure what proposals specifically the President was referring to." The PBS veteran followed up by asking, "So, you'd like to see a proposal that you can vote on, with respect to gun control?"

Despite the fact the President only briefly mentioned "equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families, gay and straight" during his State of the Union address, O'Donnell clearly wanted to go after Rubio on the wider issue of homosexuals serving in the military, along with the litany of other issues that she brought up in her first question.

The Florida Republican first clarified why he voted against the updated version of the Violence Against Women Act. He continued by noting that the vote to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" occurred before his tenure in the Senate. But this answer didn't satisfy the liberal journalist, who interrupted Rubio as he tried to answer the immigration part of her question:

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: ...Some of the other things you've outlined – 'don't ask, don't tell' – that happened before I was even in – in the Senate. And, as far as immigration reform is concerned-

O'DONNELL: But do you support it now then – the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell?

RUBIO: Well, I'm not – listen, we're not going to change it, and I'm not saying we should change it. Ultimately, you know, it's the law. Now that they've decided it, I don't think it's undermined our military readiness. We've debated that and moved on from it. Here's the bottom line: what I've always said on 'don't ask, don't tell', by the way, is that it's a decision that we should listen to the military commanders on, not the politicians. I believe that's what I believe I've said on that issue.

The two CBS anchors ended the segment by asking about the President's proposal to increase the minimum wage to $9.00 and a much-hyped moment during Rubio's response to the State of the Union where the senator drank a bottled water.

O'Donnell and Rose have conducted several hostile interviews of Republicans/conservative in recent months. On November 14, 2012, the two anchors took turns pummeling Senator John McCain over his opposition to the potential nomination of Susan Rice to be secretary of state. Almost two weeks later, O'Donnell hounded popular Christian pastor Rick Warren over his support of traditional marriage.

During a December 13, 2012 interview, Rose and co-anchor Gayle King pressed former Senator Jim DeMint over congressional Republicans' opposition to higher taxes. Over a month later, O'Donnell barely contained her contempt for NRA president David Keene during an interview on the gun control issue.

By contrast, she and Rose conducted a more softball interview of pro-gun control New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg the same morning as the Keene interview, and went easy on Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on Tuesday.

The full transcript of the Marco Rubio interview on Wednesday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: Florida Senator Marco Rubio delivered the Republican response to the President's address. Senator, good morning.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: Good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Republican Response: Rubio Defends GOP 'Small Government' Theme']

ROSE: Deserves a vote – do you agree with the President that those people deserve a vote?

RUBIO: Well, I'm not even – first of all, our heart is broken for those people, as I said last night. All of us would want to prevent that from happening again, and anything that would work to prevent that – again, we should – we should want to vote on. The problem is, that everything the President is proposing would do nothing to have prevented what happened in Newtown, and would do nothing to prevent further violence in the future.

You know, we have gun laws in America, and in Florida, we have gun laws that are – that are pretty strict, in terms of requiring background checks for – and, you know, if you're a concealed weapons permit holder – all the requirements you have to do for that. The problem is that laws are only followed by law-abiding people. The people who commit these gun crimes – they don't care what the law is. They don't follow the law. They're criminals. And that's my concern with the proposals that I see coming out, and I also think they undermine, on the other hand, the law-abiding – the right of law-abiding citizens to possess arms via the Second Amendment. So, I'm not sure what proposals specifically the President was referring to, but I'm sure there'll be votes on it – certainly here in the Senate, there will be.

[CBS News Graphic: "Republican Response: Rubio Responds To President's Call For Gun Vote"]

ROSE: So, you'd like to see a proposal that you can vote on, with respect to gun control?

RUBIO: I'd like to see a proposal that works, not – the things that they have outlined, none of them would have prevented what happened in Connecticut – none of them. None of the things that they have talked about doing would prevent what's happening in Connecticut, so – what happened in Connecticut. So, if they want to change the Second Amendment; if they want to change America's gun laws, then that's fine. Say that's what you want to do, and let's have a debate about it. But I think if we're being honest with ourselves, in terms of preventing what happened in Newtown from happening again, none of these proposals that they're proposing would do that.

O'DONNELL: Senator, you have been called 'the Republican savior'. (Rubio laughs) Yesterday, you voted against the Violence Against Women Act. You've opposed repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'. You opposed universal background checks for gun buyers. You've yet to introduce a bill on immigration reform. Is that the future of the Republican Party?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, I think that's an inaccurate characterization. I'm not opposed to the Violence Against Women Act. I'm opposed – I would vote gladly to have re-authorized the law we have right now. I voted against it because it has – it has a provision in there that hurts Florida. It basically mandates that the state must – must spend certain money in certain ways, and, in fact, it undermines domestic violence programs in Florida that work very well. And I've made that very clear over and over again. They didn't want to change the bill. They weren't going to have my vote.

Some of the other things you've outlined – 'don't ask, don't tell' – that happened before I was even in – in the Senate. And, as far as immigration reform is concerned-

O'DONNELL: But do you support it now then – the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell?

RUBIO: Well, I'm not – listen, we're not going to change it, and I'm not saying we should change it. Ultimately, you know, it's the law. Now that they've decided it, I don't think it's undermined our military readiness. We've debated that and moved on from it. Here's the bottom line: what I've always said on 'don't ask, don't tell', by the way, is that it's a decision that we should listen to the military commanders on, not the politicians. I believe that's what I believe I've said on that issue.

As far as the issue of immigration is concerned – I've been here for two years. This is an issue that hasn't been solved in 25 years. I'm involved in an effort now to try to come up with a reasonable solution – spent a lot of time on that issue; and hopefully, we'll have a real solution to offer.

[CBS News Graphic: "What Should Happen To Illegal Immigrants Working In U.S.? Stay & apply for citizenship, 53%; Stay as guest worker, 21%; Leave the U.S., 21%; Source CBS News Poll; Margin of Error: +/- #% Pts."]

ROSE: Senator, can you support a $9.00 minimum wage?

RUBIO: Again, I support people making more than $9.00. I want people to make as much as they can.  I don't think the minimum wage law works. We all support – I certainly do – having more taxpayers, meaning more people that are employed, and I want people to make a lot more than $9.00. Nine dollars is not enough. The problem is that you can't do that by mandating it in the minimum wage laws. Minimum wage laws have never worked, in terms of helping the middle class obtain more prosperity. What works is the kinds of things that I proposed last night that would help our free enterprise system create an environment for the private sector to grow, create more good-paying jobs. I hope – let's have a debate about growth and what generates growth, because a minimum wage law, as good as it may sound at the outset, is not the way to do it.

O'DONNELL: And Senator, you had a lot of substance in your speech last night, but you know a lot of people are focusing on you reaching for that bottle of water-

RUBIO: (laughs) Yeah-

O'DONNELL: Were you nervous? Explain what happened.

[CBS News Graphic: "Rubio's Water-Gate: Senator Explains Sudden Lunge For Bottle"]

RUBIO: No. You know – you know, when you talk a lot, it happens. Unfortunately, when you're giving a speech, you have a podium and the water is there. When you're standing up in front of a camera, you don't have that option. It had been a long day of work.  I had already taped an eighteen-minute speech in Spanish. So, I'm just glad the water was nearby. I don't know what I would have done without it.

ROSE: Senator Rubio, thank you.

RUBIO: Thank you.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.