NBC's Gregory to Bloomberg: Will You 'Target' Gun Rights Supporters With 'Lots of Money'?

In an interview with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory invited the anti-gun advocate to issue a political threat to gun rights supporters in Congress: "Will you target people, Republicans and Democrats, who do not support a weapons ban, an assault weapons ban, who do not vote for background checks? Will you spend money, lots of money, to target them in 2014, in the midterm race?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Bloomberg responded by enlisting Gregory in the gun control crusade: "I think I have a responsibility, and I think you and all of your viewers have responsibilities, to try to make this country safer....And if I can do that by spending some money and taking the NRA from being the only voice to being one of the voices...then I think my money would be well spent..."

In an interview minutes later, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre took Bloomberg to task: "...he can't spend enough of his $27 billion to try to impose his will on the American public....he can't buy America." If only Gregory had challenged the Mayor with such concerns.

ABC's Good Morning America on Monday touted Bloomberg using his personal wealth to influence the political debate, after worrying about wealthy conservatives doing the same in the past.  

At the beginning of the interview with Bloomberg, Gregory wondered: "Here we are, a hundred days after Newtown this weekend, after this massacre. There is a Senate bill, it's moving forward....But the assault weapons ban has been taken out of the main bill. It appears to be more or less doomed in the view of most....Do you fear that the moment that was created by Newtown has been lost?"

Bloomberg replied: "Well, it would be a great tragedy for this country and for tens of thousands of lives if it is lost....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."

Gregory fretted: "But Congress is paralyzed, Mayor. You see that. I mean, you've got Democrats and Republicans who are not moved by these polls."


Here are portions of Gregory's March 24 exchange with Bloomberg:

10:37AM ET

DAVID GREGORY: We're watching this gun debate, as I know you are. Here we are, a hundred days after Newtown this weekend, after this massacre. There is a Senate bill, it's moving forward.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Yup.

GREGORY: But the assault weapons ban has been taken out of the main bill. It appears to be more or less doomed in the view of most. Here's what you said right after Newtown, when I had an opportunity to ask you some questions about it.

BLOOMBERG [FROM DECEMBER 16, 2012 MEET THE PRESS]: The NRA's power is so vastly overrated. The public, when you do the polls, they want to stop this carnage. And if 20 kids isn't enough to convince them, I don't know what would.

GREGORY: The NRA's power does seem to be where it has always been. Do you fear that the moment that was created by Newtown has been lost?

BLOOMBERG: Well, it would be a great tragedy for this country and for tens of thousands of lives if it is lost. I – having said that – I am cautiously optimistic. I think when you have an issue where 90% of the public, 80% of NRA members even, say that they think we should have reasonable checks before people are allowed to buy guns – they all support the Second Amendment, as do 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.

GREGORY: But Congress is paralyzed, Mayor. You see that. I mean, you've got Democrats...

BLOOMBERG: Well, we-

GREGORY: ...and Republicans who are not moved by these polls.

BLOOMBERG: Well, you'll be better able to judge that after the recess. We're running ads around the country, we've got people making – manning phone banks and calling. We're trying to do everything we can to impress upon the Senators that this is what the survivors want, this is what the public wants. This is what the 900-plus mayors that are in our organization want, and they're the ones that have to deliver safety to the streets every single day. This is what the 1.5 million people who've already signed up to our "Demand a Plan" website want. I don't think there's ever been an issue where the public has spoken so clearly, where Congress hasn't eventually understood and done the right thing.

(...)

10:42AM

GREGORY: One more on this. You made it very clear this week, you're paying attention to the vote in the Senate, in Congress...

BLOOMBERG: Yes.

GREGORY: ...and you're taking names.

BLOOMBERG: Yes.

GREGORY: Will you target people, Republicans and Democrats, who do not support a weapons ban, an assault weapons ban, who do not vote for background checks? Will you spend money, lots of money, to target them in 2014, in the midterm race?

BLOOMBERG: Well, let me phrase it this way. I think I have a responsibility, and I think you and all of your viewers have responsibilities, to try to make this country safer for our families and for each other. And if I can do that by spending some money and taking the NRA from being the only voice to being one of the voices, so the public can really understand the issues, then I think my money would be well spent, and I think I have an obligation to do that. We're-

GREGORY: So you'll spend money on ads?

BLOOMBERG: We're starting to run ads today, or tomorrow – I think I've spent $12 million on running ads in ten states around the country explaining to the public what the issues are, and how the – and – urging them to call their senators if they believe that we should have gun checks that stop criminals and people with mental illnesses from getting guns. They should call their senators.

GREGORY: Do you think you're – will there be a political price to pay for a Republican or a Democrat who fails to vote based on this public polling to make assault weapons banned or to vote for background checks?

BLOOMBERG: If 90% of the public want something, and their representatives vote against that, common sense says, they are going to have a price to pay for that. The public is going to eventually wake up and say, "I want to put in office somebody that will do the things that I think are necessary for this country." That's what democracy is all about. And all we're trying to do is to tell them what people are doing in Congress, who's voting for what. And then they can make their own decisions.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC