CNN Plugs Pro-Gun Control Republican State Senator
CNN’s "The Situation Room," a program not known for featuring state legislators, did a live interview on Thursday of "little-known" Virginia state senator, Republican Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, whose liberal stance on gun control earned her the endorsement of Michael Bloomberg. The New York City mayor appeared with Devolites-Davis during the interview. As CNN correspondent Deborah Feyerick put it during a report preceding the interview, "Today, the newly turned Independent threw his personal support behind friend and fellow gun critic Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, a Virginia state senator trying hard to get re-elected. His endorsement of a little-known legislator is rare for a man used to playing on a larger stage."
Host Wolf Blitzer introduced Feyerick’s report by highlighting Bloomberg’s apparent influence and his shared ideology with Davis. "...[T]he biggest city mayor is lending his muscle to a lawmaker in another state. Their common cause -- gun control."
Interestingly enough, the CNN correspondent gave a pretty balanced report of the "showdown" between Bloomberg and his opponents in Virginia (contrast this with a pro-gun control segment aired on 'Anderson Cooper 360' almost a month ago). She played two clips of Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun owners’ organization. Feyerick also used a phrase an exorcist might use to describe Bloomberg. "[O]n the anti-gun issue, Bloomberg is a man arguably possessed."
Feyerick’s two-minute-long report aired near the bottom of the 5 pm Eastern hour, and Devloties-Davis and Bloomberg appeared live in "The Situation Room" immediately after the report. Blitzer gave a pretty standard interview of the two politicians. The host only let Bloomberg get away with "correcting" him about his stance on guns ("This is not about gun control. It is about crime control.), and he directed some tough questions to Devolites-Davis ("But did you flip-flop because he [Devolites-Davis’s opponent Chap Peterson] cites these two votes in 2000 and 2004 where you took the other side of this issue?")
Neither Blitzer nor Feyerick mentioned that Devorites-Davis is the wife of U.S. Representative Tom Davis of Virginia, a "moderate" Republican Even with Feyerick’s "possesed" line and Blitzer’s questions, one can speculate whether one of the ways a state senator, especially a Republican, can get on CNN is run to on a gun control platform.
A full transcript of Deborah Feyerick’s report, and the first part of Wolf Blitzer’s interview of Bloomberg and Devolites-Davis from Thursday’s "The Situation Room:"
WOLF BLITZER: A big city mayor makes the biggest city -- make that the biggest city mayor is lending his muscle to a lawmaker in another state. Their common cause -- gun control. Let's go live to CNN's Deborah Feyerick. She's in New York. What's this one all about, Deb?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, gun policy falls largely under the province of the federal government, which raises the question -- can one mayor really make a difference? Well, there's one who is definitely trying.
FEYERICK (voice-over): When it comes to guns -- specifically getting rid of them -- New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg is on a crusade.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK: She has stood up -- an issue that means an awful lot to New Yorkers -- and I'm talking about illegal guns.
FEYERICK: Today, the newly turned Independent threw his personal support behind friend and fellow gun critic Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, a Virginia state senator trying hard to get re-elected. His endorsement of a little known legislator is rare for a man used to playing on a larger stage. Those in favor of gun rights, like Virginia's Philip Van Cleave, say Mayor Mike should butt out.
PHILIP VAN CLEAVE, VIRGINIA CITIZENS DEFENSE LEAGUE: He's coming to Virginia again to try to say, you know, if only we could fix Virginia, we wouldn't have any problems in New York. It's strictly a shell game.
BLOOMBERG: Every day...
FEYERICK: But on the anti-gun issue, Bloomberg is a man arguably possessed. The last four years, he has lobbied Congress to change a federal law that limits access to trace data on illegal firearms. He created a 200-plus member coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He set up a special court in New York to exclusively handle gun cases. And he's also suing 15 gun dealers in five states for illegally selling guns, which he feels will likely wind up in New York. In response, gun advocates in Virginia held a raffle to raise money for the gun dealers.
VAN CELAVE: Criminals are going to get guns no matter what, just like they got booze in the '20s when it was illegal, and you can find drugs on any street corner. You can't stop criminals from getting guns. But what you can do is let people protect themselves.
FEYERICK (on-camera): Now, for those people who think Mayor Bloomberg doesn't have a chance, when it comes to actually changing gun laws, remember, many laughed when he took on the cigarette industry. Now, public indoor spaces in New York, restaurants and bars included, are smoke-free. Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much. Deb Feyerick reporting. Let's get some more now on this battle over guns. Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM is the Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and his political ally, the Virginia State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis. Thanks to both of you for coming in.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: Can I correct you on something?
BLITZER: Yes, you may.
BLOOMBERG: This is not about gun control. It is about crime control. Nobody is trying to get guns out of the hands of people who legally can buy them. All we are trying to do is get guns out of the hands of people who federal law says can't own them, undocumented and people with criminal records.
BLITZER: Which brings you to Virginia. Why Virginia?
BLOOMBERG: Because too many guns are sold in Virginia, sold in some other states, and they are brought in to New York. My interest is...
BLITZER: But is that illegal for Virginia to sell guns -- for people to buy guns in Virginia?
BLOOMBERG: It is illegal if they sell them to criminals. And we have documented the fact that one percent of the gun dealers in this country sell 60 or 70 percent of all guns used in crimes in New York City. And that's true of every big city in this country. That's why you've got 250 mayors...
BLITZER: You are the Republican. You're running on this -- this is one of the important issues for you and you are facing a Democrat who says you are going too far in terms of gun control.
JEANNEMARIE DEVOLITES DAVIS (R), VIRGINIA STATE SENATE: Well, I agree with the mayor. We clearly -- we have deep punishments in place for those that use guns illegally, and it does not seem to be a deterrent. I think we need to be working on the other side of this issue, doing everything we can to make sure that criminals do not have access to guns.
BLITZER: But you want to tighten the gun rules in Virginia?
DAVIS: Well currently, gun shows are a problem in Virginia. Anyone can go to a gun show and find someone that has set up a table and buy a gun. And an instant criminal background check does not take place.
BLITZER: Does your Republican -- excuse me, your Democratic challenger Chap Peterson, he says this. 'She's flip-flopped repeatedly on this issue. She voted to eliminate local gun control laws and eliminate local regulations of gun shows in Virginia. She picked up on this issue this year to try to change the dynamic of the race.' Is that right is what he's saying?
DAVIS: Well, I disagree with him. But then here is man that voted against allowing the county to ban guns on our school property, and in libraries and recreation centers.
BLITZER: But did you flip-flop...
DAVIS: No, I don't think so.
BLITZER: ...because he cites these two votes in 2000 and 2004 where you took the other side of this issue?
BLOOMBERG: Wolf, what's fascinating here is people thought that this is a Republican issue. Here is a Republican trying to protect the police that protect us. Here's a Republican who's trying to keep people that have guns and commit crimes and fire bullets randomly and hit our children and you and me. And it is not a partisan issue. It is not a Southern issue. It's not an Eastern issue. It is not a big city issue. It's not a small city issue.
BLITZER: Because you know a lot of Virginians, they resent the New York City mayor coming in to Virginia getting involved in what they consider a state issue, the issue of guns in Virginia.
BLOOMBERG: It is a federal issue. The federal law says that you can't sell guns to people who are undocumented or people that have a criminal record. And there's one percent of the dealers that are doing it. And all we are trying to do is find out which they are and try to get them to stop and, in fact, those that we did find who are doing it wrong, half of them settled with us already. They are still open. They are still conducting business. They are still making money.
BLITZER: Who do you blame?
BLOOMBERG: At least they make sure -- you have to start with Congress. There's no question. This is a federal issue. Congress passed laws saying that you can't sell to criminals. And then Congress passes laws to keep the cops from enforcing that law.
BLITZER: Your predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, who is now running to become President of the United States, spoke recently before the NRA, the National Rifle Association. And he's now moving away from a lawsuit that you support, that he used to support to try to tighten up some of these ...
BLOOMBERG: I don't know whether Rudy moving...
BLITZER: Listen to what he says.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did initiate that lawsuit back in 2000. Since then, I think that lawsuit has taken several turns and several twists that I don't agree with. That lawsuit has gone in a direction I probably don't agree with at this point.
BLOOMBERG: I think that the trouble is that his staff has misinformed him. That lawsuit hasn't changed one bit. And Rudy deserves a lot of credit for starting it, and I think he should continue to support it. You will have to ask him whether he does. I can't speak for Rudy Giuliani. I can speak to the 8.2 million people in New York City who are put at risk because people are buying guns illegally, in violation of federal laws. And it's all we are trying to do. It's not a Second Amendment issue. We are not trying to take guns out of anybody's hands. We are not trying to hurt hunters. Those are rights that the Constitution gives us. But the federal government is outlawed selling guns to criminals. And there are some dealers, one percent of the dealers that are doing it. What's wrong with stopping that? Here particularly in Virginia, where you had a terrible tragedy in this country with 30-odd people are murdered every single day. That's a Virginia Tech a day in this country.
BLITZER: You're talking about what happened at Virginia Tech last year. All right.