Beto O'Rourke is currently trying to resurrect his campaign by espousing every far-left gun control policy he can think of and hope that Democratic voters see that and its associated cursing as passionate. If the Democratic Primary consisted of the folks at CNN Newsroom, that strategy just might have worked. Co-host Jim Sciutto wondered on Friday if Democrats are being too cautious when it comes to campaigning on gun control.
Sciutto's and fellow co-host Poppy Harlow were joined by liberal commentator Kirsten Powers and CNN political analyst David Gergen to discuss Thursday's Democratic debate in Houston. Harlow began the Beto portion of the proceedings by declaring that Beto's "Hell yes ,we're going to take your AR-15, AK-47" comments "may have saved his campaign for a little while." Harlow asked Powers if Beto's comments will come back to haunt Democrats, citing an interview with Delaware Sen. Chris Coons in the previous hour where Coons lamented that clip of Beto would be played at Second Amendment rallies all over the country.
Powers agreed that Beto had a good night and added that she agrees with him on the policy, but does think it is politically "risky." That is when Sciutto jumped into ask Gergen if "that fear be overestimated, though?" He added, "But on the bigger picture here, do Democrats overestimate the fear but not leaning more into gun control measures?"
Sciutto then went on to attempt to prove his point by showing some polling data, but the data he cited did not exactly match his thesis. He cited a Monmouth poll that said 56% support a ban on the future sale of so-called assault weapons, which is down 11 points from a much hyped Fox News poll from last month and an NPR/PBS poll that showed support for a so-called buyback "split down the middle."
Gergen responded by declaring that "the general direction of what the Democrats are proposing this election are very mainstream and I think will be bought into by a lot of people," the comical nature of that assertion aside, he cautioned Democrats not to "go a bridge too far or two bridges too far" and predicted that whoever wins the nomination will move back towards the center for the general election.
If Jim Sciutto were to get his way, however, that would not happen.
Here is a transcript for the September 13 show:
CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto
10:09 AM ET
POPPY HARLOW: Beto O'Rourke, Kirsten, may have saved his campaign for a little while here at least. Let's listen to this moment that stood out to everyone on guns.
BETO O’ROURKE: Hell, yes we're going to take your AR-15, AK-47, we're not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore.
HARLOW: All right, so Democratic Senator Chris Coons just told me last hour that is a clip that will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies to scare people and say Democrats will take your guns away. It got broad applause but did it really help him in the long run? Is it going to hurt the Democrats on the gun efforts now? What's your read?
KIRSTEN POWERS: I just want to quickly address the Biden thing. Jim, you were saying he's the front-runner. I think an important thing with him, though, he's on a downward trajectory. He's not -- he has been losing. He's been going down as Elizabeth Warren has been going up. So, I'm not sure he's necessarily somebody who people are overly enthusiastic about. I think a lot of people are perked with him but I don't know if they will stay with him. On Beto, I think he had a great night last night. I appreciate his moral clarity. I happen to agree with him, but I do think, Poppy, you hit on something that, and I was thinking as he was saying it, as much as he is substantively correct this is what the country needs, I think it could be a very difficult message for a general election. I think it's true. This is something -- this is what people are always saying Democrats want to take your guns and that's essentially when he's saying. It's that message that I think Democrats have pushed back against. So it's risky. That's all I would say.
JIM SCIUTTO: David, can that fear be overestimated, though? Let's look at some of the recent polling, Monmouth poll from August just last month, 56% of the public supports banning future sale of assault weapons. Of course that's different from taking away existing ones. NPR/PBS poll, should Congress create mandatory buyback program of assault weapons, there it's split down the middle. There is a difference, but on the bigger picture here, do Democrats overestimate the fear but not leaning more into gun control measures?
DAVID GERGEN: It's an interesting question, Jim. My own feeling is that in general -- the general direction of what the Democrats are proposing this election are very mainstream and I think will be bought into by a lot of people. The danger is when they go a bridge too far or two bridges too far, there's a big difference in people's minds whether, in fact, they are going to -- you create an option for them in Medicare and they can decide for themselves whether had a really wonderful argument on it, trust the people to make up their minds and play with an option for three or four or five years and then decide whether to go on. If you insist no, no, no you've got to get rid of the insurance companies, no, no, no you can't keep your ak-47, no, no, no you're not going to be able -- we're not going to make any pledges on this or that, I think it puts them in an uncomfortable position. I do believe over time the old adage that applies in politics is still going to be true and that is can a Democratic Primary go to the left when the nominee gets the post, you come back more toward the center and vice versa for Republicans.
SCIUTTO: Although that didn't hold for Donald Trump in 2016, just point of order.
GREGEN: It did not, some people are totally --
SCIUTTO: David Gergen, Kirsten powers, thanks to both of you.