Michael Bloomberg turned his appearance on CNN yesterday into an opportunity to come out against Eliot Spitzer’s driver’s license policy.
Here, courtesy of CNN’s Situation Room, is a transcript of Bloomberg’s exchange with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NYC MAYOR: 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 and sold in some other states and they are brought in to New York.
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 the 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 the country.
BLITZER: You are the Republican and 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 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?
DEVOLITES DAVIS: Well, currently, gun shows are a problem in Virginia.
Anyone can go to a gun show and find someone that’s set up a table and buy a gun. And an instant criminal background check does not take place.
BLITZER: Does your Republican — excuse me. 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 …
DEVOLITES DAVIS: I disagree with him. Then here is man that voted against allowing the county ban guns on our school property. And in libraries and recreation centers.
BLITZER: But did you flip-flop because he says the 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 that’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 is not an Eastern issue. It is not a big city issue.
It’s not a small city issue.
BLITZER: 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 is 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 and they are still open and they are still conducting business and they are still making money.
BLITZER: Who do you blame …
BLOOMBERG: 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 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 and that he used to support to try to tighten up some of these …
BLOOMBERG: I don’t know whether Rudy is moving. Ask Rudy what he thinks.
BLITZER: Listen to what he says. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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 that I probably don’t agree with at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 and you will have to ask him whether he does. I can speak for Rudy Giuliani.
I can speak to the 8.2 million people in New York City who have put at risk because people are buying guns illegally. In violation of federal laws.
And all we are trying to do – it is 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 you – in Virginia, where you had — a terrible tragedy in this country with 30-odd people are murdered every singe 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. I want you to listen to this whole uproar in your state, New York State. Over driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential runner, tripped up where she stands at the Democratic debate the other day. Listen to what our colleague Lou Dobbs, though, says about the New York State governor. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Let me point out to you that this — this is only occurring after the good governor or Prince Eliot, as he seems to think of himself, has met the opposition not only my humble self but nearly three-fourths of the New Yorkers surveyed in recent opinion polls who say this governor is completely out his mind on this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Should illegal immigrants — maybe a million of them in New York State, have driver’s licenses, New York State driver’s licenses?
BLOOMBERG: I do not believe they should. I think and I have expressed to the governor an objection I had to do it and my police commissioner have had to this for a long time when I’ve been asked this question. The governor’s first proposal, I thought, was inappropriate. And should not have been enacted. And I told him so privately which is the way I should deal with him.
His second proposal of three different kinds of licenses are something that I have — I think a step in the right direction. But I still don’t think that it is where we should be. The bottom line is we should be giving driver’s licenses to people knowing who they are and making sure that they have a right to have them and we should make sure particularly when it comes to guns that you can only use a secure driver’s license to buy guns. After all, we have a crazy system, Wolf, in our country.
We have people on the can’t fly list because they are potential terrorists that can buy guns. We have just got to stop this craziness.
If we have a secure license to get in and out of the country, certainly should have a secure license to be able to buy guns.
BLITZER: Am I hearing you right, on this issue, driver’s license in New York State, you tend to agree more with Lou Dobbs than Eliot Spitzer?
BLOOMBERG: Lou is an old friend of mine that I agree with seldom but nevertheless in this case Lou happens to be right.
BLITZER: Can you rule out — I have to ask you one final political question. Rule out the possibility you would run as an independent presidential candidate.
BLOOMBERG: Is this a Shermanesque (ph) question?
BLOOMBERG: Let me tell you something. You are asking the wrong question.
What you have to ask is why can’t we get the candidates that are running, and there are plenty declared candidates, both Democrat and Republican why can’t they stop this partisan bicker in Washington? Why can’t they address the issues? Why do we have this continued money and influence kind of politics that is wrong?
We have a country that has serious problems internationally and domestically. We have a Congress that’s not willing to be accountable.
We have a Congress that ducks on every issue. We have a Congress that wants to tell you something for free when there really isn’t. And I think asking each of the existing candidates rather than going looking for new ones, here’s what you should do. You as part of the Fourth Estate should find out where they stand and have them answer concretely what they would do in the case of each of these issues.
BLITZER: I’m not hearing a Shermanesque answer.
BLOOMBERG: You are asking a person whose not candidate. I have 791 days left to go in my job. And I plan to finish that.
BLITZER: You plan to finish it. But — zero chance you would run for president this time around?
BLOOMBERG: This country does not need another candidate and I’m not a candidate. And I told you — I’m going to speak out. I have every intention of speaking out and traveling around this country and trying to get people to say look, you — you know who are running. Tell us what you will do and how do you stop the constant fighting that has immobilized Congress? Both parties and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
We have to get a federal government that gets us to rebuild relations internationally in a global world because we have to fight terrorism globally and trade globally and have science globally. We have got to have answers to how we are going to fund medical care and social security. And I don’t hear any of this stuff.
BLITZER: A lot of people are clamoring they would like to see you there.
They are not happy with the democrats and not happy with the republicans. Michael Bloomberg, you have got a lot of money. You could be that third party candidate that some people want.
BLOOMBERG: I’m very flattered that you would bring it up. But nevertheless, there are plenty of candidates that will raise lots of money and they will have the spirited battle. It is up to the Fourth Estate to make sure that that battle is informative to the public.
BLITZER: Michael Bloomberg, thanks for coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLOOMBERG: Support this woman.
BLITZER: And Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, thank you very much.
BLOOMBERG: A woman with a lot of courage who is standing up for what’s right for the people of Fairfax County, Virginia and the people of New York and I think the people of America.
BLITZER: I take it you like her.
BLOOMBERG: I do.
Thank you both for coming in.