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THE SITUATION ROOM

Senator Dianne Feinstein proposed a Gun Control Bill; Hillary Clinton Ends Her Career as Secretary of State on February 1st; Vice President Joe Biden and 2016 Presidential Election

Aired January 26, 2013 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A senator who experienced the horror of bullets and blood launches a fight to ban military-style weapons.

Plus, Joe Biden's "aha" moment as vice president for his 2016 plans. And would he run against Hillary Clinton? Stand by for our exclusive interview.

And we'll take you behind the scenes of Hillary Clinton's world and get an insider's take on whether she will run for president again.

We want to welcome our viewers from the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with the national fight over guns and gun violence. The Obama administration is falling through on its promise to take its fight to the public. Vice president Joe Biden has been on the road and on line.

In congress, Democrats introduced a new effort to ban 158 specific assault-style weapons and prohibit other guns from using magazines containing more than ten rounds of ammunition. Those are just two of the provisions of the bill put forward by the United States senator whose own hands were bloodied by one of the most notorious shooting attacks in California history.

CNN's chief correspondent, Dana Bash, was at the emotional announcement on Capitol Hill.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, of all the gun control measures that President Obama proposed earlier this month provided this expired assault-style ban is perhaps the toughest to get through congress. And the primary senate sponsor says, it could even take years. Her determination though, comes from a very public tragedy four decades ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): For Dianne Feinstein, it is personal.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I became mayor as a product of assassination. Both Mayor Mascone and supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed. BASH: The death of her colleagues, including Harvey Milk, the first openly gay public official in America was so traumatic she rarely discussed it.

FEINSTEIN: We were somebody who was very close to a tragic shooting.

BASH: But here, in the launch to push the assault weapons ban, she answered in graphic detail.

FEINSTEIN: I was the one that found supervisor Milk's body, and I was the one that took - put a finger in a bullet hole trying to get a pulse. Once you have been through one of these episodes, once you see what the crime scene is like it is not like the movies. It changes your view of weapons.

BASH: She put on an elaborate event, even getting special permission from D.C. and capitol police to display ten different types of assault weapons, including an ar-15, the kind of rifle the shooter used to murder children in Newtown.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Assault weapons were designed for and should be used on our battlefields, not on our streets.

BASH: The proposed legislation would prohibit the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of more than 150 assault-style weapons and ban large capacity magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition.

But to appeal to gun owners it excludes or keeps legal most handguns, and 2,200 hunting and sporting rifles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you going to go hunting with something like that? You kill something, there is nothing left to eat.

BASH: Also here, family members march across the country. Lily Habtu was shot in German class at Virginia Tech.

LILY HABTU, VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING VICTIM: I have a bullet still in my head. I was shot in the jaw. It is one inch - it's one millimeter away from my brain stem.

BASH: Still, Feinstein is realistic about the slim chance that the assault weapons ban has a passing.

FEINSTEIN: If anyone ask today, can you win this. The answer is, we don't know, it is so uphill.

BASH: But pushing gun control is now a White House campaign-style effort. And vice president Joe Biden held a social media town hall, a Google hangout to rally support.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make your voices heard. This outfit, this town listens when people rise up and speak.

BASH: The White House and Feinstein know their biggest hurdle is convincing skeptical fellow Democrats from gun-right states to support gun control. FEINSTEIN: The message to Democrat is see what your silence does? There will be more of these.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Talking to several of those conservative Democrats here in the hallways, it is abundantly clear there is not an appetite to push forward on this assault weapons ban. And that may be in part because of the opposition from the NRA, which in fact released a statement about Dianne Feinstein's proposal saying, it once again focuses on curtailing the constitution, and also goes on to say that they are confident Congress will reject senator Feinstein's wrong-headed approach -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana, thank you.

Feinstein's announcement of her new legislation that came just three days after the president in his inaugural address promised to make gun control a second term priority. But can the president actually deliver? And how will the politics of guns impact the second-term agenda?

Our chief national correspondent John King is here with answers.

Can the president deliver? This is a serious promise he had made.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Today, no. And this is a huge challenge for the president to test, not only of its commitment to this issue, but on how he will conduct himself in his second term.

You heard the vice president saying, people listen in this town when it get pressure from outside. Inside Washington, Wolf, they don't have the vote. So, let's take a closer look on what Dana was just talking about.

There are - the key right now are senate Democrats. There at least 11 Senate Democratic seats, those are at least 11. Some people say 11, some people say 13, but these 11 seats now held by Democrats up until 2014, many of them are gun-right states and many of them have incumbents senators who have already said no, Mr. President, or I won't go as far as you, Mr. President.

And so, the president has a problem in his own party, first. The Republicans are just standing back. The Republican is traditionally are less open to gun control. They're saying if you can prove you get the votes with the Democrats we'll look at these things.

But the expectation is that the Senate will go first, the House speaker John Boehner and his staff will say we'll look at them in committee hearings maybe, but wouldn't act unless the Senate passes something. If you are asking the Senate, they think the best the president can get today is something significantly watered down. Maybe a water-down version of his background checks, maybe some water down version of those large ammunitions could put even that , it would say no, right now. The assault weapons ban, today, no, it would not pass the Senate. So, will the president and vice president consistently stay at this out in the country? But, that is a huge challenge in the second term. The vice president on Friday, held an event in Virginia. We are told both of them will have more in the weeks ahead. The question is, when other issues come up and the president is in a tough fight on Capitol Hill, will he drop it or will he stay with it?

BLITZER: Because he is a proved to be an excellent campaigner, political campaigner, vice president, as well. How visible will they be in the coming weeks and months.

KING: We know that the vice president had one event on his public schedule that he held Friday in the state of Virginia, which again, a gun rights. They understand that he would -- if he runs for president, you have to give him points for political courage.

Here is one of the things they are trying though. I want you to listen to the vice president here. He went to this Google hangout, Dana played one clip of it in her piece. It is a social media - it need to change people's perspective especially people who believed in gun rights that you don't need these assault weapons. Listen to this question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In California, everybody talks about the big earthquake or some terrible natural disaster as a last line of defense, what would you say to that?

BIDEN: Well, you know, guess what? A shot gun will keep you a lot safer, a double barrel shot gun than the assault weapon in somebody's hand who doesn't know how to use it, and even who doesn't know how to use it. You know, it is harder to use an assault weapon than it is a shot gun, OK? If you want to keep people away in an earthquake, buy shot gun shells.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's not people may find that, you know, typical colorful language by Joe Biden, buy shot gun shells. But this is part of their thing. If you look at what the NRA is doing and other gun rights advocated, they are saying that this is a down payment. If you pass the assault weapons ban that this administration wants to take all of your guns.

And so, what the vice president is trying to saying is no that is poppy cock. We want to take these assault weapons off. If you want to buy a shotgun, please go do that. We're all for gun rights. That is part of the challenge. But, right now, Wolf, if you do the math, they don't have the votes inside the Washington. The question is, will this president, with the help of his vice president and others, they could see they need help from others, use the bully pulpit to rally support outside. As of today, they don't have the math.

BLITZER: It would be an uphill struggle for the president and the vice president and Diane Feinstein on these issues. John, thanks very much.

Guns certainly only part of the president's very ambitious second term agenda, an agenda that has Republicans warning quote "the era of liberalism is back." That is what they're warning.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with Ron Brownstein. He is a senior political analyst for CNN, editorial over at "the National Journal."

Ron, thanks very much for coming in. Listen to some highlights from the president's inaugural address that underscore the more progressive or liberal agenda, potentially.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will respond to the threat of climate change, the path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.

Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, so he laid out a pretty impressive liberal agenda there.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and you know what? It is a clear pattern that goes back over a year now. If you think about it from the fight on contraception and health care to administerably moving to legalize the dream act students, to comprehensive, to embracing gay marriage, comprehensive immigration reform, gun control, climate change, even women in combat, he has clearly crossed a Rubicon. Really, for most of past four decades, Democrats have been concerned on many of these issues, about going too far, and alienating culturally concern of blue collar, older and roar white voters.

Well, in 2012, President Obama won despite re-election despite huge deficit among those voters. And I think, there is a clear sense him being unshackle from that coalition and much more reflecting the priorities of what is the modern democratic issue, minorities, millenials, and college educated socially liberated whites. So, I think there is a clear pattern here. a clear challenge for his party and for the Republican party.

BLITZER: Did it surprise you in the inaugural address?

BROWNSTEIN: No. As I said, I think it continues the direction that he is going. You know, as John King pointed out, on many of these issues, the congressional politics are difficult. It is difficult to gets the 218 in the House and 60 votes in the Senate. But on the other hand, Wolf, what the president is doing is identifying a kind of solidifying the identification of the Democrats with the properties of the coalition that is proved a majority in five of the past six presidential elections. And there is a risk for Republicans, here, too. If systematically block the president's initiatives in this area, they kind of deepen the distance between themselves and the growing groups at the core of what have been a Democratic majority.

BLITZER: He faces a tough challenge on guns. But, what about on climate change, comprehensive immigration reform, gay marriage? How difficult are those issues going to be?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, at the coalitions on these are very similar. The groups that support him and oppose him, the regions that support him and oppose him, are remarkably similar through the list. The one where he probably has the best prospects, immigration reform, because after this last election, there are enough Republicans. Jeb Bush, for example, writing this week who see value for the party in trying to settle this.

On things like climate and guns, I think it will be much harder to bring along Republicans. But again, there is a price her, even if Republican do systematically block him on these issues which they might, that might be in congressional politics, might be a very different story at the presidential level. Because these are issues that are supported by the groups, at the core of the Democratic coalition, all of which in growing as a share of the electorate and ultimately Republicans have to cut into that if they want to win back the White House. So, what will play at the congressional level, they make it tougher for them at the presidential level even if the president can't pass all of these ideas.

BLITZER: You have a terrific article in "the National Journal" on all of this as well.

Ron, Thanks very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton's dramatic testimony put the Benghazi terror attacks back in the news.

Up next, CNN's Arwa Damon, her visit to the burn dock compound in Benghazi reveal new information about U.S. officials' security fears.

Plus, Gloria Borger's interview with the vice president. He describes the ""aha" moment" when he decided the job was really worthwhile.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: She grew emotional, she got angry, but in two congressional hearings this week, the secretary of state Hillary Clinton stood her ground about the attack in Libya which took the lives of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. What's angered critics is that appeals for more security at the Benghazi consulate went unheeded.

Listen to this, from Senator John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Were you and the president made aware of the classified cable from Chris Stevens, that the United States consulate in Benghazi could not survive a sustained assault? Numerous warnings, including personally to me about the security were unanswered or unaddressed. It took a CNN reporter looking through the consulate to find Chris Stevens' last warning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That reporter, of course, was our own senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon who found ambassador Chris Steven's journal in the ruins of the consulate in Benghazi.

Arwa is joining us now from Beirut. Remind our viewers, Arwa, what was it like when you got to that Benghazi consulate?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we arrived on scene three days after the attack had taken place to find it even at that point in time, completely unsecured, not being treated like are crime scene at all. The vast majority of the buildings had been burned. And to access the so-called safe room, we had to crawl through a window, which we then later found out was the same window that ambassador Steven's body had been pulled out by other Libyan individuals later on that night of September 11th.

When we went in the particular area, the room itself, the bedroom was covered with black soot. We did, as you mentioned there, find the diary lying on the ground in between the chair and the bed. It was really quite hair-raising and sobering to look through it, to be standing there, beginning to imagine what had transpired.

We also saw in the bathroom, for example, a dark rust-colored stain that we photographed. We also managed to find other sensitive documentation that was really quite startling to realize that all of this evidence had been left behind that there was really no effort underway to secure it. .

The other thing that immediately also caught our attention was that it did most certainly seem as if the consulate was not adequately secured. It was very much as we do now know, other senior embassy staff on the ground had been calling it a soft target, Wolf.

BLITZER: Like me, Arwa, you listened to that five and a half hours of Q and A with the secretary of state before the senate and House foreign affairs committee, and a lot of issues were discussed. But what stands out in your mind that you did really hear?

DAMON: Well, what was quite surprising and what was discussed is the situation in Libya right now, where the investigation stands. Where the U.S. investigation stands and what the U.S. is doing to try to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice, because the Libyan authority have either been unwilling or incapable of clamping down on these extremist militias. When the days following the attack, they did tell us senior Libyan official did tell us that they had detained dozens of individuals for interrogations. As far as we know, they have all been released.

And these extremist militias, to include Anwar (INAUDIBLE) that believed to have tied to al-Qaeda, are acting with as much impunity today, if not more, as they did back in September when the attacks took place. These are also militias, as secretary Clinton herself stated, are militias that do have ties to al-Qaeda in the (INAUDIBLE).

She also spoke about weapons moving from Libya to terrorists operating in Mali and in Algeria. And so, one would assume that a major topic of discussion would also be what is happening? What sort of effort is underway to try to either force the Libyan authority to clamp down on the militias, or if they're not capable of doing that. What the U.S. is doing? Because at the end of the day we're talking about the assassination of an American ambassador and three other Americans. And those that carried out this attack are acting with complete and total impunity and have even more power now arguably than they did back then.

There is a massive intimidation campaign underway in Benghazi. Security has continues to deteriorated. We have also had an attack against the Italian consul general, numerous attacks against Libyan security forces. And of course, most recently, that warning, the Brits telling their foreign nationals to evacuate Benghazi. Other western nation is doing so as well because of an imminent threat that exists against western interests, Wolf.

BLITZER: Arwa Damon. She was on the scene in Benghazi three days after the terror attack, long before the FBI got there. That is an amazing fact, still stands out in my mind as well.

Arwa, thank you very much.

As Hillary Clinton ends her tenure of the secretary of state, an insider reveals the moment that changed her relationship with President Obama. An extraordinary look at secretary Clinton's world. That is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It has been something of a good-bye tour for Hillary Clinton this week, testifying before congress, appearing at the president's inauguration. She is leaving the Obama administration in just a few days. And the job that has transformed her image.

For this extraordinary report, CNN's Kate Bolduan was allowed inside Hillary Clinton's world.

KATE BOLDUAN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the second home of one of the world's most iconic women. And we have been granted rare access as the country's top diplomat ends an unexpected four-year journey, working for the man with whom she once traded blows.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Bitter rivals, yet?

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I endorse him and throw my full support behind him.

BOLDUAN: Just as Hillary Clinton showed her support for President Obama, Obama showed his faith in Clinton.

OBAMA: I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our state department and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda.

BOLDUAN: What was Hillary Clinton's initial reaction when you told her, look, they're actually considering you for the possibility of secretary of state.

PHILIPPE REINES, DEPUTY ASSOCIATE SECRETARY OF STATE: She didn't believe it.

BOLDUAN: Philippe Reines is one of Clinton's closest aides.

REINES: I e-mailed her, I think it was the Friday after Election Day, after hearing it from two reporters. And I'm pretty sure her reply was something along the lines of, not for a million reasons.

BOLDUAN: If she was hesitant, why not just say no?

REINES: I think she did, or came awfully close. I think the president was very persuasive.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We're delighted to welcome Senator Clinton secretary of state designate.

BOLDUAN: Clinton was quickly confirmed. But how would she get along with the man who defeated her campaign? Could she work for him?

ELISE LABOTT, FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Everyone expected, including myself, that there would be a lot of division, a lot of Secretary Clinton going behind the president's back.

BOLDUAN: So was there any tension coming in between the two people at the top?

LABOTT: I think everyone's been surprised.

BOLDUAN: Surprised that while Secretary Clinton and President Obama have been separated often as she travels the world, they have maintained a unified front.

CAPRICIA MARSHALL, U.S. CHIEF OF PROTOCOL AMBASSADOR: And she has spoken of that relationship, you know, once adversaries, they're now incredible friends.

BOLDUAN: So, what was that moment that you think crystallized the relationship?

REINES: They were in Denmark for a climate change conference. BOLDUAN: Obama and Clinton believe China and other countries resisting a pollution standards agreement were meeting in secret.

REINES: President Obama and Secretary Clinton were talking kind of alone, you know, in some hallway. And he said, let's go. And she said, let's go.

BOLDUAN: So they just kind of barge in?

REINES: They kind of barged in. They said, hey, guys, what are you doing?

BOLDUAN: We're here.

REINES: What's going on here? We're here. And they got the deal done.

BOLDUAN: Secretary Clinton has logged just shy of a million miles as secretary of state, and usually on board, CNN affairs reporter Elise Labott.

LABOTT: This is the press cabin where the journalists who are traveling press sit.

BOLDUAN: So this looks like a traditional plane, but as we move forward it is very different?

LABOTT: Well, that is where all the action takes place, there is a lot of communication equipment. This right here is the line of death.

BOLDUAN: What is the line of death?

LABOTT: Well, this is where the classified material is. So they always say the journalists can't come in, because they have this classified bag, but let's cross it. And this is where the secretary does all of her business. This is her --

BOLDUAN: This is her cabin?

LABOTT: This is the secretary's cabin. You have a deck right here, and this couch right here pulls into a bed. She has phones. She has secure communication. She can speak to any leaders anywhere. A lot of times she will have conference calls with the White House.

BOLDUAN: Everywhere she went, Clinton promoted what she calls smart power.

LABOTT: Smart power is using all the resources of the United States. Hillary Clinton sees food security, energy security, the situation of women, human rights. These are the challenges that we're going to be meeting in the 21st century.

BOLDUAN: Smart power is one way Clinton redefined the job. If she lacked foreign policy experience coming in, her finesse as a politician, helped to shape her style.

Ambassador Capricia Marshall is a long time member of Clinton's inner circle.

MARSHALL: The basic pieces of politics is getting to know people. It is listening, it is understanding, hearing people's issues. And she is brilliant at that.

BOLDUAN: One of her favorite pet projects, clean cook stoves, supplying women in developing countries with these cost-effective healthier means of cooking.

As for Pet Peeves?

REINES: The one that I always fear the most triggering, is she has a very strong reaction when somebody steps on the back of her foot, back of her shoe. A flat tire.

BOLDUAN: Because people are always following her?

REINES: People following her and around her, so it has a higher rate of occurrence.

BOLDUAN: But pet projects and pet peeves are not what will define her legacy. What will accompany her in the history books are moments like capturing Osama bin Laden, the Arab spring, and a terrorist attack that left four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens, dead.

LISA CAPUTO, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: CLINTON AIDE: Oh, the Benghazi situation was just personally painful for her. Personally just deeply painful. She had such an amazing fondness and appreciation for the ambassador.

BOLDUAN: Lingering questions about that terrorist attack has sparked the man's for accountability for members of Congress. But Clinton's much-anticipated testimony was put on hold due to a protracted illness.

It was not just a concussion, it was a potentially dangerous blood clot. That's potentially very dangerous in her head. So, how did you react to that?

REINES: I do think of her as pretty indestructible. I told her jokingly that when I learned that the blood clot, I felt sorry for the blood clot. It just didn't stand a chance against her.

BOLDUAN: And Clinton is back in business, rounding out her tenure, leaving the million dollar question, what is next for Hillary?

REINES: I'm not sure she knows entirely. She is entering a period that she has not experienced in a very long time. She well wake up on Monday, February 4th, and not have to be anywhere she doesn't have to be.

BOLDUAN: Do you really buy that she is definitely not going to run again in 2016?

REINES: I learned a long time ago not to predict anything about Hillary Clinton. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Here is what I will predict, and Kate is here with us right now, she is going to rest, she deserves a long rest. She will write a little book maybe. She go out and speak, do good deeds around the world. But I think that lingering feeling she has to run, and be the first woman president of the United States is still there.

BOLDUAN: The question is still there. the only thing that the people close to her say, they know for sure, is that she is going to rest. That her last day at the state department will be February 1st, beyond that, they say, it is really jump ball, even she doesn't know for certain what is in her future. But she is certainly not helping to tamp down 2016 speculations. Recently when she talked about retirement, she said, I don't know if that is the word I would use.

BLITZER: Yes, the word retirement and Hillary Clinton --

BOLDUAN: Don't go together.

BLITZER: Kate, good work. Thank you.

If Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden were to run in 2016, it may put President Obama in an uncomfortable position. The vice president talks about his odd couple relationship to a certain degree with the president, in an exclusive interview of our own, Gloria Borger.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It would be hard to find anyone who appeared to be having more fun on inauguration day than vice president Joe Biden. As he and President Obama begin their second term, Biden talked about their teamwork, their disagreements and his own unique role in exclusive interview with CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): If there is an odd couple in American politics, it is President Obama and Joe Biden.

BIDEN: What made it work is that if you go back to the days when we were actually competing for the nomination. All the debates we had, the only two people that didn't disagree on any subject were Barack Obama and Joe Biden. So, when we got into this deal, we didn't have what other administrations had where the vice president and president had a different take on the major issues of the day, we were totally simpatico. And what developed and made it easier was it went from working with each other for a friendship. I mean, we actually real trust built.

BORGER: We know those. You have disagreed with the president over policy, and you know how to read him pretty well. So how can you tell when you have done something that he doesn't like or that makes him angry? BIDEN: Oh, that is easy, that is easy. We made a deal early on, when one of us were dissatisfied, we just flat told the other person. And so one lunch once a week, you know, that is when we talk. And when he is not like something I have done, he just flat tells me.

BORGER: He says Joe, you shouldn't done that --

BIDEN: He says Joe, look, you know, I don't agree with the way you did that. Why did you do a, b, c or d, or he will or I will say, hey, look, I don't like the way this is going. But this is what we, you know. So, there is complete openness.

But you know, we haven't disagreed on. We sometimes disagreed on tactic as to how to proceed to try to get what he wants done, which I agreed with. But we have never disagreed on policy.

BORGER: But there was a problem with timing when the vice president got ahead of the boss in this exchange on same-sex marriage on "Meet the Press."

BIDEN: Men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual, men and women marry, they're entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights and liberties.

BORGER: That caused heartburn in the west wing.

BIDEN: Even the so-called discussion about you know, my saying I was comfortable with gay and lesbians and relationships, I knew his position.

BORGER: But you got out in front of him on it, and that is -- that can be a problem.

BIDEN: I can tell you how I responded. I walked into the office. He got up, smiled, gave me a big hug, and he said I tell you what, man. It's one thing I like about you. You say what is on your mind.

BORGER: You said it caused a bit of (INAUDIBLE) around here?

BIDEN: It did, but not with him, not with him.

BORGER: Lately Biden has become the White House closer, cutting the deal on the fiscal-cliff and trying to get one on guns.

Are you the only one who can cut deals with Republicans now.

BIDEN: No, no, look, first of all the only reason I would be able to close a deal is because everybody knows I speak for the president. I have his complete support for what I'm saying because I know what he wants, number one.

Number two, you know I think the reason we make a good team, you know, Tip O'Neill used to say, you will recall, politics is local. You heard me say I seldom disagree with Tip O'Neill, God rest his soul. But politics is al personal and based on trust. And I have spent a lot of time in this town and have personal relationships with people I strongly disagree, but there is trust. And so I am a logical person, a logical person to as they say, you guys say close a deal. But it is the president, it is not me. It is the president.

BORGER: But, it is no secret that you and the president are very different people. You are hot, he is cool. You're a natural back slapper. He has been accused of being more insular. Does the marriage work because he married his opposite?

BIDEN: Well, look, I think what you hope, he used this phrase one time, that we kind of make up for whatever weaknesses the other guy has. And I have a hell lot more weaknesses than he does. The one place is that I just have had a lot of experience with a lot of the people we deal with.

And you know, everybody talks about well, it is -- you know, it is back slapping -- it is not. It is trust. It is simple. Simple trust. Find a single person and you know this town better, who will look you in the eye and say I don't trust Joe Biden. It is just I have been around longer. And they know me, and they also know, I speak for him and he will keep whatever commitment I make on his behalf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: More of Gloria's interview with the vice president right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Now, more Of Gloria Borger's interview with vice president Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BIDEN: Yes. Well, I was.

BORGER: Just days ago I met with Joe Biden to talk about his last four years as the president's right-hand man and his adjustment to the job.

BIDEN: If there was an "aha" moment whether the job was worth it was when he asked me to coordinate Iraq policy to end the war in Iraq, early on in the administration?

BORGER: It was December, 2011. Biden traveled to Baghdad with a message from the president.

BIDEN: So, in behalf of President Obama --

I was able to say to the American troops assembled, gentlemen and ladies you're dismissed because you have done the job you were sent to do, and like all Americans you're going home with nothing but your pride and the knowledge of a job well done. I got off that stage. It was a moving moment for me. Went back, picked up the phone, I said you know I have been kidding you whether or not the job was worth it, thank you. Thank you for asking me to do this job. This has made it all worth it.

BORGER: The job has had its ups and downs, Biden's infamous candor has often made him a punch line, even for the president.

OBAMA: And I say, some damn joke, I kind to run a cabinet maybe --

BORGER: But here is why this team works, as much as President Obama dislikes the congressional drama, Biden thrives on it.

BIDEN: And I have spent a lot of time in this town.

BORGER: Forty years to be exact, that is one reason he is running the president's effort on gun control taking on the NRA.

BIDEN: You know, I have done this before. I'm the guys passed the assault weapons ban.

BORGER: More than 20 years ago?

BIDEN: Yes. And because the so-called Biden crime bill had a lifespan of 10 years and had to be renewed during the Bush administration. There was no desire in 2004 to renew it. But that does not mean there was no amount of consensus for the bulk of what we're proposing.

BORGER: So, can you guarantee that the president will sign some form of major gun legislation?

BIDEN: Look, I can't guarantee anything that Congress is going to do. You know that. But I can guarantee that the president and I are absolutely committed to take this fight to the American people, for a rational gun safety policy in America.

BORGER: And he is smack in the middle of the fiscal fight. He cut the deal to avoid the nose dive off the fiscal-cliff. Now he is ready for round two and predicts Republicans will be different.

BIDEN: They finally have figured it out. All of this bluster about you're going to renege on the debt, they will not. Because there are more responsible people in that party than irresponsible. So it is not going to happen.

Now, will there be a fight over how we finish out what we started off to do? A grand bargain. We've said from the beginning there is a balance here. The American people get this. This is not that complicated. Politically it is complicated. But not with the mathematically.

And so, we ought to be able to, in the next three months, finish out the grand bargain to get us to the point -- I sound like an economist here, where debt to GDP is about three percent. Every economist, left, right and center says that when that happens the economy grows.

BORGER: But where does Biden go next? Looking ahead, four years, you made it clear, in one way or another, that you are considering a presidential bid of your own. Is there any reason you wouldn't run? BIDEN: Oh, there is a whole lot of reasons why I wouldn't run. I haven't made the decision and don't have to make that decision for a while. In the meantime, there is one thing I know I have to do no matter what I do. I have to help this president move this country to the next stage. We're out of the god-awful situation we were in the first time when we were sworn in. Where we had two wars, al-Qaeda on the ascendency, the economy in the tank like it had not been since the great depression. We're beyond that now, I have never been more optimistic in life.

We are in the position where we are able to get to the point to bring the debt under control, of a sound financial policy, energy independence in a way we never thought of before. We're respected in the world again like we have not been in the past 20 years.

BORGER: So are you ready run against Hillary Clinton in 2016?

BIDEN: That, I haven't made that judgment, and Hillary Clinton has not made that judgment. But I can tell you what, everything that should be done over the next two years that I should have a part of would have to be done whether I run or don't run. If this administration is successful, whoever is running as a Democrat is better positioned to win. If we're not successful, whoever runs as a nominee is going to be less likely to win.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: With Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton both in the spotlight this week, talk of 2016 is swirling.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: President Obama's second term is only just getting started, but talk of 2016 was almost unavoidable this past week with the spotlight on both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

According to the latest ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, 67 percent of those surveyed have a favorable impression of the secretary of state, 48 percent have a favorable view of the vice president.

Joining us is now to talk about what is going on, our chief political correspondent and anchor of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," Candy Crowley.

Candy, I guess, you know, political news junkies like us, we cannot help ourselves. We have to talk about it. But it looked like Joe Biden was so excited out there, on that parade route.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And there is no secret that wants to be president has, you know, wanted to for some time. All things being equal, wants to run. And he is, right now, you know, with the height of his career. I mean, the differences between Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton in that polling, it's the difference between a politician and diplomat.

When Hillary Clinton becomes a politicians, should she had an arguably proponent of that theory and should she decide to run, those numbers will even up. It will be a heck of a race in the total run for the nomination.

BLITZER: A lot of members of the House and Senate were even joking or some seriously talking about Hillary Clinton in 2016. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: You will be sorely missed. But I for one hope, not for too long.

REP. STEVE CHABOT (R), OHIO: Madam secretary, first, let me thank you for your service, and I wish you the best in your future endeavors, mostly.

(LAUGHTER)

ENI FALEOMAVAEGA (D), AMERICAN SAMOA DELEGATE: I salute you and I look ahead to 2016, wishing much success and extending to you my highest regards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: If she decides to run, we have no why if she will, this hearing in Benghazi, these 5-1/2 hours on questions and answers, will it be a factor?

CROWLEY: I think there's things in there, I thought her exchange when she got very aggressive about what does it matter, I think it's something that only helps a female politician. Here she is the brave Hillary taking on all of these men, et cetera. I also think there were things in there that the Republicans will say, remember this? Remember when she said what does it matter?

So, I think people can take things out, if she runs, they can take things out of it, both sides to talk about how brave she was or how she doesn't care, whichever way. Do I think it's some defining moment for her politically? This is a woman that has so many defining political moments, it's difficult to choose one that will really going to be the moment. There's lots of moments in her public life.

BLITZER: Looking forward to "STATE OF THE UNION," Sunday morning, 9:00 eastern, right here on CNN.

Candy, thank you.

CROWLEY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Among of Candy's guests, by the way, Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein of California.

And it's not just the president getting a second term, his daughters are now facing four more years in the spotlight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here is a look at the hour's hot shots.

In England a van drives down a road surrounded by snow covered trees.

In Indonesia, people ride in a bamboo raft as it pushed through flooded street.

In India, police officers march during a rehearsal.

And in (INAUDIBLE), a boy tries to move a donkey in a refugee camp.

Hotshots, pictures coming in from around the world.

Watching all the inaugural festivities this past week, it was hard not to notice how much the Obama girls have grown up.

Here is our own Lisa Sylvester.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Malia Obama and Sasha Obama.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's not many 11 and 14-year-olds, who walk out to a crowd of millions.

But for Malia and Sasha, this is just a part of their lives. The girls have changed on the outside since the first inauguration. But more than that, there's a new-found Grace and poise, and something else, a sense of normal. It shows in moments like these, Malia and Sasha are waving to family and friends in the inaugural parade reviewing stand, Malia showing her hip side. A few minutes later, breaking out their phones to get a picture of mom and dad kissing.

BLITZER: It's Sasha taking a picture of mom and dad, nice, very nice.

SYLVESTER: The girls are at the middle point of childhood, between being a kid and heading to college. We have watched them grow up inside the White House and now we have for more years to go, including the markers of that a lesson, driving, dating and dances.

Despite their titles, the president and first lady try hard to keep things real.

KATIE MCCORMICK LELYVELD, FIRST LADY'S FORMER PRESS SECRETARY: The president, for example, is an assistant coach on Sasha's basketball team. That routine for here, that involvement with other young people is something that that's very important to him and her.

SYLVESTER: That hands on parenting will pay dividends in the long run, says historian, Doug Wead, who was written a book called "all the president's children."

DOUG WEAD, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: They get away from the White House. They don't stick right both in the White House. They develop their own ideas, their own game plan for life.

SYLVESTER: There will be the moments of youth glimpse. Chelsea Clinton and the Bush twins, former first children, they are now with their own established lives in journalism and working with charity foundations.

But, while the world looks to the first lady and the presidents, the Obamas look to their daughters with pride.

SYLVESTER: Like all parents of teenagers, the ext four year won't be just an adjustment for Sasha and Malia, but also, for Mr. And Mrs. Obama who like it or not will have to prepare for something else. The empty nest.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN. Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We wish both of those Obama daughters only, only the best in these coming four years and indeed throughout their lives.

You can always follow what is going on here in the SITUATION ROOM on twitter, tweet me@Wolfblitzer, tweet the show @cnnsitroom and like us on facebook as well.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. The news continues next on CNN.