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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Dick Morris; Gun Control Group Demand a Plan Rallying in Washington For Sensible New Regulations

Aired February 6, 2013 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Plus, stars target guns. Celebrities storm Capitol Hill. No one knows the tragic toll of gun violence better than Kerry Kennedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY KENNEDY: I was 4 years old when my uncle, President Kennedy, was killed by a man with a gun. And I was 8 years old when my father, too, was gunned down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: She joins me live.

Also, the gun advocate who said it's time to turn down the rhetoric.

Plus on the eve of the Grammys, the star maker behind Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Kanye West, L.A. Reid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

L.A. REID, RECORD PRODUCER: Incredible moment, Kanye West in my office, rapping his entire album to me just like we're sitting here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. Celebrities from Chris Rock to Amanda Peet to Tony Bennett is speaking out on gun control. We've got a big conversation tonight on guns in America, with Kerry Kennedy talking about losing her father from assassin's bullet, and a gun advocate who says the best defense against bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

It's coming up in a few moments. But listen now from an emotional minute -- moment from Vice President Joe Biden talking about gun control in a speech in Leesburg, Virginia, today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The image of those beautiful young children, six and seven years old. Literally riddled with bullet holes, lying in their classroom. All of us 54 days ago watching those families, and only imagining we could be in the same spot and panic running around that parking lot and over that firehouse wondering, my god, my god, am I -- my god. And since that day, 54 days ago, 1,600 Americans have died at the end of a gun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Powerful stuff there from Joe Biden. We'll have more on the gun debate in a few minutes.

We begin tonight with a political fail heard around the world. Just before the election, Dick Morris, former political guru to Bill Clinton, predicted a landslide victory for Mitt Romney. A landslide. But we all know that turned out.

And Dick Morris, how are you?

DICK MORRIS, FORMER CLINTON ADVISOR, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR: I'm a little battered and bleeding, but --

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Before we go any further, let's watch a bit of the moment you never want to relive. This is -- this is one of your great predictions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORRIS: Going to win by a landslide. The -- it will be the biggest surprise in recent American political history. It will rekindle a whole question as to why the media played this race as a nail-biter. Where, in fact, I think, Romney is going to win by quite a bit. My own view is that Romney is going to carry 325 electoral votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean, look, to be honest to you, I feel painful listening to that. God knows how you feel. I mean, with hindsight were you bluffing? Did you believe this? Or --

MORRIS: I --

MORGAN: Is there any rational explanation for why you got it so wrong?

MORRIS: I absolutely believed it, and so did a lot of people. Rasmussen and Gallup both predicted a Romney victory. And Piers, CNN had a 47/47 tie race in its final poll 48 hours before the polls opened.

MORGAN: What do you think about that guy, Nate Silver? All he did was crunched the numbers, right? And he got it bang on from start to finish.

MORRIS: Well, I think --

MORGAN: How can a pundit who is as experienced as you, with great respect, be so wrong when this guy just sits on his computer, crunching the numbers and data, and gets it completely right?

MORRIS: Well, (INAUDIBLE) when he was a mayor of New York, said, I don't make many mistakes, but when I make them, it's a beaut. And this one was a beaut. And over my life, Piers, in 1995 I predicted Clinton would win and I brought him back. Nobody else said he could. 2000 I said Bush was going to win, '04, I said Bush was going to win. '06 I said the Republicans are going to lose both Houses. '08 I predicted an Obama win --

MORGAN: You're making this up.

(CROSSTALK)

MORRIS: And in --

MORGAN: I know you think you're one of the world's great pundit. But --

MORRIS: And in 2010 --

MORGAN: But I have a little --

MORRIS: And in 2010 --

MORGAN: Right.

MORRIS: I was the only person that said the Republicans would pick up 60 to 80 seats in the House.

MORGAN: OK. As you know you've also dropped some other claims, and we have a little roll call here. Let's watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORRIS: I believe the Republicans will win 60 to 80 seats in the House, and I personally believe it could go higher. I think they're going to definitely win nine seats in the Senate. And there are two that may fall giving us -- giving us the majority.

There's going to be a government shutdown just like in '95 and '96. But we're going to win it this time.

Ohio is overrated. He can win and will win. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and a very good shot in Minnesota. That's a little iffy, and he'll never even have to think twice about Ohio, but he's going to win Ohio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORRIS: So are you going to sue me? I said that he was going to win 60 to 80 seats in the House, we did. Nobody else said that, and I said we're going to win nine seats --

MORGAN: Well, the Republican's fate --

(CROSSTALK) MORRIS: And I said -- 68. And I said that we were going to win nine seats in the Senate. The Republicans won six and three of the losses were by less than a point. So come on. Look, the basic --

MORGAN: But you know as well as I do, and here's the point, I suppose. Here's the overview. You know as well as I do that you got let go by FOX yesterday, huge blaze of attention to this. And it must have been humiliating for you because people have latched on to this, they've been playing all this stuff, and they've been trying to make out you are as this particular business insider poll noted. Someone had described you as the worst pundit of 2012.

MORRIS: No, it's very --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: You know this, and you know that people are laughing at you, mocking you, and so on. How does that make you feel, given you've been so respected for so long until this period?

MORRIS: Well, I have gotten 30 senators and governors elected, 14 presidents and prime ministers. The president of the United States twice. And -- one and a half, I worked with others in the first go around. So I'm OK on that score. But the real issue is why did Romney lose? Well, the immediate answer is the storm. And in fact I wrote a column, I was just showing you, four days before Election Day entitled "In the Last Few Hours" --

MORGAN: You mean Hurricane Sandy?

MORRIS: Yes. "In the Last Few Hours Certain Danger Signs in Polling," saying that Obama could be coming back because of the storm. The fact of the matter is that before Hurricane Sandy started, Obama was trailing Mitt Romney. In Gallup and Rasmussen, and virtually all of the major polling, because he had lost the first debate, not recovered in the second, and gotten a little bit better in the third.

And nobody could tell the impact of Sandy. Fifteen percent of the voters made up their minds in the last 72 hours. And they cited Sandy as number one.

MORGAN: But it wasn't just Sandy, it's when the numbers finally came in for Obama, he just cleaned Romney's clock. I mean, he did. And unfortunately for you guys, it was a really bad beating in the end. It wasn't even close, it wasn't a nail biter, it wasn't a surprise Obama ran in the end clearly a much better campaign.

MORRIS: Well --

MORGAN: And you can't just honestly, Dick, blame a storm and say --

MORRIS: Well --

MORGAN: -- that's swung it completely to Obama.

MORRIS: Well -- MORGAN: Obama was going to win without the storm.

MORRIS: Well, I prefer to believe that CNN's polling was accurate, wouldn't you?

MORGAN: I think all the polls should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

MORRIS: I think that --

MORGAN: I really do, and I think that Nate Silver actually was the guy --

MORRIS: Yes. But he doesn't work for CNN.

MORGAN: He doesn't. But we had him on this show three or four times.

(CROSSTALK)

And Nate Silver kept looking me in the eye and saying, all the pundits are wrong, all the polls are misleading.

MORRIS: Right.

MORGAN: Obama is going to win this easily.

(CROSSTALK)

And he was doing it for pure number crunching.

MORRIS: The question -- the question really is why Obama won so -- by such a margin. And I think the answer is that there has been a fundamental demographic shift in the United States. And I thought that it -- have surfaced in '08 because of a charismatic candidate. Then I thought we'd go back down again and it did in '10. They didn't show up. But in '12, they showed up again in huge numbers. And eight million whites stayed home. And I think the Republican Party has got to change in fundamental ways otherwise it will never win another election.

MORGAN: Here's -- OK. I agree with you. And I think many people agree with that. But you got turfed out of FOX yesterday which people are interpreting, along with Sarah Palin being turfed out, as a repudiation of that style of Republican front person, if you like.

What do you say to that? Was that why FOX let you go?

MORRIS: No, but --

MORGAN: And what does that mean for the party and your involvement with it at all? I mean, some people will say, we don't care what Dick Morris has to say.

MORRIS: Yes.

MORGAN: He's irrelevant now. MORRIS: Well, FOX -- last guy who's called irrelevant was Bill Clinton in '95. The point is, that these changes are fundamental and we need to recognize them and adjust to them. That does not mean we back off from our core principles. Now that the taxes have been raised on rich people, you've got a simple fight with Obama. More spending against less, more debt against less.

And the Republicans can win that fight. But they've got to start -- stop victimizing Latinos and women. Start with the Latinos. They're a Republican voter base. That group is going to vote like all the other immigrant groups do, as they move up, they'll become more Republican. And -- and I know, because I ran the last two successful presidential campaigns in Mexico. And in both of them, the conservative Fox and Calderon won.

And they are pro family, anti-debt, and incredibly worried about illegitimacy and crime and all that. But they feel like the Republican Party hates them. And --

MORGAN: But why -- why --

MORRIS: Rodeo bill has got to pass.

MORGAN: Right.

MORRIS: For them to -- for Republicans ever to access that vote.

MORGAN: What people are asking is why FOX not interested now on your views or whether Republicans want you to go?

(CROSSTALK)

MORRIS: Hey, I don't -- I don't know what FOX is interested in or not.

MORGAN: But they must have told you, isn't it?

MORRIS: Well, I had a wonderful talk with Roger Ales, who I really respect, a week ago. And he said in this business, you're up, you're down, nothing is final or fatal.

MORGAN: But why are you down now as far as --

MORRIS: Because I was wrong, and I was wrong at the top of my lungs. The other part of this is women. We have to get rid --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Hang on a minute. Let's just -- people are interested in this, you know that, they fired you because you were wrong. But a lot of people on FOX were calling it wrong, why you? Why have you been singled out?

MORRIS: I don't know. I don't know. Why don't you invite them and ask?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: But do you know the answer?

MORRIS: No, I don't. I don't. I think I was wrong at the top of my lungs, maybe I'm being made a poster child for that. But --

MORGAN: Do you resent the decision?

MORRIS: Look, FOX has given me the opportunity of a lifetime. Fifteen years, 3,000 interviews. And at some point a great marriage has to come to an end. Now we're not --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: It's got to annoy you that Karl Rove gets to stay there, doesn't it?

MORRIS: Piers, when --

MORGAN: He was a guy saying that the election result on the night was wrong. They had to -- they had to stand up. Megyn Kelly had to stop running down the corridor.

MORRIS: The divorce -- the divorce isn't final, but I am seeing other people.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I know how grateful you are. What's interesting about FOX News is that their ratings have really plummeted since the election. Really quite dramatically. Down 22 percent in the key demo in January. The lowest demo numbers since July 2008. And in primetime, down 40 percent in the demo, it's lowest demo number since May 2006. It seems from the outside, and they would do this to us, that FOX have got some real problems right now. One of the reasons is that they just called this election so badly wrong. And they may have driven the party and Mitt Romney down the wrong alley.

MORRIS: Well, apart from whether you blame FOX or not, I'm not going to get into that. But I believe that the Republicans were horribly hurt among women by the crazy extremists who said that rape won't make you pregnant and it's an act of god. I think on the other hand the Democrats are hurt by those who say third trimester abortions are fine.

We have to understand what Bill Clinton said. Abortion should be rare. And we have to understand that we're not going to be overturned by the court. Roe is not going anywhere while Obama is president. So Republicans should say let's all work together on steps to reduce the number of abortions, because none of us think it's good.

MORGAN: But the party should -- should still --

MORRIS: And things like --

(CROSSTALK) MORGAN: But the party you think --

MORRIS: Let me just finish.

MORGAN: Yes, but the very same point you're making --

MORRIS: Things like parental consent --

MORGAN: Should the party's stand then for a woman's right to choose was to trying to keep the numbers low, is that what you're saying?

MORRIS: No, I'm saying that they're not going to do that, and that's their opinion. And it's completely held belief.

MORGAN: Where does the party stand?

MORRIS: But what I am --

MORGAN: What's the Republican position then?

MORRIS: Pro life. But I am saying --

MORGAN: And yet you're not talking about abolishing it.

MORRIS: But I am -- Piers, let me --

MORGAN: You're talking about keeping abortion with a lower level. That's not pro life, isn't it?

MORGAN: Let me -- let me talk about what I'm talking about. When Bill Clinton took office, there were 1.4 million abortions, now there's 700,000.

MORGAN: Right.

MORRIS: Because of adoption procedures, counseling, birth control.

MORGAN: No, I get that, but your position --

MORRIS: Parental notification consent.

MORGAN: I'm trying to work out what your position is, Dick.

MORRIS: That's the Republican Party needs to move.

MORGAN: Right. But the party --

MORRIS: They're making abortion illegal to making it rare.

MORGAN: OK. Right. When you say turning it from legal to rare, what you're moving from is pro life to pro choice in the debate. And you know that. You can't be -- you're either/or.

MORRIS: I believe --

MORGAN: You either believe it should be illegal or you believe it shouldn't. And if you don't --

MORRIS: I believe -- I believe --

MORGAN: -- you move your position as a party.

MORRIS: I believe that it's a practical matter with the Republican Party if they focus on overturning Roe. They're whistling in the wind, and they know that.

MORGAN: Right. But as a party's position, and they've got to be very clear about this, so that the women you're talking about, you feel disenfranchised by the party, know exactly what they stand for. What you're saying is, they need to move from pro life to pro choice, albeit trying to reduce the numbers?

MORRIS: Yes.

MORGAN: Am I right?

MORRIS: No, you're not.

MORGAN: Explain to me why I'm wrong.

MORRIS: I might prefer my own words coming out of my mouth.

MORGAN: Explain to me why I'm wrong.

MORRIS: My own -- because the issue is that it is not a theoretical debate as to whether Roe will ever be overturned. That we've had 40 years of Republicans dominating the court and it hasn't been. This is a theoretical issue that should not be allowed to determine an election. Americans can come together, skewingly extremes on this issue, and focusing in a workman like practical way, at reducing the incidents of abortion.

You know, the teen pregnancy is down by 42 percent? Abortion is cut half. Those are positive steps because policies that Clinton and Bush put into effect about notification and counseling and all of that. So on the issue --

MORGAN: Would you -- would you support gay marriage? Should the party embrace it now given --

MORRIS: Well, my --

MORGAN: -- that so many states are moving that way?

MORRIS: My view on gay marriage is that if a state decides to go for gay marriage, the legislature of the voters, that's great. That's up to them. I've got no problem with it.

MORGAN: What's your personal view?

MORRIS: I don't believe that the court should jam it down anybody's throat.

MORGAN: What's your view?

MORRIS: That if people want it, they should be able to do it, but it's got to be a decision of the community.

MORGAN: See, when I hear you speak, it's interesting to me. I hear you speak, and I hear you basically saying, look, with abortion we need to move from pro-life as people call it, although I don't like that phrase. I don't think it's neither/or in that sense - pro-life to an acceptance that's going to exist to try to reduce the numbers. Gay marriage -- going from an anti-gay marriage position to yes, we should accept this and it should be --

MORRIS: When the people approve it.

MORGAN: Right. See, the Republican party has to make its mind up as a party. It can't have endless people on both sides ripping each other's position apart, so that people (INAUDIBLE) when it comes to an election, people go, what do they actually stand for?

MORRIS: What we do stand for, Republicans do stand for, and it's becoming very clear, and we need to be much stronger on this, is holding down spending and debt.

John Boehner has to be seen in a new light. He's no longer the leader of the Republicans in the House. He's a kind of coalition speaker, a little bit like Ramsey McDonald, the former prime minister of Britai. After the Labour members all ran out on him, stayed in office held up by the conservatives.

Boehner now speaks for all of the Democrats and a handful of Republicans. And the regular Republicans vote against his position. And he's okay with it and they're okay with it because they can go back home and say, "I opposed higher taxes."

MORGAN: Should Boehner - should he be replaced?

MORRIS: Well, I don't -- a fight of that sort now would be destructive. But I believe Boehner and the Republicans need to reclaim their fundamental legacy. Which is if there was ever a time when we can understand that big spending and borrowing and ratifying it by higher taxes is going to destroy the American economy just like it's destroyed the economies of Japan and Europe. And we have to rally behind that.

And what is stopping that is that Latinos and women feel they can't join the Republican party even though they agree with it, because it's excluding.

MORGAN: Final question. I want a one-word or two-word answer: Who would you most like to see leading the party for the next election? It can be a surname, a first name.

MORRIS: Scott Walker.

MORGAN: Scott Walker? Interesting call.

Dick Morris, good to see you.

MORRIS: Thank you.

MORGAN: You can always come back here at CNN. We're not going to ban you or fire you. Good to see you.

Coming later, we'll have an all-star panel after the break talking about what Dick Morris just said about the future of the Republican party. And later, Kerry Kennedy joins me live to talk about guns in America.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Joining me now, two people who likely disagree about what Dick Morris had to say, or maybe they'll surprise us all, rather like Mitt Romney surprised Dick Morris. In to do battle, Van Jones, a CNN contributor and former Obama White House official. Eloise Jordan, Daily Beast contributor and a former speech writer for Condoleezza Rice.

Let's start with you, Eloise. Some extraordinary stuff there from Dick Morris. And I think the headlines for me were, he blamed Hurricane Sandy for why he had been so wrong about the Romney landslide. Clearly had no time for John Boehner. He thinks Scott Walker should be the next Republican leader, and he says he was basically kicked out of Fox for being wrong at the top of his lungs. Where do you start with all that?

ELOISE JORDAN, DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I thought he was graceful, first of all. And I give him a lot of credit for -- I felt like he was being very honest. But let's go to his contention about Hurricane Sandy being a game-changer. It was over a long time ago for Mitt Romney. I think that the debate, President Obama's poor performance in the first debate, gave glimmers of hope to the Republican party. It made the race much more interesting for the pundit class. But ultimately, it was just a very bad campaign for Mitt Romney.

MORGAN: And one of the problems, Van, I thought was interesting, talking to Dick Morris about social issues is that even when I discuss them with him now, I still couldn't really work out what his decision was. And this seemed to me to cut to the quick of the Republican problem throughout the last year, particularly in the nominee race. What do these guys actually stand for collectively? On abortion he seemed to be saying, look, we can't be pro-life anymore, we have to be sort of pro-choice, but we're not going to admit we're pro-choice. I mean, I didn't understand it.

VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, if only it were only him with that problem. Right now, what you see is a Republican party in real disarray. They have backed themselves into this sort of demographic cul-de-sac. And they're trying to play around with different words to see if somehow I could just say this word differently, and that word differently, that would be the magic key. It would get me out of this corner.

That's not their problem. The problem is, you have a big chunk of America now, the governing majority of America, has felt excluded and disrespected by this party for a very long time. They now also apparently believe if they can just get an immigration bill passed, all would be right with the world. That's not true, either. If you look at the numbers of young Latinos and young African-Americans - which by the way, he didn't even talk about African Americans - the numbers are in the 60, 70, 80 percent. It's very hard to come back from that.

And I think Dick Morris is a symptom -- the Dick Morris you saw on Fox before you had him on your show, the (INAUDIBLE) Dick Morris -- is a symptom of something deeply wrong in a Republican party in disarray. Detached from reality, trying to find his way back.

MORGAN: There's certainly an argument that that the case. Presumably why Fox let him go, isn't it?

Let's turn to his pronouncement of Scott Walker as the potential runner for the Republicans in 2016. I want to play a clip from Chris Christie. This is him responding to a former White House physician who claimed on CNN that she was worried Christie could die in office. This is what Christie had to say about that today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This is just another hack who wants five minutes on TV. And it's completely irresponsible. Completely irresponsible. My children saw that last night. And she sat there on TV and said, "I'm afraid he's going to die in office."

I have four children between nine and 19. I have my children - my 12- year-old son come to me last night and said, "Dad, are you going to die?" I mean, come on. That's irresponsible stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Well, I totally agree with him. Being, Elise, I think that this obsession with Chris Christie's weight -- I've rarely met a politician with more drive and energy than Chris Christie. He knows he's got a problem with the weight. I know he's trying to lose the weight because he told me himself.

Why do we care so much about it? He's done an amazing job in the last few months. So much so he's the most popular politician in the country.

JORDAN: Well, I think it's America's own - our obsession with weight, and just with our country. You're from London, U.K. - like our obsession with genetically processed foods and all that. I think America does have a weight obsession.

Separate of that, I think Chris Christie is the future of the Republican party, and I couldn't embrace him more wholeheartedly. Look at his performance during the hurricane. I love the way he is frank, straightforward, he says what he thinks. And he's just practical and pragmatic and speaks with a lot of commonsense.

MORGAN: I mean, Van, to me, -- to me, it's a bit of a nonissue. I just think he's a very popular guy, and even today, I can imagine many Americans watching his reaction going, good on you. Take her down.

JONES: Yes, I can understand that. Listen, first of all, everybody loves this governor right now. And he's fresh, he's frank.

But I think he has to be a little bit careful. He didn't have to attack her motives, call her a hack, tell her to shut up. Those kinds of things, they might play well at this stage of his career while he's still kind of establishing.

But you start thinking about, do you want a commander-in-chief who -- when a doctor makes the observation that frankly every American has made in the quiet of their own hearts, gee, can this guy actually pull this office? If he's president, can he do it? Can he physically do it? The doctor says what my doctor has told me, watch your weight, and he calls her a hack. I don't think that'spresidential. It's funny, it's interesting. It's not presidential. He's got to watch that, I think.

MORGAN: I think if somebody went on TV and told my kids who were watching that I was going to die because I ate too many Big Macs or doughnuts, I would call them a hack, too. So, I'm lending my full support, my full weight. Not quite as much as him, but it's enough. My considerable girth behind Chris Christie.

(LAUGHTER)

JONES: Fair enough.

MORGAN: I think he's a force for good in this country. I wish there were more politicians who spoke from the heart like he did.

Anyway, Van Jones and Eloise Jordan, thank you both very much.

When we come back, she lost her father and uncle to gun violence. Now Kerry Kennedy demands a plan on gun control.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY KENNEDY: It's almost impossible to describe the pain of losing your father to a senseless murder, or the anger and fear of knowing that that murder might have been avoided if only our leaders had acted to stop the violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Kerry Kennedy speaking today at the Demand A Plan Gun Control Event in Washington. She's the president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, named of course for her late father. And Kerry Kennedy joins me now.

Welcome back to you, Kerry. Thank you so much for coming on the show again. I just want to start by playing -- this is a clip of your father speaking after the assassination of Martin Luther King. And it feels particularly poignant to me to be playing this on the day that you made such a powerful speech. Let's hear this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily, whether it is done in the name of the law or in defiance of the law, by one man or by a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence, whenever we tear at the fabric of our lives, which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children -- whenever we do this, then the whole nation is degraded.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: An extraordinary evocative statement there, I thought, by your father. Of course, horrifically, he himself was then assassinated a few months later. Since then, a million Americans have been killed by guns. As Joe Biden said today, I think it's 1,600 more since Sandy Hook. What is going to be done about changing the culture? Never mind specific weapons, but the culture of gun violence that has enveloped America?

KENNEDY: Well, I -- you know, I think we have to really start with the laws. It wasn't until the laws on drunk driving were enforced before people really took that seriously. And I think we need to start with an assault weapons ban and a ban on the high capacity magazines, and the wonderful law that my own senator, Kirstin Gillibrand, has offered on stopping trafficking, et cetera.

So I think we really have to start there. And then we need to look at our society and say, what are we doing? You know, it's an important part of the American experience to teach your kid to ride a bike, to fish, and to teach your kid perhaps to shoot a rifle. That is part of the American experience for so many of us.

But that is not what assault weapons are about. We're going in and trying to kill people. And we need to stop that in this country.

MORGAN: I felt that particularly strongly when I fired some of these weapons, including an AR-15, the other day in Texas. I was struck by the speed and power and the ease that they were to use. Apart from anything else, the speed of the bullets just terrified me, thinking about those in a closed environment like a school or a theater, as they've been used in recent atrocities.

I want to play a couple clips from Tony Bennett and Chris Rock at the same event that you were at today, who lent their support to this campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BENNETT, SINGER: I still haven't gotten over Connecticut. I'd like the assault weapons to go to war, not in our own country. And I'd like assault weapons eliminated. Thank you.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: The president and the First Lady are kind of like the mom and the dad of the country. And when your dad says something, you listen. Then when you don't, it usually bites you in the ass later on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Very serious and powerful from Tony Bennett. Jocular but making a good point from Chris Rock there, I felt. I mean, the truth is that the majority of Americans support a ban on assault weapons. The latest CNN poll, 56 percent, I think. The majority support universal background checks. The majority want these high capacity clips to be banned.

There is a will there. But is there a will amongst the politicians, Kerry Kennedy, to get this done?

KENNEDY: I was up on Capitol Hill today, and speaking to 15 members of Congress, and all of whom have said that they are for this legislation. Now, it's tough, because I think the NRA is very, very strong and is very, very threatening. And you see that, if you haven't read the "Rolling Stone" article on the NRA, it is really very eye opening.

MORGAN: It is.

KENNEDY: I think, you know, one of the women who was there today, who's daughter was wounded in Virginia Tech put it so eloquently when she said, you want to know what courage is? Courage is standing in a classroom and seeing a guy with a gun, and wondering what's going to happen to you and wondering if you're going to survive that moment, and being five or six years old.

Courage is not standing up to the NRA. So I think, you know, really well put. Let's get this into perspective. If you lose your seat because you vote for this legislation and that saves a life, I think you've served well. You've served our country well.

MORGAN: I could not put it better, if I tried. Kerry Kennedy, thank you for joining me.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming next, head to head on guns with an NRA instructor and a gun dealer on one side, and the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns on the other.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Let's go right to our debate on guns in America. With me now is Mark Glaze, director of Mayor's Against Illegal Guns, and attorney, gun dealer and NRA instructor Lenden Eakin. Welcome to you both.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Let me start with you, if I may, Lenden Eakin. You're an NRA member. You have heard Kerry Kennedy there. Her father was assassinated. Her uncle was assassinated, two of the great political figures of modern times in America. A million Americans have been shot with guns since then. What is your solution or idea for how to reduce gun violence in America?

LENDEN EAKIN, NRA INSTRUCTOR: Well, the most important thing is to keep lethal weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill and people who would perpetrate that violence. I think the disagreement is over how to do that.

MORGAN: What I keep hearing --

EAKIN: Background checks.

MORGAN: Right. What I hear from people on the gun rights side a lot is they say we are entitled because the Founding Fathers intended this, to have the same weapons as our military. And I find that a ridiculous argument, because if that was the case, then you'd all be entitled to have drones and nuclear weapons. And I don't hear anybody calling for that.

So there's clearly already a limitation on the kind of firearms you can have. What is the big deal in extending the limitation, in the light of these mass shootings, to include assault weapons, assault rifles?

EAKIN: Well, the AR-15 is a civilian version of the military rifle, and is widely owned legally by the civilian community right now. That makes it protected by the Second Amendment according to the Supreme Court in the Heller case and the Miller case. And if we want to change that, we could, but I think we would need to amend the Second Amendment to modify it or repeal it to accomplish that legally.

MORGAN: Right, Mark Glaze, there are people now beginning to say, yes, maybe we should look as a nation at amending the Second Amendment again, and the reason -- or repealing it, because the wording has been so open to interpretation that nobody seems quite sure what it means or what the founding fathers truly intended.

MARK GLAZE, MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS: Well, look, it's always a tough task figuring out what the framers intended. But I don't think you need to rewrite the Second Amendment to do everything we need to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Look, we know that Justice Scalia, not a fan of gun control we think, when he wrote in the Heller decision that particularly dangerous weapons can be banned to protect public safety and other laws can be passed, like background checks, like restriction on where you can carry certain kinds of guns. All of those laws were deemed perfectly acceptable.

The question is, how far does that writing stand. That's one of the conversations we're having now. But I don't think any of the proposals that's being debated in Washington today even bumps up close to the Constitutional line.

MORGAN: See, Leonard Eakin, here's the thing, America didn't used to have drunk driving rules. So many millions of Americans used to drink and drive. And it killed a lot of Americans. And America woke up one day, collectively, and went enough. And they brought in pretty tough laws about drunk driving. As a result, the number of Americans killed by alcohol related deaths in cars has absolutely plummeted.

The argument's the same, I believe, with guns. You can't keep having 100,000 Americans hit by gunfire a year, 18,000 committing suicide with guns, and 12,000 getting killed or murdered with guns. You can't just keep going like this. There's got to be a point when you say, enough; what are we going to do? What weapons should stay in civilian hands and what shouldn't?

These AR-15s are killing machines. I used one in Texas. The idea of those are being used by deranged young people in Sandy Hook Elementary School, those poor kids, as Joe Biden so emotionally said today, it sickens me. And I just don't think it's enough to say, I want the right to go hog hunting with this. That doesn't supersede the right to stop kids getting killed with them.

EAKIN: Well, I don't disagree with that at all, that we need to stop people from getting killed with them. Unfortunately, those laws are already there and didn't work. But the Constitutional argument the gentleman just made has a flaw in it. The wording is dangerous and unusual weapons may be restricted. And there's nothing unusual about an AR-15.

Our military and law enforcement have been training on them for 40 years. And all of us who have been through military training or law enforcement training are familiar with them and comfortable with them. And they're the proper weapon for common defense if we're going to stick to the Constitution in its original purpose.

MORGAN: Even the owner of the Texas gun store where I was at on Monday said they were not the preferred weapon for defense. And the reason he cited was that they cause such tremendous damage with the bullets. They go through concrete. They go through walls. People get killed with them.

I played golf with a Los Angeles surgeon the other day who has to patch up the gang victims. He said the same thing. A lot of victims he treats are hit with ricocheted bullets from these AR-15s, because the bullets go through walls. So they're killing machines.

They are, as you put it, military weapons. They just have to be banned, haven't they? What is the argument against banning them?

EAKIN: They're not the military version. They're the civilian version. You know the difference. You fired both. The argument against it is that if we as Americans need to organize for our common defense, they're the perfect weapon for us to have. And if we're not going to use that weapon for our common defense, I think we need to modify the Second Amendment to comply with the Supreme Court case law.

MORGAN: If the assault weapons ban came in that Senator Feinstein wants in, backed by the president, there would still be, despite the assault weapons ban she recommends, 2,200 guns legally obtainable to American civilians. You know what? That is enough.

Anyway, Mark Glaze and Lenden Eakin, thank you both very much.

Coming next, hit maker L.A. Reid talks X-Factor, Simon Cowell, Whitney Houston and tells us his Grammy predictions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

L.A. REID, "X-FACTOR": I was prepared to just rip you to shreds, because doing a Beatles song is very presumptuous as though you are teen heartthrobs like the Beatles. And you actually are teen heartthrobs like the Beatles.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You may recognize L.A. Reid as the judge next to Simon Cowell and Britney Spears on X-Factor. He is also chairman and CEO of Epic Records and has played a key role in recent successes of artists including Kanye West, Riannah, Bon Jovi, Pink, Jennifer Lopez and a little phenomenon called Justin Bieber.

This weekend, L.A. will receive the Icon Award at the pre-Grammy gala Grammy Salute to Industry Icons. Welcome to you, icon.

REID: Thank you.

MORGAN: How does it feel to be an icon?

REID: I'm not sure. It comes this weekend, right. It's a little bit scary, though, honestly, because I feel like I haven't arrived at that point in my career yet. I'm a little bit young for it.

MORGAN: Of all your amazing successes with all these incredible artists, what's the one, if could I relive it for you again -- you have like five minutes to live and I could say you can have one moment with any of these artists, which one would you go for?

REID: Incredible moment, Kanye West in my office rapping his entire album to me, just like we're sitting here, right. Incredible moment, like the highlight. MORGAN: Did you know the moment you heard it, this would be huge?

REID: Yes, absolutely. But it was like his second album. He had already had some success. So it didn't make me a genius to know that it was going to be huge, but it was. A big record.

MORGAN: Is the Kim Kardashian move good for his brand or devastating?

REID: I think it is great for his brand. He was already one of the greatest, if not the greatest music makers alive. And now he is one of the most famous. What's wrong with that?

MORGAN: Let's talk about Beyonce quickly, the lip syncing debate. Because when I watched her doing the Inaugural performance, I thought it sounded very perfect. Then I heard, obviously, that she had lip synched. And I wondered if I cared, because she clearly had done it that week. Does it matter? You tell me how prevalent this is.

REID: No. You know, the truth is it didn't matter. She is great. She's one of the greatest of all time. It was a flawless performance. And it didn't really matter that she had a backing track, because the idea was to give a great performance, right? It wasn't to prove she could sing.

I mean, if Beyonce still has to prove she can sting after all this time, come on. Give me a break.

MORGAN: I thought her performance at the Super Bowl was just spectacular.

REID: It was.

MORGAN: Even that -- I'm guessing that some of that would have been lip synched. It had to be, right?

REID: I would think. But it appeared that it was all live. I don't know for sure, because she is really good. But the idea isn't for her to prove anything. Was it amazing, is the question. What we should be asking is, is it amazing? And it was amazing.

MORGAN: I couldn't agree more. It's about performing and entertaining.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

MORGAN: Talking performing and entertaining, I want to play you a clip from Sharon Osbourne's interview with me, which I asked her to name the worst judge on American television. This is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Who is the worst judge on television at the moment?

SHARON OSBOURNE, "THE OSBOURNES": Oh, dear. Oh, that's awful. Probably -- and I know he's going to kill me and he is the head of Ozzy's record company. And I shouldn't say this, but probably L.A. Reid, because I think he is boring.

MORGAN: You just ruined Ozzy's record deal.

OSBOURNE: I know, but he's doing -- it's like, L.A., get back to the bloody record company and sell some records and stop being a silly judge.

(END VIDEO CLIP{)

MORGAN: Not good.

REID: Well, wow.

MORGAN: You are Ozzy's record company boss.

REID: Yes.

MORGAN: You have it in your power to now fire him in retribution.

REID: I wouldn't dare fire Ozzy. I wish I had it in my power to fire Sharon. Honestly, I've never watched her. I'm not even going to kid you, I've never watched her. She is an amazing person. I don't know why she decided to take a jab at me.

MORGAN: She really did take you down.

REID: I think she might have wanted my job. I think that's what it was. I think she was hoping that Simon was watching, so Simon would say, you know, Sharon, you're right. You should have this job on "X- Factor."

MORGAN: Now you have this glow about you which I recognize, because I had the same one, which is that glow that comes about a few hours after you realize you no longer have to take Simon Cowell's midnight calls.

REID: That's just mean.

MORGAN: You're not doing "X-Factor" anymore.

REID: Yours came at midnight? You're lucky

MORGAN: That's when he woke up.

REID: Mine always came at 2:00 a.m.

MORGAN: You're coming off "X-Factor." Why is that?

REID: You know, I did it. I did it for two seasons. I had a great time doing it, really. I really admire Simon. I love him. But I've done it. It was done already, right. And it was time to move on. That was the first answer.

The second answer is I do have a day job, right? And I wasn't doing particularly great at my day job because I was taken. So I'm back to work. MORGAN: Grammys on Sunday. A lot of great talent out there. Who is your money on for big award winners?

REID: Without really being specific to categories, I can tell you the songs that really sort of resonated with me. There is Fun.

MORGAN: I was going to say Fun because they were at the Inaugural Ball. They were sensational.

REID: That's the top of the top.

MORGAN: Anthem of the year, really.

REID: Yeah. I love Fun. The Gotier Records (ph) "Somebody You Used to Know" is also great.

MORGAN: And finally, thoughts about Whitney Houston, a year on. Remember last year, it was so sad because it all happened that weekend.

REID: It was very, very sad. It was a long weekend, you know. I love Whitney. I spent a lot of time with Whitney. I produced songs. Whitney and I won Grammys together. But this was tough. And it's -- I think because we're at a year, I think it is going to really sort of come down us on all and we're going to realize that it has been a year since she passed and there will be some sad moments.

MORGAN: I agree, very sad. L.A., great to see you. Thanks for coming in.

REID: Really a pleasure.

MORGAN: And congratulations on the Grammy Icon Award.

REID: Kind of crazy. Thank you.

MORGAN: Well deserved.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Tomorrow night, the mother of Jaycee Dugard. Eleven-year-old Jaycee was abducted on her way to school and spent 18 years as a prisoner of a convicted sex offender. Now her mother is reaching out to six-year-old Ethan, the little boy who was rescued this week after being held hostage in a backyard bunker.

Her story and the message she has for Ethan and his mom, that's tomorrow night.

Plus, get ready, the latest on the blizzard watch for much of the northeast and New England. Some say it could be an historic storm. That's all for us tonight. Anderson Cooper starts now.