Senator Tim Johnson, Democrat of South Dakota: "It makes common sense to not have one-size-fits-all." Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska: "I feel like it's going to be hard for any of these pieces of legislation to pass at this point."
These are Democrats. What kind of pressure is President Obama going to bring to bear on them?
PLOUFFE: Well, this is a tough issue, as you know, like a lot of them we're dealing this. I will say this: These are commonsense proposals that respect the rights of gun owners. Let's start there.
And I think if you look at high-capacity magazines, assault weapons, universal background checks, progress we can make on mental health and school safety, all of these things enjoy enormous support of the American people, both Democrats and Republicans.
PLOUFFE: So I think that putting together the legislative coalition is going to be hard, obviously, but we're very confident. I do think things have changed since Newtown. You know, Senator Manchin, for one, other Democrats and Republicans are thinking anew about this issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, and those senators I just mentioned all signaling that the assault weapons ban is likely not going to get through, and they're likely to vote against it. Will it be a success for the president if, indeed, the assault weapons ban doesn't pass?
PLOUFFE: Well, I'm not going to, you know, predict what may or may not happen legislatively. The president put forward a package. He's taken some actions on his own on things like mental health and background checks, but legislative proposals that he thinks will protect our kids, help with gun safety.
We don't expect it all to pass or in its current form, but we think there's elements of this that are absolutely critical. And I think there's going to be a big spotlight shone on this. I think the American people are paying a lot of attention this debate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And he's going to twist the arms of Democrats?
PLOUFFE: Well, we're going to twist the arms of Democrats, Republicans, and we're going to engage the American people in this debate. And at the very least, we're going to have votes on all these things in the House and Senate. I'm confident some of the measures you mentioned -- clips, universal background checks -- I think there are 60 votes in the Senate and 218 in the House that the president would sign.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That could be the trade-off, Democratic senators vote against the assault weapons ban, but vote for the magazine clips and for the universal background checks?
PLOUFFE: Well, we think the assault weapons ban's very important. As you know, you were involved in passing this in '94, and I think that Senator Feinstein's looking at how to improve it and deal with some of the loopholes that were in that legislation. So we think all these things deserve votes. We think a lot of them can -- can pass.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You've also bought a little more time perhaps now on the big fiscal issues, taxes and spending. The House Republicans signaling this week that they would approve a three-month extension of the debt limit without any spending cuts. They simply want to have a restriction on congressional pay. Now, I know the president has said that he didn't want to sign any more short-term exceptions. Will he make an exception in this case?