Liberal Historian Doug Brinkley: Obama Gun Control Push a 'Yes We Can' Moment

January 7th, 2016 8:56 PM

Moments before the start of Thursday evenings CNN town hall forum on guns, liberal presidential historian and CNN contributor Douglas Brinkley forecast that President Obama would take the proverbial stage seeking to be a "minister" to grieving families who lost loved ones to "gun violence." For the term-limited president, it is a "yes, we can moment" as he winds down his president, Brinkley offered.

Asked whether gun control would be an ongoing cause for Mr. Obama in his post-presidency, Brinkley answered in the affirmative, but suggested it would probably be second on his agenda to climate change suggesting it would rival climate change as post-presidential focus.

Below are the video and transcript for the short segment:

CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront
January 7, 2016; 7:58 p.m. Eastern

KATE BOLDUAN, substitute host:  Let me bring in, right now, OutFront with me is Douglas Brinkley, well-known, well-renowned CNN presidential historian. Doug, thank you so much.

What does tonight mean? What does this issue mean for Obama’s legacy?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: I think it means a great deal to him. I mean, he really wants to see this as a kind of a town hall where he can be a minister. He's been a grief counselor, really, and a lot of the audience are people that have had somebody lost in their lives through gun violence, so when we look at the Obama presidency after he leaves office, all of those killings, Newtown and Charleston are all going to be part of these eight years of his presidency and I think he wants to make it clear that he cares, that's a yes, we can, um, moment. You know, we can do better background checks.

BOLDUAN: Do you think this also then goes beyond his eight years [in office]. Is this his cause after his presidency?

BRINKLEY: It looks like it's going to be a major one. I mean climate change on a global way, he’s been doing the last, you know, six months it will be this last year. I think this is going to be seminal in his post-presidential legacy, dealing on the gun issue. After all, he’s building his presidential library in down Chicago –

BOULDUAN: Mm-hmm, yeah, that’s –

BRINKLEY: – and he was a grassroots organizer there, and I think he sees a role of getting into the schools , getting into the communities of America, doing just what he’s doing there, you know, here tonight, and that is having a discussion of how do we stop 30,000 a year from being slaughtered?

How do we not attack the Second Amendment, which he says I'm a constitutional lawyer, I'm all about the Second Amendment, but how can we do something to start lowering that number?

BOLDUAN: This is a big moment for the president, big moment for the country. Douglas Brinkley, it’s always great to have you. Thank you, so much for your time.

Tell the Truth 2016