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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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March 18th, 2013
05:48 PM ET

Michael Bloomberg: Crusader or meddling nanny?

He is the most powerful mayor in the nation, and if New York's Michael Bloomberg is starting to feel the limits of his reach, he's not showing it. He has aggressively attempted to ban the sale of large sugary drinks, championed gun control, and today he's going after one of his favorite targets: big tobacco, announcing a new initiative to force stores to hide cigarettes, keeping them out-of-sight, and hopefully out-of-mind, for New Yorkers.

"Everybody understands smoking kills, and particularly the most vulnerable need our help," says Bloomberg. The mayor's proposal is trying to "de-glamorize" cigarettes, and remind consumers that cigarettes are not "normal" products.

Mayor Bloomberg, of course, also led the charge to keep his citizens from becoming headless fat people in news b-roll. His recent attempt to ban the sale of sugary drinks over 16 ounces had people crying "nanny state" long before it hit a snag in court, and it made the Big Gulp the breakout star of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), with some help from Sarah Palin.

"If we can get you to have less in front of you, then you'll probably eat less, and you'll be healthier for it," says Bloomberg.

On the topic of gun control, Bloomberg says he is more focused on background checks than the assault weapons ban.

"The 14 states that have taken on the burden of also having background checks for gun shows and internet sales, they've reduced their suicide rate by 50 percent," says Bloomberg. "Gun background checks really do work. They help bring down the murder rate, and they dramatically reduce the suicide rate."

Mayor Bloomberg took his fight for gun control to the campaign trail earlier this year. His SuperPAC spent $2 million tackling the NRA in a Chicago House race, endorsing former State Representative Robin Kelly. Kelly went on to defeat her NRA-backed Democratic primary opponent.

Conservatives like the Koch brothers are maligned for such activities.

"He's very conservative, much more than I am," says Bloomberg of the billionaire industrialist. "But David Koch really believes - and he's trying to help get the policies that he thinks would be better for society through. He's using his own money. I have no problems with what he's doing. And I'm sure he wouldn't have any problems with what I've done."

For more of our interview with Michael Bloomberg, check out the videos above.

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