'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, September 12th, 2011
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Guests: Melody Barnes, Howard Dean, Thomas Friedman, Patti Davis, David
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The White House has just given us a copy of
the president`s American Jobs Act. And, of course, Republicans have given
us reasons why they don`t like it.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told Congress that
I`ll be sending them a bill called the American Jobs Act.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Business of selling his jobs plan.
OBAMA: Well, here it is.
O`DONNELL (voice-over): The president reveals the details in his jobs
bill. Republicans reveal their opposition.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: A Rose Garden pitch for his jobs bill.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It will be big.
MITCHELL: Increasing calls for the panel to go even bigger.
CARNEY: It`s a grand bargain.
MITCHELL: Imploring Congress to pass it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The White House would like Congress to pass this
sort of as it is.
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: I object to the all or
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eric Cantor says he won`t support the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some Republicans do not want to see the
president getting help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re not crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Open to considering some of the plans.
CANTOR: No two people usual wily agree on anything 100 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That would be very complicated.
O`DONNELL: The White House is here to respond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are very comfortable.
O`DONNELL: And so are Howard Dean and Thomas Friedman.
OBAMA: Pass this jobs bill. Pass this bill. Let`s pass this bill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pass this bill. Pass this bill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pass this bill.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Let`s do this.
O`DONNELL: And Ronald Reagan`s daughter doesn`t think the Republicans
running for president really get Ronald Reagan.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You`re asking a hypothetical
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s only
one candidate that`s won anything in this race and it`s me.
NARRATOR: This pretty boy or that pretty boy?
BACHMANN: Oh, goodness.
NARRATOR: The Reagan revolution.
MITCHELL: Rick Perry likes to portray himself as a straight talking
cotton farmer`s son.
O`DONNELL: President Reagan`s daughter, Patti Davis, joins me.
REAGAN: Are you better off than you were four years ago?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does any of the blame belong to you?
REAGAN: Yes, because for many years I was a Democrat.
Oh, shut up.
O`DONNELL: The American Jobs Act is now in the hands of Congress.
Today in the Rose Garden, President Obama unveiled his jobs bill, 155 pages
of legislative language that detailed the broad proposals the president
laid out last week in his nationally televised speech to Congress in which
he urged hem to pass president bill 17 times.
Today in the Rose Garden, in a 10-minute speech, he urged Congress to
pass it 12 times.
The president has now provided real specificity for what kind of tax
revenue increases he wants to help pay for his jobs bill. The president
wants high income earners, corporate jet owners, hedge fund managers and
oil companies to pay more in taxes in order to pay for the jobs bill.
These are the same ideas the Republicans balked at when the president
proposed them during the debt ceiling negotiations.
Before he had even seen the bill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
suggested President Obama was making unreasonable demands.
"For the president to say pass my bill, all or nothing, it`s just not
the way things are done anywhere in Washington." No kidding. "On all or
nothing, I think the country and this town may have had a little bit of a
enough of that."
But the most truthful Republican response to the president`s jobs plan
came courtesy of an unnamed senior house Republican aide who was quoted in
"Politico" saying, "Obama is on the ropes, why do we appear ready to hand
him a win?" The president and the vice president saw that comment by the
unnamed Republican aide in "Politico" and the president included a
reference to it in his speech today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Joe and I as we were walking out here, we were looking at one
of the Washington newspapers and it was quoting a Republican aide saying,
"I don`t know why we`d want to cooperate with Obama right now, it`s not
good for our politics." It was very explicit. I mean, that`s the attitude
in this town.
Yes, we`ve been through these things before, but I don`t know why
we`ve be for them right now. The fact of the matter is, the next election
is 14 months away. And the notion that there are folks who would say we`re
not going to try to do what`s right for the American people because we
don`t think it`s convenient for our politics -- we`ve been seeing that too
much around here. That`s exactly what folks are tired of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Melody Barnes, director of White House
Domestic Policy Council.
Thank you very much for joining me tonight.
MELODY BARNES, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE DOMESTIC POLICY COUNCIL: It`s a
pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
O`DONNELL: Melody, first to Eric Cantor`s objection. Has the
president said this 155-page bill is take it or leave it, there will be --
he will not accept any adjustments or any negotiations on it?
BARNES: Well, what the president has said and what the president has
done is he`s talked to business leaders. We`ve talked to economists.
We`ve talked to the American people as we`ve gone all over the country to
find the best ways to put millions of people back to work to save millions
We`ve put together ideas that have been supported by Democrats and
Republicans in the past, as recently as just a few months ago, this past
December. And we accumulated a bipartisan set of ideas. We put together a
package to pay for those ideas so that we can put people back to work.
This is about getting our economy going. This is about sending
teachers back into the classroom and firefighters and cops back into our
neighborhoods to keep our communities safe and our economy growing and
getting stronger and stronger. That`s what this is about.
O`DONNELL: Well, I`m going to take that answer to mean that the
president is open to negotiations with the Republican House of
Representatives on specific items in the bill in order to get it passed?
BARNES: Well, you know, I`m not going to sit here and the day that we
send a bill up start negotiating about the bill. The president has put
together his ideas, a comprehensive set of ideas to get the job done. And
now, he`s saying to Congress, let`s move, let`s act. I`m ready to go. I
want to work with you. I`ve sent forward my ideas.
It`s now time for Congress, the legislative branch of the government,
to act on them. And we`re prepared to work with you to get this done.
We`ve also sent pay-fors. We`ve done what we can thus far in terms of
putting ideas together. Now, it`s time for Congress to stand up and do its
O`DONNELL: What makes you think that the Republicans will accept any
of the tax revenue increase provisions in the bill? Were those part of the
tax revenue increase provisions that John Boehner is said to have
tentatively been willing to accept in his negotiations with the White House
earlier over the increase in the debt ceiling?
BARNES: Well, we put together a set of pay-fors that we believe can
get the job done and can get things moving. We put together those things -
- we`ve actually overachieved in putting this package together.
You know, the bill costs probably about $447 billion. We`re going for
more than that to make sure that the bill is paid for, in addition to the
work that we did, working with Congressman Boehner, with Speaker Boehner,
and others just a few months ago when we passed the budget act.
So, we`ve done all of this to make sure that we`ve covered the cost of
the bill and now Congress can act on that, can tell us what they`re looking
for. We`re also going to be putting out a plan in about a week that we`re
sending to the so-called supercommittee or the joint committee and that
will contain additional ideas for deficit reduction.
They can move from there. They can act on that. But what we wanted
to do was pay for the bill as the president promised. Not another penny
will be added to the deficit by paying for this bill.
O`DONNELL: In effect, there is an effective increase in the top
income tax rate for individuals in here because what you`ve done is
decreased the deductibility. You don`t allow them full deductibility at
their level, at the 35 percent level. You cut that down to 28 percent.
So, for example, top-end earners with a full $1.1 million mortgage
deduction, their actually tax deduction would go from probably around
$50,000 a year, down to around $40,000 a year. They would in effect be
paying $10,000 more a year in taxation.
Is there any indication that the Republicans will go along with what
is in effect a revenue tax increase on the top income taxpayers?
BARNES: Well, you`re exactly right in your description of the
limitation on itemized deductions and on exemptions. I mean, we`ve also
included carried interest to deal with the hedge fund manager issue that
people have been talking about for a long time. And there are people
across the aisle that say that something has to be done with that -- oil
and gas, the treatment of oil and gas industry, also corporate jets.
So we`ve put together a package of several things to get this job
done. Again, this is part of a larger package that we`re putting together
and we`re going to be sending to the supercommittee.
The bottom line on this and the president has said this, this is about
shared sacrifice and this is about shared responsibility. We can`t pay for
everything that we want right now.
So, and we can`t afford everything that we want right now. We have to
do what`s necessary to pay for a package that`s going to get Americans back
to work and I would expect that Republicans and Democrats in Congress have
been hearing from their constituents at home who are out of work and
saying, please act, do the responsible thing, so that I can go back to
work, so my child`s teacher won`t be laid off.
So that construction workers are actually doing the jobs that are
needed to take care of this country`s infrastructure and so that they can
pay their bills -- so that we can put more money in the pockets of American
O`DONNELL: Melody, I notice that the new caps on deductibility go
into effect in 2013. And in the bill, the bill presumes that the top
income tax rates in 2013 will be 39.6 and 36. Both of those rates, both of
those top two rates are higher than the current top tax bracket. Those are
the Clinton tax rates.
Are you presuming that we will raise the top two income tax rates by
legislation or simply by letting the current Bush rates expire?
BARNES: Well, you know, I think the president has spoken to what his
intentions are with regard to the Bush tax cuts. We are going to -- the
president has also spoken to the fact that he intends to address tax reform
Again, he`s going to be putting out his plan next week. I don`t want
to get ahead of that, but the president has been very, very clear about
what`s necessary in a time of shared sacrifice and shared responsibility.
O`DONNELL: Melody Barnes, director of White House Domestic Policy
Council -- thank you very much for joining us tonight.
BARNES: Great. Thank you so much, Larry.
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Howard Dean, former DNC chairman and
presidential candidate. He`s now a contributor for CNBC.
Thanks for joining me tonight, Governor.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, now, it gets hot. Now the bill is out there. All
155 pages and the Republicans can just flip through and find what their
little poison pill is that prevents them from moving the country in the
direction of the president`s jobs bill.
What do you think the prospects are for the legislation now that we`re
seeing some of the details and some of the things that the Republicans I
think obviously were going to jump on and now have jumped on as getting in
the way of progress here?
DEAN: Well, I have to say I think the president`s team has been
rather brilliant in putting this one together. If the American Jobs Act --
that`s a terrific name for it -- and he`s paying for it by doing something
70 percent of Americans believe this would be the right thing to do which
is to raise taxes on the people who got us into this mess in the first
So, now, the Republicans are going to have to vote to -- if they want
to kill this bill, they`re going to have to vote to give all the people
Americans can`t stand for money and in doing so they`ll keep ordinary
Americans from getting jobs.
It would be hard to devise a better bill than this to put the guys on
the griddle. They`re in big trouble. Nobody trusts the Republicans
anyway. Look at the numbers in Congress.
People are talking about the president`s numbers. What about the
Republicans` in Congress, numbers in the low 20s? So, I -- from a
political point of view, this is a pretty good deal.
Now, the bill is pretty good. It may not be as much as people like
Paul Krugman want, who I have a lot of respect for. I think it`s a very
practical bill that will get you where you need to go, maybe not as fast as
some other people. It won`t harm the deficit. And that`s important, too.
I really do believe that unemployment is the number one issue. The
deficit is important for the long-term future. I have to say, I`m pretty
O`DONNELL: How can you force the Republicans to vote in the House of
Representatives, anyway, if John Boehner and if the chairmen don`t even
bring this thing to a vote? Then you don`t have that embarrassing tough
vote of who are you going to vote with.
DEAN: That`s the perfect thing. I have long thought, Lawrence, the
key to the president`s re-election is to be Harry Truman. They talked
about it on NBC news tonight. Go out there and talk about the do-nothing
Republicans which they have done nothing. All they`ve done is obstruct for
four years, or two years.
So, the president gets out to campaign against the do-nothing
Republicans, I think he gets re-elected. If you do nothing about jobs,
which is the number one job in this country, whether you vote for it or
not, you vote -- I mean, whether you vote against it or not and have the
attack ads or not, it doesn`t matter. The president of the United States
is going to win or lose this election for all the Democrats. And if he`s
out there fighting -- people love a fighter and do not like what the
Republicans stand for and who they stand for.
I think this is -- as long as the president can keep this going and
get out there and fight between now and election day of 2012, I think we`re
going to win this. And also I might add, I think we`re going to pick up
the House if the president wins.
O`DONNELL: Governor, you know how to fight for legislation. You`ve
done it before.
How would you -- when you look at this whole package, what would you
grab? What would be the one thing that you kept pushing? Would it be the
infrastructure, the rebuilding America provisions?
DEAN: It would be the infrastructure, but it`s also the small
business tax relief. Most people like small businesses. Now, small
businesspeople are traditionally Republican -- they tend to want less
regulation and lower taxes and so forth and so on.
But it`s a little like the farmers. Farmers are a small part of the
population, but they have a lot of support among the ordinary Americans,
including urban people who like farmers. Farmers are kind of the American
Dream people and so are small business.
So I think you ought to keep the small business tax cuts in there so
you can tell people that the Republicans aren`t telling the truth which is
not an uncommon situation when they talk about the president raising taxes
and taking away jobs. I think the infrastructure is critical because you
got 2 million jobs there and I think that`s absolutely critical.
O`DONNELL: Governor Howard Dean, thank you very much for joining us
DEAN: Thank you for having me on.
O`DONNELL: Up next, Thomas Friedman on why America is at a crucial
crossroads and the devastating consequences if we refuse to take action.
And why today`s Republican presidential candidates should not try to
compare themselves to Ronald Reagan. That`s in our exclusive interview
tonight with Ronald Reagan`s daughter, Patti Davis.
And later on, on the eve of a special congressional election in New
York, Democrats are in a tough fight to keep control of Anthony Weiner`s
congressional seat -- a seat Democrats have held for 88 years. The
Democratic candidate gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
O`DONNELL: Coming up: as the United States struggles to turn back a
9.1 percent unemployment rate, Thomas Friedman`s new book says there is a
way back to greatness but we need to start making the tough decisions now.
He will join me next.
And later, Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has done
something that even she thinks is inappropriate to a little girl. So, why
does the governor refuse to apologize? That`s in the "Rewrite."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It makes no sense for China to have better rail systems than
us and Singapore having better airports than us. And we just learned that
China now has the faster supercomputer on earth. That used to be us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That used to be us. That was President Obama last
November, the day after Democrats suffered deep losses on Capitol Hill in
the midterm elections. Since then, America`s outlook on its economic
future hasn`t gotten better.
The latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows just 22 percent
of the country thinks the economy will get better in the next 12 months, 30
percent say it will get worse, and almost half, 47 percent think it will
stay about the same. That is no doubt why President Obama is pushing his
jobs plan so hard. That push now including details on how to pay for the
Today, the White House proposed to end $467 billion in tax breaks over
the next decade, targeting oil and gas companies, hedge fund managers and
people making more than $200,000 a year. The director of the White House
Office of Management and Budget, Jack Lew, told "The Wall Street Journal"
today, "That is not a hard choice for most Americans if the choice is
creating economic growth and jobs or tolerating the results of many years
of inequities in the tax code."
But Republicans are remembering their names are signed on Grover
Norquist`s anti-tax plan. This afternoon, Speaker John Boehner`s spokesman
reacted to the White House`s plan to pay for the bill saying, "This tax
increase on job creators is the kind of proposal both parties have opposed
in the past. We remain eager to work together on ways to support job
growth, but this proposal doesn`t appear to have been offered in that
Joining me now is the co-author of "That Used to Be Us: How America
Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come back," "New York
Times" columnist and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman.
Thanks for joining me tonight, Tom.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: Lawrence, thanks for having me.
Great to be here.
O`DONNELL: Tom, the infrastructure portion, at least, of the
president`s jobs plan seems to present us with a classic "that used to be
us" riddle, because no one in our politics seems to be saying they`re
opposed to improving our school buildings or building airports, improving
our subway systems. But we as a country, Democrats and Republicans,
legislatively, just can`t seem to agree on how to pay for these things.
Is that the fundamental change? Is that what changed us? We simply
cannot agree as a country on how to pay for the big things we need to do to
maintain our position on the world?
FRIEDMAN: No, I think you`re on a really key point that we`ve been
making in the book, Lawrence. And that`s that we lost our ability to act
collectively and all the big problems we face today dealing with the
education challenge of the IT revolution in globalization, dealing with
debt and deficits and dealing with the energy climate challenge, all of
them require collective action -- of the kind that won World War II, that
won the Cold War. And what`s fractured, what`s so unsettling about America
today is that, at the moment, it feels like we can`t do anything big, hard
O`DONNELL: You tell the story, it`s really kind of an amazing frame
of a story about going to China and being in this giant convention center
in a major Chinese city and noticing that it was built in a matter of
months. I think it was something like eight, nine months. At the same
time, you considered the broken escalators in the Washington, D.C. metro
system that will not be fixed. There isn`t even a schedule to fix them
within, what, a year or so?
FRIEDMAN: You know, one of the points we try to make in this book is
that China can do well and America can do well at the same time. Economics
is not war. But, you know, we will only do well if we take care of our
problems right now.
And we had a formula for success in this country, Lawrence. It was
always educate our people up to and beyond whatever the technology was,
whether it was the cotton gin or the supercomputer, have the world`s best
infrastructure, attract the world`s most energetic and entrepreneurial
immigrants, have the best rules for capital investing and have the most, in
this century, government-funded research.
And what we did was when we looked at all five of those today, the
arrows is pointing down on all five. And so, we have a short-term problem
and you`ve been talking about that tonight in terms of the stimulus -- how
do we prevent ourselves from going into a deeper recession. But we also
have a longer-term problem. And the key is to dig out of this recession in
a way that will also propel us, you know, in a way that can solve these
O`DONNELL: Well, that`s one of the things I really love about the
book, is that you go to this question, it`s something I`ve been talking
about on this show for a while, is there has to be the capacity to think
short term and long term at the same time, to plan for both at the same
time. There`s a passage in your book where you say, "Common sense also
says the right strategy now is neither to slash all discretionary
government spending suddenly, nor to continue piling up debt to keep the
economy stimulated, as if there are implications for that down the road.
The right strategy is to have a strategy, a strategy for long-term American
growth and nation building at home that will require us to cut spending, to
raise taxes and to invest in the sources of our strength all in a
That all in a coordinated way is what seems to be missing from every
political discussion of this in Washington.
FRIEDMAN: You know, it`s been fun watching your show up until now and
seeing what the president`s doing here. The question I`ve been asking
myself is, as I watch the debate between the president and the Republicans,
is are we watching a negotiation or are we watching an election, you know,
18 months in advance? Because I`m just -- I`m from Minneapolis, a suburb
of Minneapolis. I was just at my 40th high school reunion.
Just in talking to my friends from back home, Lawrence, I`m interested
in how you feel about this -- I really sense that not only do people want a
grand bargain that does deal with the long term deficit problem, does raise
revenue and does to continue to invest in the sources of our strength,
because I think people intuit, that`s the right way to go.
But they also want to see our leaders come together. And the fact
that we`ve reached this level of division in Washington, it really has a
black cloud over the country. It`s like kids of divorced parents, you
know? And I don`t know whether it`s a 10 percent of GDP or 1 percent, but
I tell you, if somehow we could find our way through what`s going to be a
tough negotiation to this grand bargain right now, or even the outlines of
it, then let the next election be about the future. Boy, I tell you, I
think the country would just really respond.
O`DONNELL: Thomas Friedman, co-author of "That Used to Be Us" --
thank you very much for your time tonight, Tom.
FRIEDMAN: Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: Each of the Republican candidates wants you to think he or
she is the next Ronald Reagan. President Reagan`s daughter, Patti Davis,
says they`re not even close. She joins me next for an exclusive interview.
And Anthony Weiner`s Internet scandal didn`t just damage his own
career. It has also damaged his party. The Democrats are struggling,
struggling to hold on to that seat in a special election tomorrow. The
Democratic candidate joins me.
O`DONNELL: Dueling endorsements today. Louisiana Republican Governor
Bobby Jindal endorsed the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Rick
Perry. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a former presidential
candidate himself, and THE LAST WORD`s former favorite to win the
Republican nomination endorsed former Massachusetts governor and former
presidential campaign loser Willard M. Romney.
But Ronald Reagan`s daughter hasn`t endorsed any of them, especially
after watching the debate at her father`s presidential library. Patti
Davis joins me in an exclusive interview to explain what the current
Republican presidential candidates don`t seem to understand about her
And Nikki Haley is in trouble for calling a reporter a little girl.
That`s in the Rewrite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN SHEEN, ACTOR: I want you to know that I had a number of people
on my staff search for a reason the public would find palatable to commute
the sentence, a technicality, any evidence of racism?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So your staff spent the weekend looking for a way
SHEEN: Yeah. I`m a leader of the democracy, Tom; 71 percent of the
people support capital punishment. People have spoken. The courts have
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jedd, would you like me to hear your confession?
SHEEN: Yes, please.
Bless me, father, for I have sinned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That scene was inspired by Ronald Reagan. President
Reagan`s daughter, Patti Davis, remembers the Reagan version this way: "I
remember the first time my father ordered an execution when he was
governor. He and a minister went into a room, got down on their knees and
prayed. The real shame of our time is that there doesn`t seem to be anyone
on the political horizon with that compassion in his or her heart."
Patti Davis expressed her disappointments in the current Republican
presidential candidates in a piece for "Time" last week entitled "Looking
For Ronald Reagan and Not Finding Him."
In the piece, she told the candidates, "you can invoke my father`s
name until your tongues fall out, but you will never be anywhere near his
Many analysts of last week`s Republican debate at the Reagan Library
noted that the actual governing policy choices made by Ronald Reagan would
probably have been booed by some in the audience at the library, because
Ronald Reagan`s governing decision, both as governor and president,
included tax increases when they made sense, and assorted compromises with
Democrats that are forbidden by the new Republican no-compromise orthodoxy.
But it fell to the president`s daughter to make the most important
distinction between President Reagan and the Republicans who went to his
library in the hope of becoming president. Patti Davis wrote "the moment
that would have broken my father`s heart was the moment when applause broke
out at the mention of more than 200 executions ordered by Rick Perry in
Texas. It was stunning and brought tears to my eyes. This is what we`ve
come to, that we applaud at executions?"
Joining me now in a LAST WOR" exclusive, Patti Davis.
Patti, thank your very much for coming.
PATTI DAVIS, DAUGHTER OF FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: Thank you
for having me.
O`DONNELL: What is it like to watch that debate taking place in a
building to honor your father, where candidates seem to have no connection
to him, especially when you got to that death penalty moment?
DAVIS: You know, when I was writing it after the debate, I considered
using the word blasphemy. It didn`t seem like an out of the ballpark word,
because people do come to my father`s library with a sense of reverence, a
sort of worshipful attitude toward him, which is fine. That`s very
But then to do something like that, that would have been so deeply
abhorrent to him, I obviously didn`t end up using the word blasphemy, but
it`s an apt word to use for that.
O`DONNELL: It`s certainly an apt word in a segment that we introduced
with a priest.
O`DONNELL: -- played by Karl Malden. I think it makes sense because,
you know, your father is, in effect, in political terms, a deity in the
party. He`s earned that position with Republicans. But Republicans seem
to -- the current Republicans seem to be forgetting how he got there.
DAVIS: Well, I think they`re also forgetting who he was. And they`re
forgetting that he wasn`t this mean, vitriolic person. You know, I also
said in that piece, it was like they were auditioning for a reality show,
not to be -- not to hold the highest office in the land.
And he didn`t have that kind of meanness. And I think, you know, this
crosses the political divide. We are looking for someone who doesn`t want
any part of that -- well, maybe not the people who applauded. But actually
I think even in their hearts, they are -- they probably just don`t know it
You know, we just obviously marked the anniversary of 9/11 yesterday.
And I was thinking yesterday that on 9/11, my mother and I stood at my
father`s bedside. He was already bedridden by then. And we told him
something terrible had happened in the world. Something terrible had
happened to America.
And everyone missed him so much because he would be able to say
something that would comfort us. And I really believed that the majority
of people in this country are -- that`s what they`re looking for. They`re
looking for someone who, as my friend Harry Smith said about -- in
describing my father, has shoulders big enough for us to cry on.
I don`t see anybody like that on the horizon. I don`t see that in our
president. And I at one time thought I did. I don`t know what happened
there. But I don`t see it.
O`DONNELL: If you had some time with the Republican candidates to
kind of reeducate them about your father, what would you tell them to pay
attention to when they look back at him?
DAVIS: I don`t want to spend time with them. I don`t like them.
O`DONNELL: If you could e-mail them. Let`s say you had Rick Perry`s
e-mail address and he asked you, tell me.
DAVIS: Oh, no. How many swear words would I get to use?
O`DONNELL: E-mail, as many as you want.
DAVIS: I mean, they`re just -- you can`t imitate someone. You can
learn from someone like that. But I don`t think they`re out there trying
to learn from him. You know, it`s -- it`s one thing to emulate someone.
And it`s one thing to admire someone and try to live up to the standards
that you see that they set. But that`s not what I see here.
I see people trying to twist and contort themselves into the shadow of
someone else. That`s not admiration. That`s an identity crisis.
O`DONNELL: Are they trying to get a cheap connection to this hero
just by putting his name in a sentence?
DAVIS: I think so. I really do. Do they really believe that they
are him? Maybe they do. But it`s interesting to wonder -- this is so
hypothetical, but it`s interesting to wonder if he were still here, and
didn`t have Alzheimer`s and was cognizant of everything, would they really
dare to try that?
O`DONNELL: We wish he was at that library that night.
O`DONNELL: Patti Davis, thank you very, very much for joining me
DAVIS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley,
refers to a reporter as a, quote, "little girl." That gets the governor
And it`s been almost three months since New York Congressman Anthony
Weiner resigned over his Twitter photo scandal. Tomorrow is the special
election for his congressional seat. And the Democrat, David Weprin, is
trailing -- the Democrat is trailing in a Democratic district. He will
join me coming up.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Rewrite. Nikki Haley, the Republican
governor of South Carolina and a rising star in the Republican party, is in
trouble. She did something inappropriate to a little girl and she got
caught doing it. Now she says she regrets it, but still hasn`t been able
to bring herself to apologize either publicly or to the little girl.
Little girl`s name is Renee Dudley and she is 25 years old. What
Haley did that Haley now calls inappropriate is call Renee Dudley a little
girl. Because Haley didn`t like the article Renee Dudley wrote for
Charleston, South Carolina`s "Daily Post and Courier," under the headline,
"European Vacation or Legitimate Business?"
In the fully researched, meticulously reported piece, Renee Dudley
revealed that Nikki Haley and her entourage spent at least -- at least
127,000 dollars on a trip to Europe in June, in search of, quote, "jobs,
The first place Nikki Haley decided to go to look for jobs for South
Carolinians was, of course, Paris, a place that every Republican knows is
full of people who want to set up businesses in South Carolina. Perhaps
the "let`s go looking for jobs in Paris" strategy explains why Nikki
Haley`s state has a higher unemployment rate than the national average,
almost two full percentage points above the national average.
Renee Dudley`s reporting details how Nikki Haley chose to stay in
five-star hotels and run up a bar bill at the Paris Ritz, provoking the
South Carolina Democratic party chairman, Dick Harputlian (ph), to be
quoted in Renee Dudley`s article as saying, Nikki Haley was, quote,
"channeling Marie Antoinette."
On Laura Ingraham`s radio show, Nikki Haley said this when asked about
Renee Dudley`s article.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: God bless that little girl at
the "Post and Courier." Her job is to try and create conflict. My job is
to create jobs. In the end, I`m going to have jobs to show for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Calling the reporter a little girl and thinking she was
done with it did not sit well with South Carolinians. And so Nikki Haley
had to put out a damage control statement that stopped short of an apology.
"The story painted a grossly inaccurate picture and was unprofessionally
done. But my `little girl` comment was inappropriate and I regret that.
Everyone can have a bad day. I`ll forgive her bad story if she`ll forgive
my poor choice of words."
Nikki Haley has yet to contest a single fact reported by Renee Dudley,
not one word, not one sentence. She has not disputed anything in Renee
Dudley`s original reporting.
Now I, for one, am not horrified by Haley`s average daily hotel bill
on the European trip, or any of the expenses listed in Renee Dudley`s
report, which, as I said, remains uncontested for accuracy. I actually
think foreign travel by American government officials is a good thing.
I especially think Republicans need to learn more, a lot more about
France, a country they normally use as a punch line of their empty headed,
jingoistic jokes about the world we live in.
And I`m an admitted socialist in a country where people like Nikki
Haley are simply socialism condemners, who constantly make socialistic
choices and actually support socialistic programs. Government intervening
in the marketplace is not a capitalist idea. Government inserting itself
into the marketplace in a heavy-handed way, either through begging or
special tax deals, trying to influence business decisions -- private
business decisions, to suit the government`s current mood is a purely --
purely socialistic idea.
There is, at least, one Republican in South Carolina who understands
this. South Carolina Republican State Senator Tom Davis said this in Renee
Dudley`s article: "if you get the fundamental things right, solid education
and health care, capital will come to the state."
Davis said "those are the functions of government, not creating jobs.
It`s a socialist state when the government`s core function is to create
Well, at least he`s half right. He`s calling health care one of the
functions of government, which is, of course, a purely socialistic idea
about the functions of government. He doesn`t seem to realize that. But
he`s right to say that making job creation government`s core function is a
It is one of the socialistic ideas that I`m happy to support if done
modestly, with the recognition that the real burden of job creation will
always belong to the private sector. If you want to see how horrible
government is at making job creation a core function, get yourself into
Cuba before the country opens itself to at least Chinese-style capitalism.
It would be too much for me to expect a Republican rising star to
admit her and her party`s hypocrisy about socialism. And I guess it`s too
much for me to expect a 39-year-old professional woman who happens to be a
governor to apologize to a 25-year-old professional woman for calling her a
"little girl" on a radio show hosted by a 47-year-old professional woman.
O`DONNELL: Anthony Weiner`s name is back in the news today. Two
reasons; first, the "New York Post" reports the former congressman and his
wife, who is six months pregnant, now know that they are expecting a son.
And secondly because this is the final day of campaigning for Anthony
Weiner`s congressional seat.
And for the first time in almost 100 years, it is not a sure win for
the Democrat. When Anthony Weiner was forced to resign in June, after
sending lewd photos like this one over the Internet, it seemed the seat for
New York`s ninth congressional district would surely go to a Democrat,
since a Republican hasn`t held that seat since 1923.
But a new Sienna College poll of likely voters finds that Democrat
State Assemblyman David Weprin now trailing Republican Robert Turner by six
points, 50 to 44.
Joining me now, Democratic New York State Assemblyman David Weprin.
David, how did it come to this? Is this Anthony Weiner`s fault? Is this
Barack Obama`s fault, who is now not popular in your district? Is this the
fault of your campaign not getting traction fast enough? What`s happening
DAVID WEPRIN (D), CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS FROM NEW YORK: Well, first
of all, the only poll that really counts is the poll tomorrow, on election
day. And it`s a special election. And you know, all these polls don`t
really determine who`s going to come out to vote. And it is still a strong
We have a tremendous get out the vote operation. We`re going to have
over a thousand people in the field. We have every labor union behind us.
They`re all sending people. So I wouldn`t write the obituary of the seat
yet. I`m pretty confident that we`re going to pull out a Democratic
O`DONNELL: No one is writing that obituary. But we are wondering why
it`s so stuff. There`s -- this isn`t Staten Island. Staten Island is the
only place in New York City that elects Republican members of Congress.
And so we haven`t seen this before. You`re running against a guy who has
never held public office, who actually was one of the creators of the "the
Jerry Springer Show."
He doesn`t sound like somebody who a Democrat would have trouble
WEPRIN: It has tended more conservative in recent years. Actually,
Barack Obama, when he ran for president, got only 55 percent of the vote in
the congressional district. This particular person ran against Anthony
Weiner this past November, kind of got a head start in the district, and
got 40 percent of the vote.
So he`s still not clearing 50 percent. And we have other polls that
show, you know, much closer and myself ahead as well. So you know, again,
I`m pretty confident we`re getting our message out the last couple days,
which are not reflected in those polls. There`s a clear difference between
My opponent wants to cut the federal budget by 35 percent. He totally
wants to eliminate the Department of Education, the Department of
Agriculture. He calls EPA officials wackos.
You know, I`m clearly, you know, standing for preserving Social
Security and Medicare, creating jobs. I support, you know, the basic
principles in the president`s proposal on jobs. I`d like to see middle
class tax cuts and small business tax cuts.
But I`d like to see millionaires and billionaires pay their fair
share. And I`d like to see corporate loopholes closed. My opponent
actually has said in debates that he never met a corporate loophole that he
didn`t like. We`re getting that message out. We actually have a
commercial to that effect.
And I think it`s beginning to resonate in the last couple days. And I
predict a victory tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: Has the Democratic party been as helpful to you as you
would like them to be?
WEPRIN: They`ve been helpful, no question. And you know, actually
some of the closeness in the polls I think has helped energize the base.
And again, it`s going to come down to turnout. And it is a very diverse
district. It`s -- 40 percent of the district consists of people born in
other countries. A lot of different languages spoken. It`s about 15
percent Latino, 15 percent Asian.
My opponent I don`t think stands for most of the feelings and
principles of the district. He actually lives in a segregated community,
which is over 99 percent white, in Breezy Point (ph). He really has never
been a --
O`DONNELL: David, I`m sorry. We`ve got to wrap it there.
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2011 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
MORE FROM MSNBC
Add msnbc headlines to your news reader: