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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Friday, September 16, 2011

Read the transcript to the Friday show

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Guests: Christina Bellantoni, Zeke Emanuel, Ari Shapiro, Andrew Greco,
Mackenzie Warren


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: It was a great day for the Obama re-
election campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are stepping up
attacks on one another.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Romney`s
misguided health mandated health care plan.

MITCHELL: Perry trying to lump Romney in with Obama and hammering him
on Romney care.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: They`ve already dumped the whole
book on Perry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s talk about the straight talking governor
from the state of Texas.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whether it`s
Obama care or whether it`s Perry care.

Of course, the chief lobbyist for the drug company was the former
chief of staff for the governor.

Something that`s called crony capitalism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re seeing Mitt Romney take a shot at Rick
Perry on Social Security.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Are you a Perry Republican? Or are you Romney
Republican?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, "HARDBALL": You got Romney trashing Mr. Job
Creation for losing jobs.

PERRY: My opponent who served as the governor of Massachusetts, while
he was the governor, his job record, his job ranking, was 47th in the
nation.

Revealed yesterday that the Massachusetts plan killed 18,000 jobs.

MATTHEWS: What Texas miracle?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The jobless rate there that we just learned this
afternoon, that increased to 8.5 percent in August. That`s the highest
level in more than 24 years. So some might ask, you know, how`s Perry
going to spin that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got the Texas miracle meeting with the Texas
chainsaw massacre right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are showing they`re in it to
win it. They are not trying to keep their vice presidential options
opened.

The Romney/Perry fight over Social Security, alone, is sharp enough
that it seems to leave little possibility of them being able to appear on
the same ticket together.

Today, in Iowa, Perry went off script and slipped back into the hole
he dug for himself by calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: I`ve talked to Paul Ryan today and told him I said, I thank
you for having the courage to stand up and talking about this and I said
I`m proud to join you in this discussion with America for clearly calling
the Social Security program that we have in place today broken. It is
broken. Kids know they`re paying into something that`s not going to be
there into the future is called a Ponzi scheme. And I don`t have a -- you
know, I don`t make any apologies for calling the program what it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And Perry continues to hammer Romney on Romney`s biggest
campaign vulnerability.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: Government-mandated, government-run health care. It is part
of what he put in place as the governor of Massachusetts. It is time -- I
think it`s very important that we put someone as our nominee that does not
blur the lines between President Obama and the Republican Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But, now, Perry blurs that line with his own health care
mandate problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: As a mom of three daughters, I believe that parents are the
ones who should decide whether or not our young daughters should receive
injections for sexually transmitted diseases. Whether it`s Obamacare or
whether it`s Perrycare, I oppose any governor or president who mandates a
family`s health care choices and in turn violates the rights of parents on
these issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now are: Jonathan Alter, an MSNBC political
analyst and the columnist for "The Bloomberg View"; and Christina
Bellantoni, associate politics editor for "Roll Call." Thank you both for
joining me tonight.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Lawrence.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ROLL CALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, the game is really on here. It`s obviously a
two-man race. Michele Bachmann is not really in it. But she`s obviously a
factor. She`s going to continue to cause problems for both of them.

But this is Perry versus Romney for the presidential nomination and
neither one of them seems to be softening any punches so that they might
preserve for themselves the possibility of the vice presidential
nomination.

ALTER: Yes, that`s right. They`re also violating what Ronald Reagan
called the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not criticize another Republican.

And actually we have had party contests that have been much more
polite than this. You really did not see Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
going at each other this fiercely and certainly not this early. We could
have six, seven, eighth months of this. It`s a little hard to know where
they`re going to go from here.

And it`s a sign of just how addicted Republicans have been to
rhetorical shots. This is what their party is about: taking pot shots.
It`s not about ideas.

It used to be much more a party of ideas. Now it`s a party of
insults. And usually, those insults are directed at Democrats and
liberals.

But once you get in the habit of just running your politics through
insults and negative research, then you turn on each other.

O`DONNELL: Christina, Jonathan`s point I think is quite important.
The last big presidential primary fight that we saw, the Clinton versus
Obama, did not include specific attacks on each other`s records. The
historical distinction between them was simply that Barack Obama was
against the invasion of Iraq and Hillary Clinton voted for it. That`s
about where it began and ended.

Here you have these two governors. They each have things in their
records that are serious problems that have developed with a Republican
primary electorate.

Where do they go in terms of trying to preserve that notion of
Reagan`s that we should really be fighting against the incumbent Democrat
even during the Republican primary instead of slamming each other? Is
slamming each other going to be the way they find themselves trying to win
this thing? Is this what we`re going to see all the way through or are
they going to get over this little fit and get back at aiming at Obama?

BELLANTONI: I`m sure they will get back at aiming at Obama
eventually. But I would actually disagree with both of you on this.

That fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was tough. And
granted they didn`t necessarily lob insults at one another the way you`re
seeing this. It`s easy to say Perrycare, Romneycar, or Obamacare. And the
debates have been a little bit intense.

But right about this time in the cycle in 2007, you had that July
YouTube debate. That`s when things elevated. Barack Obama was asked if
he`d sit down and negotiate with leaders in Iran and other places. And
Hillary Clinton really stepped that up. It was very fierce and there were
all these questions of could they ever come together. And she`s the
secretary of state now.

But I would caution the Democrats should not get too excited about all
of this, because one of the other things that happened in 2008 was that the
whole nation was captivated by that Democratic primary fight, particularly
because it lasted so long but also because it was so interesting in dynamic
and had a lot of fireworks. And so, the more the nation is engaged in
getting to know these Republican candidates, that`s not necessarily that
great for Barack Obama when he`s trying to get out there and get his
message across.

So, I think it`s definitely going to be an interesting few months.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, we saw in that last Democratic version of this
with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that the primary process strengthened
Barack Obama as a presidential candidate. Is that the possible outcome
here that if the Perry or Romney nominee will be strengthened by this? It
certainly looks like Romney has stepped up his game in this fight.

ALTER: No question about it. It puts them in a fighting trim and it
actually puts the president in a little bit of a disadvantage. His
debating skills and fisticuff skills will be rustier when the general
election campaign starts. And he has to start ripping into the
Republicans. He`s not particularly good at that anyway. And these other
two will have a lot more practice going forward.

But they`re also developing some pretty good video for the Obama
campaign to use. You know, Perry is turning into a piece of household
knowledge that Romney was 47th out of 50th in job creation when he was
governor of Massachusetts. That`s a pretty good rejoinder for Barack Obama
in a fall campaign when Romney starts in on stewardship of the economy.
And at the same time, when Romney starts going after Perry on Social
Security, that will be enormously useful to Obama in the fall.

O`DONNELL: And, Christina, the Obama campaign doesn`t have what you
could call the attention-getting advantage of a primary campaign right now,
but it is scoring points. Every time Romney or Perry scores points against
the other, those are in effect points scored for the Obama campaign in a
general election, because you`ve damaged that image. Romney is in a
position to damage somewhat Perry`s image of job creation in Texas.
Obviously Perry can damage Romney`s image in different ways.

And so, that -- those shots that they`re taking ultimately are to the
profit of the Obama campaign as it sits on the sidelines and watches it.

BELLANTONI: Yes. And they`re also using this as a really, an
organizing tool for them. Because right now you have a lot of Democrats
that are, yes, dissatisfied, yes, doing grumbling about what Obama has and
has not been able to achieve. But they don`t liking this Republican field.
They`re looking at it and getting more and more nervous that President
Obama could lose in 2012.

And so, the Obama campaign is very strategically talking to those
people, and getting them to get out in their neighborhoods and sort of
build the grassroots organizing that they were successful at in 2007 and
2008. So, they sort of look at this as, well, let the Republicans fight it
out. You know, we`re going to continue to highlight none of the
Republicans -- very infrequently do those Republicans talk about the middle
class. And that`s what we`re going to be talking about. They`re trying to
draw the distinctions even though they don`t have an actual rival yet.

ALTER: And also, scary Perry is a good message for the Obama
campaign. More than scary Romney. Romney doesn`t scare a lot of people.
He might creep some Democrats out. They`re not as terrified of them as
they are of Perry.

And so, that will help with intensity. There has been some problem
with that in the Obama campaign. Though, as David Axelrod pointed out this
morning, Democrats are pretty united behind Barack Obama. For all the
grumbling you hear and the chattering classes, his numbers, over 80 percent
approval among Democrats, pretty healthy -- even healthier than they were
for Bill Clinton in 1995.

O`DONNELL: That`s right. Let`s take a look at the latest "New York
Times"/CBS poll that just came out in the last couple hours to see the
rankings in the Republican president primary field. You have 23 percent
now -- 23 percent in this poll supporting Rick Perry. Romney, 16 percent.
Which is not that big a gap between the two of them there.

And then the next thing that you pick up in the polling is in terms of
magnitude is an undecided of 12 percent, 10 percent saying they just don`t
know. Which I`m not sure quite what the difference is between undecided
and don`t know.

There is a second tier here -- single digit second tier that we should
take a look at as we`re looking at the total rankings here. Michele
Bachmann comes in at 7 percent; Newt Gingrich at 7 percent; Herman Cain at
5 percent; Ron Paul at 5 percent. We don`t have Santorum even showing up
there in this poll.

Christina, at some point, all those also-rans are going to drop out --
at some point. They`re 7 percent of support for Michele Bachmann, 5
percent for Herman Cain, is going to migrate somewhere. And as I look at
that, it looks like that support is more likely to migrate to Perry. More
likely to go in what is perceived as the more conservative choice.

So when we really do get down to two man, does that indicate what
we`re seeing here now, that Perry`s lead will widen in a two-man race?

BELLANTONI: I mean, that`s certainly a possible scenario, but a
couple of things you said there I think we should examine. You know, first
of all, I would not suggest that Bachmann will be leaving the race any time
soon. She`s able to raise money. She certainly can stick in there.

This could be a very long primary season, going through multiple
states. If she has the money to keep going, she might do it because Perry
could slip up. And as you said, her supporters are very conservative. His
supporters are conservative. They might just lock to her.

Now, is that scenario likely? I don`t actually know. But we`ll find
out. I think that`s very possible.

But you`re already seeing the sort of divide among the candidates, you
know, with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty coming out and endorsing
Romney. You`re seeing sort of that a little more moderate, a little bit
more establishment candidates getting back behind Romney. There are
certainly, you know, elements of the former Bush administration that
quietly back Romney but don`t want to get involved.

So, yes -- then you got that anti-establishment. Those Herman Cain
voters, even potentially those Ron Paul voters, even though the two of them
are sparring -- they could definitely side with Perry. I definitely would
not call this a full two-man race just yet.

ALTER: The other thing, Lawrence, is that we don`t talk at all in
these conversations about independent voters who because there is no
contest on the Democratic side will vote in the Republican primaries in
states with open primaries, where they`re allowed to do so.

O`DONNELL: Right.

ALTER: And their views are not picked up by a lot of these polls,
which is why I think it`s too early to rule out Jon Huntsman. You know,
Tom Ridge just endorsed him.

Is he likely to get the nomination? Obviously not. But it would be
silly at an early stage to rule anybody out and you could see a situation
where Perry knocks -- beats Romney badly in Iowa, and then Romney is very
vulnerable in New Hampshire to somebody else.

So, there are a lot of different ways this could go and there`s a long
history of these things turning out very differently than they looked even
in December of a year prior to an election. A lot can change.

O`DONNELL: Christina, to your point about how long Michele Bachmann
and Ron Paul will stay in, it seems to me Ron Paul will stay in until the
very end. He can campaign on a shoe string. He`s going to stay on the
debate stages as long as anyone`s going to stay on them.

And the two of them, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, those are the two
candidates who actually end up causing the most trouble for both Perry and
Romney in these debates because they are the ones who are absolutely
fearless in taking just vicious shots at those front-runners. Both to get
attention and also because of their true real conservative beliefs that
they think have been violated -- in Bachmann`s case, for example -- by the
Perry mandate on taking a vaccine. In Romney`s case by all sorts of things
including the health care mandate in Massachusetts.

So, if you`re Perry and Romney, you got to be praying for those two to
drop out.

BELLANTONI: Well, I don`t know about dropping out or any sort of
prayer involved there. But she is -- Bachmann in particular has taken
every opportunity she can to reinsert herself in this conversation. You
know, today, what she did with Perry care, everybody was talking about
that.

Her attacks on both Perry and Romney, you know, come off as very
sharp, very authentic. She knows what she`s doing. She has smart campaign
people working for her and she has decent political instincts.

All of that said, you know, Perry seems to be weathering these
attacks. His standings have not dropped in the polls. This is continuing
to be a very close race.

But Jonathan is exactly right about, you know, those independents that
are going to participate. I just talked to a Democrat yesterday who`s
going to be voting in New Hampshire in the Republican primary and probably
going to vote for Huntsman.

So, you know, there`s definitely an element of that here and, you
know, we`re months away.

ALTER: Lawrence, can I just make a quick point about Michele Bachmann
and collateral damage? Her comments about -- the crazy comments about
somebody getting mental retardation from -- you know, this vaccine, that
will lead to the deaths of American women. Probably of a conservative --
their parents will hear something like that, they won`t allow them to be
vaccinated. A certain percentage of them in the -- you know, future, will
develop cancer because they were not vaccinated.

There`s a reason for those vaccinations. It prevents cancer. If you
don`t get it, you`re more likely to get cancer. And some of those folks
will die.

So, sometimes the consequences of what gets said in political
campaigns is assessed in its immediate political terms and not in its more
distant human terms. And I`m afraid we will look back at Michele
Bachmann`s contributions in raising that issue up and it`s going to lead
some people to lose their lives, unfortunately.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, we`re going to expand on that very point in the
next segment. MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter of "The Bloomberg
View" and Christina Bellantoni from "Roll Call" -- thank you both very much
for joining me tonight.

ALTER: Thanks, Lawrence.

BELLANTONI: Thanks. Have a great weekend.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up: what is the truth about the HPV drug which made this big
debate fight? Former White House health policy adviser Dr. Zeke Emanuel
joins me next.

And later, how strong is President Obama`s support among Democrats?
Much, much stronger than you think.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: This week, Michele Bachmann used a national TV audience to
try to scare the parents of 12-year-old girls in this country in the hopes
of catching up with the Republican presidential front-runner.

We`ll give you the truth about the HPV vaccine and we`re going to give
it to you from an actual doctor. We`ll also look at the politics of health
care. That`s going to be next.

And later, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, they share a little secret,
something that they don`t want voters to know about them. We will, of
course, reveal those secrets in the "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: I didn`t make any statements that would indicate that I`m a
doctor, I`m a scientist or that I`m making any conclusions about the drug
one way or another.

REPORTER: Do you apologize for that remark?

BACHMANN: I`m not going to answer that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Here is what Michele Bachmann is not apologizing for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa,
Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that
vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation
thereafter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Leading pediatric bioethical and medical groups have come
out to refute the notion that the HPV vaccine causes, quote, "mental
retardation" as Michele Bachmann called it. And because of this, Bachmann
has spent most of her time in recent days on the defensive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: I`m not attesting to the woman`s comments, only that she
made them to me again. It was completely unsolicited. As soon as the
debate was over, I had gone to the foot of the stage. When I was there, a
woman was crying and she thanked me for my remarks and told me her daughter
had a very negative reaction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Louisiana
is now challenging Michele Bachmann to produce a verified HPV vaccine
victim in one week. If she can back up her claims, Caplan says he will
donate $10,000 to a charity of her choice. If not, Caplan says Bachmann
should donate $10,000 to a pro-vaccine group.

Joining me now is one of Caplan`s colleagues, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, chair
of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman
School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. He was the Obama
administration special adviser on health policy to the Office of Management
and Budget.

Thank you very much for joining me tonight, Dr. Emanuel.

DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you for having
me.

O`DONNELL: First of all, right off the bat, let`s get to side effect
possibilities from the HPV vaccine which is administered to 12-year-old
girls. Parents have been nervous about this since this erupted at the
Republican presidential debate.

What can you tell us about that?

EMANUEL: Let me make a few points. First, the profile of side
effects is comparable to other vaccines that are mandated, like vaccines
for mumps and measles and things like that. It`s no more and no less.
Second, last time it was looked at, there had been 23 million people who
had received the vaccine in about 100 countries and about 12,000 reported
adverse events with less than 1,000 of those being serious.

The main adverse events people get are some annoyance inflammation,
itching, redness at the injection site and there are some more serious
complications like thrombophlebitis and emboli that develop. And some
girls do faint, that`s 12-year-old girls. That`s about the main serious
problems.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Emanuel, what do you make of the politics of this,
within the Republican Party? You`ve been involved in the Obama
administration. Your brother was White House chief of staff, now mayor of
Chicago. You know a little something about this kind of thing when it
intersects with politics.

How should the Republicans deal with this going forward?

EMANUEL: First of all, I know very little about politics. I try to
stick to the policy and the medicine which is what I do know.

But I do think that the real issue here, more than the Republicans,
for the country, we need to stick to the science, we need to stick to what
the experts say and we should not do what Michele Bachmann did, which is to
find a mother, hear a story and portray that as the truth.

We know that led to serious problems when people were talking about
autism from vaccines which has been disproven by studies. And similarly we
know that the research here by the CDC, by follow-up of use of this vaccine
that it`s very safe and that, in fact, it`s much better that girls, 12-
year-olds, get the vaccine. The estimate is that each year it would
prevent, if all 12-year-olds got it, 3,300 cases of cervical cancer. Not
to mention other potential cancers that the virus is associated with --
penile cancer for boys, anal cancer.

So, we really need to stick to the science and try to get politics out
of this.

O`DONNELL: What about the mandating of this vaccine? There are
questions about this from the left and the right whether it should be
mandated. Recommending it, medically, that`s one thing, but government
mandate on this vaccine, how would you advise a governor who was
considering as Perry was a mandate for this vaccine?

EMANUEL: I think as a public health person, you would want girls to
get this. Again, it`s cost effective. The longer we wait to immunize
people, the less number of cases you prevent, the lower the impact.

And, you know, if I told most parents I could give your kid something
to prevent them from getting cancer in the future, won`t get rid of all
cancers, but this particular type of cancer, wouldn`t you want that for
your child? Of course you would.

And the only reason this thing is mixed up in politics is because of -
- it has to do with sex somehow and because we have had this growing anti-
vaccine movement not based upon the science, but based upon fear and
stories that are unverifiable.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Zeke Emanuel from the University of Pennsylvania --
thank you very much for your invaluable clarifications on this issue.
Thanks for joining us.

EMANUEL: Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up: is the Obama administration really in trouble? Rumors of
White House infighting and worry among Democrats have team Obama going on
the offensive.

And later, no rumors here. The Republican presidential candidates are
more than happy to beat each other up in public and the late night comedy
writers are very grateful. The funniest moments of the week in late night
comedy are coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: This breaking news is coming to us from Reno, Nevada. A
vintage plane has crashed near the audience at an air race. A Reno air
race spokesman describes the crash as, quote, "a mass casualty situation."
But the number of injuries and possible fatalities is not yet known.

The plane is reportedly a World War II era fighter plane, a P-51
Mustang, according to the local NBC affiliate, KRNV. The pilot is 80 years
old. His condition is not known.

The event is being held at the National Championship Air Races. It
draws thousands every year to watch both civilian and military planes.
We`re going to show you this shocking video again. This is a vintage World
War II plane at an air show in Nevada.

It crashes near the audience. Early reports said it crashed in the
stands. We can see in this video that it was near the stands, but did not
actually hit the stands where the audience is. We do not know -- do not
know how many possible fatalities might be involved.

We do not know how many injuries may be involved in this crash at this
air show near Reno, Nevada. This is video we`ve just obtained here from
our local NBC affiliate KRNV in Nevada. This video is all we have at this
time.

You can see the crash site close to the stands. We will keep
following this situation and update you with any new facts we can get on it
within this hour.

All right. Still to come in this hour, we will show you the letter
President Obama`s top campaign adviser David Axelrod is writing to each of
the major news networks amid reports of trouble for the White House and the
re-election campaign.

And later, the very first thing you ever learned about Rick Perry and
Mitt Romney is not true. And that`s because those two men want it that
way. Their secrets will be revealed in tonight`s Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the Obama campaign addresses
concerns with the president`s reelection chances, three days after a New
York Congressional district elected its first Republican in 88 years.
Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod sent a memo today to Sunday
show producers saying, quote, "members of the media have focused on the
president`s approval rating as if they existed in a black box."

Axelrod noted that approval ratings for the Republican brand and
Congress were at historic lows. He continued "despite what you hear in
elite commentary, the president`s support among base voters and in key
demographic groups has stayed strong. According to the latest NBC/"Wall
Street Journal" poll, Democrats approve of his performance by an 81 percent
to 14 percent margin. That`s stronger than President Clinton`s support
among Democrats at this point in his term, and according to Gallup,
stronger than any Democratic president, dating back to Harry Truman,
through this point in their presidency."

The president echoed his campaign chief`s confidence last night,
telling an audience at a 35,000 dollar per ticket DNC fund raiser in
Washington, "I know that over the last couple of months, there have been
Democrats who voiced concerns and nervousness about, well, in this kind of
economy, aren`t these just huge headwinds in terms of your re-election?
And I just have to remind people that here`s one thing I know for certain,
the odds of me being re-elected are much higher than the odds of me being
elected in the first place."

Joining me now, NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro. Thank you
very much for joining me tonight, Ari.

ARI SHAPIRO, NPR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Pleasure to be with you,
Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Ari, I don`t think anyone out there was really thinking
this before David Axelrod`s memo, that this Democratic president sits in a
stronger position with Democrats, with his base, than any other previous
Democratic president in my lifetime and before. The imagery out there is
of the weakening of candidate Obama.

SHAPIRO: It all depends on the angle that you look at it. Tonight,
there was a new "New York Times"/CBS poll that showed his overall approval
rating was at 43 percent, 50 percent disapproval rating. It showed that
President Obama`s approval rating had gone down with all kinds of important
constituency groups that helped him get into office in the first place,
whether we`re talking about suburban voters, or working class voters,
minority voters.

So I don`t dispute what David Axelrod says. But there are a lot of
bad statistics for President Obama out there as well, as the re-election
campaign knows. What Axelrod says sounds to me a lot like what he was
saying in 2010, which is our numbers, whatever they may be, are far better
than the Republicans` numbers.

The re-election campaign is trying to frame this as a choice between
the Democrats and the Republicans. The Republicans are going to frame it
as a referendum on President Obama. And whether voters see it as one or
the other could ultimately make the difference in whether President Obama
is re-elected or not.

O`DONNELL: The president is in a presidency that is embattled with
congressional Republicans. And so I want to go back to that slide that we
just had up about the poll to look at Republicans in Congress. They are
polling with a 19 percent approval, compared to the president`s 43 percent
approval. The Republicans in Congress have a 72 percent disapproval.

Now, that is not of any individual, but it certainly is -- in terms of
the fight that the president is in day to day, in his day job of president
of the United States, his approval versus the party he`s struggling with
day-to-day is more than double what their approval is.

SHAPIRO: That`s right. I`m sure President Obama wishes he were
running for re-election against House Speaker John Boehner. But, as you
say, in the day-to-day job that President Obama has to do, he feels that he
has more arrows in his quiver than the Congressional Republicans. That`s
why he`s confident going out to the American people day after day, pushing
his jobs bill, saying, tell Congress to pass this bill.

Because as little political capital as President Obama may have today,
the Republicans in Congress are even less popular. And in fact, poll
numbers show that President Obama`s jobs bill is relatively popular, even
though -- and this may seem contradictory -- most Americans seem to believe
that it won`t do a tremendous amount to the affect the employment numbers
in the United States.

O`DONNELL: Now I`ve actually been struck by how little dissent there
has been, how little public rumbling, even unnamed public grumbling, has
occurred about the Obama White House, especially after the losses in the
2010 election. Democrats, they will turn on their own president very
quickly, as Jimmy Carter can tell you, as Bill Clinton can tell you after
they lost the midterms his first two years in. And it seems to me that
this White House has suffered very little of that, up to now.

Now there`s this undercurrent of what`s going on with White House
Chief of Staff Bill Daley. Is he disorganized? Is he running that ship
the way he should? But that`s a kind of standard kind of critique that
occurs at this point in a presidency. Isn`t it?

SHAPIRO: I spoke to somebody who had chatted with Bill Daley. And
apparently Daley said to this person, I expected to get six months in the
chief of staff job before I started getting these kinds of negative
stories. I made it with nine. So as I figure, I got three extra months.

One of things that I found kind of funny in this story is that
whatever complaints there may be about Bill Daley, the description of Rahm
Emanuel, his predecessor, as organized would not be what I would put at the
top of the list of Rahm Emanuel`s positive qualities.

The fact is these are two very different men. Rahm Emanuel acts like
an octopus. He will do many people`s jobs for them, whether they want him
to or not. Bill Daley is much more hands off.

Rahm was a member of Congress, and he kept in close contact with those
members of Congress, many of whom don`t have as much contact with or
influence on the White House now under Bill Daley, which they feel a little
bit upset about.

I think if you`re going to criticize Bill Daley for anything, you need
to look at the two things he was brought into the White House to do.
Number one, build relationships with Republicans, and number two, bring
business onboard the Obama agenda.

The relationship with the Republicans seems to be doing well. But the
results aren`t showing in policy. And in the relationship with business,
it just isn`t coming across in things like the debt ceiling talks.

O`DONNELL: Ari Shapiro of NPR, thank you very much for joining us
tonight.

SHAPIRO: You`re welcome.

O`DONNELL: We have new information on the breaking news story we
brought you earlier, a vintage plane crash near the grandstand at an air
show in Reno, Nevada. The Associated Press is reporting 75 injured, at
least 25 critically injured.

Joining me now is Andrew Greco, reporter for KRNV TV. Andrew, what
can you tell us about what we now know about the crash?

ANDREW GRECO, KRNV-TV: Well, Lawrence, I think it goes without saying
it`s a very chaotic scene here at the Reno Stead Airport. Basically you
have dozens of ambulances going in and out of the airport grounds here. A
lot of people I must say -- I`ve seen a lot of tears, a lot of people
crying.

Some of these people have witnessed a crash -- according to these
witnesses, it was a P-51 plane that went up in the air. Of course, this is
the National Championship Air Races. This has gone on for about I`d say
about four decades here in the Reno area. Very popular event where these
planes do wild stunts in the air.

Witnesses say that the plane went up then started to come down, and
ultimately went into some type of grandstands or VIP area, where there were
people who were watching the event. So the question right now, how many
people have been injured? How many possible casualties?

We`re waiting for word from law enforcement. Of course, in this kind
of emergency situation, law enforcement officials are running around doing
their jobs. Their first priority, of course, not always to speak to the
media right away. So we`re trying to find out exactly how many people
injured.

But as I heard you say a minute ago, we`re talking a lot of people,
possibly dozens of people injured. And the question is at this point if
anyone has died and if so, how many people have died. Lawrence?

O`DONNELL: Andrew, from the video perspective that we have -- we just
have one shot of the actual crash. It seems like it could have been worse,
in that it doesn`t go directly into the grandstand. It lands -- it hits at
some distance from the grandstand.

But you`re now telling us that that area away from the grandstand that
we`re seeing was actually a VIP area? That was another area that did have
a significant group of people in it?

GRECO: What I can tell you, Lawrence, the information I`m getting, it
is from witnesses at this point, because a lot of the law enforcement
officials have not stopped to speak to the media. I can tell you just a
minute ago, it came over the loud speakers here for the media to convene
over at a certain area at the airport.

So I`m sure we`re about to get addressed by some of the
representatives here at the airport. I`m sure we`re about to get addressed
here any minute. I can tell you what the witnesses told me. They said it
was possibly a VIP area. I think the bottom line that it was in an area
where people were watching the races.

And I did speak to one witness. He was not injured, but he tells me
that he was in the area of the explosion, and that he actually got knocked
to the ground from the explosion. So as we were coming on scene here, I
can tell you it was a mess here. Of course, a lot of people trying to
leave the Stead Airport.

And a lot of people, I must say, were crying and had their head in
their hands. And it was a -- right now, a very somber scene and it`s
pretty unbelievable at this point. Lawrence?

Lawrence, back to you.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Greco of KRNv TV, reporting to us from Reno. Thank
you very much for joining us, Andrew.

GRECO: You`re welcome. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be back with more as this story develops.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We have a continuing update on the breaking news tonight
in Reno, Nevada. A vintage airplane crashed into the audience at an air
race. Witnesses tell the "Reno Gazette Journal" that there are multiple
fatalities. One man told the paper "it`s just like a massacre. It`s like
a bomb went off."

He also said there are people lying all over the runway. A Reno air
race spokesman describes the crash as a, quote, "mass casualty situation."
According to the Associated Press, at least 75 people have been injured, 25
of those critically, with life threatening injuries.

There are still no confirmed deaths. The plane is reportedly a World
War II era fighter plane, a P-51 Mustang, according to the local NBC
affiliate, KRNV. We will be back with more as this story develops.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We`re following breaking news in Reno, Nevada. A vintage
plane crashed into the crowd at an air show. The Associated Press says at
least 75 people were injured, 25 critically. The scene on the ground is
described as chaotic. Witnesses say there have been fatalities, but
officials are not confirming any deaths.

Joining me now is Mackenzie Warren, a reporter for KRNV. Mackenzie,
what do we know about the accident as of now?

MACKENZIE WARREN, KRNV TV: You know, Lawrence, information`s really
sketchy right now. A pilot, Jimmy Leeward (ph), he`s 80 years old, an
experienced movie stunt pilot, was flying in the unlimited bull race. This
was the race everyone was waiting for.

It turned very ugly, very serious. Crashed into a grandstand. The AP
is saying 75 people hurt. From being here on the ground, I can tell you
that`s a conservative number. There are dozens of people hurting,
bloodied. The triage here is unbelievable, ten ambulances, three
helicopters by air, pulling people out.

No idea what might have caused that. Witnesses say they heard the
engine rev and then he just went down. I put in a call to the Nevada
National Guard and they did say that they received a Mayday. That`s at
least from some viewers that are sending me some tips.

But at this point, we have not been able to confirm casualties, though
they are calling this a mass casualty. Keep in mind, this event draws
hundreds of thousands of people all weekend long. Friday night is really
when it gets picking up. And this is when that crash happened.

Devastating scene. So many injured. And still trying to find out
what happened and how many deaths there might have been.

O`DONNELL: Mackenzie, this event, the Reno National Championship Air
Races, has a troubled history. In 2007 and 2008, four pilots were killed
at this event over those two years. Have they done anything to change
their regulations or their safety procedures since 2008?

WARREN: Yeah, you know, of course, Lawrence, they have enacted an
emergency plan in light of those deaths. That got put into place
immediately when that plane went down.

And I can tell you the FAA has just arrived. This is the only pylon
to pylon racing event in the entire world. It is incredibly dangerous.
These planes are going faster than Nascar. This is an element of danger.
But they do have an emergency plan set in place. And they say they use it.

Obviously that`s a question that all of us reporters on the scene are
going to be asking. Could more have been done to have prevented this,
given that there have been accidents in the past?

O`DONNELL: Mackenzie, specifically in these kinds of races, wouldn`t
they have taken trouble to design the race course so that any kind of
accident couldn`t get near the audience?

WARREN: That`s something we`ve asked them about. And it is pretty
far -- to give you a sense of what I`m looking at, I`m here at the
grandstand. And where the planes actually race, the loop that they race,
is quite far out there. That`s what`s leading us to believe that something
might have happened to this pilot.

He`s 80 years old. He was experienced. So certainly they are not
supposed to come this close to the grandstand. So that`s something that
we`re asking and wondering, how this plane could have gone down.

O`DONNELL: KRNV reporter Mackenzie Warren, thank you very much for
updating us on this.

WARREN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: More on this breaking news as it develops tonight. "THE
RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" is up next. Good evening, Rachel.

END

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