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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, October 6, 2011

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

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Guests: Herman Cain, Steve Schmidt, Janice Min

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Is Herman Cain for real? He`s here. I`ll
ask him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWD: United, we`ll never be defeated.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t understand these
demonstrations and what is it that they`re looking for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the wide swaths of Americans.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve got a
responsibility to the people who sent us here.

O`DONNELL (voice-over): It`s the president versus the do-nothing
Congress.

OBAMA: I promise you, we`re going to keep on going.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: He`s playing Harry Truman here, trying to
beat up on Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People who have been waiting for a movement.

OBAMA: Too many people hurting in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you going to do for the economy?

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Six hundred people are said to be in
Philadelphia protesting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president`s got a lot of really good ideas
about how to create jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president put together the American Jobs Act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s just do it.

OBAMA: Will Congress do something?

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This is Ronald Reagan. Tax
reduction bills have been passed to benefit the higher income brackets
alone.

OBAMA: I think the American people will run them out of town.

REAGAN: We must have new faces in the Congress of the United States.

O`DONNELL: Republicans are fighting back.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Mr. President, why
have you given up on the country?

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Let`s get down to business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Piss on my leg and you tell me it`s raining
outside.

CANTOR: Let`s stop the politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m pretty sure it`s not raining outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans are sort of frantically flailing
around.

MITCHELL: The Republicans, are they still looking for a savior?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfortunately, there`s no perfect candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Herman Cain, who I must say for all his good
qualities, I feel is un-nominatable, unelectable as president.

CAIN: Don`t blame Wall Street. Don`t blame the big banks.

O`DONNELL: And don`t even think about blaming Herman Cain.

CAIN: If you don`t have a job and you`re not rich, blame yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they tell pollsters Herman Cain, they`re
saying none of the above.

UNIDDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah Palin said you`re the flavor of -- flavor
of the month.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: By the way, Sarah Palin made it official.

MITCHELL: The latest to drop out.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I apologize to those whom
are disappointed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: In a White House press conference today, the president
said he has been watching the "Occupy Wall Street" protests on television
and believes this is what "Occupy Wall Street" is trying to tell him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people
feel that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression,
huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across main street,
and yet you`re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly,
trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into
this problem in the first place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The newest Republican presidential front-runner in the
latest Economist/Yougov poll, Herman Cain said he has taken this message
from "Occupy Wall Street."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: Rather than going to Wall Street, complaining to people at big
banks or big businesses, why not picket the White House because the
policies have failed? And so, all it is, is a distraction on the part of
those who are trying to distract from these failed policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now on his book tour from the Barnes & Noble in
Woodlands, Texas, is Herman Cain, Republican presidential candidate and
front-runner. He`s the author of "This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the
White House."

Thank you very much for joining me tonight, Mr. Cain.

CAIN: Thanks, Lawrence. It`s my pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Cain, in the president`s news conference today, the
president came out in support of the Senate Democrats` idea of paying for
his jobs bill with a 5 percent surtax on income over $1 million. And a
recent NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll showed overwhelming bipartisan
support for increasing taxes on incomes over $1 million. That`s 81 percent
support for increasing taxes for incomes over $1 million.

Has the Democratic Party somehow managed to brainwash 81 percent of
the American people into supporting that idea?

CAIN: The answer is yes. The Democrats have succeeded at
brainwashing a lot of the American people. First of all, taxing people
more that make over $1 million isn`t going to solve the problem. Secondly,
they have just taken class warfare to another level. When for decades you
are telling the American people that we ought to take more from the rich in
order to help pay off our debts, but yet the debts don`t get paid off,
they`re just playing the class warfare card.

I would counter that, Lawrence, with 50 percent of the taxpayers now
pay 97 percent of the taxes. I think that`s pretty fair already.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Cain, you`ve also said in the past that African-
Americans have been brainwashed into voting for Democrats. That`s an awful
lot of successful brainwashing by Democrats. You`re now saying that
Democrats have successfully brainwashed Republicans, brainwashed Democrats,
brainwashed 81 percent of the country into thinking that there should be
higher income taxes on incomes over $1 million.

You`re willing to take your brainwash idea and accuse 81 percent of
the American public of being brainwashed?

CAIN: OK. You asked two questions, Lawrence. Let`s separate the
two. OK?

The first one relative to brainwashing black Americans, they have
successfully brainwashed a lot. Not all. I didn`t say all. They
brainwashed a lot of black Americans into just voting Democrat and not even
considering an idea that would come from a conservative or Republican.

The second part, yes. Some people, both Republicans and Democrats,
have bought into the class warfare card. But a lot of people haven`t.

So, you know, that number could be 81 percent or 85 percent. That
just means that they`ve been succeeding.

Now, what I`m doing is to try and un-brainwash people by presenting
solutions that will allow everybody to try and achieve their dreams based
upon their own individual effort in this nation. That`s what this nation
is supposed to be about.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Cain, we asked our viewers to submit questions on
Twitter. You won`t be surprised. They`re asking about the brainwashing.

We have one Twitter question that says, "Ask him how he would ever
expect to gain the African-American vote when all he`s done is insult our
intelligence?"

CAIN: Well, first of all, I did not insult the intelligence of all
black Americans. I insulted the -- I insulted the attitude of those that
will not consider an alternate idea.

And the other point that I made that doesn`t get talked about is I
said that the good news is more and more black Americans are thinking for
themselves. So they did not consider my statement insulting because a lot
of them are thinking for themselves. And so, I don`t see that as insulting
them.

Now, if they want to talk about insulting, they need to look at the
president when he talked to the Congressional Black Caucus and insulted
black people, in my opinion, by telling them to take off their slippers and
put on their marching boots when he has had nothing but failed policies.
That`s insulting to me. Not the fact that some people won`t even consider
an alternate idea like my 999 plan. Take a look at it. It is not
partisan.

(CHEERS)

O`DONNELL: We`re going to get to that. Absolutely.

Mr. Cain, I want to ask you about another insult that flew through our
culture this week that got a lot of attention. Hank Williams Jr. got fired
from the "Monday Night Football" coverage team because he said this on FOX
News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mean when John Boehner played golf with
President Obama?

HANK WILLIAMS, JR., SINGER: Oh, yes. Yes. And Biden and Kasich.
Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you not like about it? It seems to be
a real pivotal moment for you.

WILLIAMS: Come on. Come on. It would be like Hitler playing golf
with Netanyahu, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Do you agree that Hank Williams Jr. should have been fired
for equating President Obama with Hitler, the killer of 6 million Jews and
countless other American troops and other soldiers and civilians during
World War II?

CAIN: Lawrence, he didn`t call President Obama by name, first of all.
And secondly, that was a poor choice of words. And thirdly, that was the
decision of the network as to whether to fire him or not. OK? That`s all
I have to say about that.

O`DONNELL: Would you fire --

CAIN: It was the network`s decision and it --

O`DONNELL: Would you fire anyone on your campaign who said that
sentence?

CAIN: If someone in my campaign were to exercise a poor choice of
words in that regard, that is a possibility. It would depend upon the
context. But he did not call President Obama by name when he used that
metaphor.

O`DONNELL: All right. In your book you write , the book you`re
selling down there at Barnes & Noble today, you write, "The civil rights
movement was a few years in front of me. I was too young to participate
when they first started the freedom rides and the sit-ins. So, on a day-
to-day basis it didn`t have an impact. I just kept going to school, doing
what I was supposed to do, and stayed out of trouble. I didn`t go downtown
and try to participate in sit-ins.

Counter to our real feelings, we decided to avoid trouble by moving to
the back of the bus when the driver told us to. Dad always said, `Stay out
of trouble,` and we did."

Where do you think black people would be sitting on the bus today if
Rosa Parks had followed your father`s advice?

CAIN: My father was not given Rosa Parks` advice.

Here again, Lawrence, you are distorting the intent of what I said. I
was a high school student. The college students were doing the sit-ins.
The college students were doing the freedom rides. If I had been a college
student, I probably would have been participating.

But if you`re a high school student in the 10th or 11th grade, you`re
under 18 years of age, you didn`t need to get arrested and be in the middle
of that. That was the intent of what I said relative to me not being
involved.

Now, I was impacted by that on a daily basis simply because I was
living in Atlanta, Georgia, when all of this was going on. It was not
prudent. This is what my dad meant. It was not prudent for a high school
student to be in the middle of what was going on in terms of those
demonstrations.

And thanks to Rosa Parks -- yes, she struck a chord with a lot of
people that helped to lead to the desegregation of the buses as well as she
was a big part of the whole civil rights movement. And we are all very
grateful to her for that.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Cain, in fact, you were in college from 1963 to 1967,
at the height of the civil rights movement, exactly when the most important
demonstrations and protests were going on. You could easily as a student
at Morehouse between 1963 and 1967 actively have participated in the kinds
of protests that got African-Americans the rights they enjoy today. You
watched from that perspective at Morehouse when you were not participating
in those processes. You watched black college students from around the
country and white college students from around the country come to the
South and be murdered, fighting for the rights of African-Americans.

Do you regret sitting on those sidelines at that time?

CAIN: Lawrence, your attempt to say that I sat on the sidelines is an
irrelevant comparison that you`re trying to deduce from that particular --

O`DONNELL: It`s in your book.

CAIN: -- point in time.

O`DONNELL: It`s in your book.

CAIN: Now, Lawrence, I know what`s in my book. Now, let me ask you a
question. Did you expect every black student and every black college in
America to be out there in the middle of every fight? The answer is no.

So, for you to say why was I sitting on the sidelines -- I think that
that is an inaccurate deduction that you are trying to make. You didn`t
know, Lawrence, what I was doing with the rest of my life. You didn`t know
what my family situation what may have been.

Maybe, just maybe I had a sick relative, which is why I might not have
been sitting in or doing the freedom rides.

So, what I`m saying, Lawrence, is -- with all due respect, my friend -
- your deduction is incorrect and it`s not logical. OK?

O`DONNELL: Well, I gave your book a fair reading, and I didn`t read
anything about a sick friend. What I read was a deliberate decision to not
participate in the civil rights movement and the civil rights protests, and
I read a misleading sentence that indicated that in time you were -- that
what you tried to say here on the show, that you were in high school at
that time when in fact you were in college from 1963 to 1967, right where
it was happening, in Atlanta, Georgia.

CAIN: Lawrence. Lawrence, I`m going to try this one more time. I
graduated from high school in 1963. OK? I didn`t start college until the
fall of 1963.

Now, I don`t understand why you`re trying to make a big deal out of
this small point when we have an economy that is on life support. We`ve
got 14 million people out of work, and you want to try and deduce something
that is incorrect from my words in my book. OK?

Let`s do the people of this country a service, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: All right. Let`s go to something you said on "The View"
the other day. You said on "The View" that being gay is a choice and we
got a question on Twitter today that says, "How can you say that being gay
is a choice? Did you choose to be straight?"

CAIN: Lawrence, that will always be a difference of opinion. Like I
told Joy Behar. She has her opinion. I have my opinion. It`s a
difference of opinion. Next question, please.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: The next question is coming up. We`ll have more of my
interview with Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. He has said
he would not run as Rick Perry`s vice president. Would he run as Mitt
Romney`s vice president? And why did he avoid serving in the Vietnam War?

And the Sarah Palin shadow has been removed from the Republican
presidential campaign. Steve Schmidt will join me to explain how Sarah
Palin could fool so many people for so long. And tell us where Republican
voters will now throw their support.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Coming up, I`ll ask Herman Cain why he chose not to serve
in the Vietnam War. And give him a chance to apologize to the poor and the
unemployed for saying that it`s their own fault that they don`t have jobs.

And we`ll look at the Republican presidential candidates now that they
know what you have always known, that Sarah Palin is not running for
president. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And we`re back with the next question in my interview with
Herman Cain.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: OK. You`ve said that you don`t think you could run on a
ticket with Rick Perry based on some of his positions that he holds as of
now. I`m not sure if you`re open to the idea of him changing those
positions, could you join the ticket with him. But could you, as you know,
what you know about Mitt Romney, could you join Mitt Romney`s ticket and
the vice presidential slot if he asked you to do that?

CAIN: It would depend upon sitting down with Governor Romney if he
got the nomination to decide and make a decision based upon everything that
I knew at that point as to whether or not I could run on the ticket with
him. I think it`s premature to say definitively one way or another because
as you know, campaigns go through phases and Governor Romney has at times -
- he has at times changed his position on issues. I would have to be
assured that the position that meant the most to me, that he and I were
consistent.

I could not be the vice presidential candidate for someone where we
had some basic philosophical differences.

O`DONNELL: Would it be a problem if he had positions in the past that
were the opposite of yours? For example, just six years ago, he was a
supporter of abortion rights. Just six years ago, he supported
comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 -- a very short time ago. One of
the issues -- one of the big problems you have with Rick Perry immigration,
Mitt Romney was to his left at certain points in this discussion over the
years.

He said he wanted to be a stronger advocate for gay rights than Ted
Kennedy when he was running against Ted Kennedy not that long ago. He says
that climate change is real, that human activity is contributing to it, and
so on. He also raised taxes as the governor of Massachusetts.

Is there -- do you see enough distance between now and then on those
Romney positions that you would be comfortable with where he stands now and
not concerned with where he used to stand?

CAIN: First, Lawrence, I would like to say I am in this to win it. I
have focused on what I need to do to win the nomination. I have not spent
a lot of time analyzing all of Governor Romney`s past positions or all of
his current positions. I have not spent a lot of time analyzing all of
Governor Perry`s past positions and I only briefly have I looked at some of
his current positions.

So what I`m saying is it is totally premature for me to say
definitively one way or another whether I could or could not because my
focus is on winning the Republican nomination for president.

(APPLAUSE)

O`DONNELL: Mr. Cain, you`ve said that if you`re unemployed and if
you`re poor blame yourself. Would you like to retract that now? Would you
like to say to the millions of unemployed in this country the fact that
they do not have jobs, that this economy has shrunk is not their fault and
you apologize for saying that about them?

CAIN: Lawrence, some people are unemployed for no fault of their own.
I was referring to those people who have chosen to go and demonstrate on
Wall Street for whatever reason, and it`s not real clear what reasons.

I have been one of the strongest advocates for getting this economy
growing because I care about the 14 million people that are not -- that are
unemployed.

My comment was directed at the people who were choosing to demonstrate
against those on Wall Street rather than demonstrate against the White
House, which is responsible for ineffective policy that will impact this
economy. That`s where they ought to be demonstrating. And that was where
my comment was directed.

Not at the people who are unemployed for no reason of their own.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Cain, what are you grateful to this government for?
You served in the Navy, and the Navy paid for you to go and get a graduate
degree while you were in the Navy. Are you grateful to the government for
doing that?

Are you grateful to this government for passing the Voting Rights Act,
the Civil Rights Act? Or anything that the government has done during your
lifetime? Is there anything you that thank the federal government for?

CAIN: First of all, let`s get the record straight. I didn`t serve in
the Navy. I was a civil servant. I started working for the Department of
the Navy as a mathematician, ballistics analyst.

I am grateful for the opportunity that the government gave me to
assist me in getting my graduate education with the graduate fellowship
program that they had. I am grateful for this government for passing the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

And I might point out that Democrats alone did not pass those two
pieces of legislation. In fact, if you look at the record, a larger
percentage of Republicans voted for it than the percentage of Democrats in
1964 and in 1965.

I am grateful for the United States of America being a nation that can
change because in our short 235-year history, it is our ability to change
that has allowed us to become a great nation.

I am grateful that I have been able to achieve my American Dreams in
this great nation, which is why I`m running for president of the United
States, because I want to make sure that my children and my grandchildren
and all of the other next generation have the same opportunity that I had.

(APPLAUSE)

O`DONNELL: Question about the commander in chief role. I misread
your book in its references to the Navy. I thought you served in the Navy.
You`re now telling me you didn`t. Can you explain how you avoided military
service during the Vietnam War and during the draft and why you should be
commander-in-chief if you did successfully avoid military service during
the war that came during what would have been your war years? How you,
after avoiding the Vietnam War, why should you be commander-in-chief?

CAIN: Lawrence, you know, do you stay up night to come up with the
words in these questions, or do you have someone --

O`DONNELL: Just thought of that one right now, when I heard you
didn`t serve in the Navy or the military during Vietnam.

CAIN: First of all, Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: How did you do that?

CAIN: Lawrence, first of all, I wanted to clarify the record because
I didn`t want to be accused later of saying that I served in the Navy. And
if you read the book closely, it says I worked for the Department of the
Navy.

Now, your choice of words, to say how did I avoid the Vietnam War? I
wasn`t trying to avoid the Vietnam War. Here`s what happened, Lawrence --
I was working in a critical area called Exterior Ballistics. I worked on
something called the rocket-assisted projectile for the Department of the
Navy. It was my local board in Atlanta, Georgia, that told me, we would
rather for you to continue to do that analytical work to help the Navy
rather than us drafting you.

Secondly, when they had the lottery, I made myself available. The
year that they had the lottery for the draft, they did not draft me because
they didn`t get to my number. So I think that`s a poor choice of words on
your part, to say that I avoided the Vietnam War.

I made myself available to my country, and they did not draft me. The
rest of the time I was serving my country in a critical role called
exterior ballistics analysis.

So I am offended with your choice of words in terms of what I was
doing during the Vietnam War.

(APPLAUSE)

O`DONNELL: I am offended on behalf of all the veterans of the Vietnam
War who joined, Mr. Cain -- the veterans who did not wait to be draft like
John Kerry, who joined. They didn`t sit there and wait to find out what
their draft board was going to do. They had the courage to join and to go
and fight that war. What prevented you from joining, and what gives you
the feeling that after having made that choice, you should be the
commander-in-chief?

CAIN: Well, Lawrence, we have a difference of opinion. And I would
like to move on to talking about how we are going to boost this economy.
It`s called my 9-9-9 plan, before we run out of time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: We are not running out of time.

Coming up, Herman Cain will talk about his magical 9-9-9 plan.

And later, a fascinating new poll shows us how movie stars` personal
politics affects their box office power. Janice Min, editorial director of
the "Hollywood Reporter," joins me to discuss the surprising role of movie
stars` political attitudes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Still to come in this hour, I`m sorry to say, but there
will be math. I`m going to have to let Herman Cain go all 9-9-9 on us.
But I will correct his math.

I`m not going to say I told you so. That would be just so uncool.
I`m not going to do it. Nothing can get me to do that. I don`t care how
many times I`ve said for the last couple of years that Sarah Palin was
never going to run for president, never going to run for office again in
her life.

I don`t care how much I said that. I am not going to do an I told you
so thing. It`s just so beneath me. But I am going to discuss the rest of
the Republican candidates coming up with Steve Schmidt, senior adviser for
the McCain 2008 campaign. He knows a little something about this stuff.
He joins me coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We`re back with the rest of my interview with the new
Republican front-runner, Herman Cain.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAIN: It is a bold plan. The reason it`s bold is because this
economy is on life support. This is what I had hoped that we would talk
more about.

O`DONNELL: Please do.

CAIN: And it starts with throwing out the current tax code, because
it is a mess, and then passing legislation with a nine percent business
flat tack, a nine percent personal income flat tax, and a nine percent
sales tax. Those three would collect the same amount of revenue as
personal income tax, corporate income tax, the capital gains tax, the death
tax, and the payroll tax.

It would be simpler and fairer to everybody. And it would provide
certainty to the business community such that they could begin to plan for
growth instead of planning for survival, which is what they`re doing right
now. Now, 9-9-9 plan is a bold plan that will boost this economy.

O`DONNELL: I`m not going to argue the point about how much revenue it
would raise. You say it raises enough. My -- everything I`ve read about
it shows that it raises half of the revenue that we currently raise, so you
would have to cut government spending by half.

But the point I want to get to in the tax part of it is you --

CAIN: No, no, no, Lawrence. Let me --

O`DONNELL: You just -- go ahead.

CAIN: No, Lawrence. I can`t let you make a statement that is
incorrect. Anybody that said that the 9-9-9 plan will only raise half of
the revenue, they are dead wrong. They have changed the assumptions.

We did a very careful analysis to come up with this. So I cannot let
you say it`s only going to raise half of the revenue, because that simply
is not true. Next question.

O`DONNELL: OK. Let`s go to the bottom tax bracket and how they would
be affected. The lowest federal taxpayers currently pay in single digits,
like two, four percent. They end up paying a net of about two or four
percent of their income in federal taxes.

Under your plan the lowest, the lowest federal income taxpayers would
suddenly end up paying 18 percent of their income in federal taxation, nine
percent of their income they would pay, and then they`d pay nine percent on
every single thing that they purchased, which -- and they use all of their
income every year to purchase it.

So it would be the most dramatic increase on the working poor in this
country in taxation that we have ever seen. How could you justify that?

CAIN: Well, first of all, your calculations are incorrect. Remember,
if they`re working and they`re drawing a paycheck, they are paying 15.3
percent off the top of their income. So relative to their income, they`re
going to go from 15 percent down to nine percent.

They`re going to pick up a six percentage-point gain. Now, if they
are, in fact, in the lowest income bracket, that six percent will be more
than enough to compensate for them spending the rest of their money and
paying the sales tax on the remainder of their income.

Run the numbers is what I ask people to do. Go through the
arithmetic. And you will find that it is not 18 percent. That is an
erroneous calculation, because they are not taking into account the
elimination of the 15.3 percent payroll tax.

O`DONNELL: Herman Cain, Republican front-runner for the presidency,
thank you very much for joining me tonight. Thank you for giving us extra
time.

CAIN: Lawrence, I would come back and have a chat with you anytime.
Thank you, sir.

O`DONNELL: We will do it. I can`t wait. Thank you very much. Good
luck on the campaign trail.

(APPLAUSE)

CAIN: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Still ahead in this program, Sarah Palin finally formally
confirms what anyone who`s been listening to Jonathan Capehart or me has
known for a very, very long time. She is the most recent losing vice
presidential candidate who will never be president. And I`ll be joined
next by a man who actually worked with Sarah Palin, Steve Schmidt.

And later, what movie box office numbers tell us about the political
leanings of you moviegoers. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, what viewers of this program
have always known and what every political pundit should have known since
that summer Friday two years, three months, and three days ago, when
Governor Sarah Palin announced she would resign from office, has been
officially confirmed by TV reality star Sarah Palin.

Last night, Palin pretended that she had just made her decision not to
run for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Decided that it`s a no,
Greta, because after prayerful consideration and a lot of discussion with
the family, I concluded that I believe I can be an effective voice and a
real decisive role in helping get true public servants elected to office.

After making the decision today and making the announcement, I know
beyond a shadow of a doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Of course, Sarah Palin made the decision to never run for
office again before she resigned her governorship. The reason Sarah Palin
has been playing this game for so long is the reason she does everything:
money. By pretending to consider running for president, she was able to
command higher speaking fees, more money for her book deals, and was able
to raise political contributions that she could then use to take her family
on what were nothing more than family road trips.

The charade allowed the treasurer of Sarah Palin`s political action
committee to actually send out letters like this one just two weeks ago:
"as you may know, Governor Palin is on the verge of making her decision of
whether or not to run for office. It`s one of the most difficult and
important decisions of her life. And I want her to know that she has our
support. Can you send your best one-time gift to Sarah PAC today to help
her elect more common sense conservatives and show her that we support her
if she decides to run?"

Viewers of this program, of course, were never duped by any of the
last couple of years of Palin trickery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The most recent losing vice presidential candidate who
will never be president --

She`s not running for anything.

She knows she will never be president.

There`s no chance of it. There`s absolutely no chance of it.

She is not running for president.

Pretending she was a potential presidential candidate, which of course
she isn`t.

Viewers of this program have known for quite a while that Palin is not
running for president.

She`s not running --

She will never run for president.

Palin fraud, as I see it.

Palin will never run for president.

Sarah Palin`s not running for president.

As I`ve said before, Sarah Palin is not running for president.

Palin bulletin. Sarah Palin is still not running for president.

I`ve been saying no chance of running for president.

She will never run for public office.

And she still isn`t running for president.

You think there actually is the possibility that this is leading to a
presidential campaign?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, former senior adviser to the McCain/Palin
campaign and newly appointed MSNBC analyst Steve Schmidt. Steve, thank you
very much for joining me tonight.

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Great to be with you,
Lawrence. You were right.

O`DONNELL: Well, it wasn`t hard to be right. You don`t quit a
governorship. That is -- who`s done that halfway through one term of a
governorship and run for president? And we have this tradition now in this
country, going back to Henry Cabot Lodge at least, where the losing vice
presidential candidate never, never gets anywhere toward the presidency
again.

A couple of them like Bob Dole have actually gotten the nomination.
But no winners. You know, she was Dan Quayle as soon as she lost that
thing, as far as I could tell. What -- should I have paid attention to
something else in this story?

SCHMIDT: No, look, I think you`re right. I think that when she
stepped aside for the -- from her governorship, that that was a, you know,
question that hung out there and there was no good answer for in terms of
stepping up and running to be the most powerful person in the world.

O`DONNELL: Steve, people who`ve worked with her have come away with
differing views of them. I want to read to you something that Nicole
Wallace has said. "Time Magazine" interviewed her. She served as a senior
adviser on the McCain/Palin campaign. She has a new novel out called "It`s
Classified."

And regarding the main character in the novel, Nicole Wallace says,
"the idea of a mentally ill vice president who suffers in complete
isolation was obviously sparked by the behaviors I witnessed by Sarah
Palin. There certainly were discussions, not for long because of the arc
the campaign took -- but certainly there were discussions about whether, if
they were to win, it would be appropriate for her to be sworn in."

Steve, did you participate in any of those discussions? I`ve never
heard anything like that in a presidential campaign.

SCHMIDT: Well, first off, it`s a great book. Nicole`s a talented
writer. And I`ll plug it for her. People should go read it. It`s really
a fascinating look behind the scenes, of course, of a fictional account.

Look, Lawrence, during the campaign, after the economy collapsed, we
were essentially out of it. We were never closer than six or seven points
again. But if the question is, did we -- all of us and a bunch of us who
had been around the West Wing of the White House -- did we see behavior
that we found deeply troubling?

And the answer to that question is yes, we did. Did we talk about it?
Yes, we did. You know, was there, you know, legal considerations? No,
there were not. But did we talk about a pattern of behavior that we found
troubling during the campaign? Of course we did.

O`DONNELL: Well, let`s talk about what`s left of the Republican field
now. I want to show you something that Ann Coulter said, Chris Christie
fan Ann Coulter. She said this at the political action conference in
February.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: If we don`t run Chris
Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Have anything you want to add to that, Steve? Is that
about it? Are we on to Romney and the Republicans lose?

SCHMIDT: No, I think that your psychic powers are clearly better than
hers. You know, look, I think when you look at Governor Romney and how he
has comported himself in this campaign, he`s done an excellent job in all
of these debates. And these debates have just been merciless.

People who`ve not performed well in them are out of the race, like Tim
Pawlenty, for example. You know, and I think that Governor Romney -- you
know, and I think like I was last time we were on, it`s a two-person race I
believe. I think it`s going to be between Romney -- it`s going to be
between him and Governor Perry.

I think there are other candidates that are going to impact the race.
You just interviewed one of them, Herman Cain. But I think you look at the
president`s approval numbers. He`s clearly in a vulnerable position. And
I think it`s foolishness to say that Mitt Romney can`t be elected president
of the United States.

He will have challenges, but he will be a strong and formidable
candidate, if he`s the nominee.

O`DONNELL: Steve, how should we read Herman Cain`s surge in the poll
-- polls among Republican voters?

SCHMIDT: I just think that you look at the politics in the country
today, and the American voter, independents, Republicans, Democrats, they
look at Washington and they just see a giant nest of weasels. I think you
see an outside candidate -- Herman Cain is a businessman. He`s from
outside of the system. And I just think that we`re in a climate right now
where a person who`s from outside the system is going to do well. And he
is doing well in the race.

His poll numbers are at the top of the pack. It will be interesting
to see how long his endurance is in the race, whether he`s going to recede
or whether he`s going to continue building on it. Interestingly, he`s at a
level of support that we haven`t seen for someone outside the system I
guess since Ross Perot. So he`s doing very well in the process right now.

O`DONNELL: MSNBC political analyst Steve Schmidt, former senior
adviser to the McCain 2008 campaign, thank you very much for joining me
tonight, Steve.

SCHMIDT: You bet, Lawrence. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, why the political speeches of movie stars
matter to what happens at the box office. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: A new poll looks at what affect the political comments of
movie stars have an effect on what matters most in Hollywood, the Box
Office numbers. The answer was as shocking as any Hollywood movie ending.

Joining me now, Janice Min, editorial director of the "Hollywood
Reporter," which commissioned the poll. This edition of the "Hollywood
Reporter" is easy to find on newsstands now, because there`s a picture of a
highly recognizable star on that cover.

Who is that on that cover? Janice Min, thank you very much for
joining us.

JANICE MIN, "HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL: Rachel is now a Hollywood star. Cover of the "Hollywood
Reporter." Can`t get higher than that.

MIN: Absolutely not.

O`DONNELL: This poll is fascinating to me. I had no idea that ticket
buyers were actually thinking about the politics of the stars, Sean Penn,
Michael Moore, others, as they`re going up to the box office.

MIN: Well, the shocking thing to me was just how much -- I think it`s
a result of the political discourse right now in the country. It is so
highly charged. When you combine that with the Internet and social
networking, a message about a star, good or bad, Republican or Democrat,
gets out fast. And people mobilize.

And you`re seeing right now an immediate impact on the box office.

O`DONNELL: You had about 1,000 people, which is a very good size
sample for a national poll. What was the most surprising thing for you in
it? Because the Hollywood idea has been their politics don`t matter.
That`s an old-fashioned notion, 1960s, 1950s notion, that politics gets you
in trouble at the box office.

MIN: The result is immediate. You look at the number one movie in
the country right now, which is "Dolphin Tale." So for two weeks, it`s
been number one. But it probably could have made more money, maybe. The
day it opened, which you know the studio was dying, Morgan Freeman made his
remarks about the Tea Party. And he said he thinks the Tea Party is kind
of racist.

And all of a sudden, it`s on "Drudge Report." It`s on Facebook,
Twitter. People are saying -- you know, one of the comments online is he`s
on my no pay, no watch list. And immediately, within days, the polling
firm that did this for us, Penn, Show and Berlin (ph), they found that I
believe around 30 percent of Republicans, a higher percentage of Tea
Partiers, said they will not see the movie because of Morgan Freeman.

But the funny flip side of this is 42 percent of liberals said they
would go see "Dolphin Tale," which was marketed as a family movie,
definitely had a more conservative bend. They were marketing it in
conservative circles. So that one`s a little bit of a wash, but it had an
impact.

O`DONNELL: Yes. it does. Let`s look at what we learned about the
stars. Stars Democrats are likely to avoid: Mel Gibson, 36 percent say if
he`s in the movie, I don`t want to buy the ticket. Schwarzenegger, 30
percent say that`s going to turn me away. Tom Cruise, 27 percent, Kelsey
Grammer 14, Jon Voight -- a very strong conservative Jon Voight, 13 percent
of ticket buyers say that makes me uncomfortable.

Let`s go to the other side. Republicans, big surprise, like to avoid
Michael Moore. Sixty percent of Republicans like to avoid Michael Moore.
But Michael`s movies are political. So it`s a different thing.

MIN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: You don`t have to -- you can like Michael but avoid his
movie because you don`t like what he`s talking about.

MIN: But there`s a very funny statistic the poll found, which is 21
percent of Democrats also avoid Michael Moore movies. They find him a
little too -- they don`t find him a good representation of the party. But
then 25 percent of other Democrats will definitely see a Michael Moore
movie. They are more motivated to see it.

So he`s polarizing both in his own party and outside.

O`DONNELL: And no documentary filmmaker in history has sold more
tickets than Michael Moore, when the dust clears.

MIN: Yes. So he wins.

O`DONNELL: And then Jane Fonda, wow, that`s a residual effect. She
hasn`t worked that much. But 48 percent -- this is so long after Vietnam,
48 percent saying I`m uncomfortable. Whoopi Goldberg, 47 percent of
Republicans say I don`t want to buy a ticket if Whoopi Goldberg --

MIN: And you think what is Whoopi Goldberg`s platform? It`s "The
View." She`s on a talk show. But again, the power of the Internet. Those
comments she makes, they trickle out fast and they annoy people. They
annoy the Republicans.

O`DONNELL: Now, what did we learn about movie titles? What --
Democrats like what movies, Republicans like what movies?

MIN: You said it earlier. You can tell someone`s party affiliation
by what movies they like. Democrats like edgy. Republicans like
conservative and family. So if you look at current movies that they have
liked, Republicans, they named their favorite movie, "The Chronicles of
Narnia" -- the most recent installment from "Chronicles of Narnia," which
was heavily marketed towards a Christian audience.

Democrats, not surprisingly in the poll, heavily skewed towards a
Tyler Perry, the "Madea`s Big Happy Family." But they also loved "Social
Network," which you know, is set at Harvard, which is hell for Republicans.
That is the worst place you could ever --

O`DONNELL: But it didn`t make Harvard look good. So Republicans
might like that part.

MIN: Doesn`t matter. It`s about rich kids at Harvard.

O`DONNELL: All right. You`ve got to get "the Hollywood Reporter."
You`ve got to check out this poll. It`s fascinating. Janice Min of the
"Hollywood Reporter," thank you very much for joining me tonight.

MIN: Thank you so much.

O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. You can follow my tweets @Lawrence.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" is up next. Sitting in tonight, Ezra Klein.
Good evening, Ezra.

END

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