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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

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Guests: Howard Fineman, Ron Carey, Wesley Clark, Lawrence Wilkerson, Eugene Robinson

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The Republican debate just ended. Now,
equal time for the truth.


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: The Republican candidates are facing off.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: The candidates get set to debate foreign

MITCHELL: Not exactly been their strong point so far.

BASHIR: Cover your ears.

rest of our lives.

sacrifice liberty for security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who would be profiled? Obviously Muslims would be
someone you`d look at.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They want to kill all of us,
so we should use every mean possible to kill them first.

WOLF BLITZER, MODERATOR: OK for Muslim Americans to get more
intensive pat-downs?

CAIN: No, blitz. That`s oversimplifying it.


PAUL: Terrorism is a tactic. It isn`t a person, it isn`t a people.

SANTORUM: We`re fighting a war against radical Islam. All the
radical Islamist leaders are saying is just wait America out.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not time for America
to cut and run. The commanders on the ground feel that we should bring
down our surge troops by December of 2012. I stand with the commanders in
this regard.

generals in 1967. We heard a certain course of action in Southeast Asia
didn`t serve our interest very well.

clearly shows they have America`s best interest in mind, I would not send
them one penny.

highly naive. These are nuclear weapons all across this nation. And
potentially al Qaeda could get ahold of these weapons.

CAIN: Libya.


BACHMANN: If you look at China, they don`t have food stamps.

PERRY: You know, I would say, I don`t know whether Venezuela`s
getting any money or not.

CAIN: Well, as president, you`re supposed to know everything. No,
you don`t.

PERRY: I don`t know, and I can`t say I know that answer.

CAIN: No. That`s a different one.

ROMNEY: Russia, China, Burma, Myanmar.

CAIN: Ubecky, ubecky, ubecky, stan, stan.


O`DONNELL: The latest Republican presidential primary debate focused
on national security just wrapped up in Washington, D.C. tonight.

Newt Gingrich went into the debate leading the pack with 24 percent,
Mitt Romney has 20 percent, Herman Cain went into the debate with 17
percent, Rick Perry 11 percent, in a CNN poll. Everyone else is in single

There is even more good news inside that poll for Newt Gingrich. When
asked who was most likely to understand complex issues, 43 percent, very
overwhelming number for Gingrich, said Gingrich is more likely to
understand complex issues. The next one down, 18 percent said Romney, 12
percent of misguided Republican voters thought Cain has the ability to
understand the complex issues the best, and 11 percent said Ron Paul.

And when asked who is most qualified to be commander in chief, 36
percent said Gingrich. Again, a commanding lead for Gingrich on that
question. Only 20 percent said Romney, 12 percent said Perry, and a lost
10 percent said Herman Cain.

In the politically most loaded exchange of the evening, Newt Gingrich
and Mitt Romney sparred over the problem of illegal immigration.


ROMNEY: I`d staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who`s got a
degree of math, science, master`s degree, PhD. We want those brains in our
country. But in order to bring people in legally, we`ve got to stop
illegal immigration. That means turning off the magnets of amnesty, in-
state tuition for illegal aliens, employers that knowingly hire people that
have come here illegally.

We welcome legal immigration. This is a party. This is a party that
loves legal immigration.

GINGRICH: I don`t see how the party that says it`s the party of the
family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that
have been here a quarter century, and I`m prepared to take the heat for
saying, let`s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them
citizenship, but by finding a way to create legality so they`re not
separated from their family.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Howard Fineman, editorial director for
the AOL "Huffington Post" media group and MSNBC analyst. And Ron Carey,
the former chief of staff to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and the former
chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party.

Ron Carey, first of all, did you see anything in this debate tonight
that would change the lineup as we now see it in the CNN poll?

RON CAREY, FORMER MN GOP CHAIRMAN: I don`t believe so. Really there
are two races going on now. There`s Mitt Romney who has a stable 20
percent to 25 percent support.

And Mitt Romney did a fantastic job tonight, demands a broken record.
Every debate, he does incredibly well. He looks presidential. He says the
exact right things for the Republican conservative electorate. The problem
is, there`s still about three out of four Republicans don`t trust Mitt
Romney and that`s probably not going to change.

But the other battle is going to be the non-Romney candidate that`s
going to emerge and really get down to a two-person race between Romney and
somebody else. And Newt Gingrich did a fine job tonight.

It was interesting to see Michele Bachmann did -- is the one person
who did take a swipe at him on the immigration issue and challenged him
going down the same path that torpedoed Rick Perry`s campaign a few months
ago. So, for the first time, Newt took a body blow. I`m interesting to
see if that makes movement in the polls.

But overall, Newt had a very grasp of the issues and he`s going to
probably stay solid in the polls at this point in time.

O`DONNELL: Ron, let me stay with you on this immigration question,
because it seems to me that Newt Gingrich found a new way of talking about
it. Perry`s way of talking about it was obviously disastrous within
Republican Party politics. But you heard some new sounds and some new
angles from Gingrich on this. Has he found a way to make this more open
notion about what might be possible in immigration policy, acceptable to
the Republican primary audience?

CAREY: Well, certainly he brought -- he packaged his position in a
much more palatable mode. Whether or not, there are a lot more Republicans
who believe we need to enforce the law and if you`re here illegally, you`re
here illegally and that`s the bottom line.

It will be interesting to see if those people who maybe have that
belief and going toward Gingrich are going to start looking for other
choices. Gingrich does -- it`s interesting to see his rise, because he has
taken some very controversial positions on mandated health care, on global
warming and on immigration, really outside of conservative orthodoxy. But
the Republican electorate at this point in time is gravitating to him.

The question is, is it going it be a short-term date or long-term
romance? So far, we`ve had short dates but nobody has had the sustaining
power among the non-Romney candidates.

We`re getting down to the fourth quarter here. Will anybody else have
a time to rise up and Gingrich basically because he`s doing well at this
late stage in the game, be the winner by default if nothing else to go
against Romney because we`re so close to the beginning of the Iowa

O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman, how do you score the debate tonight?

FINEMAN: Well, let`s take newt first. This is his first appearance
as the new front-runner in the race. And you saw a different Newt.

You saw an avuncular, thoughtful Newt, who even complimented the
commentator, Wolf Blitzer. He said, "Excellent question, Wolf." So, Newt
clawed his way to the top by spending the previous 11 debates attacking the
media and moderators. Today, he was the nice purring like a kitten Newt
Gingrich in his new front-runner status.

But I think a measure of his confidence now was his willingness to
take on the immigration issue as Ron was saying. That`s what killed Rick
Perry. Newt is a super-confident guy who thinks he can explain it better.
I think he backed away a little bit in the middle of the debate after he
first got in it, saying the people would have to be here 25 years, et

He did use the "H" word, humane. He said, I`m willing to be humane.
That`s a measure of his confidence.

Mitt Romney cued to the conservative line on most points, but always
in a mechanical way that never convinces the conservatives but manages to
keep them at 20 percent to 25 percent.

Rick Perry interestingly had a chance to say to Newt Gingrich, hey,
you and I agree on immigration, but Rick Perry is so flummoxed at this
point that he didn`t do it. He stayed away from it and stressed making
ultraconservative points on foreign policy which I think were designed to
impress the questioners such as David Addington and Paul Wolfowitz. I half
expected Dick Cheney to ask the last question and talk about war policy.

And I think the exchange between Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney on
Afghanistan, on the limits of what we do in Afghanistan was very
interesting. That`s the most involved in a debate that Jon Huntsman has

And, you know, Ron Paul is Ron Paul. He makes a lot of sense on a lot
of things but then usually says something a little squirrelly toward the
end. He did that again tonight.

O`DONNELL: Ron Carey, tell me something about the people who are in
your Republican debate audience and who are voting for Ron Paul. When he
says the war on drugs is a failure and comes as close as you can get to
just saying, you know what, legalize the stuff. He`s got no problem with
medical marijuana. He`s got no problem with just stopping the drug war.
And he gets big applause in your Republican debate halls when he says that.

Who are those Republicans who are clapping for that?

CAREY: Well, Ron Paul attracts a crowd who may be nonpolitical. It`s
largely an under 30 male crowd that follows Ron Paul. They`re good people,
but there is a very finite number of them in the Republican circles.

You know, Ron Paul is going to be at 8 percent to 12 percent in the
primary, and that`s -- he`s not going to fall below 8 percent but he`s not
going to go above 12 percent unless there are unique circumstances.

They`re very dedicated people. They will show up to vote. They go
quite far in the political process simply because the world belongs to
those who show up. They show up in the process.

So, they have influence above their numbers. But, again, it`s a very
finite group and he`s somebody who`s going to basically park roughly 10
percent of the conservative libertarian votes under Ron Paul and take them
off the board. He`s not going to be a factor at the end.

FINEMAN: Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Howard, go ahead.

FINEMAN: Lawrence, it occurs to me that Ron Paul is the last hippie
in America. He`s the anti-war, let`s legalize pot candidate. It`s really
amazing to see him pop up in the midst of the Republican nominating

CAREY: You know, Lawrence, if I can --

O`DONNELL: Howard, Mitt Romney delivered his standard debate
performance tonight.


O`DONNELL: But is that still good enough? He`s now in second place,
and it is not just a close second place. He`s now in what is a distant
second place to Newt Gingrich, and Newt Gingrich is polling as the
candidate who would be the best commander in chief. He`s polling as one
who understands the complex issues the best.

Doesn`t Mitt Romney have to find some new moves now against Gingrich?

FINEMAN: Yes, he absolutely does. See, now, everybody`s waiting for
Newt to blow up.

You know, Newt`s capable of losing his temper. He`s capable of
overplaying his hand. There`s always interesting battles in Newt`s
entourage -- as we saw when his staff quit back in June.

But it`s all about debate -- he`s got the gravitas to win these
debates. Also, the notion that it`s got to be a governor who handled a
loyal economy doesn`t seem to be holding water at least in this election
cycle. And Newt Gingrich can go back to the days of the `90s which
ironically Bill Clinton`s out there inferentially touting.

So, you know, Newt`s got a lot of strength here, and I think that Mitt
Romney needs a new rationale of some kind. He needs a new strategy because
what`s going to happen is his people, he`s got very experienced people on
his campaign. They`re going to look for dirt on Newt. They`re going to go
after newt with all kinds of APO (ph) research and all kinds of stuff.

But Newt is kind of pre-disaster, to use the phrase from the John
Irving book. First of all, because all the other candidates who came
before him are deeply flawed, whether it`s Michele Bachmann, or Herman Cain
or Rick Perry. So, Newt`s flaws look moderate in many respects by

Also, newt has been gone over so many times. Nothing about Newt is
new except maybe recently the stuff about Fannie Mae, which he should have
been asked about tonight, by the way, and wasn`t. And all the money he got
from health care, the health care industry, which he wasn`t.

The rest of the candidates are going to have to attack Newt. I didn`t
see any of that tonight. They`re really going to have to go after him if
they`re going to try to stop him. And that means talking about his
lobbying ties, about Fannie and Freddie, stuff about his personal life the
APO guys will try to slip to reporters. It`s going to get really nasty
very fast.

I think Mitt Romney has to confront him and say, Newt, you`re the old
story, you`re the story of the old Washington. I`m from outside

The problem is Mitt Romney doesn`t read as an outsider. When you
watch Mitt Romney, he seems like the ultimate insider in terms of the
establishment, if not Washington.

CAREY: Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: He seems like he actually won a senate campaign a long
time ago and has been in Washington ever since.

FINEMAN: Exactly. Right.

O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman, editorial director for the AOL/
"Huffington Post" media group and MSNBC analyst, and, Ron Carey, former
chief of staff to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann -- thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

CAREY: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, more on tonight`s debate.

And President Obama is heckled by Occupy protesters in New Hampshire.

And another Republican TV commercial means more lying about President

And in tonight`s "Rewrite," Newt Gingrich gets rewritten by a Broadway


O`DONNELL: In the "Rewrite" tonight, the new Republican front-runner
Newt Gingrich figures out a magical way to solve the twin problems of
overpaid janitors and poor kids in one plan.

And later, the "Daily Show`s" resident expert John Hodgman joins me
with his debate analysis and words of wisdom on everything.



PERRY: It was reprehensible for me for this president to stand in
front of Americans and to say that that half a trillion dollars, $500
million-plus is not going to be on the table and we`re going to have to
work our way through it, putting young men and women`s life in jeopardy. I
will tell you, as a commander in chief, as an American citizen, that is
totally and absolutely irresponsible. Even his own secretary of defense
said it was irresponsible. As a matter of fact, if Leon Panetta is an
honorable man, he should resign and protest.


O`DONNELL: That was Rick Perry criticizing President Obama over the
failure of the congressional super committee on deficit reduction, which
has set off a $1.2 trillion in triggered spending cuts that will, or we
should say, might, go into effect on January 1st, 2013. Half of those
spending cuts, roughly half, will come from defense.

Joining me now are: General Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme allied
commander and former presidential candidate. And Colonel Lawrence
Wilkerson, former chief of staff to the Secretary of State Colin Powell.

General Clark, this was the foreign policy debate tonight. What did
you hear that gave you any confidence that one of these candidates could
actually handle the job of commander-in-chief?

I thought it was a good debate. I thought it was well moderated. I
thought each of the candidates tried to demonstrate command of the facts
and the appreciation for some of the nuances of the issue. So I thought it
was a measurable step way up the ladder beyond what I`ve seen in the past.

That having been said, you know, there were these, sort of, ritual
empty rhetoric hits at our president.

What I saw was it was pretty hard for the candidates to get beyond the
very centrist, strong, robust foreign policy that the president`s put in
place. They had a pretty tough time doing it and it took some -- it took
some ancillary issues like immigration to show some extreme positions out
there. Beyond that, I think the president could mostly count on strong
support from these Republican contenders.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman talking about


ROMNEY: I stand with the commanders in this regard and have no
information that suggests that pulling our troops out faster than that
would do anything but put at great peril the extraordinary sacrifice that`s
been made.

This is not the time for America to cut and run. We have been in for
10 years. We are winding down. The Afghan troops are picking up the
capacity to secure their country and the mission is straightforward.

HUNTSMAN: But, at the end of the day, the president of the United
States is commander-in-chief, commander-in-chief. Of course, you`re going
to listen to generals, but I also remember when people listened to generals
in 1967 and we heard a certain course of action in Southeast Asia didn`t
serve our interests very well.


O`DONNELL: Lawrence Wilkerson, how do you referee that one?

POWELL: Let me say, Lawrence, first of all, echoing General Clark, that
previous Republican debates, and it`s my party, I`ve been either chilled to
the bone or stunned at the depths to which my party has sunk.

This debate was different. This debate was more sober, more
reasonable. This issue that you`ve just brought up, though, is one that
concerns me deeply because although they seem to understand that the real
problem facing this country, national security problem, spiritual problem,
every problem you can conceive of is connected to this, is the fact that we
are virtually bankrupt.

By 2021, the interest payments on our debt will equal the defense
budget. So talking about all of these things, Iran, Afghanistan -- Newt
Gingrich wants to invade Pakistan apparently. Talking about more wars,
talking about big defenses and talking about a robust and professional and
well-funded military, all depends on this economic strength.

And so, the rhetoric of defense, the rhetoric of national security, is
attacked immediately by the fact that they don`t seem to have a good plan,
don`t seem to be able to talk about the plan they have, for restoring the
American economy. I just don`t see it. And that worries me more than
anything else.

O`DONNELL: General Clark, you`ve been out there on the presidential
trail. As a practical matter in presidential politics, what is the
likelihood that the Republican nominee will spend a lot of time on foreign
policy, on defense issues, going after the president who got Osama bin

CLARK: Well, they would like to, because this has traditionally been
an area of strength, so the old canards are Democrats are soft on security.
You heard some of that empty rhetoric tonight.

But the truth is the president is carrying a majority support of the
American people on national security. So, it`s not a very good line of
attack for the Republican Party. Our president has a good, strong,
national security policy.

O`DONNELL: All right. Colonel Wilkerson, it`s hard to predict where
presidential campaigns go, and if we find ourselves a year from now in the
thick of a foreign policy or defense policy debate between the parties. Do
you think this president will be working to his strength in that kind of

WILKERSON: Are you talking about President Obama?


WILKERSON: Yes. The only person I listened to tonight that I thought
would resonate with me in the national security area was Jon Huntsman. I
thought his answers were carefully articulated. I thought they reflected
some deep thought about the issues. And I was particularly struck with his
not willing to jump on the national security wagon instantly.

I agree with General Clark that all of them are going to have an
extremely difficult time on this issue, foreign policy or the bigger issue
of national security, against President Obama, because his record is not
that bad. His record is pretty darn good.

And I think that if Newt Gingrich winds up being the candidate, I
think the Obama camp is probably going to be very, very happy, because I
think Newt Gingrich is very beatable.

O`DONNELL: General Clark, is there anything that you would recommend
to the White House to strengthen President Obama as he goes into a re-
election campaign where he will be at some point questioned on defense
policy and foreign policy?

CLARK: Well, first of all, I keep many of my recommendations private
to the White House, but I will say this. One of the issues that didn`t
really come out tonight was the importance of economic growth. And it was
only Herman Cain who actually mentioned economic growth in this debate

And when you get right down to it, America`s strength is the strength
of our economy. This is an economy that when it has to can grow in
incredible spurts. When we reorganized out of the Great Depression and got
ready for World War II, we grew at 8 percent, 17 percent, 18 percent per
year in real terms.

And if we did that, we`d have all the resources we need for national
security, for our entitlement and social programs. We`d be right back on
track, and I think, I think what we`re going to see is a lot more
discussion of growth going forward.

O`DONNELL: Colonel Wilkerson, if the trigger actually goes into
effect -- that is the result of the supercommittee not coming to an
agreement, and we see these rather sudden defense cuts in a sizable amount,
the likes of which we haven`t seen in any time recently, what do you think
the effect will be on our military preparedness?

WILKERSON: I think we can handle it. Remember, I served with
Chairman Powell when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and we
cut the defense force by about 25 percent at the end of the Cold War. I
think we can handle it. There are places where defense can be cut.

But I go back to what General Clark said and what I said in my initial
answer. I don`t see a plan to do that right now. The failure of the
supercommittee and the failure of the Congress in general indicates to me
we`re not making much progress on this. This is the real problem we`ve got
right now.

And I`ll also say I agree with General Clark about the way we grew
post-World War II. But when you look at the GDP post-World War II, it was
70 percent manufacturing and 20 percent services. It`s 76 percent services
now and much less manufacturing, somewhere around 12 percent to 15 percent.

We`ve got to restore that and start making things again that people in
the world want to buy, whether they`re high-tech, low tech, or middle tech,
I don`t care. We have to restore this economy if we want to have a
powerful, professional and ready to go military.

So, it can be cut, but we need to look at the bigger problem and the
bigger problem is restoring the economy on which our national security
power is based.

O`DONNELL: And, General Clark, quickly, before we go. Your reaction
to -- go ahead, go ahead.

CLARK: It doesn`t necessarily mean more government spending in the
economy. It means setting the conditions so that the money that
corporations in Wall Street have on hand can be productively invested in
things like energy and infrastructure, airports, schools, all the things we
desperately need in this country. Right now, we can get those going.

O`DONNELL: General Wesley Clark and Colonel Wilkerson, thank you very
much for joining me tonight.

WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.

CLARK: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: President Obama was heckled by Occupy Wall Street
protesters. Eugene Robinson joins me on that one.

And in the "Rewrite," Little Orphan Annie rewrites Gingrich.

And the "Daily Show`s" John Hodgman joins me with his take on the
Republican debate.


O`DONNELL: So Congress has a very simple choice next week. Do you
want to cut taxes for the middle class and those who are trying to get into
the middle class? Or do you want to protect massive tax breaks for
millionaires and billionaires, many of whom want to actually help?


O`DONNELL: That was President Obama speaking in Manchester, New
Hampshire, today, challenging Congress to approve the part of his jobs bill
that would extend the payroll tax cut, which is set to expire at the end of
this year. In anticipation of the president`s visit, Republican
presidential candidate Mitt Romney welcomed him with an open-letter ad in
three New Hampshire newspapers saying, "welcome to New Hampshire, I would
like to lay out for you some of what I will be saying on the campaign trail
if I am fortunate enough to become my party`s candidate. Your policies
have failed."

Romney continued that theme in his very first television ad of the


OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you, New Hampshire.

How are you all doing tonight?

I am confident we can steer ourselves out of this crisis.

Who`s been in charge of the economy?

We need a rescue plan for the middle class.

We need to provide relief for homeowners.

It`s going to take a new direction.

If we keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose.


O`DONNELL: "If we keep talking about the economy, we`re going to
lose." Now, that last line would be a very big blow and embarrassment to
the Obama re-election campaign, if those words President Obama said were
his own words. But they`re not. Mitt Romney`s campaign deliberately did
not play that sound bite in context, in full. Here`s why.


OBAMA: Senator McCain`s campaign actually said, and I quote, "if we
keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose."


O`DONNELL: And so Mitt Romney`s first television ad is simply and
entirely a lie. The two Republican candidates with the most money to spend
on television ads so far spent it all lying. You`ll recall Rick Perry`s
campaign ad last week did the same thing that Mitt Romney has now done,
surgically removed the president`s words from context, thereby turning them
into lies. Lies.

That`s what they are being -- those lies are being called fair
rhetoric by some Republican commentators who themselves are lying when they
say everyone does this sort of thing in political advertising.

Joining me now is you Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning
columnist for the "Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst. Gene,
these ads --Perry`s ad was a lie. Romney`s ad is a lie. That`s their
first shot right out of the gate. They are testing the media.

When they do lies like that, they are sending them out there just
trying to find out what we`re going to call them. And the truth is most of
the media is going to allow those things to fly, as if they are the
standard issue spin of campaigns.

EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, you know, I got to say,
I hope not because this is anything but the standard issue spin. This is
not regular spin. This is not even, you know, out of context. That`s
technically true, but this is pure mendacity. This is just untrue when you
take somebody else`s words and pretend they were President Obama`s words.

That`s just way beyond the pale. I guess some conservative leaning
media will just repeat it, but I think it is encouraging that others have
called Romney on this ad today.

O`DONNELL: Someone who didn`t call him, someone who complimented him
on it was his former rival for the Republican nomination last time around,
John McCain. John McCain complimenting Romney on the ad because Romney has
cleverly used a quote from John McCain spoken by Barack Obama to pretend
that`s President Obama`s actual words. I mean, these guys just have no
shame about this at all.

ROBINSON: No. No shame. And not much game, frankly, because this is
obvious. So why would they do this? Is it really an attempt to slip this
past everybody, because somebody was going to go back and look at the clip?
Do they really want us to be talking about this processed story as a way of
getting Romney back in the news and everybody`s talking about Newt?

So maybe he wants us to talk about him. Or maybe it was more bone
headed than that. Maybe the campaign just went ahead and did it, not fully
realizing people were going to catch it.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at how the president was received in New
Hampshire. We`re going to go back. We saw some of that tape earlier,
which went very smoothly. But it wasn`t smooth for the president -- as
smooth for the president in New Hampshire as he might have liked. Let`s
take a look.



OBAMA: That`s OK.

So a lot of the folks who have been down in New York and all across
the country in the Occupy movement, there is a profound sense of
frustration. There`s a profound sense of frustration about the fact that
the essence of the American dream, which is if you work hard, if you stick
to it, that you can make it. Feels like that`s slipping away.

And that`s not the way things are supposed to be. Not here. Not in


O`DONNELL: Gene, is the Occupy movement earning its nonpartisan
credentials by heckling President Obama? Is he going to expect more of

ROBINSON: I think he will hear from the movement. It was an
interesting moment because what he said -- at one point he addressed the
demonstrators and said, well, you know, you young people are the reason I
ran for president. You`re the reason I did this.

And it was -- he`s walking a line between fully identifying with and
embracing the Occupy movement, which he doesn`t want to entirely do. But
he wants to endorse some of the aims of the Occupy movement. And, frankly,
he also -- when he looks at a bunch of young people, he sees a crop of
potential new voters. And that`s one of the things the Obama campaign has
been doing, is signing up new voters the way they did last time.

It`s a key sort of leg of their strategy this time around. And he
certainly doesn`t want to be out of step with this potential -- with this

O`DONNELL: Some people might be surprised to see the president in New
Hampshire since there is no Democratic primary, but it`s an important
general election state that the president won in his election last time
around. He`s trailing Mitt Romney in the polls in New Hampshire now. So
this is actually the president going straight into general election mode in
New Hampshire, isn`t it?

ROBINSON: It`s him going into general election mode. It`s him going
into the lion`s den, really. It`s a state where Romney has a house, where
he`s way ahead in the polls. It will be very difficult, I think, in a
general election for Obama to be confident of taking New Hampshire from
Romney. But it`s kind of an in your face.

And Romney reacted to it by coming out with his open letter. Obama`s
saying, you know, this isn`t your turf. You don`t have turf. I have turf.
And I`m coming to see New Hampshire.

O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, thank you for joining me tonight.
Everyone should be sure to tune in tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Eugene is going
to guest host Martin Bashir`s program at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Eugene
Robinson and me working hard on Thanksgiving eve. Thanks for joining me

ROBINSON: Great to be here, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Newt Gingrich`s plan to abolish child labor laws actually
gets him in the Rewrite tonight.

And the "Daily Show`s" John Hodgman is here to react to tonight`s
Republican presidential debate.


O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, historian Newt Gingrich. Here he is
at Harvard`s Kennedy School of Government on Saturday.


GINGRICH: I take seriously that every American of every ethnic
background in every neighborhood has the right to pursue happiness, and
that is was endowed by their creator. That means you`re going to see from
me extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of
poverty in America, and to give people the chance to rise very rapidly.

The core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization
against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting
them in schools that fail, has done more to create income inequality in the
United States than any other single policy.

It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping
children in -- first of all, in child laws which are truly stupid. OK, you
say to somebody, you shouldn`t go to work before you`re, what, 14, 16 years
of age, fine. You`re totally poor. You`re in a school that`s failing,
with a teacher that`s failing.

I tried for years to have a very simple model. Most of these schools
ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay
local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do
work. They would have cash. They`d have pride in the schools. They`d
begin the process of rising.


O`DONNELL: And, of course, that caught the attention of the biggest
union in the country that represents janitors, American Federation of
State, County and Municipal Employees. They Rewrote Gingrich`s vision of
an army of children janitors pulling themselves up by their janitor boot
straps in this video.


GINGRICH: Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized
janitors, have one master janitor, and pay local students to take care of
the schools.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During his speech on Friday, Gingrich suggested
a plan to get rid of what he called truly stupid child labor laws.
Basically he wants to fire unionized school janitors and replace them with
unfortunate school children.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s talking about schools that are in --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Economically depressed areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, in poor sections of town. Doing away
with the janitors altogether and then hiring the kids, paying them
basically an indentured servitude to clean up the schools.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not sure that someone in middle school
should be cleaning up after their classmates, because what sort of message
does that send to that child?





GINGRICH: I think I will probably teach a course when I`m president.
I think I will probably try to do something that outlines for the whole
country what we`re going to try to accomplish and offer it online, sort of
like the University of Phoenix or Kaplan, so anybody in the country who
wants to could sign up. It will be free. You wouldn`t have to pay.

Although, given the news media`s assumption about me, we`ll probably
charge 100 dollars a piece, so I can get rich. But no, it will be free.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, the only man I know who would learn
absolutely nothing by taking President Gingrich`s online course, the "Daily
Show`s" resident expert John Hodgman, author of the new book "That Is All:
The Final Installment of His Complete World Knowledge Series," in
bookstores now.

John, I want you to take a look at Mitt Romney`s very first entry in
the debate tonight. Let`s roll that.


ROMNEY: I`m Mitt Romney. And, yes, Wolf, that`s also my first name.
And I`m a husband, a father, a grandfather of 16. I love this country very


O`DONNELL: John, you are the fact checker, our official fact checker
on this debate.


O`DONNELL: What`s wrong with that? Is he really a grandfather of 16?

HODGMAN: As far as I know, I think he`s actually a grandfather of 37.
But, no, Mitt is not his first name. Am I not -- Willard is his first

O`DONNELL: Well, there`s that.

HODGMAN: Mitt is --

O`DONNELL: So he --

HODGMAN: Mitt is not even a name. That`s just a noun that he uses.

O`DONNELL: It`s the candidate who lies about his name as a way of
starting a debate.

HODGMAN: It was a very strange choice. I think everyone there should
have just been called Blitz.

O`DONNELL: Right. Right. What do you make of Herman Cain? He`s
already -- you know, it`s very presidential, because George W. Bush used to
create nicknames for people upon meeting them. And so Herman Cain seems to
have that kind of executive touch.

HODGMAN: I think -- I think when Paul Wolfowitz stood up, then Herman
brain -- Herman brains -- I`m doing it now. I think Cain`s brain probably
exploded there. Which one is this? Wolf Wolfowitz? What`s a Wolf?

I think that Herman Cain looks relieved to no longer have to be
running for president. I think that he is tired. And I think that he is
ready to stop.

O`DONNELL: Everyone thought this was going to be the really tough
debate for Herman Cain, because it`s foreign policy. But it sounded to me
like the man showed up prepared. Let`s listen to Herman Cain on the issue
of Iran and nuclear weapons.


HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would first make sure that
they had a credible plan for success. Clarity of mission and clarity of
success. Remember, when you talk about attacking Iran, it is a very
mountainous region.



O`DONNELL: He`s got a point there. You do want to remember the

HODGMAN: Mountains are a very potent shield against nuclear weapons.
There is no way that you could ever attack a mountainous region. If it has
mountains in it, forget it. Yeah, no one has ever won such a war.

O`DONNELL: Won`t the nuclear weapons somehow have to go over the

HODGMAN: I`ve lost you out of my ear. I`ll just make it up --

O`DONNELL: I was saying --


O`DONNELL: We have a little delay here. This is like one of those
ancient overseas phone calls.

HODGMAN: Yes, you`re far away from me.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I am. I`m way up in Boston.

HODGMAN: Are you afraid I`m going to take my shoes off?

O`DONNELL: Do the weapons have to go over the mountains to be

HODGMAN: But that`s what elephants are for. We have conquered
mountains before.

O`DONNELL: And then, of course, there was Newt Gingrich on
Afghanistan. Let`s listen to that.


GINGRICH: You want to keep American troops in Afghanistan? You
accept hot pursuit. You say no sanctuaries. You change the rules of
engagement. You put the military in charge of the military side. You
overhaul the State Department and AID so they get the job done. And you do
it for real and you do it intensely.


HODGMAN: Yes, this was --

O`DONNELL: Newt Gingrich is pitching a much better Afghanistan movie
than any of the other candidates.

HODGMAN: Yes, this was a terrible debate for Newt Gingrich. I mean,
on Saturday, you had him repealing child labor laws. I mean, that was his
9-9-9 crazy moment. Do you know what I mean? He was well positioned to be
the anti-Romney. Now he`s just coming off as like vaguely credible and
pretty well informed and particularly when talking about immigration,
almost humane.

You can`t be the anti-Romney and be a sane candidate. That`s crazy.
Maybe he`s out-crazying the crazy. If he wants to continue to be the anti-
Romney and hold this positions, he`s going to have to start suggesting that
we get rid of -- that we start putting children in Afghanistan. How about
that? Child soldiers.

O`DONNELL: John, it must be difficult for you to watch these debates
since you actually know everything there is to know in human knowledge, and
watching these people just, you know, fudge this stuff.

HODGMAN: Well, yes. I think the problem is they`re not making it up
with enough brio. Do you know what I`m saying?

O`DONNELL: Yes, I do.

HODGMAN: You know, like when Newt Gingrich says -- there was a lot of
mention -- weird mention of Apple computer tonight. Did you notice that?
I`m not really sure what the agenda is there.

Michele Bachmann suggested that Steve Jobs told Obama that we need to
import more skilled workers from abroad so that our children could be
janitors or something like that. And then Newt Gingrich additionally said
that Apple would design defense systems much quicker than private
contractors here in the United States. I think probably what you want to
do is getting children working on that as well. That`s where he should
really start pushing the child angle, you see, so that he seems very, very
strange, and then he can hold on to that anti-Romney position that Cain had
for so long.

O`DONNELL: There you go. John Hodgman. The book is "That is All."
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, John.

HODGMAN: It`s my pleasure.

O`DONNELL: A special live edition of "THE ED SHOW" is up next.


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