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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

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Guests: Mark McKinnon, Richard Wolffe, Toure

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Wow. Mitt Romney stood up to Donald Trump
today and refused to participate in Trump`s ridiculous debate. Can you
believe that? Mitt Romney?

No, just kidding. It`s Romney we`re talking about here. Romney
totally wimped out of debate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I spoke with Donald Trump
earlier today. I indicated that we just can`t make this debate.

DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: You`re fired.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m coming. If other
people are going to go, then particularly folks who are ahead of me in the
polls, which is most of them.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why wouldn`t you want to
come and hang out with him?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Trump Towers --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is next door.

SCARBOROUGH: -- is seriously next door to Tiffany`s. So, of course,
he loves that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Newt dead on when he calls himself the
Republican nominee?

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Gingrich surging, Iowa, 33 percent. Just
28 days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has benefitted from the weakness in the field.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot tell anything with this Republican
electorate.

SCARBOROUGH: He is a mess and we attack him. That`s why people who
don`t know Newt, conservatives who don`t know Newt, like Newt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those of us are terrified he would become the
Republican nominee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt`s problem he is will go along in a straight
line for a while, and he will veer off suddenly into space.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans are saying -- we are afraid, if he is
the nominee, not only will we see the presidency but we`re going to start
to see less Republican winning the House.

BASHIR: That doesn`t seem to be troubling Newt Gingrich, and the
baggage people seem to have forgotten it all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know. What`s wrong with you?

SCARBOROUGH: How many times does Newt have to teach these people he`s
bad for the conservative movement?

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: Guys who have been here a long time, most of
them are not the biggest fans of Newt Gingrich as a presidential nominee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Specializing in understatements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Politically he`s been a train wreck. The words
that have come from his mouth, the things he has done, would have destroyed
him and any other candidates any other year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to whether you put that person up, a
habitual liar, a habitual adulterer or whatever, against Barack Obama?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) for Newt Gingrich. As Dick Durbin
used to say, what do you do when a train is going to hit the wall? You get
out of the way and you watch it. I can`t wait.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: President Obama is so confident a victory in his
reelection campaign that he spent his precious travel time today in a state
the Democratic presidential candidate hasn`t won since 1964. And the
president has absolutely no hope of winning next year.

President Obama went to Kansas today to commemorate a speech given
there in 1910 by Teddy Roosevelt. The Roosevelt speech and Obama speech
were about rebalancing economic fairness in this country by asking the rich
to give a little more to the country that made them rich.

Polls show that most voters agree with President Obama on this
proposition, but not so passionately that the president`s reelection vote
in polls is above 50 percent. To get above 50 percent, President Obama
needs the help of Republican primary voters -- that`s right -- the voters
who have gone through wild mood swings, supporting preposterous candidates
for president. Obvious losers. Some who had no intention of even running,
like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.

These voters pushed Michele Bachmann to the top of the Republican
polls, then Rick Perry, who they began abandoning during his first answer
in the first debate he was in here on MSNBC.

Those voters then created a polling surge for Herman the entertainer.
Those Republican primary voters, collection of right wingers, Tea Partiers,
libertarians and crack pots who continue to embarrass the formerly
politically careful Republican Party, have now surged for what could be the
last time before they start voting.

And this time, the surge is for candidacy many of us stupidly left for
dead months ago -- the candidacy that the Obama reelection campaign is
betting on to guarantee the Obama reelection, the deeply flawed candidacy
of Newton Leroy Gingrich.

If they are praying in the Obama reelection headquarters tonight, they
are praying for Newt Gingrich to win the Republican nomination for
president.

This is how Democrats talk about a Republican candidate when they want
him to be the nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH: What`s happening with Newt Gingrich right now? Why is
he moving to the front of that field?

ROBERT GIBBS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he has done
very well in these debates. He is very glib. I think he`s done it in a
way that`s interesting. He`s done it in a way not by trying to tear any
one or two people down but by trying, just to distinguish himself in these
debates. I think you don`t need four polls in Iowa to tell you he is
winning. And I think it is very, very real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A "New York Times"/CBS Poll out tonight has answered the
Obama campaign`s prayers. Gingrich leading Iowa with 31 percent support
among likely caucus-goers. That`s 14 points ahead of Romney who polls in a
statistical tie with Ron Paul. Perry`s 11 percent is good for fourth.

A "Washington Post"/ABC News poll out today confirms Gingrich`s lead
in Iowa with 33 percent support, 15 points ahead of Romney and Paul. Perry
polls fourth with 11 percent in that one.

In South Carolina, Gingrich leads with 38 percent, 16 points ahead of
Romney who is at 22 percent. Rick Perry leads those single digits with 9
percent support.

The polls leave the rest of the Republican field wondering what to do
about Gingrich. Ron Paul decided it was time to attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich on the defense for taking 1.5
million bucks, after he left Congress, Freddie Mac paid Gingrich at least
$1.6 million.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: $ 1.6 million, some of it just before the
housing market collapsed.

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC: The think tank founded by Newt Gingrich collected
at least $37 million from major healthcare companies. The group supports
individual mandate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich renewing support for original
mandate, a key tenet of President Obama`s healthcare law.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: A support for an individual
mandate? Folks, don`t ask me to explain this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything that Gingrich railed against, when he
was in the house. He went the other way when he got paid to go the other
way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is demonstrating himself to be the very essence
of the Washington insiders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s about serial hypocrisy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: If you are listening very carefully before that last sound
byte, did you hear that little telephone ring, very soft telephone ring?
That`s my new iPhone. This is day one of the iPhone. And that moment I
did not know how to turn it off. It`s been banished from set though and
can go on with the show.

Tonight on CNBC`s "Kudlow Report," Gingrich underlined his front-
runner status by largely ignoring his Republican opponents and attacking
the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: He represents a hard left radicalism. He is opposed to
free enterprise. He is opposed to capitalism. He`s opposed to everything
which made America great. We`re going to have the candidate of food
stamps, the finest food stamp president in American history, Barack Obama
and we`re going to have a candidate of paychecks.

I want to help every American have a better future. He wants it make
sure he levels Americans down so we all have an equally mediocre future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, editorial director for AOL/Huffington Post
and MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman. Also, MSNBC political analyst
Karen Finney, who is a former Democratic National Committee communications
director and current columnist for "The Hill."

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Lawrence.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey.

O`DONNELL: Karen, just you and me talking here.

FINNEY: Sure.

O`DONNELL: Just us. Come on. Don`t worry, Republican primary
voters, this is way too late for them. They`re not watching.

Gingrich is your dream, isn`t he?

FINNEY: Are you kidding me? Would the gods be so generous? I don`t
know.

Like you said in the intro, Lawrence, if he is the Republican nominee,
that guarantees Barack Obama second term. I would put money on it. No
question.

O`DONNELL: Howard, is it too late for another surge? We got about 30
days. We got Christmas coming up. It`s going to be hard to get people`s
attention in that last week, other than that Trump debate if enough
candidates show up.

People are feeling like there is the last surge.

FINEMAN: Are you waiting for Tim Pawlenty to get back in?

O`DONNELL: I`m hanging in there. Is there still time to file
whatever papers he has it file?

FINEMAN: I don`t know. I think that Newt Gingrich, in an amazing set
of circumstances, with the weakest Republican field in a generation, if not
three generations, could be the profoundly wrong guy at precisely the right
time, at least for himself.

To take first questions first, I think he can get the nomination. I
don`t think there is any doubt about that.

Could he win a general election? Probably not. But let me just say
this, having covered him for a long time, having covered his rise, having
kept in touch with him during his time here on K Street and watching him in
these debates, there is a ferocity to Newt Gingrich. That phrase you
quoted in the sound bite there, "the finest food stamp president in
American history," that kind of phraseology is cat nip for the Republican
base for sure.

I mean, there is a sophomoric quality to it, young Americans for
freedom quality to it, that thrills the Republican hard core base. Whether
it can sell to the broader American electorate over a long period of time,
over many months, over lots of exposure, I doubt based on the experience of
watching him as speaker. He is a great attack guy, and he`s great on the
defensive, Lawrence.

You know, everybody made fun of him for saying, "I am the nominee."
He was shrewdly inviting people to attack him. He loves to be attacked.
He loves to go on attack. He`s a great combat guy.

But whenever he is given leadership position and when you`re a
presidential nominee, it is kind of a leadership position, that`s when he`s
failed in the past.

O`DONNELL: He is certainly getting attacked now and that`s what the
front-runner gets. But Rush Limbaugh has done a little bit of a flip-flop.
He was attacking Gingrich himself months ago and now Rush Limbaugh has come
out and started to mount a defense for Gingrich of sorts.

Let`s listen to what Rush today say on the radio today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: There are five hit pieces on Newt Gingrich today that come
from Republican establishment conservative media. It`s amazing. And I --
you know, I want to call these people and say, let me ask you a question.
When this is all over, who would you rather have?

And by the way, none of this is to defend Newt. I don`t want to be
misunderstood on this, folks. None of this is to defend him. This is pure
100 percent commentary right now.

But I feel like calling some of these people, which, of course, I
would never do. I would never call anybody because I don`t actually like
talking to people. I would say, do you really at the end of day prefer
Obama to Newt? Because that`s what you`re going to bring off here if you
keep this up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Karen, it`s a dream come true, isn`t it? Rush struggling
with the establishment Republican media he calls them, like "The National
Review" that has editorialized, certainly editorialized against the Trump
debate for example that Gingrich immediately jumped into and editorialized
against. Gingrich even meeting with Trump.

But this is exactly the way the Democrats want to see it go, isn`t it?

FINNEY: Oh, absolutely. Look, here is the piece that Rush is not
acknowledging. That is that there are parts of the Republican Party that
would rather have Obama than Newt Gingrich. If you talk to -- I mean, you
and I, I have been under this town a long time, I know you have been here
too, you talk to the Republicans on the Hill, the people who worked with
him and know him, they don`t trust him.

I mean, I have talked to people who were there when the whole coup
happened who said he got in and he went crazy. He was drunk with power.
He sort of lost focus. He had lots of ideas. He was talking about 2017
when we were trying to talk 1996.

So, I mean, I think this guys, those who know him know that his
volatility is a real liability in a general election. Let`s say he gets
through. His pattern throughout his life, he goes up, he screws up, he
goes back down.

I think their main fear is that -- and also if you look at his record,
there is a lot that we don`t know or hasn`t come out about how he
structured organizations. We learned some in terms of Freddie and Fanny
but he has a lot of liabilities that I would say the Republican
establishment and even some of the not so establishment, are just not
comfortable with.

O`DONNELL: Yes, Karen, to your point, I have heard no more precise
and careful and balanced criticism of Newt than I have heard from our own
Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman who worked in the House with
Newt Gingrich. That`s exactly what you are talking about.

And, Howard, the criticism contrary to what Rush has to say, the
attacks are not coming just from the so-called establishment Republican
media. I want to show you this piece from a group called Iowans for
Christian Leaders. This something they posted on their Web site today,
entitled, Newt Gingrich Judas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: We don`t always see eye to eye, do
we Newt?

GINGRICH: No. But we do agree our country must take action to
address climate change.

Sitting on the couch with Nancy Pelosi is the dumbest single thing
I`ve done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Howard, that sort of thing looks a lot more damaging than
an editorial of any sort in the establishment media.

FINEMAN: Sure, of course. And it`s the evangelicals doing that and
also Ron Paul attacking Newt Gingrich. Ron Paul is hardly an establishment
character.

But Newt has put himself in a position here, that everybody`s going to
have to attack him and I think everybody will attack him from now to
Election Day in Iowa, to caucus day in Iowa. And that`s the kind of
environment, the sort of, you know, steel cage death match environment in
which he thrives in the combat of it. But, Karen is absolutely right. You
talk to people who work with Newt. It`s funny.

Most of the people who are closest to Newt, not all, but most of the
people who are closest to Newt are the ones who privately and sometimes
even publicly say, oh, my God, this guy cannot be president of the United
States.

I`ve had that conversation all over town, all weekend. Some are
coming out and saying it, some aren`t. Some are going with them. They
were at a K Street fund-raiser today.

There are some who will say, you know what, he might be president.
I`m going to cross my fingers and go with him. But it`s really a small
minority. If you look at the Hill among people who were and people who are
around town who were there, you don`t see a majority, or even a large
majority who are with him right now.

O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman, thanks you for joining with us.

And, Karen Finney, it was just us talking here. Don`t worry. Just
us.

No one will hear about the Dems want Newt. Don`t worry about it.
Karen, thank you for joining us.

FINNEY: Take care.

O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney gets out of the Trump debate, not with a bold
declaration of principle, like Jon Huntsman, but with a little white lie
about scheduling conflicts. It was pure Romney sneaking out of this
debate. Mark McKinnon is next.

And later, why Lady Gaga was at the White House today.

And Pokemon is in the rewrite tonight -- thanks to Herman Cain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: If the promos are any indication, it looks
like it`s going to be a lot of fun.

ANNOUNCER: Coming December 27th, the only debate that matters.

DONALD TRUMP: Sandy, I`m going to have to fire one of you.

ANNOUNCER: The Donald Trump presidential debate.

TRUMP: Who`s your weakest player?

ANNOUNCER: Asking the tough questions.

TRUMP: If you were me, who would you fire?

GINGRICH: The first person to fire is Bernanke.

TRUMP: You spent three, what, four years in jail, didn`t you? This
is really bothering you, isn`t it?

ANNOUNCER: The Donald Trump presidential debate on December 27th.
Someone`s getting fired.

TRUMP: That`s all you get to see.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We`re going to have real debate and they can question each
other and let them go at it. And it`ll be some good entertainment, which I
don`t want to say, but you still need it. But more importantly, it`s going
-- we`re going to get some of the issues out that are important. We will
get probably the highest ratings of any debate they`ve ever had because of
all this controversy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The debate that the vulgarian entertainer, Donald Trump,
hopes to be good entertainment and highest rated debate is going to have
trouble getting those high ratings with only two candidates participating.
The candidate count for the Trump debate is as of tonight, two have
accepted the invitation to debate, three have rejected the Trump
invitation. The biggest coming from Mitt Romney today and two are
undecided.

After John McCain came out in opposition to the debate this morning
following an angry charge led by George Will, the editors of the "National
Review," Karl Rove and others, Mitt Romney declined to participate in the
debate. He did not take the principle stand against Trump that Ron Paul
did and Jon Huntsman did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not going to kiss his
ring. And I`m not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy. This is
exactly what is wrong with politics. It`s show business over substance.
If he had any courage at all, he would be running for president of the
United States of America as opposed to manipulating the process from the
outside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Romney dropped out of debate but he did it in pure Romney
style. He apologized to Donald Trump in the process, claiming he had a
scheduling conflict.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: No, I`m not participating this that. I spoke with Donald
Trump earlier today. I indicated we just can`t make this debate. We are
going to focus on the other two we`ve got and on some campaigning.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: And what did he say?

ROMNEY: He understood my perspective and wished me well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: This is how much Trump understood the Romney perspective.
"It would seem logical to me that if I was substantially behind in the
polls, especially in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, I would be
participating in the debate. But I can also understand why Governor Romney
decided not to do it."

Joining me now is Mark McKinnon, former adviser to the George W. Bush
and McCain campaigns, co-founder of No Labels and vice chairman of Hill &
Knowlton Strategies.

Thanks for joining me tonight, Mark.

MARK MCKINNON, ADVISOR, BUSH & MCCAIN CAMPAIGNS: Hey. Thanks,
Lawrence. How are you?

O`DONNELL: Mark, you were one of the wise men who counseled against
any participation in the crazy Trump debate here. How you are feeling at
this point of the game? You got two acceptances, you got three rejections
and then Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry trying to make up their minds.

MCKINNON: I`m encouraged, Lawrence. And I`m glad to see Romney sort
of stand up and I`m glad to see Jon Huntsman really stand up and stiffen
some spine. They are doing what they ought to do.

This is -- it turned into a carnival. It turned into a circus with
P.T. Barnum, Donald Trump leading in center ring. And it`s diminishing the
brand of the Republican candidates in the party.

There is recent poll be showing that all of this is doing is
diminishing numbers for Republicans, particularly among independents. And
so, I`ve been advocating for some time now, I`m at the JFK School doing a
study right now, that`s going to propose there be guidelines put together,
along the lines of the presidential commission for general election debates
for the primary debates, so that this doesn`t happen in the future because
it`s gone completely out of control. It`s chaos.

And the parties need to rest back some control over the debates. Or
what we have happen, like we have seen with Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL: Mark, did Mitt Romney really miss an opportunity here it
strike a pose, similar it Huntsman`s or in this situation, where the people
who were asking him to do it, like George Will and Karl Rove, yourself,
others, it seems to me there would be real reward if the Republican Party
if Romney were to do what George Will called the presidential thing and
say, I refuse to participate in this kind of debate. Not hide behind a
scheduling thing.

MCKINNON: Exactly. This is classic Romney. I mean, this was his
ability to do a Sister Souljah moment like Bill Clinton did, and it just
showed once again that Romney should check his punches. He just can`t --
you know, the reason people are responding to Newt Gingrich is because what
they most want in a president is somebody who is strong, somebody who is
bold, has strong convictions.

And that`s why they are responding to Newt Gingrich. That`s why they
are following off Mitt Romney. So, this was real opportunity for him to
step up and once again, he kind of ducked.

O`DONNELL: I want you to listen to what Trump said today where he
talked about punches. He is happy to throw punches. And here he is on FOX
News today talking about Charles Krauthammer, George Will and Karl Rove --
those three people. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: These are three people -- I have to tell you -- they`re hacks.
They don`t speak for anybody. They have no power. A guy like Karl Rove,
he just -- he`s the one that gave us Bush which ultimately gave us Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Now, Mark, you and Karl Rove and me and people who worked
in the campaign, you get to call us hacks if you want to. OK. No matter
how noble we might claim to have done that kind of work.

But, George Will, a hack? The leading intellectual of the Republican
Party is being called a hack by Donald Trump? And then these guys, these
candidates are actually going to go into a Donald Trump event and associate
themselves with someone who calls George Will and Krauthammer hacks.

MCKINNON: Yes. Well, if they have any dignity or pride, they won`t.
And that`s why I`m glad to see most haven`t.

But the reason that they do is because there is no party control or no
mechanism creating sanctioned debates. And so, somebody like Rick Santorum
who does really needs attention, knows that he can do it by participating
in the debate. That`s how things get out of control.

But for Donald Trump to call Charles Krauthammer and George Will and
Karl Rove hacks is really beyond the pale. And when he says they don`t
have power to speak for anybody, they speak for a lot of people. They
speak for a lot of people on the Republican -- not just establishment but
grassroots. And they had a lot of success for the Republican Party. They
know a lot more about the Republican Party than Donald Trump ever will.

O`DONNELL: Mark McKinnon, former senior adviser to Senator McCain and
President George W. Bush -- thank you very much for joining us today.

MCKINNON: Kick it, Lawrence, thanks.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

After a week of bad press relations, now, now, Mitt Romney says he`ll
be doing more interviews with reporters. Turns out he just means FOX News.

And what`s the story behind the deleted e-mails from Romney`s time as
governor of Massachusetts?

And later, Jon Stewart`s take on Herman Cain`s take on Pokemon.
That`s in the "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m pleased with where we
are right now and anticipate getting the nomination if I do my job right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s the new and desperate Mitt Romney. How do you know
he`s desperate? He was talking to reporters there. Before the Gingrich
surge, here`s how hard it was to get Mitt Romney to talk to reporters, even
Fox News reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We have now interviewed all of the
major Republican candidates in our 2012 one on one series except Mitt
Romney. He has not appeared on this program or any Sunday talk show since
March of 2010. We invited Governor Romney again this week, but his
campaign says he is still not ready to sit down for an interview.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Here is Romney today on Fox News with a whole new
attitude.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You`re going to be with my friend and
colleague Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." He is very excited about
that, a week from Sunday. And I`m wondering whether you are doing that
because you are worried and these polls aren`t looking as good for you.
Newt Gingrich is soaring. You`re not. Are you worried?

ROMNEYDONNELL: That`s what happens towards the end of a campaign, as
you know, Neil. You`re going to see us going up on the air with ads. We
just began those. WE`re doing that because the election is getting close.
So it is time for our closing argument.

You are going to see me all over the country, particularly in early
primary states. I`ll be on TV. I`ll be on Fox a lot because you guys
matter when it comes to Republican primary voters. I want them to hear my
message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, an MSNBC analyst and
author of "Revival, the Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White
House." Thanks for joining us tonight, Richard.

RICHARD WOLFF, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: It looks the Rose Garden strategy is over Romney. Here
they couldn`t get him to do interviews. And now suddenly he is doing them
by satellite from campaign locations in -- you know, in different states.
This is a whole new approach for Romney.

WOLFFE: Yeah. But it is not exactly radical. If risk taking is
talking to Chris Wallace, then you need to recalibrate your approach to
risk. There are a number of strategies you can adopt to try and dig your
way out of a former front-runner status. You could be Al Gore and say you
are the underdog and get scrappy and try and take on Bill Bradley.

You could just rip off your opponent whole sale. That`s what bush did
to McCain in South Carolina. You could do any number of things. You could
be John McCain and talk to the press all day, every day. But going on
cable is not the general way for digging your way out of a hole.

O`DONNELL: What is the scene inside Romney headquarters these days?
You get the feeling that they are now just in a day-to-day panic about what
the next move is.

WOLFFE: Yeah. The problem is they`ve been running this -- well,
really, it is the Clinton campaign from 2008, the inevitability argument --
the electability argument is great for as long as it lasts. When it
collapses, you`ve got nowhere left to go. And you could try and create
something real on the campaign trail. Of course Clinton did that in New
Hampshire.

John Kerry did it in 2004 in Iowa. He had a moment when real emotion
and authenticity broke through in a spontaneous event, when a guy he pulled
out of the river if Vietnam just showed up. What spontaneous moment could
there be for Mitt Romney when he`s running a cable campaign? What moment
of authenticity is there going to be when he is such a robot on the
campaign trail?

That`s the problem they need to grapple with, not what`s the press
going to say and how do we get the Fox News demographic.

O`DONNELL: And he waited so long it go on Fox News that he is not
getting as warm a reception as some of the other candidates have gotten
there, especially those who have been employed there. Let`s listen to more
of what Cavuto had to say to him today.

WOLFFE: Yeah.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: Many of your closest backers and those who admire you the
most are worried that you are not being I guess in your face enough, that
you are not being proactive, that you are being deferential, CEO-ish, as
one put it, not appreciating the magnitude of the threat you face from Newt
Gingrich.

ROMNEY: Just wait and see. That`s what I tell them. We are going to
make sure that the differences in our experience and our perspective and
our views on issues are well aired and people can make a choice. You can
be sure, I will not be quiet. I`m going to make sure that my message is
heard loud and clear.

Speaker Gingrich is a friend. I respect him, but we have very
different life experiences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Isn`t he going to have to come out with hits on Gingrich
between now and when they start voting?

WOLFFE: Yes, he it is. And it does sound like he is preparing for
it. But he has also got to show what he`s willing to fight for. He`s got
to get that emotional connection. You know, one thing that you are hearing
out of Boston is that they are digging in for a long slog.

Well, that would be Obama in 2008. The difference was people stuck
with him through that long slog because they had the emotional connection.
They had the hope. They had Iowa. They had the string of victories
throughout February `08. And there were all those rallies.

People were actually moved by the candidate. And that`s why they
stuck with him through the tougher times.

Why would people stick with a guy who`s apparently biggest claim
moving forward to emotion, to having some energy, is going to be taking
down the other guy? He has to say what he stand for as well as going
negative.

O`DONNELL: Richard, let`s go to the other story out of Boston today.
There is a new and full account of how Governor Romney, when he was leaving
office in Massachusetts -- they are allowed by law, the administration and
people working for him, by Massachusetts law, to basically take their
computers with them, in effect, if they so choose.

And this was chosen by the Romney people at an unprecedented level,
chosen in such a big way that it cost the state 100,000 dollars in terms of
dealing with the paperwork clean-up of the leases of those computers and
that sort of thing. It all seems to be designed to prevent anyone in the
future from getting in there, finding e-mails, memos and all sorts of data
and information that would naturally accrue in those kinds of offices.

Is that the kind of thing that could hurt Romney more in the general
election than in a primary with other Republican candidates who don`t seem
to go after that sort of thing?

WOLFFE: Well, it is a relatively minor hit, I guess. You could say
he wasn`t careful with taxpayer`s money. He had something to hide. It
kind of shows he was a -- if not a career politician, at least a career
candidate, in that he was preparing so carefully for his presidential run.

But what it also speaks to is this fear, this risk that he had.
Remember, when you looked at the Sarah Palin e-mails, there wasn`t a whole
lot to go for. There was another record out that`s more damaging to Mitt
Romney. It`s what he said on every side of every major issue. And he did
that on national TV. He probably did it on Fox News.

O`DONNELL: Right. Richard Wolffe, author of "Revival," thank you
very much for joining us tonight.

WOLFFE: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Next in the Rewrite, Herman Cain, Pokemon and Jon Stewart.
I`ll let you guess which one makes the most sense.

Later, Lady Gaga went to the White House today. Toure is going to be
here to tell us why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS FERGUSON, "THE LATE SHOW WITH CHRIS FERGUSON": A great day for
America, everybody.

And it`s a sad day for Herman Cain. Over the weekend, he dropped out
of the Republican presidential race. Some people are very upset about
this. These people are called Democrats.

Herman Cain said he wants to spend more time with the wife. Not his
wife, just --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN, FORMER GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me leave you with
this. I believe these words came from the "Pokemon" movie. The media
pointed that out. I`m not sure who the original author is. So don`t go
write an article about the point.

But it says a lot about where I am, where I am with my wife and my
family, and where we are as a nation.

"Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. It`s never easy
when there`s so much on the line. But you and I can make a difference.
There`s a mission just for you and me. Just look inside and you will find
just what you can do."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And so Pokemon exits the Republican presidential campaign.
Herman Cain is not exactly in a position to demand a speaking slot at the
Republican National Convention, so there is now virtually no chance of
Pokemon being quoted at the convention, especially if Michele Bachmann
continues to take herself so seriously.

I only wish that I could do an insightful Rewrite of Herman Cain`s
Pokemon citations. But my personal truth is, I know next to nothing about
Pokemon.

But luckily Jon Stewart, devoted father of a five-year-old and a
seven-year-old, knows more about Pokemon than Herman Cain and me put
together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": You know, Herman Cain seemed to sense
that his supporters needed something to lift their spirits, which is what
led to Herman Cain saying the greatest nine words ever spoken by an
American politician.

CAIN: I believe these words came from the Pokemon movie.

STEWART: I`m going to miss him so. Of course, Mr. Cain performed
that almost as well as its original performer, Donna Summer.

(SINGING)

STEWART: That`s right. Herman Cain`s farewell address, words of
wisdom to his followers and supporters, the final moments of his campaign,
are from the closing credits of "The Pokemon Movie," the thing they play to
get you the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of the theater.

First of all, it`s not even the most inspirational quote from "The
Pokemon Movie."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see now that the circumstances of one`s birth
are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines
who you are.

STEWART: Well said. Well said, magic Japanese cat monster who was
created as the result of a genetic experiment and therefor has psychic
powers that far exceed those of his fellow Pokemon. Well said.

Of course, considering what led Cain to drop out of the race, this is
"The Pokemon 2000" line he really should have quoted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could use pants.

STEWART: To be fair to Herman Cain, we can`t all be as wise as Slow
King when he`s wearing the Shelder of Knowledge (ph). Look it up, bitches,
the Shelder of Knowledge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, Lady Gaga once again took her fight against
discrimination to Washington. She was at the White House for a private
meeting to discuss her new Born This Way Foundation to end bullying and
homophobia. Lady Gaga did not get to meet with President Obama, because,
as we noted earlier, he was in Kansas.

Instead she met with senior advisory Valerie Jarrett. The president
and Lady Gaga have crossed paths before. At an Obama fund raiser in
September, Gaga thanked the president for his work to help the LGBT
community and encouraged him to continue working on anti-bullying efforts.

In years past, Lady Gaga`s appeal to the Obama White House on issues
like Don`t Ask Don`t Tell and marriage equality have been far more vocal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LADY GAGA, SINGER: Obama, I know that you`re listening. Are you
listening? We will continue to push you and your administration to bring
your words of promise to a reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC contributor Toure, who has
interviewed Lady Gaga. Toure, this does it. You are officially the most
versatile MSNBC contributor in history. The range of subjects you have
joined me at this desk on -- upstairs today I was saying, well, who should
we get to talk about Lady Gaga. They said, Toure knows Gaga. Toure hangs
with Gaga. He has interviewed her a couple times.

TOURE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: Yes, so -- so it`s very interesting to see that shot of
her in years past, you know, on Don`t Ask Don`t Tell, making that speech
publicly to Obama, as opposed to today, being in the White House, which is
the real work of it, talking to the staff, talking to Valerie Jarrett up
close about what her concerns are. That`s a big change.

TOURE: Well, sure. I mean, this is a central issue for Gaga
throughout her whole career. This is not just some celebrity stepping out
of their lane to sort of make a comment on an issue they know nothing
about, some actor talking about Iraq when they`ve never even been to Iraq.

This is a central concern of Gaga`s career. She talks about personal
liberation, be who you want to be. She is constantly lecturing at Gay
Pride rallies. You saw the gay rights rally that she showed right there.

Her latest album is called "Born This Way." In the chorus, she says
"God makes no mistakes." She`s speaking directly to, if you are gay, if
you are lesbian, bisexual, transgender, be who you want to be. That`s
quite all right. She comes from the old New York Lower East Side, inspired
by the drag community there, the gay community there, as well as Elton
John, Grace Jones, of course, Madonna.

So these concerns are very close to her heart.

O`DONNELL: I want to play a clip of the president talking about his
meeting with Lady Gaga at a Human Rights Campaign dinner in October.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also took a trip out
to California last week where I held some productive bilateral talks with
your leader, Lady Gaga. She was wearing 16-inch heels. I`ve -- she was
eight feet tall. It was a little intimidating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Toure, what do you see as the politics of this? When you
see Lady Gaga doing a network Thanksgiving special, she seems to be going
in a certain kind of way. There`s nothing more mainstream than a
Thanksgiving network special. At the same time, she seems to retain
renegade status.

TOURE: I mean, you`re right. She is retaining both those things by
doing a sort of -- by playing a sort of campy, gayish sort of role, even
though she is straight. She taking all these tropes from the gay community
and doing it on this national stage.

But this is the biggest pop star in the world right now. So, I mean,
you know, she can command that stage. She gets that Thanksgiving special,
to get a meeting with Obama. And I would caution those who would sort of
take her and look at her in a very silly way and say, we don`t have to pay
attention to her because she might wear a meat dress or this sort of thing.

She was somebody who took the platform that she has and brought with
her -- the night of the meat dress, that brought with her soldiers who had
been dismissed from the Army because of Don`t Ask Don`t Tell. And I
thought that was extremely powerful.

And all these other people who just show up to do their songs, and she
is actually bringing soldiers with her. I found that very powerful. She
is constantly finding ways to bring politics into her thing.

But let me -- let me turn the conversation a little teeny, weeny bit.
Because part of why we`re here, too, is because Hillary Clinton was in
Geneva at the Human Rights Convention, talking to the rest of the world
about gay rights as human rights and human rights as gay rights, and
lecturing the rest of the world.

Isn`t that sort of hypocritical for her to be wagging -- for the
administration to be wagging a finger at the rest of the world, when the
administration is not yet fully in support of marriage equality? And as
long as they are not, then we are relegating gays and lesbians to second
class status in America.

O`DONNELL: But she is -- and the president is talking to other
countries that are far behind the United States in terms of their
understanding of these issues. And so the president issued a new memo
today, instructing embassies around the world to be aware and concerned
about LGBT issues.

END

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