'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
Guest: Joe Klein, Roger Simon, Elizabeth Warren
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, an exclusive interview with the
new front-runner. No, not Newt Gingrich. We`ve got Elizabeth Warren.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Let`s go to Newt versus Romney.
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: Yes.
TODD: Romney unloaded today. Newt is not yet firing back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney has no time to lose. They are turning
the fire hose on Newt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The establishment likes Mitt Romney.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Florida, Gingrich also beat Romney by 23
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of the Tea Party people are for Mitt Romney.
GREGORY: Gingrich has made the calculations so far that Romney is
still having a difficult time with Tea Party supporters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich over Obama in Ohio in a head to head
match up, 43-42. That is a heart attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is mind-bending.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conservatives like Mitt Romney.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gingrich on top in Iowa with 33 percent support
among likely caucus goers.
TODD: Gingrich is not the only the Republican front-runner. He has
eroded Romney`s central argument, electability.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: This is clearly a statement from the
American people and has less to do with Newt Gingrich than it does with the
state of American politics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Newt Gingrich has an argument against Obama that
is entirely focused on the Republican conservative base, which is filled
with vitriol and hatred.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have one opponent,
Barack Obama, and that`s how my campaign is going to keep moving forward.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just wait and see. That`s
what I tell him.
TODD: It is hard not to see that the Romney campaign is at least
doing implicit comparisons with Newt personally.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This is a guy who`s a father and
a husband and who loves his wife and his kids.
ROMNEY: I`ve been married to the same woman for 25 years -- excuse
me, I get in trouble -- for 42 years. I`ve been in the same church my
TODD: This is not subtle, folks. This is a full-fledged pivot.
GINGRICH: Let them do what they want to.
GREGORY: Gingrich wants to look discipline. He`s got a discipline
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Erratic, undisciplined, a train wreck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich is never going to be president of
the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich is Gingrich-ite. All he cares about
is Newt Gingrich.
GINGRICH: I wish everybody had loved me.
O`DONNELL: The new Republican front-runner, Newt Gingrich, is soaring
in the polls now, not because Republicans love Newt. Who could?
It`s not because they love him. It`s because they just hate Mitt.
They just can`t stand Mittneys. They cannot abide the notion of Mitt
Romney as their nominee.
And so, with 26 days to go before the Iowa caucus, team Romney has
chosen to fight hatred with hatred. The Romney wants to get all of that
Republican hatred flowing towards Newt Gingrich.
Former Governor John Sununu, this top guy in New Hampshire, had this
to say this morning to Chuck Todd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: The way he deals with
issues in a way that is more about him than about the principle behind the
issues. Paul Ryan`s situation is such an ideal example. Look at the way
the faux conservative Gingrich handled it and the real conservative Mitt
Romney handled it.
TODD: You believe Gingrich is a faux conservative?
SUNUNU: I believe Newt Gingrich is a Gingrich-ite. All he cares
about is Newt Gingrich. I don`t think Newt Gingrich cares about
conservative principles. Newt Gingrich cares about Newt Gingrich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: NBC`s Luke Russert obtained a copy of the anti-Gingrich
that has been distributed to friends on Capitol Hill. Those talking points
include: Newt Gingrich opposed Paul Ryan`s conservative budget. Newt
Gingrich claims to be a fiscal conservative but when he attacked Ryan`s
budget, he threw the conservative cause under the bus. Newt Gingrich had
no real world economy experience.
Gingrich creates theories, Mitt creates jobs. Mitt Romney is the only
candidate who can beat Barack Obama.
Oops! The trouble with that last talking point, of course, is the
polls disagree. Polling now indicates that Romney and Gingrich are evenly
matched against President Obama. A new batch of early state polls now
shows Gingrich roaring ahead of Romney.
In Iowa, Gingrich has a 13-point lead over Romney. In New Hampshire,
the former state of Massachusetts now pretends to leave, Gingrich has
closed to within nine points of Romney. Until now, Romney has had at least
a 20-point lead in every New Hampshire poll.
And in both South Carolina and Florida, Gingrich is running away from
Romney 23 points ahead.
A new Quinnipiac poll out today confirms Gingrich`s commanding lead in
And when voters are asked to choose between just Gingrich and Romney,
Gingrich`s lead surges to 53 percent while Romney only gets 34 percent and
only 9 percent undecided, which means if Romney converted every undecided
Republican voter in Florida, he would still lose by about 10 points.
With Romney`s unprecedented history of political flip-flopping, his
team has concluded there is no way they can beat Gingrich on policy even
though Gingrich, too, has been inconsistent. Team Romney is now trying to
deliver the message that Gingrich has had too many wives, too many
girlfriends, and not enough private sector jobs.
They are doing this essentially by pointing out how thin Romney`s
romantic resume is compared to Gingrich`s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I think people understand that I`m a man of steadiness and
constancy. I don`t think you`re going to find somebody with more at
tributes than I do. I`ve been married to the same woman for 25 -- excuse
me, I`ll get in trouble -- for 42 years. I`ve been in the same church my
entire life. I worked at one company, Bain, for 25 years. And I left that
to go off and help save the Olympic Games.
If I`m president of the United States, I will be true to my family, to
my faith and to our country, and I will never apologize for the United
States of America.
I`m Mitt Romney and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: New Jersey`s governor, Chris Christie, whose endorsement
of Romney did not win Romney one point in the polls is following the
campaign`s order to talk about Newt`s love life without every mentioning
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I think the first test for
anybody we`re thinking about supporting, before we examine their record,
before we listen to their speeches, is, is that somebody that I would be
proud to be representing my country? Is that somebody I believe in my
heart shares my values, love of family, and love of country?
Examine his record. Absolutely. Examine his positions on the issues
now. They are important. Examine the politics and whether you think he`s
the best person to lead our party against the president.
But first and foremost, when we look at these candidates, say, is this
the kind of person that is always going to make me proud in the Oval
Office, and never have to worry will embarrass America, that I never will
have to worry will do something that just will make me ashamed?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Something that will make me ashamed? Not something that
made me ashamed -- past tense, as in Newt`s romantic history. Christie`s
asking Republican voters to think about what Newt might be up to right now,
tonight. Or what he might try to get away with in the future behind
Callista`s back, especially if he has the power of the White House.
Newt in the White House when Callista`s not looking. That`s what
Christie is asking Republican voters to think about, something that will
Those are Christie`s words: embarrass America. Something that will
make me ashamed.
Chris Christie, a man of self-confessed uncontrollable appetites,
thinks he sees something he recognizes in Newt Gingrich, an uncontrollable
appetite for things that could embarrass America, make Chris Christie feel
And this is on day one of the attack Newt strategy. Where are we
going to be by Christmas Eve?
Joining me now are: Joe Klein, columnist for "Time" magazine, whose
piece in tomorrow`s issue is entitle, "Why Newt Makes My Head Spin." And
Howard Fineman, the editorial director for the AOL/Huffington Post and
MSNBC political analyst.
Thank you both for joining me tonight.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be here.
JOE KLEIN, TIME: Good to be here.
O`DONNELL: Now, Joe, he makes your head spin, he makes Chris Christie
fear that America could be embarrassed by this man, ashamed of this man.
KLEIN: The Republican Party makes my head spin. It`s -- you know,
it`s like this malaria swamp subject to these vast fevers. Look at those
poll numbers, you know, they are hilarious. Vas fevers and then sudden
Where is Herman Cain this week? You know, he`s gone. And so, you
know, it`s extremely volatile and Newt is extremely volatile. So, because
he`s so extremely volatile, he may be the man for the moment.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to how cool Newt is playing it, at least on
day one on the attacks against Newt. This is him today in South Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I`m going to stay positive. I`m going to talk about how we
solve the country`s problems and I have one opponent, Barack Obama. And
I`m not -- that`s how my campaign is going to keep moving forward. Others
are allowed to do what they want to.
REPORTER: Do you think he`s attacking you on a really personal level,
though, that`s beyond the pale?
GINGRICH: No. No, he`s fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Howard, how long can the Newt Gingrich you know keep that
FINEMAN: I don`t know. I saw him the other night. I -- at the
Kennedy Center of, of all places, and spent a few minutes talking with him.
I never saw a more self-satisfied and confident version of Newt than
the one I saw the other night. But having covered him as Joe has for
years, I can tell you that Newt`s biggest moment of danger is when he`s
feeling the most confident.
What he`s done in the last month is nothing short of remarkable.
Joe`s right. It is a malarial situation but I think Newt waited for his
moment, and now that he has it, he`s going to enjoy it. And the fact that
he`s drawing other people to attack him is making the others look bad.
You just spent the first part of the show justifiably making fun of
Mitt Romney. This is Newt Gingrich`s game. I feel like I`m watching
something where Newt Gingrich is the guy from the ultimate fighting, you
know, in the Octagon and Mitt Romney looks like something out of a Gilbert
and Sullivan play. He can`t do the attacking.
So, he`s got to get the big -- you know, he`s got to bring in John
Sununu and Chris Christie, like the entire offensive linemen of the New
York Giants because he can`t -- Mitt Romney won`t do it himself. And when
he does do it, he`s going to look awful doing it. So, he`s playing on
O`DONNELL: Joe, they are trying to go after Newt on the family
behavior, his own family behavior, not just family values, and all of this
stuff, because they`ve discovered that so far, the Republican Party seems
more forgiving of adultery than they are of putting into law an individual
mandate for health care in Massachusetts.
KLEIN: Well, the real problem here, you know, a couple of months ago,
Newt said that Obama had an anti-colonial, Kenyan world view but what Newt
and Romney share, which is the dirty little secret here -- is that they
both share a Newt Gingrich worldview.
And Obama has been supporting programs that Newt invented, or help to
publicize, like the individual mandate, like health care exchanges, like
cap and trade, like the earned income tax credit, like responsibility in
the inner cities. This was how Newt defined himself 15 years ago and it`s
how Romney, who came into politics at about that time felt most
And now, you have a situation where the two front-runners in the
Republican Party are running desperately away from who they are.
O`DONNELL: Howard, is this a matter of excitement? Meaning, the
Republican voters seem to have been jumping from one center of excitement
to another. Sarah Palin, exciting. Whatever else you want to say about
her, she could excite Republicans, some Republicans. Michele Bachmann had
the same effect for a while. Herman Cain obviously had that excitement
The one guy who absolutely cannot deliver any excitement through the
microphone to a Republican audience is Mitt Romney. And as unexciting as
Newt might be, he`s 10 times more exciting than Mitt Romney.
FINEMAN: Yes. First, Joe is right on the politics of it. The Romney
people can`t really attack Newt for being a secret moderate for the obvious
reason that Mitt Romney is the secret moderate. So, instead they go the
personal direction which is just antithetical to Romney. It doesn`t fit
with Romney. Whatever else you want to say about him, he`s not going to
run a campaign for attacking a guy`s former wives.
But on the excitement front, look, I`ve covered Romney for years.
Last time -- you know, I`ve covered him in Boston, I`ve covered him last
time he ran in New Hampshire, I`m covering him this time. He just can`t
reach a crowd.
And, by the way, Newt Gingrich is not exactly user-friendly either.
It`s just that Newt, because of the incendiary nature of his rhetoric,
because is he a master of attack politics, thrills a certain portion of the
Republican base just because of his almost, sort of, you know, mad
scientist`s ability to make the Democrats mad.
And Newt knows how to do it. He knows how to use the dog whistle
politics, the food stamp president yesterday. He knows just the kind of
sophomoric, if you will, almost young Americans for freedom type of
rhetoric that the older baby boomer conservatives like and I think the
young conservatives like. That`s why Ron Paul went on the attack against
Newt Gingrich, because Newt Gingrich thrills some of those Ron Paul people
just by virtue of his rhetoric, whatever his record is.
O`DONNELL: It turns out Rush Limbaugh is one of those people who
likes the Gingrich rhetoric, even though months ago he was attacking him
viciously for having criticized Paul Ryan.
Let`s listen to where Newt -- I`m sorry, where Rush is now on Newt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: While the establishment of the
Republican Party is doing their best to take Gingrich out, people who are
being polled are bolting Gingrich way ahead of everybody. We`re not doing
your way this time. You`ve given us loser after loser after noncombatant
every four years.
You`ve given us people that won`t fight for us. You`re giving people
that won`t go after Obama. You`ve given us people who won`t go after the
Democrats. You`ve give us people who aren`t conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joe, how much is John McCain to blame for this? The
Republican voters did what they were supposed to do last time around and
they nominated the safe guy, the guy whose turn it was. That was Romney
this time, and they just don`t want to go down that road again.
KLEIN: Well, I`d argue that Romney was a little bit safer than McCain
who kind of was trigger happy during the campaign.
But I think, you know, at this point, maybe the Republican Party
should just go with their heart and go with somebody like Ron Paul who is -
- says what he believes, is as conservative as you possibly can get on
everything except for foreign policy, and will be clobbered in the fall and
then next time they can go to the deep bench of fairly same candidates that
they have in the wings, like Chris Christie, like Mitch Daniels, like Jeb
Bush, and so on.
The Republican Party has to get rid of this fever, has to get rid of
the malaria before they can be credible again on the presidential level I
FINEMAN: I feel like I`m listening to Dr. Oz here.
FINEMAN: But --
KLEIN: Gin and tonic, perhaps.
FINEMAN: Yes. The fact is that I think what we`re seeing, I think
Joe is right here. You`re seeing the tail end of something here. This
doesn`t feel like the beginning of anything. As a matter of fact, Newt is
a throwback. Newt`s 68 years old.
I think to some of the older conservatives, he reminds them of the
days back when Republicans were on the rise. And, of course, Newt violated
a lot of their principles, they are not thinking of that. There`s a kind
of nostalgia to this. There`s a kind of end of the generation thing.
You had Ronald Reagan and then you had George H.W. as the remainder
man, and then you had George W. as the remainder man of the remainder man.
And now, that whole generation has run its course and there is probably a
new one waiting in the wings. It obviously is not Newt Gingrich or Ron
Paul. It`s a whole new construct of some kind that the Republicans really
haven`t put together yet.
O`DONNELL: Well, they don`t have time.
KLEIN: I think Howard`s on to something here. I mean, the real
problem is that we baby boomers are secret juveniles.
O`DONNELL: Ah, there you go.
Joe Klein and Howard Fineman, the secret juveniles, thank you very
much for joining tonight.
O`DONNELL: Thanks guys.
Sarah Palin urged the Republican candidates to participate in the
Donald Trump debate and so, of course, the other two Republican candidates
immediately dropped out of that debate. We`ll have an update on who`s in
and who`s out of the Trump circus. It`s going to be a lonely debate.
And later, my exclusive interview with Elizabeth Warren. She now has
a commanding lead over Scott Brown. And so, the Republican attack machine
is trying to destroy her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: Here`s one good reason why it`s good to be
alive. Narrating, moderating the next presidential debate, Donald Trump.
Apparently Pat Sajak was unavailable.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: And today, possibly inevitably nominee and
second place front-runner Mitt Romney declined Trump`s invitation, which
means there is a good chance tomorrow he will accept Trump`s invitation.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obviously we all know
about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example -- no,
seriously, just recently, in an episode recently of "Celebrity Apprentice,"
at the steakhouse, the men`s cooking team did not impress the folks from
Omaha Steaks and there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr.
Trump, realized it was a lack of leadership, so ultimately you didn`t blame
Lil Jon or Meat Loaf. You fired Gary Busey.
And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was President Obama effortlessly humiliating Donald
Trump in their one encounter. And now, the presidential candidates are
humiliating Trump by telling him they won`t show up for his ridiculous
Today, a week after he was invited to participate in the Donald Trump
debate, Rick Perry`s brain unfroze long enough to decide to decline that
And a Bachmann campaign spokesperson confirmed to NBC tonight that
Bachmann will not participate either.
So the total for the Trump debate now stand at two acceptances. The
man at the top of the polls, Gingrich, and the man at the bottom of the
polls, Rick Santorum, and five rejections -- Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Jon
Huntsman, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann.
Here`s Perry explaining his decision to some disappointed viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please join the Trump debate.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ve had my bus tour
and I really -- I talked to Donald the day before yesterday and I told him,
I really want to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s got a helicopter. Why can`t he come get you?
If you want me to, pick me up for the debate and bring me back to my bus.
PERRY: That`s a good idea. I`m not sure Donald would do that for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The chairman of the Republican Party is now officially
discouraging candidates for participating in the Trump debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: We appreciate what Mr. Trump has done.
But if you are still talking about potentially running for an individual
candidate, then I think that`s a problem. I mean, I think that would be
malpractice for me as an RNC chairman not to believe that that is an issue.
I wouldn`t recommend it. But I would also say to the candidates that they
can do what they want to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Trump stupidly continues to dangle the possibility of
running for president in front of a gullible media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: People are afraid that I`m going to run as
an independent candidate and some of the people that are supposed to be at
the debate have expressed that. And I don`t want to give up that option
because it certainly is an option if the Republicans pick a wrong
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Republican candidates are paying more attention to the
chairman of their party than they are to the woman who pretended she was
going to run for president but never fooled visit viewers of this program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I think candidates should
not be afraid to debate in front of the nation no matter who the host of
the debate is. And, Eric, what is a bit about this idea of Donald Trump
hosting the debate is, consider the diverse audience that perhaps he can
attract. I think Romney, he could and I think should still change his mind
and Huntsman, too, and jump in there and participate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so, we shall have a so-called debate between a
disgraced former congressman who was reprimanded by the House Ethics
Committee and a former senator who couldn`t win re-election in his own
state, and it will be moderated by a vulgarian who lies almost as much as
Joining me now, "Politico`s" chief political columnist, Roger Simon.
Roger, Newt Gingrich is out with his defense now. He`s playing
defense about this debate and he put out a statement saying, "They are
going to be the leader of the free world and they can`t face questions from
Donald Trump? You might want to re-evaluate if you`re ready."
How about that, Roger? Is this the proof that you`re ready to be the
leader of the free world, accept the questions from Donald Trump?
ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: I somehow think the other candidates are not
saying no to Donald Trump because they are exactly afraid of his keen mind
and knife-edged intellect. We`re down to Rick Santorum who believes he`s
never been allowed to talk enough during these debates and Newt Gingrich
who wants to talk forever during these debates, and Donald Trump who really
never allows anyone else to talk when he`s in the room.
It may accidentally be exciting TV, but, you know, all debates are
political theater. But this is really the theater of the absurd. This is
as low as it has ever sunk.
O`DONNELL: Roger, there could be a risk for Gingrich in the debate.
This is Rick Santorum`s chance. He`s always thought it should be me. I`m
the real conservative in the "anybody but Romney" sweepstakes. It should
eventually come to me, Rick Santorum.
He should spend this entire debate trying to beat Gingrich to a pulp
and he just might be able to do it. There`s a risk here.
SIMON: He might and the seven or eight people watching might take
that seriously. You know, I have a sinking feeling that this debate is not
going to be about either Gingrich or Santorum, but about the Donald. The
Donald is a figure that makes P.T. Barnum look like a serious factor in
He -- throughout this entire political year, I have never heard anyone
say, what we really lack is more buffoonery and that`s what Donald Trump
can bring to this debate.
Also, I`m not sure that Donald Trump has ever been in Des Moines,
where this is going to take place. Gingrich has not spent much time there.
But I would warn both of them, there is no Tiffany in Des Moines. It`s a
great city. It`s one of my favorite places. But the nearest Tiffany is
So if either of them are thinking of having a spending trip out there,
they are going to be disappointed.
O`DONNELL: And, you know, Donald is afraid to go into the television
studios because, he doesn`t trust the lighting in his advance years.
That`s why he makes everyone come to his place to shoot their interviews.
So, it will be interesting to see how much time he spent with the lighting
folks in Iowa.
SIMON: Yes, it will be a hoot if it takes place. Somehow, you know,
maybe -- I`m sure Newt Gingrich thinks this is his opportunity to have 90
minutes to himself. But in the end, this will probably not be a good
evening for anybody.
O`DONNELL: Roger Simon, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
SIMON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, my exclusive interview with Massachusetts
Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. She`s now leading in the race against
Senator Scott Brown. She`ll give us her reaction to why Senator Brown
broke with Republicans today in a Senate vote to confirm the head of the
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
And later, a standard American profile in greed is rewritten by the
CEO who resigned from his company because he refused to use bankruptcy
procedures to break the commitments to that company`s workers. The CEO of
American Airlines teaches corporate America a lesson in tonight`s
O`DONNELL: Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren has her biggest lead
yet over Republican Incumbent Senator Scott Brown. In a new University of
Massachusetts/"Boston Herald" poll today, 49 percent to 42 percent. That`s
an absolutely devastating poll for an incumbent senator. Any sitting
senator running for re-election goes into full panic mode as soon as her or
her polling number drops below 50 percent.
The rule in politics is an incumbent polling at 42 percent absolutely
cannot win re-election, even if the incumbent`s opponent is polling below
that number. Because usually the undecided voters break for the
challenger, instead of the incumbent.
But in this case, the incumbent`s challenger is at 49, percent, seven
points ahead, with only six percent undecided. Republicans know how much
trouble they are in Massachusetts, in that Senate race, which is why Karl
Rove`s group, Crossroads GPS, is running this ad against Elizabeth Warren.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH WARREN, FORMER TARP WATCHDOG: The first thing I`m going to
promise is that I`m going to be a voice in the room on behalf of middle
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really? Congress had Warren oversee how your
tax dollars were spent, bailing out the same banks that helped cause the
financial meltdown. Bailouts that helped save big bonuses to bank
executives while middle class Americans lost out.
Later, Warren went on a charm offensive with some of the same banks
who got bailed out. Tell Professor Warren, we need jobs, not more bailouts
and bigger government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now for an exclusive interview, Massachusetts
Democratic Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren. Thanks for joining me
WARREN: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: I can tell in that attack ad that they are using the word
professor as an insult, as something you should run away from, that how
dare a professor, a Harvard professor, run for the United States Senate.
How are you countering that in my old neighborhood in Dorchester, at the
other end of the Red Line from Harvard Square?
WARREN: You know, all I can say is, yeah, I have a job at Harvard.
But I wasn`t born at Harvard. I worked hard. I grew up in a family, kind
of on the ragged edges of the middle class, and got a good education. I
grew up in an America that invested in kids like me. And ultimately that`s
how I ended up at a place like Harvard.
But what I really care about is keeping those opportunities open for
the next generation of kids and the next generation and the generation
after that. That`s what I really think this election is about.
O`DONNELL: Now, did you see it coming, that they were going to attack
you as a friend of Wall Street and protector of Wall Street, coddler of the
WARREN: Well, let me put it this way: I knew that Wall Street was
going to come after me with everything they had. There was no doubt, they
want to make sure that I don`t get to be the next senator from the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
But it seems like the strategy now is the kitchen sink strategy. You
know, throw anything you can at her and let`s see what happens. You know,
let`s keep in mind what was going on just a little over three years ago.
Karl Rove was part of the inner circle while George W. Bush is telling
Congress and a nation, we`ve got to bail out the big financial
institutions. His secretary of the Treasury is handing out money to the
largest financial institutions, no strings attached.
I go down to Washington and I`m calling him out for it. I`m calling
them out on executive bonuses, I`m calling them out on the fact that they
are giving this money away no strings attached, and I get attacked for it.
Then we roll forward three years. Now Karl Rove takes money from Wall
Street in order to attack Elizabeth Warren for being cozy with Wall Street?
This one just goes beyond anything I had ever imagined. I really am. I`m
just amazed. It leaves you speechless.
O`DONNELL: Well, I think Rove`s going to find out that Massachusetts
voters are a little smarter than that. I`m going to do the whole interview
in my Boston accent, by the way.
WARREN: I love it.
O`DONNELL: It just makes me feel at home. Now, there was a very
interesting vote in the Senate today. Richard Cordray was up for -- to be
confirmed to run for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, something
you helped in legislation. Got a majority vote, got 53 votes, which as we
know in the United States Senate is no longer good enough, because they
were trying to get past cloture to move to the actual nomination vote.
There was one Republican vote in favor. And that was the Republican
senator from Massachusetts.
WARREN: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: You`re running against. Do you think you might have had
any effect on him already?
WARREN: You know, I don`t know. But I`m glad to see him vote in
favor of Rich Cordray. I just wish that every other Republican hadn`t been
out there trying to block it. I just want to tie those two together,
because remember, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is there for
regular families. It`s there so they don`t get gouged on credit cards and
on mortgages and on student loans.
But they won`t get their full power until they get a confirmed
director. And we have now got Wall Street`s best friends in the Senate
blocking confirmation of Rich Cordray solely to try to hinder this agency,
to try to keep it from some -- calling for some real accountability over
So, you know, both these pieces are tied together. Wall Street is
still calling the shots for a whole lot of folks in Washington.
O`DONNELL: Now, that`s clearly to me Senator Brown trying to pick a
spot where he can vote the way you would. He`s trying to narrow this gap
between the two of you on what you`re going to have to argue about in this
campaign. I imagine he`s got a bunch of votes in his time in the Senate
now that he would like to have some do-overs on, now that he`s on a
campaign against you?
WARREN: Yeah. You know, you remember last month, we had votes on
three jobs bills in a row. The first one would have supported 22,000 jobs
in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at a time when we`ve got about a
quarter of a million people who are unemployed. Scott Brown and every
other Republican voted against it because it would have meant a tax
increase, just a tiny one, for those making a million dollars or more.
The next week, a vote to try to prevent lay offs for teachers,
firefighters and police officers, again, paid for by a small tax on
millionaires. Scott Brown and every other Republican voted against it.
And then the third week, 11,000 jobs in the transportation industry,
primarily infrastructure, good construction jobs that we really need in
Massachusetts and work we need to get done. Would have created a seven
tenths of one percent increase on those making a million dollars or more.
Scott Brown and every other Republican voted against it.
You know, I think in this election, all I really have to do is just
get out there and tell the truth.
O`DONNELL: When the professional election analysts look at polls,
they look at the so-called internals, the questions asked inside the poll,
beyond just who do you favor? There was a very powerful one in this
University of Massachusetts/"Boston Herald" poll that you`re leading in.
It says 43 percent say that Elizabeth Warren would do a the better job
looking out for the middle class; 33 percent said Scott Brown would do a
That seems to me to be the essential internal question of this
election in voters` minds. And that, by the way, is not a poll that the
"Boston Herald" can be all that happy about. I`m going to have to share
with our audience what I think you and I both know. There`s pretty much no
chance of the conservative "Boston Herald" endorsing Elizabeth Warren when
we get down to the election here.
But there it is. They have a poll showing you with a substantial
margin above Scott Brown, in terms of trust from the middle class on their
issues. That seems to me to be where this election is going to be fought.
WARREN: You know, you are right that this election is going to be
fought over what`s happening to America`s middle class. They`ve been
hammered for a generation now and Washington doesn`t get it. Washington is
wired for those who can hire an army of lobbyists. It`s wired to work for
I go out around the Commonwealth of Massachusetts all I can, every
day, and I talk to families and they just keep saying, it`s not working for
us. Washington isn`t working for us. and that`s why they want to get
involved in this campaign.
You know, people are enthusiastic about this. They want to make some
changes. And I`m there with them. I think that`s right.
O`DONNELL: Elizabeth Warren, thank you very much for joining me
WARREN: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Pleasure. Coming up, the CEO of American Airlines quits
rather than break the promises made to workers. That`s in tonight`s
And the true tragedy of Herman Cain suspending his presidential
campaign. The late night comedians are really going to miss him. Their
last Herman Cain jokes are coming up.
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, a standard profile in greed is
Rewritten by a CEO who refused to take a golden parachute. Last week,
American Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection that will allow it to cut
costs to become more competitive with other airlines that have already
profited from the cost-cutting opportunities of bankruptcy, that include
cutting pensions and other benefits earned by workers who have devoted
their working lives to the airline.
After the American Airlines board voted to put the company in
bankruptcy, they asked the chairman and CEO, Gerard Arpey, to continue
running the company, even though he opposed the board`s decision to put the
company in bankruptcy.
Mr. Arpey clearly understand why his board wanted bankruptcy
protection. He told the "New York Times," quote, our bankrupt colleagues
all made net profits, good net profits last year and we didn`t. And you
can mathematically pinpoint that to termination of pensions, termination of
retiree medical benefits, changes of work rules, changes in the labor
Mr. Arpey simply couldn`t bring himself to break those commitments.
And so he resigned immediately with no severance package, none, not a 30
million dollar golden parachute, not a month`s pay, nothing.
The tragedy of September 11th, 2001, was also a business disaster for
the airline industry. No airline suffered more than American Airlines,
which lost two planes on September 11th, as did United. It`s been ten
years, but you can still sometimes see the pain of that day in the eyes of
American and United workers, especially in Los Angeles, where most of the
planes we lost that day were supposed to land.
Recognizing the depression that had hit their company, American
Airlines workers made huge concessions in their union contracts in 2003.
But Robert Crandall, the former CEO of American, said, quote, "the other
airlines that went bankrupt cut their costs much deeper than American."
Gerard Arpey believes that American Airlines` 88,000 workers deserve
something better than bankruptcy. "I believe it`s important to the
character of the company and its ultimate long-term success to do your very
best to honor those commitments," he told the "New York Times." It is not
good thinking, either at the corporate level or at the personal level, to
believe you can simply walk away from your circumstances."
Mr. Arpey sent a farewell letter to everyone working at American
Airlines saying, "my heart is heavy today." To the airline that suffered
so profoundly and personally on September 11th, he gave the parting gift of
optimism. "The men and women of American Airlines have met challenge after
challenge with perseverance, skill, determination, and grace. And I know
you will continue to do so for many years to come."
Gerard Arpey, tonight`s corporate profile in courage.
O`DONNELL: And now the week in comedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW": Herman Cain, remember Herman Cain?
Herman Cain was on the -- Herman Cain was on the show. He suspended his
campaign. He has asked the Secret Service if they could continue to
provide him protection, at least until his wife cools off.
JIMMY FALLON, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Even though Herman Cain
is suspending his campaign, he`s launching a new website called
TheCainSolution.com. Yes, it`s the only political website that makes you
click an I am over 18 button to enter.
LETTERMAN: Herman announced that he was suspending his campaign.
This was the quote. He said, "I will not be silent and I will not go
away." And then he stopped talking and left.
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": They weren`t alone. When Cain dropped
out of the race, I felt despondent. I was depressed. I was losing all
hope that my job would every ever -- would ever bring me joy again. And
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are just confirming that Donald Trump will
moderate a Republican debate on December 27th in Des Moines, Iowa.
STEWART: Thank you, Jesus. You know, sometimes when God closes a
door, he opens a window. And sometimes standing outside that window is a
circus peanut wearing a badger.
DONALD TRUMP, "THE APPRENTICE": I like the idea of bringing in some
very good talent and people that are knowledgeable on certain subjects.
I`m pretty knowledgeable on most of the subjects. I`m actually very
knowledgeable on foreign affairs and things of that like.
STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": So, candidates, be prepared to
be drilled on things of that like, items of that such, topics of this
stuff, and fluency in, you know, that one thing.
CONAN O`BRIEN, "CONAN": Newt Gingrich is now riding very high in the
polls. He`s the front-runner now, I believe. Some polls have him as a
front runner by quite a margin. I`m surprised that Newt`s doing so well,
because if you`ve seen him, his campaign ads, his message, it isn`t very
GINGRICH: The America we know and love is a thing of the past.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America, it`s over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich 2012. It`s over.
GINGRICH: I`m the guy who`s been around forever.
STEWART: That`s Newt Gingrich`s pitch. I`m the thing that has been
in your pantry forever. You can try your new fangled Pop-Tarts and you
Eggo Waffles. But if you look way back in there, there`s a can of La Choy
Baby Corn, a product that may or may not still be offered by the La Choy.
You don`t remember buying it. Yet you don`t remember ever being
without it. And now you have no choice but to elect it president.
I`m Newt Gingrich and I approve this message.
O`DONNELL: The late night comedians get tonight`s LAST WORD. You can
follow my Tweets @Lawrence, once I get my new phone figured out. "THE ED
SHOW" is up next.
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